Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Assumption of Bertha Huber

The Assumption of Bertha Huber by Marcia Sandmeyer Wilson

For the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, August 15.

I post this delightful painting not out of any irreverence or even playfulness but rather because the feast of the real Assumption is upon us and, as on all feasts of the Blessed Virgin, we need to discover how what happened in her life and love for God relates to our own. From the website of the painter, Marcia Sandmeyer Wilson:
"This 16x20 oil painting is called The Assumption of Bertha Huber. It is the third version I have done of this theme. Miss Huber was godmother to my three children. She died at age 87 in August, 1975 and I told the children I would paint what it 'really' looked like.
"Miss Huber was from Munich so I know she was expecting nice blond angels waiting for her in heaven...
"At the bottom of the painting is supposed to be me and the three children weeping for her at the nursing home where she had expired just moments before our arrival. It was a very good nursing home, by the way, named Calvary, in the Bronx."
Painting in the folk art style, Wilson has given us a folk art appreciation of the Assumption. The word comes from the Latin assumere which means to take to one's self. Assumption celebrates the Lord's taking to himself his beloved Mother, the Mother of us all, who, the Church has taught from early times, was assumed into heaven body and soul lest the body which bore the Christ into the world should undergo any corruption.

We pray that one day the Lord will
take us to himself at the time of our passing from this life to life forever with God: one day the hands reaching down in Wilson's painting will reach out for you and me. No, we will not be assumed body and soul: this mortal coil of ours will undergo the inevitable corruption of nature. Yet one day, we pray and hope, the Lord will waken each of us to glory and our souls will be reunited with our bodies in a glorified state, the beauty of which we cannot yet imagine.

Just this weekend I was called to visit and pray with a woman who was dying. Margaret was only a few weeks shy of her
103rd birthday! I saw her only hours before her death and yet she was as sharp as a tack, greeting me by name, thanking me for coming to see her, and joining wholeheartedly in the prayers I offered with her and for her.

But there were moments when Margaret seemed distracted from our conversation, straining to see something above her I could not see. And several times she turned her head, as if to listen more closely to a voice I could not hear... I do not know, but I would not be surprised if this beautiful woman was attending to the faces and the voices of angels, or perhaps of the Lord himself, as he prepared
to take her to himself...

The words of the former preface from the Mass for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary say well what we celebrate on this day:

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Today the virgin Mother of God was taken up into heaven
to be the beginning and the pattern of the Church in its perfection,
and a sign of hope and comfort for your people on their pilgrim way.
You would not allow decay to touch her body,
for she had given birth to your Son, the Lord of all life,
in the glory of the incarnation.

In our joy we sing to your glory
with all the choirs of angels: 


Holy, holy, holy... 



 

     
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1 comment:

ned said...

I wait every year to see Bertha! As I have said here before my mother died on the Feast of the Assumption...this year marks 31 years. I find this image of Bertha so comforting, as I imagine the Lord "taking her unto himself"