Homily for the Feast of the Queenship of Mary
God's temple in heaven was opened,
and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple.
A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun,
with the moon under her feet,
and on her head a crown of twelve stars.
She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth.
Then another sign appeared in the sky;
it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns,
and on its heads were seven diadems.
Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky
and hurled them down to the earth.
Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth,
to devour her child when she gave birth.
She gave birth to a son, a male child,
destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.
Her child was caught up to God and his throne.
The woman herself fled into the desert
where she had a place prepared by God.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
"Now have salvation and power come,
and the kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Anointed One."
— Rev. 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10
The eight days of August from Our Lady’s Assumption to today’s commemoration of her Queenship celebrate a dramatic triumph over evil after great spiritual struggle. We are presented today not only with the consoling and splendid image of the Mother of God being borne aloft into heaven by the holy angels but also of the terrifying malice and violence of the Evil One and his minions, and the battle that Mary and Mary’s Son had to undergo before being “caught up to God and his throne.”
When in 1950 the Venerable Pius XII defined Our Lady’s glorification in both body and soul, he had in mind the defense of the dignity and destiny of human nature in its fullest form and perfection. This was after the horrific events of the Stalinist and Nazi persecutions of the faithful and of the Jewish people in the 1930s and '40s and before the wholesale destruction of generations by procured abortion.
The dragon stands ready to devour the child. Why this hatred of the children of our race? Note the third of the stars in the heavens that are swept out of heaven and cast down. The Fathers hold these to be the fallen angels. The Fathers also teach that the human race is meant to replace the fallen angels in heaven. This explains the incredible and ardent envy that Satan and his angels have of us. They love their own natural perfection more than the God who gave it to them.
And it is a very great perfection indeed. Even a demon is a magnificent creature, of which St. Jude in his epistle tells us we should speak with a certain respect. The hymns of the Roman liturgy on the feast of the guardian angels speak of the “burning envy” that compels the demons to try to cast us down from the eternal life to which we are called. They cannot bear to be replaced by such lowly creatures as ourselves.
But more, they are driven to a kind of insanity by the spectacle of God himself taking on our nature as the Son of the Woman. So in each of Christ’s followers they see not only one predestined to take their place, they see the indelible mark of his incarnation from her. This gives us a dignity higher than any angelic dignity. As the Byzantine liturgy sings, Mary is “higher than the cherubim and incomparably more glorious than the seraphim”; she is “more spacious than the heavens” and “all creation rejoices in her.”
This is why this dogma of the Assumption of the Mother of God is so important for our times: because it is the dogma of the ultimate victory of redeemed human nature over the envy of the devil, who strove to make us fall in our first parents and whose efforts have been foiled by our Redeemer, the Son of the Woman clothed with the sun. Let us fly to her for protection in this vale of tears and seek her help against the enemies of our salvation.
Then some fine day we ourselves will hear the words, “Now have salvation and power come, the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ.”