Neither human nor angelic tongue, says St. Epiphanius, can describe the honor and triumph with which Mary was welcomed in heaven on the glorious day of her Assumption. This alone can be said: that there never was and never shall be a greater, after the glory and triumph of her Son. No created mind, St. Bernard states, can grasp with what glory the Blessed Virgin entered into heaven, with what devotion she was welcomed by all the choirs of Angels, with what pleasure and delight she was received and embraced by her divine Son.
Consider therefore, my soul, how the Angels, after the Redemption had taken place, longed to have in heaven in body and soul both the God-Man and his Mother. And now the desire of the heavenly inhabitants is fulfilled.
As the Lord had wanted the Ark of the Testament to be introduced into the city of David with great glory, so now with an even nobler and glorious triumph he ordered his Mother to enter into heaven. The King of heaven himself, St. Bernardine tells us, went to meet her with all his heavenly court, and thus surpassed the glory of his own Ascension.
Consider how, shining with joy and splendor, he invited her saying: “Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, come with me from Lebanon!” (Song 4, 8). And Mary, fairer than all other creatures altogether, rises from earth, crosses the spheres and arrives at the throne of the Most Holy Trinity. And the Angels, upon seeing her so beautiful and glorious, ask: “Who can this creature be who comes from the wilderness of the earth, a place of thorns and tribulations, so pure and rich in virtue, leaning on her beloved Lord? Who is she?” The Angels accompanying her reply: “This woman is the Mother of our King, she is our Queen, the blessed among women, full of grace, the saintliest of the saints, the beloved of God, the Immaculate, the dove, the fairest of all creatures. Hear then the canticle of all the blessed Spirits who praise her: “You are the exaltation of Jerusalem, you are the great glory of Israel, you are the great pride of our nation!” (Jud 15, 9).
St. Bernard contemplates that as on earth there was no place or temple more worthy of God than the virginal womb of Mary, so in heaven there is no throne higher than the regal throne upon which she was placed by her Son. He placed her at his right hand, above all the choirs of Angels, to make as it were a separate choir with his humanity. He associated her to himself as his Mother, his Bride, the Co-Redeemer, his Collaborator in the Redemption of the world, and as Queen of the universe.
O glorious and blessed Virgin, I rejoice and am glad with you for the great glory you enjoy in paradise, seated at the right hand of your Son and established as Queen of Heaven and earth. O dear Virgin, the whole universe, by believing in your divine Son and in the true Church, acknowledges you as Mother and Queen, and rejoices that in you it has such a gracious Mother at God’s side, and such a great, loving and powerful Queen.
Now consider, my soul, how the Most Holy Trinity crowns Mary with the most precious crown. The Eternal Father places the crown of power on her head, granting to her, after Jesus Christ, dominion over all the creatures of heaven and earth and hell, so that the Spirits of darkness tremble at her name. To her, therefore, the words of the Psalmist can be applied: “You have crowned her, O Lord, with glory and honor; you have placed her above all the works of your hands“ (cf. Psalm 8, 6-7). The Son encircles her head with a crown of wisdom, as the Queen of heaven, of the Angels and of man redeemed by his blood; and the fruit of redemption he places in her hands. As the Queen of clemency he gives her the keys of divine Mercy. The Holy Spirit adorns her with a crown of charity and, as the Mother of beautiful Love, infuses her with God’s love as well as a burning love for her fellow creatures, and ardent zeal for their well-being and salvation. Behold her, therefore, become the wonder and admiration of the angelic hierarchy.
Moreover, the Virgin was crowned with the wreaths of virginity, martyrdom and learning, for she was the Virgin of virgins, a martyr in the passion of her divine Son and a teacher of our religion, instructing the teachers themselves in the mysteries of the faith.
Finally Our Lady was crowned with the crown of twelve stars, as it is written in Apocalypse:
“A woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Ap 12,1). For just as the greatness and virtues of all the orders of Saints who are in heaven were united in her, so she was crowned with all their merits, represented by the twelve stars. There shone in her to the highest degree the faith and hope of the Patriarchs, the light and contemplation of the Prophets, the charity and zeal of the Apostles, the fortitude and magnanimity of the martyrs, the patience and penance of the confessors, the wisdom and prudence of the doctors, the holiness and purity of the priests, the solitude and prayer of the hermits, the poverty and obedience of the monks, the charity and purity of the virgins, the humility and patience of the widows, with the fidelity and the harmony of the married Saints. And by them she was recognized as their Queen.
My soul, who can ever imagine the angelic symphonies, the melodies and canticles of the blessed regions in praising God and the Queen of mercy? The great Virgin sits at the right hand of her Son, and seems to be saying to all generations: “The Lord has regarded the humility of his handmaiden, and has been pleased to let the riches of his grace shine in me. Therefore, come to me all of you who in this valley of tears and sorrow are oppressed and afflicted, I shall relieve you, for God has made me the cause of your joy.”
Yes, my adored Mother, I come in answer to your call. I am oppressed by the weight of my faults, I am prostrate, weighed down by the chains of sin. Yet great is my hope, O Queen, that you will deliver me! O my Mother taken up into heaven, reigning in body and soul in blessed glory; I believe you as such, and love and revere you. O Mary, send your light to illuminate the darkness of my spirit which lies buried in the gloom of bitter night. Let the rays burning in your holy love penetrate me, to kindle this lukewarm heart of mine with virtue, zeal and fervor. O divine Mother, do not allow my soul to perish in darkness. Surely I deserve every misfortune and punishment for my sins; yet, interposing your merits before Jesus, let your goodness deliver me from the punishments I deserve and obtain for me the favors I deserve not.
Behold, my soul, how all the saints of paradise come to greet her as Queen, from Adam and Eve to the Patriarchs, Noah, Abraham, and Jacob, and the Prophets and holy Virgins. “The maidens saw her and called her happy; the queens also, and they praised her” (cf. Song 6, 9).
Then followed the martyrs and the confessors, her relatives, Elizabeth, Zechariah and the Baptist, her parents, Joachim and Anne, and her purest spouse, Joseph. Who can express the joy of all these, and their words of gladness and consolation? My soul, join your voice with the blessed choirs, as they exclaim:
Hail, O Queen of heaven,
Hail, O Queen of Angels;
Hail, sacred root, hail, O gate
whence light was born to the world.
Rejoice, O glorious Virgin,
the fairest of all,
and pray thy Jesus for us.
This article was excerpted from The Fifteen First Saturdays, Shrine of Pompeii, 1993.