Sixty years ago, Pope Pius XII instituted a feast in honor of the Queenship of Mary. Eventually, this feast would be celebrated on the octave of the Assumption. And it is this heavenly Marian glory, following upon the Transfiguration, that lights up these august but waning days of summer, transforming melancholy into the determined initiative to be about the Father’s business of reconciliation.
My favorite apse mosaic is in Rome’s Santa Maria Maggiore, a depiction of Jesus sitting side-by-side with His Mother on a royal bench, reaching over to crown her. It is different from most depictions of the coronation in that Mary and Jesus sit on the same level. This indicates how humble the divine love is. All Jesus wants to do is share His heavenly glory.
When the Word, God the Son, becomes flesh, He undertakes all of the tensions that mark human existence. In the social order, the most basic such polarity is that of man and woman. The Incarnation is not sufficiently honored if we do not recognize that in becoming a male, Jesus took to Himself a partner, an associate, for His mission: the Woman, Mary.
And the point of recognizing Mary’s preeminence amongst created persons is, in the end, to recognize our own calling to participate in the mission, the ministry of reconciliation, to bind hearts together in true love and solidarity. Looking to Mary as Queen, we are comforted, even under the blows that we suffer in life. For all of that wasting away, that seems so characteristic of human existence, the Father allows, and sometimes commands, for one reason only: to try our hearts in the crucible, so that only love remains. Love transcends time; it is eternal:
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Cor 4:16-18)