Let me tell you a personal story.
A few years ago, I was stricken with an allergic reaction. The doctors are still not sure what it was, but it was severe enough for me to go to the Emergency Room at the hospital. Everything was beginning to shut down and I got to the ER just in time.
As part of the treatment, I was given a sizeable shot of epinephrine which had quite a negative reaction on me. The scariest part was hearing a nurse say “He’s crashing!” Believe me, that’s not something you want to hear. I have no real memory of what was going on, except a lot of frantic to and fro from the staff, and my wife sitting by my gurney looking pretty grim.
When I saw her face, all I could think was “God, no matter what happens, take care of this wonderful woman, my wife.”
I’ll have to admit, I was scared.
I prayed again for the comfort of all my family and for their strength through what I thought was about to happen to me.
Then I looked to the foot of my bed, still asking for peace for my family, and I saw…someone standing there. It was not vivid enough to look like a person, but there was definitely an oval cloud around whomever or whatever was there.
The Blessed Mother, Mary.
That’s what immediately came to mind. And of course, the oval shape was the same as the Miraculous Medal I was wearing.
I relaxed. There was no talking, no message, no revelation, but simply a feeling of peace. I absolutely knew it was Mary, the Mother of God.
I relaxed. The frantic staff’s movement started to slow. One of the nurses patted me on the shoulder. Sue was holding my right hand. I felt OK.
To that moment in my life, Mary had been an enigma. Whenever I thought of her during my readings of the Liturgy of the Hours, it was with some sort of annoyance, I think occasioned by the type of language we find in the Vigil Gospel for today, when Jesus corrects a woman in the crowd saying, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” And the language Jesus uses at the wedding feast at Cana, “Woman, what does this have to do with me?”
I always had, if not a negative attitude toward Mary, then one of tolerance and annoyance.
I have no idea where it came from.
But I can tell you, from the day of my allergic reaction, my feeling for and about The Blessed Mother has changed completely.
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” These words from today’s Gospel began my new quest to become acquainted with The Blessed Mother. I found that almost every reference to Mary in the Bible portrays a humble, pious, and truly blessed woman. One whom I now can truly see as “The queen (taking) her place at your right hand in gold of Ophir.” One who, as we hear in The Annunciation readings, immediately accepts God’s grace and carries out his word. This woman, who is described in the first Reading as “clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”
Now I must confess that I’m a skeptic. Always have been. Need a two-by-four to get most messages…but that night, lying on the hospital gurney, ready for whatever was to come, I unquestionably had a visit from Mary whose unspoken message to me was “Everything is going to be all right.” That message was not that I was going to make it, but that everything was going to be all right. The Blessed Mother.
So as I hear today’s Readings, Psalm, Alleluia, and Gospel I am washed again in the peace which The Blessed Mother represents to us and her acceptance and understanding of whatever God is preparing for us.
And especially after the disturbing image of a ferocious and terrible dragon from Revelation, with the words
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have salvation and power come,
and the Kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Anointed One.”
With those words, it is as if Mary is telling me, again, “Everything is going to be all right.”
So as we contemplate the Assumption of The Blessed Virgin Mary, let us all draw comfort from The Star of the Sea who calms the waves and sends us peace as we travel these sundering seas.
Jesus, help us to go through life as your Mother did, praying and trusting in God’s mercy. Give us eyes to see her glory and ears to hear her silent words of comfort.