Assumption Meditations at a Cemetery



We walk quickly down the frozen path into the mist, numb fingers turning rosary rings. “…pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.” We say this over and over as we pass the old gravestones, tilted and lichened and dark over the yellow leaves. Everywhere, leaves are falling, golden in the rising sun, on the path ahead and in the shadowy curve of the hill. It is beautiful, but our repeated words and footsteps drum a reminder that we too will die someday. We can feel it in the way our breath comes quicker in the cold air as we ascend the hill. We feel it in the sharp chill against our faces. We feel it as we read the ordinary sounding last names on the stones we pass.


But we are praying the glorious mysteries, and in each of our minds is a different image of the same woman. Some of us might be imagining her features or her hair color, or just thinking of symbols or virtues we associate with her as we repeat her name over and over, “Hail Mary…holy Mary…” The thought of this woman somehow changes our experience of this walk. She walked in places just like this, perhaps meditating on the life of her son just like we are. But nowhere can we ever visit her grave, or pray near her tombstone. Her body is not here: She is one of us, but by the mysterious and wonderful grace of God she never had to experience mortality the way the rest of us will someday experience it.


She is a sign of hope, that even though we will die we were created to be united with God in heaven, body and soul. Mary is a living confirmation of God’s promise for each person even before Christ’s coming, the promise that allows the psalmist to declare, “[t]herefore my heart is glad, my soul rejoices; my body also dwells secure, for you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, nor let your devout one see the pit” (Ps 16:9-10). Although the majority of Mary’s life on earth was quiet and obscure, her life in heaven is a sign of the triumph won by Christ for every human person. Because of his salvation, we all have the chance to live the life he created us for, a life that involves our whole person. It’s wonderful to think that he has a plan for our bodies as well as our souls, and that he loves them as a part of us that belongs in heaven. Yes, our bodies will be transformed, but they will still be us as much as they ever were. And Mary, with the body that carried the unborn Christ and that held and tended him as a child, already lives this reality. Because there was no sin weighing on her, God could bring her wholly home with him. Clinging to our mother and praying for the souls of the deceased, we can wait in the hope that someday we will be wholly home with him too.

2 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All