Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Assumption of Mary

Today August 15 we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary to heaven.  We remember how our Lady was taken to heaven by our Lord.

Her body did not face decay.  Mary did not resurrect, nor did she rise to heaven on her own power.  God took her body and soul to eternity in heaven.  She sits at the right hand of Jesus interceding for all of us.

This is important to clarify because our separated brethren are sometimes under the impression that Catholics view Mary as some goddess.  She is not a goddess.  She is the "handmaid of the Lord," a mere creature of God just like we are.  She was preserved by God from sin and the death all humans have experienced since Adam and Eve.  

This feast day is one of the oldest in Christianity.  It originates from about the 5/6th century and was celebrated in the East as "The Dormition" or the sleep of Mary.  The earliest text we have of this comes from the 4th century in the "Falling asleep of the Holy Mother of God" and account by St. John.  (http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0832.htm)

Many ask if Mary died just like any other human.  Some say she just fell asleep, while others say she did die.  It is most likely that the former is more probable because Scripture says in Romans 6:23 that the "wages of sin is death."  Since Mary was conceived without sin, she could not owe these wages that would result in death.  Moreover, Acts 13:35 and Psalms 16:10 state that God won't allow His holy ones to rot in the grave.  In light of this, we can know that Mary did not decay.  She being sinless was preserved from death and decay.

The idea of someone being taken to heaven body and soul by God is not new.  Enoch in Genesis 5:22-29 was taken by God.  We also read about Elijah experiencing the same in 2 Kings 2:11.

The Assumption of Mary became a defined dogma on November 1, 1950 when Pope Pius XII declared it in his encyclical Munificentissimus Deus.  This is a great day for all of us.  It is a reminder of what God has planned for those who hang in there in the Faith.

This is a holy day of obligation where Catholics must go to Mass and treat the day as if it were a Sunday.  In some dioceses, the day is not obligatory if it falls on a Monday or Saturday.  It is important to check with your parish or diocese beforehand.  If this is the case, one can still participate in the Mass or do some other form of penance or good work.  More prayer and more faith work isn't bad at all.  

Mary is one of us.  She is human.  She made it!   She is an inspiration to us all.  May Our Blessed Lady pray for us and help us follow her Son more closely.


Father in heaven,

all creation rightly gives you praise,

for all life and all holiness come from you.

In the plan of your wisdom
she who bore the Christ in her womb
was raised body and soul in glory to be with him in heaven.
May we follow her example in reflecting your holiness
and join in her hymn of endless love and praise.



We ask this through Christ our Lord.


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