The Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary conclude with two events, the Assumption of Mary into heaven, and her Coronation as Queen of all Creation (meaning everything in the universe). The Church recently celebrated the Assumption on August 15 and her Coronation follows next week, on August 22. The imagery used in the Catechism to document these two events is beautiful:
“Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death.” (CCC, 974)
Aside from partaking in the prayer and beauty of these mysteries, what can we learn, practically speaking, about our own faith by studying them? Why has the Church placed so much emphasis on Mary’s Assumption and Coronation?
Mary is Assumed into Heaven
First, one must understand what it means to be “assumed into heaven.” This dogma teaches that, upon death, Mary was taken body and soul into heaven (most of us just get to keep our souls, not both, until the Final Judgment). It reminds me a little of Enoch of the Old Testament who “walked with God” and then was “taken away” (Genesis 5:24). It is neither resurrection nor ascension, as her Son Jesus experienced. The Assumption became an official part of Catholic teaching relatively recently, in 1950.
We know Mary to be the greatest of God’s mortal creatures, and the special case of her Assumption is one more layer of proof that this is the case. When pondering this mystery, start there: God set her aside for an extraordinary purpose.
What can really bring a new sense of love to one delving into Marian devotion is how our relationship, as her children, was changed by the event of the Assumption. First, Jesus gave Mary to His disciples – and by extension, all of us – as He died on the cross (“’Woman, behold your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother.’” John 19:25-27). The relationship, however, did not stop there, with her earthly life.
By being so present to us in heaven, she is that much more powerfully our mother and intercessor. Her life did not end, and her soul did not fade away (or transition to more simple sainthood). The bodily assumption preserves the very character of who she was, the god-bearer (“Theotokos”). From heaven, she is our ally and advocate. No wonder she has appeared so many times in apparitions to her children on earth (as one of my friends says, like a true female, never in the same outfit). With the act of the Assumption, the special grace she holds carries over from the mortal to the eternal world, and it is through her that we receive grace.
Mary, Queen of Heaven
Mary has many royal titles: Queen of Angels, Queen of Apostles, Queen of Peace, and so on. When we refer to her as Queen of Heaven, we acknowledge that Mary, in dependence on her Son, holds queenship over all of God’s creation in the universe. To put it in perspective: your mother is queen of the universe, and she loves you, wants what is best for you, and is listening. How’s that to boost your prayer life?
Understanding Mary’s role not just in the earthly drama of the Incarnation but also in its continuance in heaven is key to a deeper spiritual life. I overheard the same friend compare the Christian faiths that do not love the Blessed Mother, to going to a buffet and just getting pretzels. The glory of Mary’s queenship exists because of her relationship with her Son: she was the perfect vessel for God to descend to our world, and her queenship, after her earthly life, acknowledges that. To remove her from the story of Jesus’s life is to tell His story incompletely.
St. Louis Marie de Montfort, author of the Secret of the Rosary and a major proponent of Marian love and spirituality, put it best: “For God, having given her power over his only-begotten and natural Son, also gave her power over his adopted children – not only in what concerns their body – which would be of little account – but also in what concerns their soul.” He continues: “For God has made her queen of heaven and earth, leader of his armies, keeper of his treasure, dispenser of his graces, mediatrix on behalf of men, destroyer of his enemies, and faithful associate in his great works and triumphs.” By her Assumption we see her importance as God’s most perfect human creation, and in her queenship we see her authority not just as a mother for her earthly children, but on all matters within God’s kingdom.
Your Mother, Your Queen
The overall significance in reflecting on these mysteries is to ponder the even deeper mystery of how God came to earth through Mary. If we can provide proper love and reverence for this mystery, we better understand the mystery of Jesus’s Incarnation as a whole.
God chose a humble young woman to fulfill His plan of redemption, and this is significant. For us, we can model Mary’s piety, humility, and love here on earth. Additionally, she was elevated by God to the status of a queen. Loving her as our queen in heaven, we can turn to her for guidance and intercession. Jesus has given us the love and protection of His own mother; with her, our faith is whole.