Sunday, January 16, 2011

In heaven as on earth...

This past Tuesday I had the privilege of attending a Project Rachel training workshop led by Project Rachel founder Vicki Thorn. As part of the workshop, Mrs. Thorn spoke about various biological aspects that are often overlooked and can actually have very deep spiritual effects in the lives of all people especially women. One thing that she discussed to struck me and has left me pondering it since then.

When a woman conceives a child, from that point on, the mother then contains in her own body both her own cells as well as some cells from her child. The same applies to her subsequent children and, interestingly, the subsequent children also get some of their elder siblings' cells. She noted countless instances when children felt they had an older brother or an older sister - they knew the sex of the sibling - and it turned out to be true and that the elder sibling was either adopted, miscarried or aborted. That part isn't uber-scientific, but it is interesting. The notable part in this, though, is the fact that a mother forever carries in her own body the cells of her child. Now think about that in reference to the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is the point at which my mind was blown away.

If we spend time contemplating this, there is a ton of biology tied up with the theology of the Catholic Church in regards to the Blessed Mother. It begins with her Immaculate Conception. An ancient title for her is the 'New Ark of the Covenant' because the God of all creation dwelt in her womb just as he sat upon the Mercy Seat in the Ark of the Covenant in Ancient Israel. That ancient Ark was made of wood that would not decay and plated in gold to indicate it's purity. Thus, Mary was to be preserved from all sin and impurity because she was to bear the Son of God in her womb. But then as we come to understand this biological aspect of the mother retaining her child's cells in her body, we are invited to see her Assumption into heaven in a different light.

One thing that seems to come up often when people begin to grasp the concept of Mary's Assumption is the question of why it is important. Certainly there is the fact that she was given unique graces throughout her life and is thus given another special grace to enter into heaven first as both body and soul. But it is interesting also to note this fact that the cells of Jesus were still inside of Mary at the end of her earthly life. A small piece of the God of all creation still remained in a mere mortal. And so it was fitting that rather than to endure the decay of death, she would rise into heaven because of the perfect purity of her own body and the fact that the body of Our Lord still remained in her flesh. And, to take it a step further, it seems likely that at this exact moment, Our Lady who reigns as Queen of heaven and earth still has within her the cells of her beloved Son. How true are the words that she spoke so many years ago: "All generations will called me blessed." How else shall we describe one who still has within her the presence of the Lord?

What beauty there is in creation! The theological axiom that says if we stay close to Mary we will simultaneously be brought closer to Jesus is true not only in the spiritual realm but also in the physical/biological! How, then, does one doubt the role of the Creator with things such as this at work everywhere around us?