The Most Holy Trinity

Today’s readings

Talking about the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is perhaps the most daunting tasks for a preacher, but also one of the greatest privileges.  Here is one of the great mysteries of our faith, one that cries out for explanation, one that has kept the best minds of our religion occupied throughout time, and one that we, very likely, won’t completely understand until that day when we see our God face to face.

You may have heard me tell one of my favorite stories about Saint Augustine with regard to the Trinity.  The story goes that he was walking along the beach one day, trying to figure out the nature of the Holy Trinity.  As he walked along, he came across a little boy who had dug a hole in the sand right next to the shore.  With his little hands he was carrying water from the ocean and was dumping it in the little hole. St. Augustine asked, “What are you doing, my child?”  The child replied, “I want to put all of the water of the ocean into this hole.”  So St. Augustine asked him, “But is it possible for all of the water of this great ocean to be contained in this little hole?”  And the child asked him in return, “If the water of the ocean cannot be contained in this little hole, then how can the Infinite Trinitarian God be contained in your mind?”  With that the child disappeared.

We know, of course, the essential teaching: that we acknowledge and worship just one God, who embodies three divine persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  What that means for us as believers, though, is something that truly takes a lifetime, and then some, to figure out.

Just like any of the mysteries of our faith, the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is not one that can be appreciated in a vacuum, outside of relationship with the God we worship and adore.  And that’s just as well, I think, because, as Saint Thomas Aquinas taught, the Trinity can perhaps best be described as a relationship.  The Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father, and the Holy Spirit is the love between the Father and the Son.  And this makes sense to us on some levels, because we all have been taught, and we all accept, that God is love.  And not just the kind of paltry love that our pop culture and society calls love, but love in the deepest of all senses, the kind of love that is self-giving and that intimately shares in the life of the other.  God is love, but God is better than the best love our feeble human minds can picture.  The love that is God is a love so pure that it would wholly consume us if we gave ourselves to it completely.  Just as difficult as it is for our minds to describe the Holy Trinity, so that love that is God is impossible for our minds to grasp.

But it is a love that can be experienced and lived.  We have seen, in the recent observance of Lent and celebration of the fifty days of Easter, that our God won’t stop at anything to be love for us.  Our sins were obstacles, horribly offensive to God, cutting us out of that intimate relationship and destining us for eternal destruction.  But God wasn’t having any of that.  No, instead he gave his Son, his only begotten One, to be our Savior, to pay the price for our sins, to die our death and to rise to new life so that we could have that too.  That is the love of God so deeply expressed in our religious experience.  And it’s a love we’re called to share, as we lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters, renouncing selfishness and allowing ourselves to get caught up in the lives of others.  I’ve experienced that over the last two and a half years that I’ve been here at Notre Dame, and I rejoice everyday at being part of this community.  It’s a feeling that I have for my family, of course, and I pray that you all experience it in your relationships as well.  Love is who God is and love is what we are called to become.

God as a relationship is a convenient concept for us, because our needs change during our lives, depending where we are on the journey.  Sometimes we need a parent.  And so relating to God as Father reminds us of the nurturing of our faith, being protected from evil, being encouraged to grow, and being corrected when we stray.  If you’ve had difficulty with a parent in your life, particularly a father, then relating to God as Father can also be difficult.  But still, I think there is a part of all of us, no matter what our earthly parents have been like, that longs to have a loving parental relationship.  God as Father can be that kind of parent in our lives.

And sometimes we need the Son.  Relating to God the Son – Jesus our brother – reminds us that God knows our needs, he knows our temptations, he’s experienced our sorrows and celebrated our joys.  God in Christ has walked our walk and died our death and redeemed all of our failures out of love for us.  God the Son reminds us that God, having created us in his own image and likeness, loves what he created enough to become one of us.  Our bodies are not profane place-holders for our souls, our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, and that very body was good enough to become the dwelling place of God when he came to earth.  Maybe you’ve never had a brother or sister or never were close to yours, but in Christ you have the brother above all others who is present to you in all your joys and sorrows.

Sometimes, too, we need a Holy Spirit.  Because we often have to be reminded that there is something beyond ourselves.  That this is not as good as it gets.  As wonderful as our world and our bodies can be, we also know they are very flawed.  The Holy Spirit reminds us that there is a part of us that always longs for God, no matter how far we have strayed.  The Spirit reminds us that our sins are not who we are and that repentance and forgiveness are possible.  It is the Holy Spirit that enables us to do the really good things we wouldn’t be capable of all by ourselves, the really good things that are who we really are before God.

It might seem like this mystery of the Trinity is a purely academic discussion. Does the Trinity affect our daily lives or make a difference in our here and now?  Is all this discussion just talk, or does it really make any difference?  Obviously, I don’t think it’s just talk.  Instead, the Most Holy Trinity must be shared with people in every time and place.  God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit wants to relate to all of us, be present to all of us, and call all of us to discipleship through common baptism, and it’s up to us to point the way to that Trinity of love that longs to be in loving relationship with all people.

However we need to relate to God right now, the good news is that he is there for us, giving us that relationship.  God is Triune because he wants to encompass our lives from beginning to end, from conception to life eternal.  Getting caught up in the relationship that is God is the project of our lives, and enables us to cry out with the Psalmist today, “O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!”

Thursday of the Twenty-eighth Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

When I was in seminary, one of the big courses we had to pass with flying colors early on was called Christology.  As the name might suggest, Christology is the study of Jesus Christ, but perhaps more specifically a study of the Church’s theology about Jesus Christ.  That course covers what we believe about Christ, the history of the Church’s belief about Christ, and the history of the many schisms and heresies that developed around Christ through the early years of the Church.

When I read this morning’s first reading, I was so taken by the feeling that it was a reading about Christology as a whole.  If you want to know what we believe about Jesus Christ, just reread this reading a few times and reflect on it.  That’s your homework, by the way!  So what I’d like to do is to point out as many of the beliefs covered in this reading as I can, to give you food for thought.

The first part is the standard St. Paul kind of greeting in which he says “grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Foundationally, this prayer says exactly what we believe: grace and peace come from the Father and the Son.  He goes on to say that we have all been blessed by the Father in the Son with every spiritual blessing.  God has chosen to send his grace, peace and blessing to us through Jesus, because it is Jesus who can relate to us in our human nature.  Through Jesus, he says, we have been chosen and called to holiness, loved and adopted as sons and daughters of God.

Because of that love and adoption, God would not leave us in our sin.  No, through Christ we are also redeemed, forgiven and lavished with grace.  It is through Jesus also that God makes known all the mysteries of life and grace.  All of this had been set in motion before the world began, but given to us in time, here and now, through the One who was with him in the beginning and who stays with us until the end.  And at the end, everything in heaven and on earth will be summed up in Christ.

As St. Paul says in another place, through Christ, with Christ and in him all things are.  Through Christ everything continues in being right up until the end.  And so thanks today go to St. Paul, the master theologian who reminds us of the great heritage and hope that we have in Christ.  And thanks be to God for the grace that is ours in every moment.

The Most Holy Trinity

Today's readings

holy trinity-1I don't think it would come as too much of a shock for me to tell you that not one of us here in this place, not one of us here on this earth, will ever come to understand the Holy Trinity in this life. We've all been told that the Trinity is a mystery, and that's not just a church cop-out, it is in fact, truth. What we hear in today's Liturgy of the Word is that all of the truth about the Trinity is there, for the taking, in the person of the Holy Spirit. But we still don't get it, do we? And Jesus said as much: "I have much more to tell you," Jesus says, "but you cannot bear it now." We cannot bear it now because we are earthly creatures, corporeal and temporal – that is, material and bound to this time – and so our minds necessarily do not conform to God who is heavenly, ethereal and eternal. The long and short of it is, we'll never fully understand the nature of the Holy Trinity this side of the Kingdom of God.

St. Augustine found out as much. The story goes that he was walking along the beach, trying to figure out the nature of the Holy Trinity. As he walked along, he came across a little boy who was digging a hole in the sand right next to the shore. With his little hands he was carrying water from the ocean and was dumping it in the little hole. St. Augustine asked, "What are you doing, my child?" The child replied, "I want to put all of the water of the ocean into this hole." Once more St. Augustine asked, "But is it possible for all of the water of this great ocean to be contained in this little hole?" And the child asked him in return, "If the water of the ocean cannot be contained in this little hole, then how can the Infinite Trinitarian God be contained in your mind?" And the child disappeared. No wonder Jesus says to us, "I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now."

But even this is not meant to discourage us from trying to find out more about our God. As St. Augustine says in another place, we are made for God, and "our hearts are restless until they rest in thee." And so it is with hearts and minds filled with expectation that we gather on this Trinity Sunday, yearning to know the One true God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

This is Trinity Sunday and so it is perhaps appropriate to approach things in threes. And so, if you will, a third idea from St. Augustine. If you heard me preach on the feast of Pentecost last Sunday, you know that he said of the Trinity that the Father is the Lover, the Son is the Beloved, and the Holy Spirit is the Love between the Father and the Son. Now, as I also said last week, this is but a tiny scratch in the surface of who God is. With this little caricature, we come to understand a tiny bit about the Trinity, but it is a very important tiny bit, I think. Because from this description of the Trinity we get two very important facts about God. The first is one that we know quite well, that God is love. And the second is one that makes sense if we think about it, and that is that God is a relationship.

This notion of God as a relationship is fundamental to Catholic thinking. It forms the basis for so much of our theology and our experience as a Church. For example, many of our protestant brothers and sisters emphasize a personal relationship with Jesus Christ above all else. While we do not necessarily reject this notion, and while we do think it's important for all people to come to know Christ, we believe that a person comes to know God in community because God is a community. So that's why we think it's important to come to Church for worship and reject the idea that one can worship God best by looking at a tree or focusing on a crystal. God made us to know him and gives us other people in our lives so that we can come to know him better. Indeed we see God's love for us poured out in the way others love and serve us. And so gathering as a community is fundamental to our faith and expresses our true belief in the Triune God.

Today's readings underscore this notion of God as relationship. The mysterious figure of Wisdom in our first reading from Proverbs was with God in the beginning. The relationship between the two of them brought forth the heavens, the earth, the skies, the waters, and everything that is in them. It has been said that Wisdom here is the personification of the Word of God, which we often identify with the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. But whoever it is, it makes clear the fact that the creation of the world took place in the context of relationship. Sure, God could have created everything himself, but that's not who God is. God is relationship, so his creating action is one of relationship as well.

The second reading mentions all three Persons of the Trinity. We have peace with God (the Father) through our Lord Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit. Peace, too, can only be experienced in community. Sometimes we think we'd be better off without some of the people around us, but we can never experience the peace of God apart from the community. Peace, true peace, the peace that God gives, is a peace that comes from the love experienced in the Community of the Trinity and bestowed upon all those who believe. We experience peace when we relate to one another as God intended, we have peace when we exercise our vocation and our calling as God intended, we have peace when we love and serve others as God intended. St. Paul is not naïve here, though. He does not claim that knowing the Triune God will give us a life devoid of tribulation. No, we will definitely experience affliction, but instead of being crushed and dejected by our afflictions, we can instead boast about them, because we know that through them we come to know endurance, proven character, and a hope that can never be taken away from us. God is relationship, so he does not leave us alone in our afflictions, lost and broken, but instead, stretches out his arms on the cross and endures them with us, giving us hope and peace.

The idea of God as a relationship is helpful to us, I think, because we know what relationships are. But it's also difficult, in a way, because none of us experiences their relationships perfectly. If God is a relationship and our own relationships are broken and fragile, then our understanding of the Triune God remains at least partially shrouded in mystery. What truly stands in our way on the quest to coming to know God and comprehend the mystery of the Trinity is that we are sinful people, and always will be so this side of the Kingdom. And so it is most likely that it is only on that great day when Christ will have destroyed sin and death itself, when all that is hidden will be revealed, it is only on that day that we will truly understand who God is. Until then, we can at least scratch the surface by experiencing the love of God in relationships, perfecting them as best we can. And on that great day, we believe that we will see our God as he truly is and will cry out with the Psalmist, "O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!"

Holy Saturday

descentamongthedead

He descended into hell because “that which was not assumed was not redeemed.

And now we prepare to keep vigil.

From an ancient homily on Holy Saturday, in today’s Office of Readings:

Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all”. Christ answered him: “And with your spirit”. He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light”.

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.

For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.

A Letter to Diognetus: We’re Not Home Yet

Today's Office of Readings has as its second reading an excerpt from a Letter to Diognetus.  This is one of my favorite readings.  I'm not sure why, because every year when I read it, it makes me feel uneasy, unworthy — yeah, all of that.  Listen to this portion of it:

Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its members despite the body's hatred. It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together, and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together. The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; and Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink, so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the Christian’s lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself.

That just reminds me that no, we're not home yet.  We are supposed to live as full citizens of the world, but also as aliens in it — the whole Catholic both/and approach to theology in general.  We must take our place here and make present the Kingdom of God on earth.  But we must always live remembering that we are not ultimately destined for life in this world, and so must not be too attached to things, people, anything that drags us away from our Creator.

Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time: The Meaning of Suffering

My homily today was shortened a bit from the original. We had a letter to read from the bishop. So this is the homily as I actually preached it:

Today’s Gospel once again shows Jesus curing people and casting out demons. People were naturally amazed at his ability to alleviate suffering and flocked to him. He even had to get up real early in the morning just to have some time to himself. When the disciples find him, they say, “Everyone is looking for you.” And everyone probably was looking for him; how could they get enough of his miraculous healings?

Sometimes when I hear Gospel passages like that, I think, well, why doesn’t Jesus just heal everyone? Have you ever thought about that? This, I think gets to the heart of the matter for all of us: why is there suffering in the world? Why, especially, do good people, the innocent, and children have to suffer? It’s a question we all ask at one time or another.

This issue has been especially poignant for me this week. I talked to a friend from the parish where I did my pastoral internship two years ago. In catching up with the news from the place, she told me that one of the nuns that worked there, and the mother of another staff member had both been diagnosed with cancer in the last few weeks. This week in talking to my parents, I found out that one of our young friends, who himself has a large family, has serious cancer in a number of areas in his body. Another friend is undergoing some worrisome tests. And the father of one of my friends at the seminary had a serious stroke on Friday, and my friend had to sign a DNR order for him.

Why do people have to suffer?

Maybe it’s a question you’ve been asking recently. Maybe you have a friend or family member, or even more than one, on your mind right now. Maybe your heart is heavy as you sit here, listening to Jesus healing all the people in town. This can be a real hard Gospel for us to hear when we’re in that place.

In fact, I think if Job heard this Gospel, he might have lost his mind. If you’ve ever read the whole book of Job, you know that Job was a good and righteous man. He had a solid relationship with God, and was rewarded with a big family and many possessions. But Satan the accuser wanted to test him, so God allowed it. In an instant, Job’s possessions were all gone, all of his children killed in an accident, and he himself was afflicted with sores from the top of his head to the soles of his feet.

In the theology of the time, those who suffered were thought to be suffering because of something they or their ancestors had done. Suffering was simply a punishment for evil. But for Job it wasn’t that simple: he had done nothing wrong as far as he or anyone else could tell, so there didn’t seem to be a reason for the calamities that had befallen him. Today’s first reading from the book of Job, then, is the beginning of a Job’s prayer of complaint. He feels like there will be no end to his misery, and says: “I have been assigned months of misery, and troubled nights have been allotted to me … Remember that my life is like the wind; I shall not see happiness again.” Who hasn’t felt like Job at one time or another?

I think today’s Liturgy of the Word as a whole teaches us that we must have faith, even in the midst of suffering. Satan’s desire in afflicting Job with those misfortunes is that Job would “curse God and die.” In fact, those were the very words Satan put in the mouth of Job’s wife at one point in the story. But Job, even though he complained and lamented, still retained his faith in God’s mercy. And in today’s Gospel, Simon and Andrew have faith that Jesus will heal Simon’s mother-in-law, which he does. The people of the town have faith enough to gather and bring to Jesus all who were sick or possessed by demons. And Jesus responds to their faith. Even today’s responsorial psalm reflects that faith by extolling the mercies of God. It says of God, “He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.”

We are called to that same faith when we suffer. Jesus tells us in another Gospel passage “In this world you will have troubles.” Suffering is inevitable in our life. But we have to remember that our God longs to see us through it, and that God will respond to our faith. The healing might not come all at once, right this minute, or even in the way we’d like to see it happen. But God sticks by us and will deliver us from evil, in his way, in his time. Suffering never makes sense, but I think it’s worse if we don’t have confidence in God’s mercy that comes from a faithful relationship with him.

Prayer can’t be our last resort, or the answers don’t make sense. So we have to be people of faith even in our suffering and pain. As we turn now to the Eucharist, let us offer the prayers of all those in our lives who are suffering in any way. As we come to receive the body of our Lord, let us receive his grace to strengthen us and heal us and bind up all our wounds. And even as we walk through the messiness of our pain, let us praise the Lord, who heals the brokenhearted.

Would that my final exams were this easy…

I took this quiz to find out my theological worldview and found out that the worldview I have is 96% Catholic. What a relief! 96% is still an “A” … too bad I can’t use this for my finals! It’s always good to have standardized quizzes tell you you’re on the right track….

My theological worldview:

You scored as Roman Catholic. You are Roman Catholic. Church tradition and ecclesial authority are hugely important, and the most important part of worship for you is mass. As the Mother of God, Mary is important in your theology, and as the communion of saints includes the living and the dead, you can also ask the saints to intercede for you.

What's your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com

Say More About That

The paradox of transformation is the paradox of death/resurrection, a time of dying to what was, as we move into what will be. It's a strange mix of color and darkness, of both knowing and not knowing. This somewhat abstract image reflects on the leap we take into the mystery of our own tansformative journeys. Here we face the changes and sometimes the death of our hopes, our dreams, our bodies and our relationships. As we stand in these times of change, we simply ask to be faithful and to trust in a loving God who can truly make all things new.   Painting by Doris Klein, CSA.
In CPE, we had a little “inside joke,” if you will, about the statement, “say more about that.” That’s one of those phrases often used in counselling, spiritual direction, and CPE. It’s a good, open-ended question, better than something that would call for a “yes” or “no” answer. But it gets thrown around so much, that our group laughed about it a lot, unless we really meant to use it.

I know if my group were with me right now, they’d be asking me to say more about how things felt with all of the tragedy that’s happened on our campus these last days. And there has been a lot. The two deaths alone would have been enough (kind of a reverse “dayenu” prayer), but another one of our brothers contracted West Nile Virus and is not well, and the mother of one of our professors died in Georgia. So we’ve had enough, and then some.

So how does that make me feel? Well, I guess I’ll say more about that…

First of all, it pisses me off that the availabilty of counseling has not been trumpeted from the rooftops. If this had been a public elementary school, counselors would have been available the next day. Despite news reports to the contrary, that has not yet happened here. Sure, there are spiritual directors and faculty to talk to, but nothing organized, nothing systematic to make sure nobody slips through the cracks. I know that people are slipping through the cracks and will continue to do so, and we should know better than that.

So I guess I’m in the anger stage of my grief right now. That feels pretty lousy, but I know I have to go through it. I do intend to find someone to talk to about it. Friends have been good, but it’s time for an objective point of view, I think.

Cardinal George was on campus the other night to talk to us about the tragedy. I know that what he said was true: we have to learn from this event, use it in our formation; we have to care for one another; we have to model our lives on the saints as we embrace the grief and pain and move through it. But he said nothing about how to take care of ourselves. Nobody has. And that’s what pisses me off most. It’s easy enough to say “you’re here to become priests, so buck up and stay the course.” But it’s quite another thing to have to do that, and quite frankly His Eminence’s words, while well-intentioned and probably the best he could do when it comes to pastoral care, just ring hollow.

So I still miss Matty and Jared. Matty especially, since I knew him best of the two. I miss his music, his laughter, his outreaching friendship for everybody. Grief just stinks.

From the holy card from Matty’s funeral, the Memorare:

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection,
implored your help or sought your intercession was left unaided.

Inspired with with confidence,
I fly to you, O virgin of virgins, my Mother.
To you I come,
before you I stand,
sinful and sorrowful.

O Mother of the Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions,
but in your mercy, hear and answer me.
Amen.

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy!
Our life, our sweetness, and our hope!
To thee do we cry, poor banished
children of Eve, to thee do we send
up our sighs, mourning and weeping
in this valley, of tears.
Turn, then, most gracious advocate,
thine eyes of mercy toward us; and
after this our exile show unto us the
blessed fruit of thy womb Jesus;
O clement, O loving, O sweet virgin Mary.

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God

That we may be made worthy of the
promises of Christ.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have salvation and power come,
and the Kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Anointed One.”
Rev. 10:11ab

What I have come to love about the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary is what it means for us. The Assumption marks the feast of Mary’s Assumption, body and soul, into heaven. The Church believes that Mary never saw death, because of her virginity and her participation in God’s plan of salvation through the conception, birth, death and resurrection of her son, the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Mary was a young girl with all the concerns of a young girl in that time and place. She was as yet unmarried, yet faithfully embraced God’s call, strange and unfathomable though it must have been to her. For me, her faith is incomprehensible. If I could have a tenth of it, my own faith would be increased immeasurably.

This humble girl, with great faith, was raised on this day to the heights of heaven that we can yet hope for. What the Assumption means for us is that as Mary has gone to exaltation before us, so we can hope for exaltation on that Great Day.

Because there are those among us too who have unplanned pregnancies. There are those among us whose children go in directions that put them in danger. There are those among us who have to watch a child die. But because Mary suffered these sorrows too, and yet was exalted, we can hope for the day when that which she was given and which we have been promised will surely be ours.

We are called to simply live our faith, not knowing where it will take us always, but always having faith that God will reward our efforts and raise us up from our fallenness.

We too can hope to be assumed into the great heavenly vision and rejoice when we hear that great voice say:

“Now have salvation and power come,
and the Kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Anointed One.”

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.