We reflect this Easter season on the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary.
One of my favorite stained-glass windows is in St. Nicholas Cathedral in County Galway, Ireland and echoes the words of Pope John Paul II, who declared that “the future of humanity passes by way of the family” (On the Family, 86). Entitled The Window of the Holy Family, it beautifully depicts Jesus, Joseph, and Mary in a very ordinary way. Joseph is depicted as a strong protector working on a carpentry project in the background of the window. To the forefront of the window, a young Jesus with red hair (This is Ireland after all!) is bringing the Blessed Mother a cup of tea. As for the Blessed Mother, she is sitting down, knitting an item of clothing, barefoot and clad in a simple blue robe. The glasswork is exquisite, and the colors are rich and vibrant. This window shows the human and divine love of God through the witness of Jesus, Joseph, and Mary. It points to the love God our Father has for each one of us and also reminds us that, like Mary, we are called to holiness in the ordinary moments of our lives. The centerpiece of this window showcases the bond between a mother and child, pointing us to Mary’s role as our Blessed Mother, who when her earthly life concluded, was assumed into heaven.
The Assumption of Mary was infallibly defined by Pope Pius XII in the bull Munificentissimus Deus (“Most Bountiful God”) and declared a point of dogma in 1950. It is indeed a glorious mystery reminding us that God chose Mary, a young woman, to be the Mother of God and assumed her earthly body into heaven. The Assumption of Mary is not just a celebration of Mary but also a celebration of the whole Church, for it speaks of the meekness of humanity compared to the glory of God, while also emphasizing humanity’s capacity for greatness.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church remarks that “the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, when the course of her earthly life was completed, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven, where she already shares in the glory of her Son’s Resurrection, anticipating the resurrection of all members of his Body” (974). Jesus’ Resurrection is a victory over the darkness of death, which he too promises to his faithful disciples. It is only fitting that his beloved mother, the mother of all humanity, would be the first to receive this blessing. She is a catechist par excellence, because the Assumption of Mary into heaven echoes the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a foreshadowing of our own assumption; if we remain faithful to God, we too can look forward to sharing in that fullness of new life.
Mary was the first and best disciple of Jesus, and her life teaches us how we are to live ours. By contemplating her place in heaven, we are reminded that our earthly life is not our definitive homeland; we too are called to eternity. The Assumption of Mary emphasizes her perfect union with the destiny of Jesus. It is also a lesson for us: We must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, be faithful to his promises, and always reach for heaven. The Window of the Holy Family in Ireland also reminds us that we can keep our eyes firmly fixed on Jesus Christ while doing the ordinary things we do, whether it is knitting, building from wood, or drinking a cup of tea. Heaven indeed!