The last two Glorious Mysteries of the day were based on Mary’s assumption into heaven and her coronation as the Queen of Heaven and Earth. Because I was raised in a Protestant background, I have always taken it for granted that Mary is, of course, with God and with her son in heaven. That was never anything that needed to be said or thought about in my upbringing. It was just a given. But maybe thinking about it is important. I’m not sure that I am ready to ascribe to Mary all of the things that the Catholic church ascribes to her at this point, but I do think that Mary is to have a place of honor in our hearts on some level. She is an example of the kind of unfaltering obedience to God that we should all strive for. She is the example of the kind of unwavering trust in God that we should all strive for. The Bible declares her to be “blessed among women,” and that’s not just because she bore the son of God – but because of her character that inspired God to choose her to bear the Messiah in the first place.
Another interesting thing to note is that an ‘assumption into heaven,’ at least for me, implies that a person never died. The Bible does not describe any dramatic or miraculous assumption of Mary, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find that an assumption did, indeed, take place. It is, after all, scriptural that those who lead lives of superior obedience to God do not ever physically die. Enoch, for example, never saw death but was instead “taken up” to God (see Genesis 5:24 and Hebrews 11:5). If Enoch could live in such a way that God did not let him see physical death, then why not the mother of Jesus Christ?
The Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth was an event that I had never heard of, and I wondered why the Catholic Church believes this about Mary. I did a little (very light) research and found a few reasons as to why Mary is believed to be the Queen of Heaven and Earth.
The first is based on the belief that the events and governance of old testament stories and kingdoms pre-figure the unseen, heavenly kingdom. Many protestant groups (and other non-Catholic, non-Protestant Christians) share this belief. In the old testament, the mother of a king was always given the title equivalent to a Queen Mother (a Gebirah or Great Lady). The title was not just one of respect, but one of authority. According to the article I read, this pattern can be seen from Bathsheba (King Solomon’s mother) to Nehushta (King Joachim’s mother).
The second is based on the belief that Mary is simply the first to achieve her “crown of righteousness,” which all who die in Christ are promised. And finally, it is believed that Mary is the woman in Revelations 12:1-6, crowned with a crown of 12 stars. Although I would agree that Revelations 12:1-6 refers to Mary, that particular passage seems to have taken place after she was crowned and does not describe an actual coronation. Of course, one could argue that the fact that she was crowned at all means a coronation must have taken place at some point.
At the end of each mystery, the one praying is to recite the “Glory Be” and something called the “Fatima Prayer.” The Fatima Prayer simply asks Jesus to forgive us our sins and save us from the fire of hell – especially those of us who are “in most need of [His] mercy.” I tend to go back and forth about whether or not I believe in the existence of hell (in the form of what I have been raised to believe, at least). But I do believe that God punishes sin, that Jesus is essential to our being freed from that sin, and that we are all in need of his mercy. I love this prayer because it reflects the love that we are to have for one another – for our enemies. If hell does exist, I don’t want anyone to end up there. It is important that those of us who are in Christ continue to pray for the world that they will be forgiven and rescued and that God will, through His son, show his mercy to the world. If anyone wants to learn true forgiveness, I would suggest that they pray this prayer for those people that he or she hates the most.
The next and final entry on this series will be about the Hail Holy Queen and the Magnificat! Until then, what are your thoughts on those Bible characters who never tasted death? What are your thoughts on Mary’s position as the Queen of Heaven and Earth? I’d love it if you shared!