By: Father Jim Phalan, C.S.C. on August 15th, 2022
The Assumption of Mary: Visions of Creation and New Creation
We kayaked across Yellowstone’s Lewis Lake, up the Lewis River and halfway across Shoshone Lake to the campsite. Stepping out, stepping back, a different perspective unfolded as we celebrated the Eucharist on the shore. This gaze opened into infinity, finding and awakening vision: the faculty to be able to see and to understand, where sometimes only nature can reawaken this sense.
At the same time, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, August 15, in a similar and complementary way awakens our vision, yet with even greater clarity and depth.
Our guide, a wise man who is at once a cowboy, a scientist, and a politician, characterized the vision by order, beauty, and truth. To that I would add love, peace, and grace. In our dense and noisy urbanized world, it is so hard to maintain clear vision.
How does God speak to us in creation?
All too easy to fall into myopia, unable to see beyond our small screens or looming problems. Without a guiding vision, we know not who we are nor where we are going. We need the sight of a still mountain lake or of an ocean sunrise to awaken the vision of creation that reflects the Transcendent, revealing order, love, and beauty. We need to experience that. Yet the power of the natural world, with its apparent destructiveness, at times, can seem ambiguous to us. Powerfully illustrated, in needing to keep our “bear spray” cans with us, as we celebrated Mass on the shore of that lake, just in case of an encounter with a grizzly bear.
“In the sixth month, the Angel Gabriel was sent by God to a virgin …”: we are offered visions of the New Creation that leave no doubt that we are loved!
A superficial hearing of the Genesis Creation Story might easily lead one to dismiss as silly superstition that science contradicts and does not need. Listening attentively, one understands: God, who is Order, Beauty, and Love, creates. He creates Man – the man and the woman together – sharing in His Consciousness and His Freedom. He saw that it was good, although, we, through the misuse of freedom, have complicated and distorted it. This vision is true!
God’s immediate response to our failure is the promise of the Woman and her Offspring! Our very sin would be the occasion to take the incomplete creation to its fullness by the coming of the New Creation.
I have long stood in awe of the complementarity of natural creation and human history. Some tend to make the natural world into an idol, demonizing human intervention into it. Others, isolated in cities, perhaps, idolize human power over nature. Our Christian vision harmonizes and unifies both nature and history!
In the fullness of time a baby girl is immaculately conceived. A few years later that Woman, then young, receives an invitation via an archangel. She says a pure, free, and unequivocal YES. The Divine Presence comes over her and makes His home in her. Divinity and humanity are united perfectly within her. The Word becomes flesh. A baby is born.
That God Man, Love Incarnate, fully reveals that indeed God loves you and loves me, and He loves all to the point that even when we tried to extinguish Him, His love conquers death and opens the way to the final step: our very union with Him, what the Church Fathers call the “divinization” of humanity.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband… And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Revelation 21:1-2, 5.
The Woman, Mary, always united with her Offspring, stood as witness, offering her Son to the Father for us at the side of the Cross, where He made her the Mother of the Church. At the end of her journey in this stage of life, she was taken up into the total fullness of life, in body and soul. This is a great and glorious gift for her and for all of us in the Church. It contains a great promise for us and God’s commitment to the fulfillment that we call the coming of the New Creation. This is the Vision for us all to see.
I saw it again, celebrating Mass on the shores of Shoshone Lake, Wyoming, July 23, 2021. My prayer, that you will see it for yourself today on this Blessed Feast of the Assumption of Mary.
About Father Jim Phalan, C.S.C.
Father James Phalan, C.S.C., is a Catholic priest, member of the Congregation of Holy Cross and the National Director of Family Rosary. He served as a missionary for many years travelling the globe to help people come to Jesus through Mary as part of the Family Rosary team. Now he is happy to be serving back at home in the USA!