As we move along the path of spiritual growth, toward awakening and enlightentment, two very important lessons present themselves: surrender and trust. Today, on the feast of the Assumption of Mary, we acknowledge Mary, the Mother of Jesus as a woman who not only learned, but lived these truths.
Catholic Feast Days
In the Catholic tradition in which I was raised, today, August 15th is celebrated as the Feast of the Assumption of Mary. This is one of those feast days that has always confounded me and in the 21st century, it is a feast that directly confronts scientific possibility. On this day, the Catholic Church recognizes the “belief” that Mary did not die a human death, but was raised, body and soul into heaven. As any non-Catholic would argue, there is absolutely NO scriptural evidence to to support the feast day that is celebrated today. I acknowledge this to be true, and….that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, or that the feast cannot be a metaphor for something that was really cool that happened to Mary and was witnessed and simply didn’t make the cut into the book we now call the Bible. I’m not going to argue with those that hold to the literal interpretation of scripture, neither am I going to argue with the Vatican and the importance they place on Big T Tradition. (A Catholic thing that supports certain dogma and doctrine by saying it is part of the “tradition” of the Church but perhaps not supported by scripture.) So, whether we believe it the literal truth of the assumption, or simply set it aside as one of “the Catholic things,” we cannot argue that Mary was a pretty cool chick and worthy of honor and respect by whatever name we call it!
Something about Mary
Being raised Catholic, Mary held a central role in my religious upbringing. As an adult, she has held an equally central role in my journey of spiritual healing, growth, evolution. Here are somethings about Mary that I think are really cool, that inspire me, guide me and give me hope:
Mary was a woman of Prayer: She had to be. I can only understand the story of the Annunciation (when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and invited her to be the Christ bearer.) in the context of contemplation and prayer. One would have to already have a firmly established spiritual practice and devotion to God to be able to 1) Hear, see, experience God’s messenger. 2) Be present to the invitation 3) SAY YES!
Mary was a woman of Courage: Again, she had to be! How could a girl of 13 or 14 not only have an angelic encounter and survive it, but say yes to an invitation that in her culture could have gotten her killed. Do you know the penalty in first century Palestine for being unmarried and pregnant (actually, the penalty in some areas of the Middle East is still the same today)? DEATH BY STONING! Mary said yes, had to somehow tell her parents and then hope that she wouldn’t be killed. YIKES! Oh yea, then she had to (rather her parents had to), tell the man to whom she was betrothed. His right under the law? To have her killed for her infidelity and for breaking their marriage contract. COURAGE!
Mary was a woman of faith What did Mary have to keep her going through the encounter with the angel to the birth of her child? FAITH! She had to trust that if this invitation was indeed Divinely directed, that all would be well, that she would be safe, protected, kept from harm and that the child would come to birth and that together, they would be safe. This whole plan defied human logic, and societal customs and norms, and yet, Mary said yes. She had faith in her God and her faith was proved to be well grounded – she was not killed, Joseph married her anyway, and Jesus was born into the world.
Mary’s faith moved beyond faith into surrender and acceptance. This is where Mary is elevated in my mind to some place of Divine Christing herself. 1) She had to travel miles from the safety and comfort of her family to have her baby born in the most uncomfortable of surroundings. 2) They had to flee their homeland to escape persecution by the king. 3) She heard from prophets in the temple of the things her son would do and was told they would “pierce her to the heart.” 4) She had to watch her son follow an equally strange and “God-inspired” path. 5) She had to stand in watch as her son was brutally executed. Mary had to allow her heart to be broken…probably a million times…as she gave witness to the fulfillment of the “yes” that she said to bringing Jesus into the world. She had to trust that no matter how bad it looked, that all would be serving some sort of higher purpose…and she had to trust that her son knew what he was doing, but beyond that, that God knew what God was doing. She had to trust that her “yes” was not in vain…even if she did not see the results in her lifetime. In the end, Mary is just cool!
How can Mary be a source of inspiration for you on your own spiritual path?
How have your spiritual practices, faith, courage and acceptance provided assistance for you in your own journey?
How are YOU being invited to be a vessel through which God’s love can be birthed into the world?????
Authentic Freedom Ministries