15 August 2009

The Ark Sanctified

Sacred Scripture asks: “Who is she that comes forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array?” (Song of Songs 6:9).

Sacred Scripture answers: “I am the Mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope. In me is all grace of the way, and of the truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue” (Sirach 24:24-25).

And this Mother’s plea: “Come over to me all you that desire me, and be filled with my fruits. For my spirit is sweet above honey, and my inheritance above honey and the honeycomb. My memory is unto everlasting generations” (Sirach 24:26-28).

Sacred Scripture also gives us this very familiar passage: “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” (Revelation 12:1).

“Arise, O Lord, into Your resting place, You and the Ark, which You have sanctified” (Psalm 131:8). Understanding Mary as the Ark of the New and Everlasting Covenant, Saint Robert Bellarmine said: “And who, I ask, could believe that the Ark of holiness, the dwelling place of the Word of God, the Temple of the Holy Spirit, could be reduced to ruin? My soul is filled with horror at the thought that this virginal flesh which had begotten God, had brought Him into the world, had nourished and carried Him, could have been turned into ashes or given over to be food for worms.”

Our Blessed Mother’s Assumption into heaven, body and soul, is a longstanding belief of the Church. It was made “official” by the Church with these words: “By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory” (Munificentissimus Deus ~ Pope Pius XII).

This is the Virgin who will never listen to the serpent and turn away her hearing of the truth (cf. Genesis 3:1-6 & 2 Timothy 4:4). Instead, she clings to every word which comes forth from the Mouth of God (cf. Matthew 4:4). Because she has been reunited with her Son in eternal glory, and her “abode is in the full assembly of saints” (Sirach 24:16), our own interior life begs us to keep Mary with her Son. As the Most Holy Trinity dwells within the devout human soul, so should the Mystical Rose be permitted to take root and fully blossom in the garden of the soul, whose flowers are the fruit of honor and riches (cf. Sirach 24:23), spreading her sweet fragrance like cinnamon and aromatic balm, and the sweetness of odor like the choicest myrrh (cf. Sirach 24:20).

There’s a beautiful story in the Carthusian tradition which goes like this: The venerable Mother Antonia de Planques, Prioress of Gosnay, had the joy of seeing in her cell one day the Mother of God, carrying in her arms her Divine Son. Our Blessed Lady addressed Mother Antonia with these words from the prophet Isaiah: “Fear not, for I am with you” (Isaiah 43:5). This vision caused Mother Antonia such ecstatic joy that she was rapt above her senses for several days. The rest of her earthly existence was lived out more closely to the life of heaven than that of earth. Let those who desire to gain the graces of the Holy Spirit, seek the flower upon its stem – in other words, let them seek Jesus in Mary (cf. Le Mois de Marie Cartusien).

Regina in cælum assumpta, ora pro nobis!