Peter Kwasniewski

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Five lessons Mary’s Assumption teaches Christians about the road to heaven

Peter Kwasniewski Peter Kwasniewski Follow Dr. Peter

August 14, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – With all the evils inundating the Church of Christ on earth, we can too easily forget to bear firmly in mind, as a consolation and as a constant spur to virtue, the single goal of all our striving: eternal life in the Kingdom of God, the heavenly Jerusalem, the Church in her immaculate bridal and maternal perfection, with Our Lord, Our Lady, and all the angels and saints. 

The path we follow to get there is charity today and the pursuit of holiness. The beautiful feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is one of the most powerful reminders of our glorious destiny and of the immense power of God to bring us home.

This feast teaches us so many lessons, but let us consider five of them.

First, our home is indeed not this earth, this mortal, perishable, sin-infested valley of tears. God in His changeless eternity foreknew us, fashioned us for Himself, and placed us in the garden of this world to till it and keep it, until such time as we are ready either to be advanced to the greater and better garden of which this world is a dim shadow, or to be thrust definitively out of all gardens because of our sloth, disobedience, and contempt for their beauty and the call of our Maker. 

Why—one might ask—are we first placed in a temporary garden for a short time before we can be elevated to the everlasting city of the saints? Material creatures such as humans are must achieve their end by steps, not all at once in a single act (as angels do at the beginning of their creation). The human condition, as God willed it, is one of growth towards maturity, growth in understanding and the gift of self. Our life on this earth, therefore, is a school of virtue, prayer, and love, a period of probation to see what we truly value and where we want to end up forever. We see that Our Lady was the best student in this school, the one who listened to the Father, received His Word, and gave Him freely to the world.

Second, our ultimate condition is not that of a ghost or an idea or an angel: purely spiritual. No, we are made up of flesh and blood, we are the crossroads where the visible meets and mingles with the invisible. The Word became flesh to redeem and divinize this rational animal, to perfect both its rationality and its animality. In the resurrected Christ, we see perfection of mind as well as perfection of materiality. That is our final destiny too: to be raised from the dead, with our flesh restored to integrity, and our soul reunited with our body—the human person God made from the dust of the earth and the infusion of His breath.

It is no different with the Virgin Mary: she who knew not the corruption of sin could not know the corruption of the tomb; she in whom the living and life-giving Word dwelt could not be handed over to the jaws of death. Rather, in all of the beauty of her intact, integral, and grace-filled human nature, body and soul, she was raised up to the glory of heaven, having already attained the resurrection in its fullness.

Third, it teaches us that the laws of nature, since they come from God in the first place, do not bind His hands or thwart His will. Our Lady was raised up into the heavenly places, contrary to what we call the “laws of physics”—but altogether in harmony with the supreme law of God’s will. She was taken up into another realm, a realm not measured by the motions of corruptible bodies and the time it takes for them to travel, a realm not contiguous and continuous with ordinary space and time. This is no different from what happened with Our Lord in His Ascension, when he was taken up and “a cloud hid Him from their sight” (Acts 1:9). That is the evangelist’s way of saying that Jesus passed from this created world to God’s own realm, His native land, mysterious and ineffable, hid from mortal eyes, but now opened by His Passion and Cross to those who are saved.

Fourth, this feast day teaches us the immense dignity of the human body, a temple of the Holy Spirit, which we should never defile through unchastity or impurity, deface by mutilation and body graffiti, damage by addictions or slothfulness, idolize through obsession with sports and fitness, or appear to hold in contempt by the cremation of its remains. The body is the worthy dwelling place of the immortal soul and of the Body of Christ in the Holy Eucharist; it is the worthy instrument used by God for the transmission of human life; it is the essential means by which we perform corporal and spiritual works of mercy; and it will be raised again on the last day. Nevertheless, the body is not that which makes us human or that in virtue of which we become God’s children: that is our spiritual soul, which gives life to the body and, through the sacraments, receives the gift of sanctifying grace. Recognizing the value of the body because of its ordering to the soul and to eternal life is the key to opposing so many evils in our world that actually demean the flesh.

Fifth, the Assumption tells us that Our Lady is close, very close, to Our Lord, that she sees our needs and intercedes for us with Him, as she did at the wedding feast of Cana: “They have no more wine.” She sees what we lack; she hears the requests of her children; she takes action for their sake, as any loving mother would, and the most loving mother most of all. And Jesus, who already knows our needs, as He knew the needs of the couple at Cana, willingly listens to His Mother, allowing her the dignity of cooperating in our salvation. The Assumption brings Our Lady closer to us than ever, because it brings her close to the Lord, who is present always and everywhere. We need have nothing to fear with so attentive a Mother, so generous a Redeemer.

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Peter Kwasniewski

Peter Kwasniewski holds a B.A. in Liberal Arts from Thomas Aquinas College and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America. After teaching at the International Theological Institute in Austria and for the Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Austrian Program, he joined the founding team of Wyoming Catholic College in Lander, Wyoming, where he taught theology, philosophy, music, and art history, and directed the choir and schola. He is now a full-time author, speaker, editor, publisher, and composer.

Dr. Kwasniewski has published seven books, including Sacred Choral Works (Corpus Christi Watershed, 2014); Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis (Angelico, 2014); Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness (Angelico, 2017); A Reader in Catholic Social Teaching (Cluny, 2017); and Tradition and Sanity (Angelico, 2018). Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis has been published in Czech, Polish, German, and Portuguese, and will soon appear in Spanish and Belarusian.

Kwasniewski is a scholar of The Aquinas Institute in Green Bay, which is publishing the Opera Omnia of the Angelic Doctor, a Fellow of the Albertus Magnus Center for Scholastic Studies, and a Senior Fellow of the St. Paul Center. He has published over 750 articles on Thomistic thought, sacramental and liturgical theology, the history and aesthetics of music, and the social doctrine of the Church. 

For news, information, article links, sacred music, and the home of Os Justi Press, please visit his personal website, www.peterkwasniewski.com.