Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, August 15
May the Prayers and Example of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Who Truly Is the Ark of God’s New Covenant, Guide Us Always in Our Walk of Faith, and May Our Hearts Be Renewed in a Lasting and Enduring Hope.
Today, we celebrate the great Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, body and soul into Heaven, and, in our Litany of prayers to the Mother of God, we call her the “Ark of the Covenant”, for she was that specially chosen vessel by the Heavenly Father to carry and give flesh to the Eternal Word, His Only-Begotten Son.
From earliest times, the Church held Mary in great reverence and highest esteem. And there is a legend that, as her life on Earth was coming to an end, the Apostles, who were still alive, gathered together from the four corners of the world to be at her bedside until her death. And when Saint Thomas arrived and asked to see her body, they opened her tomb and it was empty; whereupon the Apostles concluded that her body was taken up to Heaven.
And in Jerusalem, there is a church where tourists visit called the Church of the Dormition. And, tradition states that this church was built over the very site where Mary’s body was finally laid to rest.
Scripture does not give us an account of Mary’s assumption into Heaven. Nevertheless, we find homilies on the Solemnity of her Assumption dating back to the fourth century. This Solemnity was celebrated under various names – Commemoration, Dormition, Passing, and finally Assumption.
The Church always held the belief that Mary was assumed, body and soul, into Heaven, teaching that, having been preserved from all stain of Original Sin and when the course of her earthly life had finished, she was taken up by the power of God in the fullness of her resurrection into the Kingdom of her Divine Son.
And believing this from its earliest days, the Dogma of the Assumption was formally defined on November 1st, 1950, when Venerable Pope Pius XII officially defined the Assumption of Mary to be a dogma of faith which all Catholics are bound to believe –
“…by the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare and define it to be a Divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into Heavenly glory.”
Mary, after having lived her life so closely with her Son, now participates fully in what we pray to realize for ourselves at the end of time: the resurrection of our own bodies – the fullness of our own share in the Paschal Mystery of Christ’s Death and Resurrection.
As Saint Paul tells us today, “Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep…For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order: Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ.”
In light of the Assumption of Mary, it is easy to pray her Magnificat with new meaning, which we find in today’s Gospel Reading. In her immense joy, she proclaims the greatness of the Lord and rejoices in God her Savior. God has done wondrous things for her, and she now leads others to recognize God’s Holiness.
Mary is the lowly handmaid who deeply reverenced her God, by first giving her humble fiat so that God may use her womb as His new Ark; and, as a result, in the completion of her earthy life, she has been raised to the highest of Heavenly honors!
From her position of strength, always having the ear of her Divine Son, she will always reach out to help those who suffer unfairly to find justice on Earth, and she will challenge each of us to distrust wealth and power as a source of happiness.
In essence, Mary’s life, in its totality, is to be understood in the light of Jesus’ own life, and the enduring hope which His Death and Resurrection have given to each of us.
Mary’s life was one of humility, motherhood, wife and homemaker. Her life, I am sure, was filled with many joys, but she also endured many sorrows – the deaths of her mother and father, the death of her spouse Joseph, and finally the death of her Divine Son.
But, most importantly, Mary’s life was one of complete faith and love for both God and her neighbor. And her life gives us the example of how we should live our lives – with faith, love, charity, humility and perseverance.
Mary’s dormition, her death, foreshadows our own, for Mary knew that, one day, she would follow in the footsteps of her ancestors, including her parents, Anne and Joachim, and also her spouse Joseph, and her Divine Son, Jesus.
One could speculate that Mary’s death was one of complete peace and joy, knowing that she would be rejoined with her loved ones, especially her Divine Son and her holy spouse.
We, too, look to our own mortality, knowing that, one day, we shall also pass from this life, just as all those, whom we loved, have gone on before us. And we, too, look forward to rejoining our loved ones who have preceded us, marked with the sign of faith, having left this life in the friendship of Almighty God.
Our Lord, just prior to His suffering, reached out to comfort His disciples with words of hope, for they were in anguish over His impending death. And with these same words, He reaches out to each of us when we are faced with the certainty of our own death –
“Do not let your hearts be troubled…if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.”
And in Mary’s assumption, we find the fullness of our hopes and dreams and the fulfillment of God’s promise. In the assumption of Mary, body and soul, we find the richness and completeness of our own resurrection at the end of time, when our bodies, reanimated and made beautiful and whole, will be rejoined to our souls, so as to enjoy the fullness of eternal life!
Today, we see Mary as a model disciple, and we are called to emulate her life of faith, love and charity – so that we may share the same destiny which she is now enjoying.
Mary, through her own life’s example, shows us the way to her Son – a way in which we shall never lose hope, a way in which we shall never lose faith – for she is among “the first-fruits” of all “those who belong to Christ” and who share in His triumph!
As our psalmist gives us a song of praise in today’s Responsorial, Mary truly is “The queen [who] stands at [God’s] right hand, arrayed in gold.”
The celebration of this great Solemnity today is a reminder of all the good things which are yet to come, and for which we should daily strive; for Mary, as our Mother, shows us the way; for she is a Mother who constantly watches over her children, each of us entrusted to her by her Son as He was dying upon His Cross.
May the prayers and example of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who truly is the Ark of God’s New Covenant, guide us always in our individual walks of faith, and may our hearts be renewed in a lasting and enduring hope!
And may God grant to each of us and to our families, through Mary’s prayers of intercession, abundant blessings of peace and joy!
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple…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.” (Revelation 11:19a; 12:1)
- “Your throne, O God, stands forever…at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.” (Psalm 45:7a, 10b)
- “Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep…For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order: Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:20, 22-23)
- “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” (Luke 1:46b-49)
- “Do not let your hearts be troubled…if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.” (John 14:1a, 3)
- “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some shall live forever, others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace. But the wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.” (Daniel 12:2-3)
- “We do not want you to be unaware, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14)
- “But your dead shall live, their corpses shall rise! Awake and sing, you who lie in the dust!” (Isaiah 26:19ab)
- “He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself.” (Philippians 3:21)
Prayer for the Day
“Almighty and Most Merciful God,
You have renewed the face of the Earth.
Your Church throughout the world
sings You a new song,
announcing Your wonders to all.
“Through a virgin,
You have brought forth a new birth in our world;
through Your miracles, a new power;
through Your suffering, a new patience;
in Your Resurrection, a new hope;
and in Your Ascension, new majesty.
“May each of us one day share in the glory of Your Majesty
as we gaze upon the beauty of Your Face,
where we shall come to know You as You truly are:
All-Holy, All-Powerful, All-Loving, All-Merciful.
For it is in our intimate knowledge of You
which shall fill us with an unending joy. Amen.”cf. Psalm-Prayer (Roman Breviary)