So! I’ve already shared in this blog post all the angst associated with picking out scripture for the Assumption of Mary for my new book, The Glorious Mysteries… only to find out that the Church Fathers had already figured out my insights a millennia before! So, you can better believe that I wasn’t going to make that same mistake again!
This time, when picking out scripture for the Coronation of Mary — another Glorious Mystery that is not explicitly in the bible — I went straight to my beat-up Roman Missal. (No, really… my Roman Missal looking pretty beat up… the teething baby even drooled on it a bit yesterday as I held her in my lap, I’m afraid to say!) I looked up the optional readings for the Queenship of Mary, which is celebrated a week after the feast of the Assumption of Mary. And, based on those readings, I picked out the scriptures for the Coronation of Mary.
And so, for the readings that precede the prayers of the Coronation of Mary, there is the (slightly abbreviated) story of the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-33, 38) and the vision of the queen in Revelation (12:1-5).
So, basically, this gospel reading…
26In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, 27to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, 33and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 38Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
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And this reading…
1 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. 2She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. 3Then 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. 4Its 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. 5She 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.
As I was looking over these readings, three things struck me hard.
First, the queenship of Mary is not based on anything special about who she is or what she did… other than her relationship with Christ and the fact that she is Christ’s mother. In fact, that is the sole reason why she is queen. In both the Annunciation narrative and John’s vision of the Queen in Revelation, the most important part of this whole story is the fact that Mary gives birth to a baby who will grow up to be a man who will rule over all.
Which reminds me that it is our relationship with Christ that will define everything after we die. Which makes it all the more important to live always for God and by God.
Second, the Annunciation is really the best scripture ever for the Coronation of Mary. After all, the angel Gabriel told her quite clearly that she was to have a son that would ascend the throne and rule over all. She assented to being the queen mother! And that is the only thing that she needs to do to become the queen. The Coronation of Mary is the obvious outcome of the Annunciation.
In fact, there are many parallels between the artwork of the Annunciation and the artwork of the Coronation.
In the Annunciation, angels typically peer around, trying to get a glimpse of Mary saying yes to God. In the Coronation, angels surround her as she is crowned.
In the Annunciation, the Holy Spirit, usually depicted in the form of a dove, is above her. In the Coronation, the Holy Spirit, usually in the form of a dove, is above her, indicating that she is crowned by God, who, in the realm of Heaven, exists as the Holy Trinity in a form that we cannot even comprehend.
In the Annunciation, she typically bows her head to receive the angel, who represents God’s Word, as angels are messengers of the Word. In the Coronation, she typically bows down to receive the crown.
Take a look at this art…
In this art, Mary bows her head down while Jesus, who is depicted as being one with the Father while the Holy Spirit rests above them. He crowns Mary while the Heavenly hosts surrounds them, carrying in their hands music sheets, which indicate that all of Heaven has erupted in heavenly song. Meanwhile, everything is painted in gold, to indicate the splendor of Heaven.
Finally, the third thing that struck me hard about the Annunciation being used as the scripture for the Coronation of Mary is the Annunciation is also the first scripture that we meditate on when we pray the Joyful Mysteries.
Which makes the Annunciation the first mystery that we meditate on… and the last mystery as well.
And of course, this reminds me that the Rosary is a special sort of prayer. It’s not one of those one time only prayers that you say once and then forget. The Rosary is this beautiful string of prayers which you pray over and over again. After all, with the very last set of mysteries in the Glorious Mysteries, we remember the Joyful Mysteries simultaneously, which brings us right back to praying the Joyful Mysteries. And on and on!
Except that this time, we don’t imagine Mary bowing down to receive the angel.
This time she is bowing down to receive the crown.