Feastday: August 15
Nothing certain is known about the time and manner of Our Lady's final days of earthly life. The earliest known literary reference to her Assumption is found in the Greek work De Obitu S. Dominae. Catholic faith, however, has always derived knowledge of this mystery from Apostolic Tradition; belief in Mary's corporeal assumption is universal in the East and West.
The origin of the celebration of this feast day, is also uncertain. It is most likely associated with the anniversary of the dedication of a church rather than an actual moment in Mary's life. According to the life of St. Theodosius it was celebrated in Palestine before the year 500.
On November 1, 1950, Pope Pius XII declared: "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."
Why was Mary assumed, body and soul, into Heaven? The life of Jesus was intertwined with the life of Mary from the very beginning: she shared the body and blood of Christ in a most intimate fashion. So it was only fitting that she would continue to share in his destiny. After Jesus’ death and resurrection he ascended, body and soul, into Heaven. It seems only fitting that Mary, who shared His body and blood in a most intimate fashion, and who heard and followed the Lord in every detail of his life, should follow in His footsteps. This is one more example of the fact that every teaching of the Church about Mary is ultimately connected with the truth about Jesus Christ.
What does Mary’s Assumption have to do with us? Mary’s Assumption is not only a fact about her; it is also an invitation and a pledge to us. In the Eucharist we, too, are invited to share intimately in the body and blood of Jesus. And in our lives we, too, are invited to hear and follow the Lord. If we say “No” to those invitations, by our words and by our deeds, then we turn our back on Jesus and refuse to share in his destiny. But in Mary’s Assumption we see the pledge of future glory for all who say “Yes” – as she did – to the Lord.
Our Lady of the Assumption, pray for us!
- Historical information cited from Cathoilc Encyclopedia: NewAdvent.org.
- Questions & Anwersers by Dr. Ed Hogan, FAITH Saginaw (2010).