corner of interest; interesting corner; cornered interest; interest cornered


What direction is heaven?

Yesterday afternoon I was doing some housekeeping, rather, churchkeeping. I gazed up at the stain glass window that sits behind our tremendous organ. The afternoon sun was out and the colours in the three windows that portray the scene the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary revealed their depth and magnificence.

Looking up, ascending, being taken up are all directional. What direction is heaven? The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is challenging for the scientific mind. From an astronomical point of view what direction is up for our grain of sand sized earth in the cosmos.

St Francis of Assisi, in his humility, and thus, simplicity, had a true sense of direction. He knew what direction was heaven. In his Salutation of the Blessed Virgin Mary he hails Mary as "who are the Virgin made Church". Francis is not referring to the brick and mortar church, his is the Church of flesh and blood, that of the baptised, you and I. Francis' direction was relational.

Francis engaged the others as subjects. Before his conversion he saw others as objects. The leper was for Francis a particular object of horror. However, Francis, at the closing of his life, writes in his Testament about an event that occurs in his mid-twenties: "the Lord Himself led me among them and I showed mercy to them. And when I left them, what had seemed bitter to me was changed into sweetness of soul and body".

The hope that imbues the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is that the "Virgin made Church" is the direction to heaven. Mary goes in that direction to which we are beckoned to follow. It is the Communion of Saints. It is where the limitations of time and place, even the tyranny of distance experienced by the bereaved, is overcome. For the philosophical mind, perfect intersubjectivity. For the humble and simple Francis it is the grace-given capacity of misericordia: turning one's heart towards the other, showing mercy.

Hail, O Lady,

Holy Queen,

Mary, holy Mother of God,

Who are the Virgin made Church,

chosen by the most Holy Father in heaven

whom he consecrated with His most holy beloved Son

and with the Holy Spirit the Paracelete,

in whom there was and is

all fullness of grace and every good.

Hail His Palace!

Hail His Tabernacle!

Hail His Dwelling!

Hail His Robe!

Hail His Servant!

Hail His Mother!

And hail all You holy virtues

which are poured into the hearts of the faithful

through the grace and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit,

that from being unbelievers,

You may make them faithful to God.