Imagining Mary’s Moments Before the Assumption

"The Assumption of the Virgin" by Michel Corneille the Younger, via The Metropolitan Museum of Art, licensed under CC0 1.0

Mary speaks on only four occasions in Scripture, and her last recorded words are, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:5) In the tradition of Ignatian contemplation, I imagine Mary’s final moments before the Assumption. I feel presumptuous putting words in her mouth, but it helps me pray her Assumption.

I felt my son’s voice, rather than heard it. He was saying, “Soon, Mother,” and it filled me with indescribable joy, which drove every pain from consciousness. I’m getting weaker. I’m thankful for Mary Magdalene, whose loving help means so much. She said, “I want to be with you, Mother Mary! You’re the closest person I know to Jesus.”

I know how she feels; she brings me closer to Jesus too. She’s like the daughter I never had. She stood with me at the Crucifixion. Having both her and John nearby overwhelms me with gratitude. We laugh until we cry retelling stories. I love recounting the wedding of our good friends in Cana. When I told the servants to go to my son, Jesus helped that couple. The looks on people’s faces! That’s when disciples really began to believe in him.

When Jesus gave me John as my son at the Crucifixion, I was ready for the new assignment. Everyone benefits from a loving mother, and John needed me. I am the handmaid of my Lord still. I know Jesus didn’t want me to be alone. But he also hoped for more: he called me to join the labor of birthing his Church, which happened at Pentecost.

When Pentecost came, and we were all in that upper room, I felt more alive than ever. I sensed the new birth that day. The disciples are all my children now.

Countless times I encouraged them to be courageous, just as I had done for Jesus. I’d miss him even more if it weren’t for them. I work at strengthening them through things like listening.

I’ve done what God asked; in prayer I carried many children. They’re establishing Christ’s new body now. Here. Loving and serving has been my joy-filled vocation. People are often amazed at my strength. I laugh as I think of all that Jesus put me through! My love for him is indescribable.

And I have that love for all his followers too. When I’m holding Jesus’ hand in heaven, I will keep on mothering. “Soon, Mother,” echoes in my mind.

I am blessed to be part of Christ’s mission. Even as I approach the end of earthly life, I can’t stop repeating: “My soul proclaims the greatness of my Lord. My spirit rejoices in God my savior.” I could say it a thousand times, and it wouldn’t be enough.

Mary Magdalene says I kept repeating those words while delirious with fever. She never complains about helping me with things I cannot do for myself, and when I compliment her, she says she’s only copying my indomitable spirit! I tell her only God is truly indomitable. God has shown strength through loving the poor and filling them with consolations. At the same time, God afflicts the consciences of the rich and turns power structures upside down. How can I keep from praising every minute with every breath for the precious experiences I’ve had!

I gripped Mary Magdalene’s hand tightly today and said, “Never forget that I am your mother too. Even when I go to my son, talk to me. I’ll tell Jesus to watch over you and all my children.”

I’m feeling very sleepy now. I smile, with nothing to fear. I will always magnify the Lord.

Image: “The Assumption of the Virgin” by Michel Corneille the Younger, via The Metropolitan Museum of Art, is licensed under CC0 1.0.

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Loretta Pehanich is a Catholic freelance writer and author of Fleeting Moments: Praying When You Are Too Busy. Loretta has six years experience as a spiritual director and was trained in giving the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. She is also a workshop presenter and retreat leader on Ignatian spirituality and prayer. Loretta is a founder of Women’s Ministry at St. Francis in Sacramento, CA. With more than 20 years in ministry, including Christian Life Community (CLC) and small group leadership, Loretta is an expert in being busy. She and her husband Steve have four children and 10 grandchildren.

16 COMMENTS

  1. At mass for the feast of the assumption I found myself picturing Mary falling asleep and not waking up. And I imagined what that moment of Assumption might have been like. Did St. John see a bright light or did the ground rumble? Did he walk in her room and her body was gone? I wonder.

  2. Thank you Loretta. Everything that is good in my life , a real milestone, has occurred in a feast day of Our Blessed Mother. It has helped me tremendously in my faith journey to feel the consolations that the realization of the event provides. The Assumption is probably the largest consolation. Your soliloquy is one more consolation pearl in my grieving days. Thank you very much.

    • Oh, Henry. You reminded me that I experienced several miracles on this feast in my life, too! Including the wonderful news that my husband and I had been cleared to adopt our two children in Colombia. Blessing upon blessing, thanks to Mary.

  3. Thank you very much Loretta, I loved your reflection and connected strongly with it. Just last night I was thinking about Mary’s intercession for us and the strenght of it, as in Canan’s wedding. She has so much influence that she was able to anticipate the start of Jesus’ public acting.

    • And I wonder how many other things she taught him as he grew. There’s an outdated saying: behind every great man is a great woman.” It is certainly true in her case!

  4. What a wonderful devotional and reflection on our Blessed Mother’s last days on earth! Thank you, Loretta! I can’t wait to share!

  5. As a mother, I absolutely loved reading this. The pain of losing a son juxtaposed by the belief in the good he did in His holy life. Thank you for the beautiful reflections, Loretta.

  6. What a beautiful and powerful imagining of Mary’s life after Christ’s assumption and of the hours that led to her own. Many thanks for sharing this!

  7. Unlike anything I’ve ever read about the Assumption. Absolutley beautiful and thought provoking. Thank you Loretta.

    • You are all so kind! I’m named after Mary (Our Lady of Loreto) so I feel a special connection to her.
      What do you imagine her final moments were like? Did she have a beatific vision, or was it subtler?

  8. A powerful and beautiful reflection on a number of levels: Faith, Unconditional Love, Changing Life Missions, Service and of course Motherhood in all its forms. Thank you Loretta for your gift to us.

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