The Woman of Genesis and the Assumption of Our Lady
Concilium Allocutio August 2012
By Fr. Bede McGregor O.P.
Spiritual Director to the Legion of Mary
The Woman of Genesis and the Assumption of Our Lady
The duty of Legionaries to Mary is stated with absolute clarity in the Handbook: ‘The honouring of the Legion devotion to Mary by serious meditation and zealous practice is placed on each member as a solemn trusteeship to the Legion. It is to be regarded as an essential part of legionary duty, ranking before any other obligation of membership.’ This statement mirrors very precisely the insatiable desire of our Founder Frank Duff to know Mary as perfectly and personally as possible and to serve her with the utmost realism and practicality.
Today I wish to meditate, however briefly, on the Assumption of Mary into heaven. But in order to get the full impact of the grace of this feast of Mary I think it would be helpful to go back to the book of Genesis and some other mysteries of her life. And I want to stress just one aspect of the Assumption today. The first thing that God reveals to us about Mary is that she is always and everywhere a limitless sign of hope. The Legion has made the Woman of Genesis a central image of Mary in its spirituality and methods of evangelisation. Genesis 3:15 is the most quoted text of Sacred Scripture in the Handbook and the other writings of Frank Duff.
We all know the story very well. It is the darkest moment of human history because it is the moment of the original sin. This sin has left every human being flawed in a way we all experience in our very souls. In fact, the whole of creation is adversely affected and evil in all its terrifying forms enters the world and human history. But at this moment of absolute tragedy God does not abandon us. He gives us a sign, a Gospel, the good news about a Woman, a luminous sign of hope. It is a tremendous promise and sign in the midst of the profound alienation and darkness of sin. It is what the Fathers of the Church call the proto-evangelium - the first Gospel.
God confronts Satan and tells him that He will put enmity between him and the Woman, between her seed and his and together with her Son, subordinate and dependent on Him they will crush his head. Put very simply, the message is that victory will come through Mary because she will bring the Redeemer into the world. It is this message that is on the cover of the Tessera, it is pictured on the Miraculous Medal and of course it is the image of Mary that we place on the Legion altar at all our meetings. The vocation of the Legion is to align itself with the Woman of Genesis in the omnipresent spiritual warfare between grace and sin.
The prophecy of Genesis is first fulfilled in the Immaculate Conception. Grace is so utterly victorious in the very conception of Mary. From the very first moment of her existence she is flooded with grace arising from the foreseen merits of Christ’s redemptive love. She is conceived without the effects of original sin and indeed she is created full of grace. She is the great sign of the new era of grace and redemption. Hope begins anew with an absolute certitude in our world and history. The Legion roots itself in this mystery of Mary. This is the message of Lourdes confirming the definition of Mary as the Immaculate Conception, the great sign of hope and of the primacy of grace in human history.
Genesis is fulfilled even more deeply in the mystery of the Nativity of our Lord. No one could be more intimately involved in the mystery of the redemptive love of God than Mary. She is the Mother of the hope of the world. She remains inseparable from Jesus in all the mysteries of his public life. But above all she stands by the Cross of Jesus at that supreme moment of redemption when the victory of grace over sin is finally accomplished. She remains an essential part of that sublime sign of hope which is the Cross of Jesus. Despair should be obliterated from the vocabulary of the Christian in the light of the victory of the Cross and the gift of Mary as our Mother.
Now we come to the Assumption. Here we have the complete unfolding and fulfilment of the Woman of Genesis as the sign of hope in a troubled world. She points us to heaven and the proclamation that where she is we also can be. She guarantees the possibility of the final victory of grace and the redemptive love of God. The Legion is called to embody this spirit of hope and joy radiated in the Assumption of Mary. For an apostolate that is not marked by a spirit of hope and joy and victory, no matter how zealous or earnest it may be, is not the work of Mary.
Let me conclude with some words of Pope Benedict spoken in the context of the New Evangelisation but may well be apply to the celebration of the Assumption. “Now, someone could ask whether it is right to be so happy when the world is so full of suffering, when there exists so much darkness and evil? Is it right to be so high spirited and joyful. The answer can only be ‘yes!’ Because saying ‘no’ to joy we do nothing of use to anyone, we only make the world darker. And whoever does not love himself cannot give anything to his neighbour, he cannot help him, he cannot be a messenger of peace.
“From our faith we know and every day we see that the world is beautiful and God is good. And because of the fact that God became man and dwelled among us we know it definitively and concretely: yes, God is good and it is good to be a person. We live in this joy and from this joy we try to bring joy to others, to reject evil and to be servants of joy and reconciliation.”