In early times, the daily Chapter was a traditional feature of the monastic timetable. The monks left church at the end of the office of Prime and processed to a room near by, where a portion, or "chapter," of the Rule was read and the abbot commented upon it. It was also the natural occasion for announcements to be made affecting the life of the community and for a blessing to be given upon the day's work. Soon the room itself came to be called "the Chapter Room, or House" or simply "Chapter." Even today some form of this practice exists in many monasteries, including our own. Each month this page will feature a chapter talk given to the Community, as well as news and features. We hope you will visit us regularly.

 

August 15: The Feast of the Assumption

 

A great sign appeared in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

Apocalypse 12:1

 

This sight of great splendour is presented to us in the liturgy of Our Lady’s assumption into heaven.  The splendour is God’s, God’s light, God’s beauty, but He has poured it out upon Mary, the mother of His Son.  He has, remarks Dom Delatte, exhausted the resources of His liberality in her.

 

            This glorification of Mary is, then, the glory of God; it is His triumph in her.  Guerric of Igny in his first sermon for the Assumption, part of which we shall have at Vigils of the Feast, compares her to a throne, which is the symbol of triumph, reign, dominion.  Indeed, remarks Guerric, the Lord was, in his earthly life, subject to her natural authority for many years.  He once dwelt in her and after his birth was carried in her arms and seated in her lap, literally “enthroned” upon her.  Now, in heaven, far from being diminished, her glorious privilege is ratified, augmented and made manifest.  “Come, my chosen one and I will set up my throne in you.”  It is true that he promised his disciples a similar privilege: “In the new world, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne, you will also sit on thrones.”  And in a more general promise, he says that He will grant those who conquer sin and temptation to sit with Him on His throne. 


But Mary’s privilege is of a higher order.  She becomes His throne itself. “to sit with the judges is nothing compared with becoming my throne.  Then you will possess within you my sovereign majesty so joyfully and so intimately, and you will grasp so much more fully than they the incomprehensible.  You have sheltered the Child in your womb; you will embrace the Infinite in the depths of your soul.  You were the resting place for the Pilgrim; you will be the palace for the sovereign; you were the tent of the warrior as he prepared for battle in the world; you will be the throne of the victor in heaven.”

 

            Guerric easily modulates from the metaphor of throne to that of guest-chamber.  She was and is the perfect dwelling for His majesty.  No stain of pride was there, “only the deep foundation of humility”, no dark corners there, because faithlessness had been shut out; nothing cramped, because the breadth of charity was there.”  Mary was adorned with all beauty within and, continues Guerric, her adornment was all the more lavish because of her poverty, all the safer and surer because more interior.  It invited, even allowed the Presence of the Lord and in entering, He increased the grace of blessing.  “When you entered, you were born as a man in her; when you returned, you were glorified as God in her.  Then you made in her a shrine of grace for yourself; but now you have set her up as a throne of glory.”

 

            Mutatis mutandis, this is also a programme for us.  The soul of the just person is also called a seat of wisdom and the person who has laid deep foundations of humility, swept out the dark corners, pushed back the boundaries of self-centredness, been content with poverty, silence and interior space, in a work, who has prepared well to welcome the Lord as guest.  “And what is a seat of wisdom” says Guerric “will one day be a seat of glory.”  So, he adds quaintly, “the place of heaven will be full of seats and thrones and on each of them God will take his rest, giving Himself to all as and how their merits desire.”  He will say to each of us: “She shall be my rest for ever and ever; here will I dwell, for I have chosen her.”

 

            But on the Feast of the Assumption we recognise one “special throne of the King, exalted and elevated above the glory of all the rest”: Mary herself.  To conlude with Guerric: “The mother can contemplate nothing above herself but her Son alone, the Queen can gaze in wonder at nothing above herself but the King; the mediatrix can venerate nothing above herself but the mediator.  May she, by her prayers, represent, reconcile and commend us to her only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to whom are honour and glory for endless ages.  Amen.



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