Assumption of Mary

This week's reflection is written by
V. Rev. Lewis S. Fiorelli, OSFS, Provincial.

This week the Church celebrates the beautiful feast of the Assumption of Mary into heaven, body and soul. St. Francis de Sales has some powerful reflections on this feast.

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His reflections on the Assumption are found in Chapters 13 and 14 of Book 7 of his spiritual masterpiece, the Treatise on the Love of God. He begins by reminding us of one of his favorite passages from St. Paul: “I live now, not I. Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). The union of heart, soul and life that exists between Paul and Jesus is, for Francis, the highest goal of every Christian, and he finds its perfect realization in the union that exists between Mother and Son: “O true God, how much truer is it that the sacred Virgin and her Son had but one soul, but one heart, and but one life, so that the Blessed Mother, although living, yet did not live herself but rather her Son lived in her!...There was no longer a union but rather a unity of heart, soul, and life between this Mother and this Son”

After the Ascension of Jesus, Mary remained behind to comfort and encourage the early Church as we see in the account of the first Pentecost. But, for Francis, although she was remained here on earth in body, her heart was always with her Son in heaven. She longed to be, body and soul, where her heart already was. And her death, when it came, was an altogether gentle going forth “to the bosom of her Son’s goodness.” Francis hints that were it not for original sin our own death would be a similar experience of a gentle going forth to Jesus.

In Galatians 2:19 St. Paul affirms that he has been crucified with Jesus. It is then that he speaks in the following verse of his no longer living but rather of Christ living in him. Francis makes that same connection for Mary: “At the foot of the cross love had given to this divine spouse the supreme sorrows of death. Truly, then, it was reasonable that in the end death should give her the supreme delights of love.”

The Assumption of Mary, then, is for Francis de Sales the culmination of her life-long longing to be totally -- heart, body and soul-- with her Son. On this feast of the Assumption may her longing be ours as well so that the dying and rising that Paul writes about in Galatians 2:19,20 will be the experience of each one of us as well.