Brookline Carmel Bulletin
August 13, 1961
J M J T
“Mary is taken up into Heaven; the Angels rejoice; and, praising, they bless the Lord”. –
1st Antiphon of 1st Vespers of the Feast
It is a bit startling to see that the opening words of the Office of the Feast of the Assumption have reference to the Angels rather than to men. They seem to suggest it is more meaningful to them than to us mortals. It is startling because, unlike us, they have no bodies. Angels are pure spirits. We wouldn’t expect them to savor, as we do, the thought of the happiness attendant upon such a complete and perfect victory over death. But perhaps the Church in telling us of the joy the Angels derive from this Mystery, does not intend to imply that they draw more fruit from it than we, but rather wants to point out that this feast is so great that it benefits the Angels, too, should we not have suspected it. The final words of the antiphon quoted above: “and, praising, they bless the Lord”, do, in fact, indicate that Our Lady’s presence among the, glorious in body and soul, has opened their eyes, figuratively speaking, to newer, deeper, more ravishing insights into the transcendent perfections of God. For it is knowledge of God that sends them into transports of delight and causes them to bless and praise Him by their characteristic “Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus…”
After all, Mary does represent an outstanding triumph of the Love, Mercy, Wisdom and Omnipotence of God. Since every one of God’s creatures shares some vestige of His attributes, it follows that she, as His masterpiece, enjoys a participation in His perfections that exceeds that of any other created being (excepting the Sacred Humanity of Jesus).
A diamond is a wonderful thing. It refracts the white light that falls upon it and separates it into its component colors. These it sheds in every direction, gleaming and sparkling from its manifold facets, delighting the eye, captivating it. Well, the full radiance of the Divine Perfections has always played upon Mary, and she always reflected them upon the rest of rational creation. At her Assumption into Heaven, she reached the limit of Sanctity appointed for her, and so, as a most precious diamond, she most perfectly reflects the individual perfections of God in dazzling new and brilliant shades. In contemplating Mary, therefore, the Angels see the divine attributes portrayed in colors they had never before realized existed.
Now there is a possibility that the Blessed Virgin instructs the Angels personally, and reveals to them by direct communication of ideas, the mysteries inherent in God. That she does so is suggested by the commonly accepted teaching concerning the Angels. We are told they are divided into nine ‘choirs’, one higher than the other in the angelic ‘Hierarchy”. They can converse with one another, and those in the higher orders are able to instruct those who stand below them. The Cherubim and Seraphim are closest to God and enjoy the most penetrating insights into the Divinity. The fruit of their contemplation is not, however, kept to themselves, but is shared with those who are not able to discern as much. This takes place even though they all gaze eternally upon the Face of God unveiled.
Something like this happens upon earth. Let us say that two men, one an expert, the other untrained but intelligent, are exposed to a masterpiece of art. The one perceives untold beauties, the other, a small fraction as much, and only those of a grosser kind. Yet they are both gazing (with 20/20 vision, we presume) upon the same canvas. The fortunate thing, however, is that the intelligent man can be educated. The expert, by his guidance and direction, can train him to find in the painting subtle beauties he never would have discovered otherwise.
Consider another example, the one afforded by Sacred Scripture. We all read the same Bible and we all contemplate the same Mysteries of Divine Revelation. But we don’t all come away enriched with the same understanding and appreciation. That is why we thank God for the brilliant saints (Paul, Augustine, Bernard, Thomas, John of the Cross) who have left us, as our heritage, their precious insights into those Mysteries. Without them we would hardly have been able to derive the interior joy and spiritual delights we now do. Fortunately for us, the rare gold the great contemplatives draw out by their delving into the depths of Divine Revelation will always be available. We all have progenitors in the Faith. They have brought us along by feeding us the spiritual milk (and solid food) of heavenly doctrine. The saints mentioned are among the progenitors of us all.
It doesn’t seem too far-fetched to think of Our Lady in Heaven instructing the Angels concerning the mysteries of Jesus Christ. No one is as close as she to Him who is the greatest of all Mysteries, the Image and Splendor of the Father. She is able to disclose in Him the hidden beauties and riches that no one of them ever dreamed existed, and which they could not discover from their own contemplation of Him in the Beatific Vision. She is also the Instructress of St. Paul, St. Augustine and the rest. They have discovered that they had just begun to scratch the surface in their keen, penetrating inquiries into the treasures of grace and nature hidden in Jesus.
Thus it appears that when time is no more, Our Lady will still be a Mediatrix. She will always be the one who imbibes the full torrent of Divine Grace emanating from the Godhead. She will receive the utmost in God’s communication of knowledge and love of Himself. She will, as she was made to do, relay it to us, by giving us a more perfect knowledge and a more intense love of Jesus. This happy life is now a reality for the Angels and Blessed in Heaven. One day, God willing, it will be ours. Perhaps the Church has chosen to tell us of the joy of the Angels with Mary assumed in Heaven, to whet our desire for our Heavenly Home, to strengthen us to walk steadfastly and unerringly toward it.
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