Monday, August 15, 2005

Feast of St. Mary the Virgin

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Today we commemorate Our Lady's life of faithfulness and her glorious assumption into heaven. Mary is sometimes referred to as the "first Christian" because we see all of the duties and rewards of Christian life realized in her. She was first in redemption and sanctification. She was the first Christian believer. She submitted herself to the will of God in the miracle of the incarnation--providing from her own body the material for sacrifice of the cross. She was first to bring Christ into the world to share with others. Tradition tells us that at the end of her earthly life, God fulfilled in her the promises he makes for all believers. Part of God's will for us as his children and heirs of the kingdom through adoption as his sons and daughters, is that each of us will one day have an empty tomb and reign with him in glory.

Consider how the following passages speak of the life and service of the Mother of God. It is a glimpse of what God has in store for us who follow the examples of the blessed Virgin Mary and all of the saints.

"Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly. Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, 'Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?' The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor 15:49-57).

"For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord" (1 Thess 4:15-17).

"And the temple of God in heaven was opened; and the ark of his covenant appeared in his temple, and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm. A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars" (Rev 11:19—12:1).

"In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved his appearing" (2 Tim 4:8).

Let us pray.
O God, who hast taken unto thyself the blessed Virgin Mary, mother of thy incarnate Son: Grant that we, who have been redeemed by his blood, may share with her the glory of thine eternal kingdom; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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