Assumption of the Blessed Mother

assumptionFound in the center of the church, on the right as you enter St. Denis Church, you will find a beautiful window of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother. The Assumption of Mary is the dogmatic teaching 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 [Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus 44]. St. Pope John Paul II noted that although the New Testament does not explicitly affirm Mary's Assumption, it offers a basis for it because it strongly emphasized the Blessed Virgin's perfect union with Jesus' destiny. The union, which is manifested, from the time of the Savior's miraculous conception, in the Mother's participation in her Son's mission and especially in her association with his redemptive sacrifice, cannot fail to require a continuation after death. Perfectly united with the life and saving work of Jesus, Mary shares His heavenly destiny in body and soul. [General Audience, July 2, 1997}

Reflection Questions on the Stained-Glass Window
1. Notice Mary’s face as she is being lifted up in the clouds: Her attention is focused upwards toward the Lord, as angels accompany her into her heavenly glory. Mary's face is calm and she is peaceful. "By contemplating Mary in heavenly glory, we understand that the earth is not the definitive homeland for us either, and that if we live with our gaze fixed on the eternal we will one day share in this same glory and the earth will become more beautiful. Consequently, we must not lose our serenity and peace even amid the thousands of daily difficulties. The luminous sign of Our Lady taken up into Heaven shines out even more brightly when sad shadows of suffering and violence seem to loom on the horizon. (Pope Benedict XVI). Think of how important a belief in a loving God and hope in eternal life with Him has been or could be for you in your life. Reflect on the power of what increasing true hope in your life by focusing on the eternal can do. How might it help you through suffering? How might a change in the way you view your relationship with God help you to persevere in life's challenges? As you look at the window and focus on Mary's luminous peaceful gaze as she rises toward heaven, stay for several quiet moments in prayer with her, yearning for God in your heart of hearts and knowing God is yearning for you. Let your thoughts of love rise towards God with the Blessed Mother and know how deeply you are loved by God. Reflect on how much God yearns for you to be with Him. Ask the Father and Jesus to bring you to eternal life in an unconditionally loving communion with them.

2. Notice Mary's arms, one reaching out to us and the other raised up towards the Lord. Mary, perpetually our Mother, always seeks to bring us closer to her Son. As she is lifted into heavenly glory to the Lord, her concern and love for us, her spiritual children, remains ever present. She wants for us to come into heavenly glory with the Lord. As you look upon this gesture of her love and concern, reflect on the example and place of Mary in your life. If Mary is your true Spiritual Mother, ask yourself what this means for you in your everyday life? Take a few moments to reflect on what does a mother do? Why did God arrange it so that every human person would come into the world through a mother? There must be a reason. Does a mother simply give birth to a child only to abandon him or her? A mother not only gives birth, but she also is given by God so that she might nurture, feed, teach, guide, and protect her child. God entrusts her with these tasks. In the human family, a mother is crucial. So too, in the spiritual family of the Mystical Body of Christ, Mary, our Mother is not optional. She has been given to us by Jesus and she will guide us towards Him, showing us the way. Reflect on your relationship with Mary. As you look at her reaching out towards you and raising your concerns and needs up to the Lord as her own concerns, be assured of her love for you. From on high, Mary follows our footsteps with gentle concern, dispels the gloom in moments of darkness and distress, and reassures you with her motherly hand. Let yourself be fully aware of this love as you see her reaching to you in the window and spend some time in prayer with your Blessed Mother. Let your reflection on Mary's Assumption allow you to forge ahead under Mary's guidance. Offer in prayer the Memorare:

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

3. Notice the angels adorning Mary with a cobalt blue garment. Mary is wearing a cobalt blue garment as she rises to the heavens. Take a moment to reflect on why the Blessed Mother is being dressed in blue and is so often seen in the color, cobalt blue, through all types of art. To start off, the color blue has deep biblical roots in the Old Testament. It is specifically mentioned as the color of the people of Israel in the book of Numbers.

Speak to the people of Israel, and bid them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put upon the tassel of each corner a cord of blue; and it shall be to you a tassel to look upon and remember all the commandments of the Lord, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to go after wantonly. (Numbers 15:38-39)

For the people of Israel blue brings to mind the following of God’s Commandments, as opposed to a person’s selfish will. This was perfectly lived out by the Blessed Mother who said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). She was the faithful “Daughter of Zion” who fulfilled the call of obedience that God had asked of the Israelites.(Staudt) Reflect on the things in your life that may be keeping you from "perfectly living" out what God wants for you. Each of us is not perfect and we do need to learn how to bare imperfections and work on inviting God into us to help us in our weakness. We need to let the Lord act fully on us and be open to serving Him instead of focusing only on our wants and interests to have a full abundant life. Take some time to pray, asking the Blessed Mother to assist you in living "according to God's will" Also, The Book of Numbers indicated that “the Levites are to ‘spread over [the Ark of the Covenant] a cloth all of blue’ (4:6). And further: ‘And over the table of the bread of the Presence they shall spread a cloth of blue’ (4:7). Mary is traditionally referred to as the new Ark of the Covenant, as she held within herself the Divine Presence of God. Let her blue garment help you to reflect on the relationship that you have with the Divine Presence, Jesus, in the Holy Eucharist. Ask the Blessed Mother in prayer to help you perfectly unite your life with the life and saving work of Jesus every time you receive communion. Can you commit to trying to spend more time with the Real Presence as a way of uniting your life more fully with the Lord? Take a few minutes and contemplate. Think how whenever you see Mary's blue garment it can have very important and deep spiritual meanings for you. It is a sacred color that is intentionally meant to help you focus on different attributes of the Blessed Mother. Let it remind you of Mary’s faithfulness and her role in salvation history so that you may seek her help and guidance in your own faithfulness and salvation. Say a Hail Mary.

4. Notice the flowers that the angels surround and bring to the Blessed Mother. Look at the garland of flowers strewn by the cherubim at Mary's feet and the lilies brought to honor her by the seraphim. Flowers so often appear with the Blessed Virgin Mary and they represent very particular aspects of her spirituality. You can see in the window, roses, ivy and lilies. The rose is known as the “queen of flowers”, the rose represents Mary as Queen of Heaven. The rose is one of the most beautiful flowers in all creation. The rose in relation to the Blessed Mother displays perfect love, form, fragrance, and color. Although roses are beautiful, there is also a hidden suffering in their thorns. For Mary, the thorns on the rose remind us that Our Lord Jesus Christ wore a crown of thorns and gave up his blood for all humanity. As His Mother, Mary witnessed this suffering and death first hand at the foot of the cross. Her share in His suffering and death is the reason for her joy in being lifted to Him in her Assumption. Reflect on your own share in the suffering of Christ and share in the beauty of His Resurrection. Reflect on the ways in your life that you can be like a rose, like the Blessed Mother was, a witness to both the beauty and suffering of the Paschal Mystery of Christ. The rose garland at the foot of Mary also has ivy. The evergreen ivy represents Mary’s complete and total faithfulness as well as her eternity. She is our greatest example of complete and total faithfulness when it comes to trusting in God the Father. We see her complete faithfulness throughout her entire life. This is what unites her to God eternally and is the very reason she is given the gift of being assumed into heaven fully. Take the time to pray to the Blessed Mother to assist you in growing in your faithfulness. Consider that there are many things in life that can keep us from trusting in God completely and give them to Mary to help you bring before the Father so that you can grow in faithfulness.

The word "Rosary" means "rose garland". Take some time to offer a decade of the Rosary and ask the Blessed Mother to unite your life fully to the life of Christ with each mystery. Lastly, consider the lilies. The white lilies and their beautiful fragrance represent Mary’s perfect purity, love, and humility to God’s divine economy. They also represent the Resurrection of Christ. Mary by uniting herself perfectly with Jesus was given the great gift of being fully assumed into Heaven by God immediately upon her death. Reflect on ways in your life that you can invite the Lord into yourself for increased faithfulness, beauty and purity of love for Him and His will. Take some time to pray to the Blessed Mother for help and guidance, and look for opportunities in your life where you can be a "spiritual flower" and "blessed rose" to another as this is most pleasing to Mary and her Son.

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Evening before: 7:00 pm & day of: 7:30 am & 7:00 pm - Church

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