Holy Mass on the Solemnity
of the Asuumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
and Canonical Coronation
of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel of New Manila
Homily by Bishop Honesto F. Ongtioco, DD
Bishop of Cubao
Minor Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Broadway Avenue, New Manila, Quezon City
15 August 2020
Our dear Vicar General, Fr. Steve Zabala;
Our dear Father Provincial, Fr. Dan Lim, OCD;
Our dear Superior of the house, Fr. Rey Sotelo, OCD;
Our new Rector and Parish Priest, Fr. Willowyn Andaya, OCD;
My dear brother Priests, Seminarians, reverend Sisters;
My dear devotees of Carmel
My dear people of God
“The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.” (Responsorial Psalm, Ps 45)
With great joy we gather today to celebrate the Canonical Coronation of the image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. So much has happened to this church under the able leadership of the former parish priest, Fr. Joey Maborrang OCD; first, this church became a national shrine; then it was granted spiritual affiliation with the Papal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, not long after that the Church was elevated to the dignity of a Minor Basilica. Today, the Image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel will be crowned in the name of the Holy Father, Pope Francis. I think we should give credit where credit is due, let us acknowledge Fr. Joey and his team with a round of applause [applause] Mabuhay ka, Fr. Joey.
This Canonical Coronation is fittingly celebrated on the Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Lady, which to me is the crowning glory of all Marian feasts. It is the crowning glory of the mysteries of Mary because her life of faithful discipleship on earth. After her life of faithful discipleship on earth, she was assumed into heaven to receive her just reward. Her lifelong cooperation with the Holy Spirit who filled her with grace from the moment of her conception, her humble submission to the plan of the Father, her faithful participation [to] the paschal mystery of Christ, her son and her maternal solicitude for the infant church. All these led to this very day when she was called by the Lord to share in his glory forever.
To some they might say that is the end of the story, but for the Christian, it is fulfillment. It is not finished, it is fulfilled. Today is the fulfillment of the very vocation of the blessed virgin Mary indeed she was destined to become the mother of the redeemer, she was chosen to be the closest associate of Jesus in his work of redemption. But just as the ultimate purpose of creating us is to give us a share in the eternal happiness of God, so does the same reason apply to Mary. The Lord wants Mary to reign with him forever in heaven, the woman who called herself “the handmaid of the Lord” is now exalted far above the cherubim and she is enthroned as Queen of heaven and earth.
from this day all generations will call me blessed for the almighty has done great things for me and holy is his name.
The life of the Blessed Virgin closely followed the pattern of the life of Jesus. Jesus who was in the form of God emptied himself and took the form of a slave in our human likeness, he further humbled himself obediently accepting death on the cross. because of this God highly exalted him and gave him a name above every other name. This pattern can be seen in Mary’s life, she was singularly chosen to be the Mother of the Son of the Most High and yet, she accepted this election by humbly submitting herself to God’s will.
“Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.” (Lk 1, 38)
This humble submission constituted her holiness. In the spiritual classic the Interior Castle, St. Teresa asked “Do you know what it is to be truly spiritual? It is for men to make themselves the slaves of God—branded with His mark, which is the Cross. Since they have given him their freedom, he can sell them as slaves to the whole world, as he was, which would be doing them no wrong but the greatest favor. Unless you make up your minds to this, never expect to make much progress, for as I said humility is the foundation of the whole building and unless you are truly humble, Our Lord, for your own sake, will never permit you to rear it very high lest it should fall to the ground.” (Chapter IV, v.12).
Mary’s humble life was an ordinary and hidden one in Nazareth; she lived as the faithful wife of Saint Joseph and the loving mother of Jesus. There was no fanfare, no fireworks, no headlines, but when the son descended into the depth of humiliation and suffering, she went down with him. The Stabat Mater stood beneath the Cross and joined her fiat with her Son’s unwavering obedience to the Father’s will and at that moment reflected in its fullness the glory of God shining through human suffering, vanquishing the ancient curse of sin.
As Jesus was made perfect through suffering, so also was Mary made perfect by the same suffering. The paradox of the gospel, the paradox of her life, the last will be the first, the servant of all will be exalted, the handmaid is crowned as well. She climbed the mountain of Carmel, so to speak, for the heights of perfection are reached only through the descent of renunciations and this is also the paradox of the Cross, the prophesied sign of contradiction which Mary kept secure in her heart. Paraphrasing the words of Saint John of the Cross, we could say that Mary sucked the glory of Christ by seeking the Cross of Christ. She was exalted above the choirs of angels because she descended into the very depths of sorrow. What Christ endured in his body; Mary insured in her soul. Therefore, as Christ bodily ascended to heaven and was enthroned at the right hand of the Father, so also Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven and of her we sing today “the queen stands at your right hand arrayed in gold” and in our celebration today, the words of the Virgin continues to be fulfilled “He has looked with favour on his lowly servant from this day all generations will call me blessed.”
In Mary, we see the epitome of Carmelite spirituality “Hear, O daughter, and see; turn your ear, forget your people and your father’s house, so shall the king desire your beauty. They are borne in with gladness and joy; they enter the palace of the king.” Every Carmelite strives to enter into the innermost chamber of the king but this cannot be done without having truly renounced everything that belongs to his earthly house, to forget your father’s house in order to enter the palace of the king.
Is this not what ascending mount Carmel means? it is a long and difficult line through prayer and penance left to our own the summit of spiritual perfection would seem too difficult to reach. But we always have Mary, whose ears are always turned to the Lord and whose heart has always contemplated the divine mysteries.
What happens today in this sacred space will forever be inscribed in the history of this church and this Diocese, the Diocese of Cubao. But let us remember that the coronation of our mother, the queen of Carmel, is bought an acknowledgment of the glory and majesty of God which she allowed to be reflected in her life. The beauty of her soul, like a lake on this term, unperturbed and always faithful penetrated by divine light. And so, we admire her beauty, we look beyond the crown to see the joy that is promised us in the company of the blessed in the life that is to come. She has entered into the enclosed garden, where God dwells. She has entered into the palace of the king, where although she isn’t grown as queen. she remains to be our mother. At the foot of the cross, Jesus entrusted us to her “here is your son” and also, she’s entrusted her to us “here is your mother” for he didn’t want us to journey without a mother. Therefore, to her, we entrust our difficult time.
We know that from her heavenly throne, she continues to turn her eyes of mercy towards us and she shows to us the blessed fruit of her womb, Jesus our king.
To our queen and mother we say,
Flower of Carmel,
tall vine blossom laden
splendor of Heaven;
childbearing yet maiden
none equals thee.
Mother so tender
whom no man did know,
on Carmel’s children
Thy favors bestow
Star of the Sea.
Strong Stem of Jesse
who bore one bright flower;
be ever near us,
and guard us each hour,
Who serve thee here.
Purest of lilies,
that flowers among thorns,
bring help to the true heart
that in weakness turns
and trusts in thee.
Strongest of armor,
we trust in Thy might;
under Thy mantle,
hard pressed in the fight,
We call to thee.
Our ways are uncertain,
surrounded by foes,
You give to those
who turn to Thee.
O gentle Mother,
Who in Carmel reigns;
share with Thy servants,
that gladness you gained,
and now enjoy.
Hail, Gate of Heaven,
with glory now crowned,
bring us to safety,
where Thy Son is found,
true joy to see.