Hodie Maria Virgo caelos ascendit: gaudete, quia cum Christo regnat in aeternum.
(This day the Virgin Mary ascended into heaven; rejoice, for she reigns with Christ for ever – Vespers Antiphon.)
The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is one of the most ancient in the cycle of Marian feasts. Yet, it was not until 1950 that Pope Pius XII, in the first proclamation, ex Cathedra, (of Papal infallibility) declared the Assumption to be a dogma.
We, as Catholics, therefore believe in faith that Our Lady was Assumed body and soul into heaven. As it reads in the Catechism:
The Most Blessed Virgin Mary, when the course of her earthly life was completed, was taken up body and soul into the glory of Heaven, where she already shares in the glory of her Son’s Resurrection, anticipating the resurrection of all members of his Body (974).
Just as Her earthly life is a perfect example to us, so is Her glorious life in Heaven. Our Lady is truly the ‘Gate of Heaven’, as we pray in the Litany.
She reigns in majesty, not only with Her Divine Son, but with each person of the Holy Trinity. Given this particular heavenly seat of glory, above all the angels and Saints, She is crowned Queen of Heaven by the Three.
This marks the completion of Her earthly mission and the beginning of Her heavenly one, although the two are never separate.
For, She is a gateway for us, linking our earthly life and the potential of our bodily resurrection with the glory of our heavenly home.
Seated above all other creatures, as the greatest and most cherished, She unceasingly loves us, Her earthly children, whom She never forgets, even for an instant.
Her Immaculate Heart is so deeply connected with us, as is the Sacred Heart of Her Son. These Hearts, united in earthly, yet unblemished flesh, feel our every pain, our every sigh and rejoice in our every joy. All the while, Their earthly flesh has been glorified.
It is in this way that Her heavenly glory reigns with Her Son, whilst it anticipates our bodily resurrection into Heaven. She holds these realities at all times, never ceasing to pray for us and to love us.
She is therefore constantly involved with our path to salvation. Yet, we must do our part, in praying, asking for Her help, to intercede for us and those we pray for.
She is always awaiting our petitions. Through Her example, in perfect humility, She shows us how to give ourselves unreservedly to God – that His will may work through us. It is when we follow this example, that like She does, we feel the tender, unceasing love God has for us.
The perfection of Mary is so true to our hearts, yet it remains a mystery. She is the most perfect Mother. Whilst understanding our physical needs, She is acutely aware of the needs of our souls.
When we read these words (from Proverbs, used as the Epistle for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception) one might even imagine Our Lady imparting Her heavenly wisdom to our souls:
My delights were to be with the children of men. Now therefore, ye children, hear me: Blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth me, and that watcheth daily at my gates, and waiteth at the posts of my doors. He that shall find me, shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord: But he that shall sin against me, shall hurt his own soul. All that hate me love death. (Proverbs 8:22-36).
As Her own spirit shines, She appears ‘other-worldly’. Yet, She is never far from us. It is as though earthly life does not and cannot exist without Her. It seems that She has experienced everything. Her perfect and Immaculate earthly life prepared Her for the shared experience of the Incarnation of Her Son, from conception to death.
She offered Her perfect body to give flesh to the Son of God, the very Word Who created Her. As it reads in the pre -1962 Epistle of today’s Feast:
Then the Creator of all things commanded, and said to me: and He that made me rested in my tabernacle. (Ecclus. xxiv. 11-13)
Earlier in Ecclesiasticus, we find these beautiful words, which seem to perfectly illustrate the gift Our Heavenly Father has bestowed upon us, with the great Mother of God.
He created her in the Holy Ghost, and saw her, and numbered her, and measured her. And he poured her out upon all his works, and upon all flesh according to his gift, and hath given her to them that love him. (Ecclus. i. 9-10)
We can understand the Glorious Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, body and soul into Heaven as the completion not only of all that She has done, but of all that She IS.
As daughter to the Father, She was born Immaculate to Saintly parents. As a young woman, called by God, with the Angelic Salutation, She gave herself without reserve. She was impregnated by Her Divine Spouse, the Holy Spirit, with the Divine Word. And Her body gave Him flesh. She became Mother of God.
She experienced, with Her earthly Spouse, Saint Joseph, the trials, tribulations and joys of motherhood. She was then pierced to the depths of Her soul, as She stood at the foot of the Cross, feeling the excruciating pain of Her Beloved Son, dying a cruel death before Her very eyes.
This incredible anguish sighed out, as She held His Sacred Body in Her arms, as with the Pieta.
A Heart, as She has, Pure and Immaculate, remains ever open, ever loving, but also ever feeling. It is impossible for an Immaculate Heart to protect Itself by closing- for that act of closing or retracting, is in itself an act of sin.
Therefore, She feels all the more acutely each and every pain of Her Son, yet also ours, for we too are Her dear children.
O Mother Pure and Immaculate,
O Mother Most dear,
O Mother of our hearts,
On this Feast of Your Glorious Assumption,
Pray for us.
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