Monday, August 18, 2008

The Assumption

Friday was the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and in the Magnificat—my daily Mass companion—was this lovely poem.

From About the Virgin’s Death

Who would have believed that before she came
the vast heavens had been incomplete?
The resurrected Christ had taken His place,
but next to Him, for twenty-four years,
the seat was vacant. They had begun
to get used to this pure gap
that was almost not there, for the Son’s splendor
shone across and filled it.
She, entering the heavens, did not
come towards Him, even though she wanted to;
there was no room for her, only He sat there
in his magnificence which hurt her.
But as her graceful figure
now joined the newly blessed
and inconspicuously stood, light on light,
there broke from her being a glory
of such radiance that an angel, lit up by it
and blinded, cried: Who is she?
All were amazed. Then they saw how
God the Father above held back our Lord
so that the empty place, brushed
by fading twilight, seemed a small sorrow,
a trace of loneliness,
like something that He still endured, a remnant
of earthly time, a dried affliction.
They looked at her: she glanced up, fearfully,
leaned forward, as if she felt: I am
His longest pain—suddenly rushed forward.
But the angels took her in their midst,
supportingly, sang blissfully,
and carried her up the last few steps.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Rainer Maria Rilke (died 1926) is considered one of the greatest lyric poets of modern Germany. (Magnificat, August 2008, (Volume 10 No. 6) pp. 229-230)

A hat tip to the magnificent daily blog, Hallowed Ground for the image.