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The Assumption: Finding Mary in the Darkness

At a young age I developed a fear of death. I don’t know what it was that caused me to fixate on this. It wasn’t the death of a relative or family friend. Not that I recall, anyway. I would often find myself lying in bed at night thinking about what happens to a person in death. My imagination ran wild during my bouts with insomnia at a young age. Often my mind would zero in on a feeling of complete and utter emptiness or nothingness. For a young girl, this was incredibly scary.

Even though I grew up Catholic and I believed in God (or had some elementary understanding in a belief in God), I still questioned whether what I was taught was actually true. Years later this gave me some comfort. That probably sounds contradictory, for why should I find comfort in my earlier doubts and questions? Because it tells me that I have always been seeking Truth. This is what our Catholic faith teaches us.

Man tends by nature toward the truth. He is obligated to honor and bear witness to it: “It is in accordance with their dignity that all men, because they are persons … are both impelled by their nature and bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. They are also bound to adhere to the truth once they come to know it and direct their whole lives in accordance with the demands of truth.” (CCC 2467)

As I was drawn back to the Catholic Church as an adult I discovered that I knew very little about the beauty of the Catholic faith. I had so much to learn! In particular, I discovered the Blessed Mother.

It’s weird, because I had chosen Mary as my confirmation name when I was in the 8th grade. Somehow, though, I never really learned much about her. My interest was piqued when I started learning about Marian apparitions. From there I began reading and trying to understand more about the various church teachings on Mary (the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption, etc.). A whole new aspect of the Catholic faith came to life for me and I felt a connection to this blessed woman (Luke 1:48) that helped to strengthen my faith in her Son, God, and the one true Church.

The Assumption, in particular, had a profound effect on me. The insomnia I experienced as a child continued into my adulthood, but to a lesser degree. Those thoughts I had of death and the emptiness/nothingness that weighed heavily on me still crept into my nighttime thoughts. I had taught myself to focus on something repetitive to help calm my mind and get myself to sleep. Often counting was what helped. But as my faith grew I found myself reciting the Hail Mary instead. This simple prayer brought a peace to my soul that I had not experienced before. Instead of simply calming my brain, I was being comforted in my whole body and soul. Soon that fear of death began to dissipate to the point where I stopped thinking about it completely.

It happened gradually and I did not make the connection for a long time. Recently, as I was contemplating the Assumption of Mary in anticipation of this post, I had a light bulb moment. Mary brings me comfort when I struggle with my fears because she is a sign of hope in our belief of the resurrection of the dead. As the Catechism tell us:

A print we have in our home of the Assumption of Mary.
A print we have in our home of the Assumption of Mary.

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son’s Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians. (from CCC 966)

The Most Blessed Virgin Mary, when the course of her earthly life was completed, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven, where she already shares in the glory of her Son’s Resurrection, anticipating the resurrection of all members of his Body. (CCC 974)

What wonderful comfort to know that God has given Mary to us as our Mother to bring us comfort in our time of need. In my time of need, I pray for peace in the dark, still night and my Blessed Mother in heaven brings me hope of a life to come. With her help, I can defeat the demons that sometimes plague my thoughts in those quiet hours.

Today, not only do I know that my faith is rooted in Truth, but that desire to seek Truth also comforts my soul. As I said in the beginning, asking those questions then may have raised doubts, but in the long run, they proved to be the key to learning and accepting the One, True Church that was founded by Jesus Christ Himself.

As I anticipate the celebration of the Feast of the Assumption tomorrow I will once again be reminded that through Christ we have been given the gift of everlasting life. Mary, our Blessed Mother, is our symbol of hope. God assumed her to be with Him in heaven and through her we can anticipate our own resurrection one day.

What an incredible feast day it is!

Top image source: morguefile

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The Ark, Lost and Found

Mary, as the new ark of the covenant, is my favorite Old Testament type ~ designed and built for beauty inside and outside, dwelled over by God’s Shekinah glory, bearing within the visible law, manna, and priestly prop, treated with the utmost respect and joy. Everything in the Old Testament is a picture, a perfecting, a positioning of the New Testament.

maryark2The ark of the covenant:
• Was overshadowed by God’s glory (Exodus 40:34),
• Contained the stones of the ten commandments, a pot of manna, and the first priest Aaron’s budded staff (Hebrews 9:4),
• Was sent to the hill country for three months when Uzzah was killed for unlawfully touching it (2Samuel 6:1-11),
• Was leapt before by King David when it came home (2Samuel 6:14),
• Was hidden and lost (2Maccabees 2:5-8)

maryarkAnd Mary:

• Was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35),
• Contained Jesus, the fulfillment of the law (Matthew 5;17), Bread from heaven (John 6:35), and our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14),
• Went to the hill country for three months to visit Elizabeth (Luke 1:39),
• Was leapt before by John (Luke 1:44),
• Was found, revealed by God to John (Revelation 11:19—12:1 ~ there were no chapter distinctions in the originals).

Athanasius and Gregory the Wonder-Worker (third century) sang and wrote of Mary as the ark ~ covered in gold within and without and holding the treasure of the sanctuary. I read a statement by protestant preacher R.C. Sproul, that “The presumptuous sin of Uzzah was this: he assumed his hands were less polluted than the dirt.” Well, no sir. His sin was disobeying God and touching the sacred vessel, a picture of Mary’s sacred virginity.

The final point above puts Mary in heaven, bringing us to the feast of her assumption, which we celebrate in a few days. Formally defined as dogma in 1950 as, “having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory,” we find writings about our blessed mother’s assumption from the honored sixth century author Gregory of Tours’ Eight Books of Miracles (and even centuries earlier in obscure texts). This story is not found in Scripture, but has clearly been believed and written about since before the New Testament was in place and it is certainly not an un-scriptural concept, as there are other “weird heaven-goings of holy people” like Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Elijah (2Kings 2:11) being caught up to heaven body and soul.

“There (heaven) in the glory of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity, in the communion of all the saints, the Church is awaited by the one she venerates as Mother of her Lord and as her own mother.

In the meantime the mother of Jesus, in the glory which she possesses in body and soul in heaven, is the image and beginning of the Church as it is to be perfected in the world to come. Likewise, she shines forth on earth, until the day of the Lord shall come, a sign of certain hope and comfort to the pilgrim people of God (CCC 972).”

Hail, kecharitomene (“were, and are, full of grace”)! We celebrate your assumption; you are with your Son now! We love Him, too, and look forward to the day we follow you to Him.


For more in-depth expositions, see

Catholic Answers
Saint Peter’s List
New Advent


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Mercy and Justice -or- My Perfect Confession


I’m Catholic and have been since birth.  My faith has always been part of the definition of me.  That being said, in May 2010 my world fell apart and the foundations of my faith cracked.

At 8:50 pm on May 26th 2010 my beautiful daughter Rita Marie was born.  She weighed 8lbs even and was 21 inches long.  She had a head of gorgeous black hair.  She was all me but for her nose and her hands – those were her daddy’s.

She was perfect.

But she wasn’t breathing.

A special ambulance came and rushed her to the local Children’s hospital.  There she stayed for two days.  She died in my arms when she was but 48 1/2 hours old.  I sang to her as she left us for Heaven and Life Everlasting.  Her daddy made sure of of her destination when, good Catholic man that he is, he baptised her as soon as it was evident she wasn’t breathing.

I’m so blessed to have a Saint in Heaven who is especially concerned for me and my family.  But I am also broken.  I have struggled greatly since Rita came and left us.  On the Feast of the Assumption I went to Confession for the first time in 10 months.  10 months is a long time for sin to build.  I didn’t even know where to start and I let Father know.  I was expecting to come out with a penance that would take me hours to complete but God surprised me with His Justice and Mercy.  He had just the right Priest waiting for me and cleared the line so that I could quickly duck into the confessional without having to wait for ages.

Without going into intimate detail of my fallen nature, Father said two things that stuck with me.   The first was that there are two parts to faith: the intellectual knowledge or understanding that God is Real and the trust that He wants good for us.  The second thing that stuck with me was my penance and the spiritual guidance received.  Respectively, to pray simply the prayer of St. Faustina “Jesus, I Trust in You.” a certain number of times and to say every day, as many times as needed, “Lord give me the light and grace to get through this day.”

I truly feel God’s love and mercy from that penance.  He knows I am already hurting and broken and chose to remind that I am His and that He loves me even when I am expecting Him to give me the spiritual equivalent of a good spanking.

I went into the confessional feeling like God had it in for me –  like I was His new Job – and came out feeling like Mary, sitting at Jesus’ feet.

Our God is both Merciful and Just.  He is perfectly both and measures each to us as we need.

Jesus, I Trust in You.