The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother is this Tuesday, 15 August. It is a Holy Day of Obligation. Masses will be at 8:30 a.m. at Our Lady of Peace Church and at 6:30 p.m. at Notre Dame de Lourdes.
The Assumption is one of eight stained-glass windows in the main body of Our Lady of Peace Church. The Assumption window is to your right, second from the front. Last week, exploring the verse “We are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” from Hebrews 12, we looked at the windows to your left so today we look at the windows to your right.
The window closest to the confessional is the only one of the eight that does not represent one of the mysteries of the Holy Rosary. This window depicts the visit of the Magi to the Holy Family. The gifts they share with the newborn King each are meant not solely for his benefit but also for those who will be redeemed through him. Below this window is St. Augustine.
St. Augustine led a worldly life. Though his mother fervently prayed for his conversion, Augustine clung to dissipation. The prayers of his mother, Monica, and his conversations with his Bishop, Ambrose, eventually led Augustine to read the Bible, embrace its message, reject earthly treasure, receive, and share, with joy, the treasures of grace.
Speaking of St. Ambrose, we find him at the next window below the scene of the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple. Ambrose, not catechized, nor baptized, while serving in the military was called to break up a spiritual, and administerial dispute in the Milanese Basilica. Ambrose, amid his efforts to quell the disturbance, was suddenly nominated to be the Bishop of Milan through popular acclamation. Ambrose, although uncertain about this role, was quickly received into the Church. He, like the Child Jesus, immersed himself in learning and in defense of the sacred spaces of God.
The final two windows switch to the conclusion of the Glorious Mysteries of the Holy Rosary – The Assumption and the Coronation of the Blessed Mother. St. Gregory rests at the Coronation window and St. Jerome at the Assumption window.
St. Jerome is best known for his scholarship, and his acerbic tongue. Yet this tongue was quite gifted linguistically. St. Jerome was given the daunting task of translating the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament into Latin. With the assistance of a dedicated group of disciples, most of whom were women, St. Jerome, while respecting the nuances of the original languages, was able to unite the two testaments under one common language. Similarly, the Solemnity of the Ascension of Jesus begins the process of uniting us to heaven under the common language of love.
Human nature, at the Ascension, is provided a place at the heavenly banquet. Our Lady’s Assumption, where she was taken up body and soul into heaven, provides us with a glimpse of the fulfillment of Creation where hopefully our soul will be joined to our glorified body.
Our last stop is at the Coronation window. The Coronation of Our Lady commemorates Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth, Queen of Angels, and Saints. The words of the prayer – Hail, Holy Queen – echo the role of Mary, our Queen, as the advocate of mercy. “Turn then, most gracious advocate, your eyes of mercy toward us.”
St. Gregory, as pope, ministered as an advocate of mercy. He is noted as a liturgical reformer, most especially with a focus on chant. St. Gregory understood that a bishop was called to be a physician not solely to the faithful, but to those who have yet to receive the Good News of salvation. St. Gregory believed that all individuals are called to be “companions with the angels of heaven.”
Four windows to the left celebrate prophecy, four to the right acknowledge fulfillment. We are indeed surrounded, and cherished, by so great a cloud of witnesses.