15 August 2007

St. Mary, Mother of God

My good friend, Dr. Rick Stuckwisch provides a most edifying preachment for this feast day:

Excellent Homily


Chris Jones said...

Fr Stuckwisch really hit this one out of the park, don't you think?

Past Elder said...

He most certainly did.

A couple of thoughts. In my RC youth, we were taught to understand the difference between ascension and assumption. Ascension is something one does by ones own power, assumption is something done to one by the power of someone else. Therefore, to celebrate the assumption of Mary one must hold the ascension of Christ, since if he is not ascended then she cannot have been assumed.

Bishop Sheen used to compare Mary to the moon, and Jesus to the sun. Both give us light, but the sun is for one thing the far greater source of light, and for another the moon does not give its own light but only that which it reflects from the sun. So the sun is the only source of light. The moon has no light of its own but only that which it reflects of the sun. Which is why she said Hear him, not Hear me. And which is why any light from her must always refer back to the Son from which it comes. He generally concluded his telecasts on Mary with the once well known prayer:

Mother Mary, dressed in blue,
Teach us how to pray.
God was once your little boy,
And you know the way.

As a side note, it's interesting that the formal definition of the Assumption of Mary in 1950 (I was four months old) does not definitively address whether she died and was assumed, died, was resurrected and assumed, or assumed alive. The East holds to her having died, and in my experience that is, or at least was, the most common belief in the Roman West, but the document itself only speaks of her having completed the course of her earthly life.

Pastor put it exactly in his post: We may indeed contemplate that she by whom the Lord became like us, should exemplify the way in which we all become like Him, recreated in the glorious Image of the Man from heaven.

Nothing else was ever rightly the point of this day.

Bye now, and God love you!
(Extra credit if you get that one!)

L P Cruz said...

Past Elder,

does not definitively address whether she died and was assumed, died, was resurrected and assumed, or assumed alive

This is correct too as I understand it, but what about assumed dead? At any rate, that is where the door to sophistic reasoning happens as you described - the document leaves you to interpret.


Christopher said...

During Vigil for Dormition the other night it hit me how the Orthodox truly view the Dormition as the first-fruits of Christ's Resurrection. In fact, the Paschal irmoi and tune are used for the canon at Matins. She truly died and was then both raised and translated into heaven body and soul (which is why there are no physical relics of the Theotokos anywhere, in any tradition).

Anonymous said...

"There id no word of Holy Scripture to teach these traditions as doctrine". I can revere Mary as a shining example of faith. It is easy to see the Holy Spirit working in her. Why do we have to traverse to the mystical and have her "raised and translated into heaven"?

Anonymous said...

Is...my error.

Chris Jones said...


We don't "have to" believe that our Lady has already been raised from the dead (as we all who are in Christ shall be raised). It is not a matter of saving faith, as the death and resurrection of our Lord are. A Christian who is united to Christ in faith, through Word and Sacrament, will be saved by grace through faith whether he or she believes, disbelieves, or is agnostic about, the "Assumption."

And yet ... the specific story of how our Lady died may not be part of the Gospel, but the resurrection of the flesh certainly is. In celebrating her resurrection, we are confessing and rejoicing in the resurrection that our Lord has won for all believers. She is the icon of the Church and the archetype of the believer; in celebrating her resurrection we are confessing the fulfillment of the Church and the destiny of all believers.

That remains true whether you believe the resurrection of our Lady occurs in the past or the future.

Anonymous said...

Past Elder,
You're comments about Bp Sheen comparing Mary to the moon reminded me of a class I took at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. It was with a Franciscan priest who used Lumen Gentia (a favorite document of yours I'm sure! :)in teaching the class. Instead of using the moon as a metaphor for Mary, he used it of the Church in it's relation to proclaiming Christ. The fuller and brighter it shines, the more fully it reflects the Son.
One day as he was lecturing, he looked at me and said that I was the only Lutheran in his class. He smiled and said, "Actually there are two Lutherans in the class, you and me."

Dan P

Anonymous said...

oops...should have been "Lumen Gentium"!

Past Elder said...

Hey Dan --

As Mary is considered a type of the church, your professor was quite right in his application.

Two Lutherans eh? Give him my email -- we're going to have another adult information class this Fall and we could make it official!

I've got a copy of Lumen Gentium. I think it's in a box out in the garage next to some empty cans of oil.