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Fairest Daughter of the Father: On the Solemnity of the Assumption | Rev. Charles M. Mangan
The Solemnity of the Assumption, celebrated annually on
August 15, presents a golden opportunity to reconsider the person of the
Ever-Virgin Mary and her singular mission in the Church. We often contemplate the relationship
btween Mary and her Son; this reflection will focus on the
relationship which Our Lady enjoys with the First Person of the Most
Mary has been hailed as the "first-born" daughter of the
Father. This reality is evident if one remembers that God--and in a
specific way the Father--has created Mary, just as He has created us.
She is "one of us" because she is fully human. We are children of the
Almighty in a similar vein in which she is His daughter. As we rely on
God for our very existence, so, too, does our Immaculate Mother.
What do the Father and His sinless daughter share?
Venerable Pius IX (1846-1878), in his Apostolic Constitution
Ineffabilis Deus (December 8, 1854) in which he once-and-for-all
defined the truth of Our Lady's Immaculate Conception, wrote: "To her
did the Father will to give His only-begotten Son--the Son Whom, equal to
the Father and begotten by Him, the Father loves from His Heart--and to
give this Son in such a way that He would be the one and the same common
Son of God the Father and of the Blessed Virgin Mary."
The Father gave many overwhelming spiritual riches to Mary
to strengthen her in her inspiring vocation as the Mother of His Son.
Yet, He gave no greater gift than that of the Lord Jesus. Mary, in turn,
imitated the Father in raising Jesus from before infancy to manhood.
Jesus knew well the best of all gifts which His Mother faithfully
imparted: the boundless love of His Beloved Father. Now, as the Son of
Mary, Christ came to experience the love of His Mother which was
patterned after that of His Father.
One may rightly assert that Jesus Christ is the link
between the Father and Mary. We often claim that children receive much
of their identity from their parents. Eye color, physical build and even
disposition are often traced from the child back to its parents. Truly,
the offspring rely on their father and mother for multiple and varied
things. (And, of course, the Messiah willed to come forth from Mary and
be dependent on her and Saint Joseph.) However, the Holy Family of
Nazareth is a different case. Mary and her loving husband discovered
their purpose in the Divine Child. In Jesus, they found their
identity--unto everlasting life!
From her Immaculate Conception to her glorious Assumption
body and soul into Paradise (and even now), Mary never lost her sense of
utter dependence on the Father. Yes, she was chosen to be the Virgin
Mother of Emmanuel. But, she always recalled that she needed God each
moment of her life. When exclaiming the Lord's unparalleled goodness in
the Magnificat (Saint Luke 1:46-55), this humble maiden declared: "The
Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is His Name" (Verse
49). She did not contend: "Holy is my name." Mary was entirely convinced
that God alone is the source of all we are and all that we have.
Father Jean Galot, a French theologian and member of the
Society of Jesus and professor emeritus of Christology at the Pontifical
Gregorian University in Rome, recently explored in an article the
intimate bond between the heavenly Father and Mary. We are able to
locate this connection "in the attitude of the Baby Jesus." Father Galot
argues: "In His Infancy, He (Jesus) developed a double fundamental love.
He said 'Abba' to the celestial Father and 'Mamma' to the earthly
Mother. Other babies unite in the affection for father and mother, who
are both human; Jesus associated a divine Father and a human Mother in
the same filial love."
These two cries, "Abba" and "Mamma," came from the very
same Person--Jesus Christ. It is apparent that the Child recognized in
His Mother the care, concern--yes, charity!--which springs from the very
Heart of the Father.
If we grant that God never does anything without a
sufficient and the most excellent of reasons, then we must conclude that
His choice of Mary as the Mother of the Master has certain spiritual
ramifications for those who are the brothers and sisters of Jesus.
1) Mary teaches us how to love the Omnipotent One as we
ought. Again, Mary is fully human. She is of the same "stuff" as we.
Hence, we implore her powerful intercession in learning how to love the
Holy Trinity as she does, our weaknesses notwithstanding.
2) The Father has a plan for our lives that we are to
yield to immediately if we wish to be content. Imagine what Mary would
have missed had she refused the Lord's tender mercy? He summoned her to
become Jesus' Mother; she readily accepted. What we forego when we say
"no" to our Creator! What we gain when we submit to His unfathomable
3) Only in Jesus Christ will we discover our identity and
be filled with authentic happiness. The Redeemer teaches us the truth
about Himself, His Father, the Paraclete, His Mother, and ourselves. He
waits to form us in His Sacred Word. He will never compel us to consent
to his desires, but how He wants us to! Mary saw in Christ the splendor
of truth. Although she suffered intensely, especially on Calvary, her
pure soul was steeped in joy because she courageously adhered to the
designs of the Lord, no matter how challenging. The Holy Spirit granted
her an abiding tranquillity which is indescribable.
The same Father Who sent His Son to Mary through the power
of the Consoler invites us, as He did Mary, to find in Jesus the answer
to all our questions and the balm to all the illnesses of our souls. We
can seek to imitate in some way, with the Holy Spirit's assistance,
Mary's sublime love of the Father. Our wholehearted acceptance of His
love and compassion means that we will flourish spiritually in our day
as the Mother of Christ did--and continues, now assumed into Heaven--in
This article originally appeared in a slightly different form in the July/August
1999 issue of Catholic Faith magazine.
Related IgnatiusInsight.com Articles and Excerpts:
The Blessed Virgin in the History of
Christianity | John A. Hardon, S.J.
"Hail, Full of Grace": Mary, the Mother of Believers |
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
Mary in Feminist Theology: Mother of God or Domesticated Goddess? |
Fr. Manfred Hauke
Excerpts from The Rosary: Chain of Hope | Fr.
Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R.
The Past Her Prelude: Marian Imagery in the Old
Testament | Sandra Miesel
Mary, Matchless in Grace | John Saward
Mary | The Introduction to Mary in the Middle Ages | by Luigi Gambero
Mary | Dr. James Hitchcock
Born of the Virgin Mary | Paul Claudel
Assumed Into Mother's
Arms | Carl E. Olson
Contemplates the Mother | Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan is a priest of the
Diocese of Sioux Falls (South Dakota). He was ordained to the Priesthood
in 1989. He currently works in the Vatican Congregation for Institutes
of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. Access more of his
articles online here.
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