This week, we celebrated the Queenship of Mary, a feast that marks the octave-day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin and its logical conclusion and goal. Without the same solemnity and obligation of the Assumption it can pass unnoticed, but the day brings light to us as our Blessed Mother so often does.
It is illumined these days by the rising sun, neither as early nor as northerly as it was in the summer solstice already two months past. Still it shines in its earliest moments into our church through our stained-glass Coronation of the Virgin, the window of Our Lady’s Queenship.
During the thirty minutes of the six-thirty Mass, the light increases in that window’s muted tones, which fascinate me in every light, every season. Not as strong nor as vibrant as the colors of our other windows, its shades are rarely found side by side, like turquoise with ochre. Its place in the corner keeps it from direct sun most of the time, yet it is not dark so long as a trace of light be in the sky.
It’s the window I see when I come into the church from the chapel, and as I return to the sacristy from my confessional. It is beautiful.
Again and again I marvel at the genius and goodness evident in our church’s restrained decoration. That one window, no more prominent and half so bold as the others, earns and enjoys its place at the terminus of our stained-class cycle. Every other deed of God and colorful, illuminated moment in the life of our Savior leads to it in art as in life. What Jesus obtains by His saving deed He bestows upon His Holy Mother, and she, in turn, offers to use it for us. Her end is our goal, and that last window depicts our destination.
It is strange, at first, to celebrate this conclusion, this consummation at this time midway through the year. August on both calendars, liturgical and civil, is neither beginning nor end; if anything a pause, a broad place flattened by heat and lassitude. But while the life of Christ guides our Advent-starting liturgical calendar, the life of Mary accompanies our most practical calendar.
She enters heaven this week, but soon enough we will mark her birth. The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin we celebrate on September 8, and the cycle resumes, just as our cycle resumes with Labor Day, the First Day of School, and the first day of work, that bring the return to long pants, hard shoes, and long commutes.
Soon enough, dear friends, soon enough. But before you settle in to that daily grind and routine, look up, raise your eyes to the prize that awaits. That window and the Lady depicted in it show the goal of every day on all our calendars. What she enjoys, she longs to share, and that beauty lights our way. Hail, Holy Queen!