My dear brethren,
Today is the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, body and soul into heaven.
How do we know the BVM was assumed into heaven?
1. By Faith: Munificentissimus Deus, 1st November 1950
In 1950, the holy Pope Pius XII made an ex cathedra definition of the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in to heaven. The declaration was made as the darkening clouds of modernism threatened the Church. He knew there were few years left to him on this earth and he knew that if he did not act then to proclaim the dogma of the Assumption it might be many years before another pope would be able to do so.
Here are the solemn words:
44. …we have poured forth prayers of supplication again and again to God, and have invoked the light of the Spirit of Truth, for the glory of Almighty God who has lavished his special affection upon the Virgin Mary, for the honour of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages and the Victor over sin and death, for the increase of the glory of that same august Mother, and for the joy and exultation of the entire Church; 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.
This definition was not made on a whim or because of a personal devotion. It was the conclusion of twenty centuries of prayerful study of the evidence brought to us by the two sources of revealed truth: Scripture and Tradition.
2. Evidence from Scripture
The scholastic Doctors [at the zenith of the theological age which was the 13th century] have recognized the Assumption of the Virgin Mother of God as something signified,
- not only in VARIOUS FIGURES OF THE OLD TESTAMENT [Eve, Sarah, Anna, Judith, Esther, the Valiant Woman (Proverbs), the ‘daughter of Zion’, created wisdom (Canticle of Canticles), the burning bush]
- but also in that WOMAN CLOTHED WITH THE SUN whom John the Apostle contemplated on the Island of Patmos.
- Similarly they have given special attention to these words of the New Testament: "HAIL, FULL OF GRACE, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women," since they saw, in the mystery of the Assumption, the fulfilment of that most perfect grace granted to the Blessed Virgin and the special blessing that countered the curse of Eve.
3. Evidence from Tradition
Actually God, who from all eternity regards Mary with a most favourable and unique affection, has "when the fullness of time came" put the plan of his providence into effect in such a way that all the privileges and prerogatives he had granted to her in his sovereign generosity were to shine forth in her in a kind of perfect harmony. And, although the CHURCH HAS ALWAYS RECOGNIZED THIS SUPREME GENEROSITY AND THE PERFECT HARMONY OF GRACES and has daily studied them more and more throughout the course of the centuries, still it is in our own age that the privilege of the bodily Assumption into heaven of Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, has certainly shone forth more clearly.
a. Evidence From The Fathers Of The Church: Thus St. John Damascene, an outstanding herald of this traditional truth, spoke out with powerful eloquence when he compared the bodily Assumption of the loving Mother of God with her other prerogatives and privileges.
- "It was fitting that she, who had KEPT HER VIRGINITY INTACT IN CHILDBIRTH, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death.
- It was fitting that she, who had CARRIED THE CREATOR AS A CHILD AT HER BREAST, should dwell in the divine tabernacles.
- It was fitting that THE SPOUSE, WHOM THE FATHER HAD TAKEN TO HIMSELF, should live in the divine mansions.
- It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross and who had thereby received into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had escaped in the act of giving birth to him, should look upon him as he sits with the Father. It was fitting that GOD'S MOTHER SHOULD POSSESS WHAT BELONGS TO HER SON, and that she should be honoured by every creature as the Mother and as the handmaid of God."
b. Evidence from The Doctors of the Church: Gathering together the testimonies of the Christians of earlier days, St. Robert Bellarmine exclaimed: "And who, I ask, could believe that the ark of holiness, the dwelling place of the Word of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit, could be reduced to ruin? My soul is filled with horror at the thought that this virginal flesh which had begotten God, had brought him into the world, had nourished and carried him, could have been turned into ashes or given over to be food for worms."
In brief: Why was the BVM assumed into heaven?
1. Tabernacle of the Most High
If one were to have A NEW TABERNACLE made and then use the old one to keep a pet mouse (cut out some windows, put some straw inside), everyone would be rightly shocked. Well the same is true for the Blessed Virgin Mary (even more so). She carried the Word, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, God would not allow her body, at the end of its life on earth, to be used for something else, SOMETHING DEGRADING LIKE FOOD FOR WORMS.
2. Too precious a relic
Not only did she carry Jesus in her womb, she shared most perfectly in the Divine Life, so that every part of her body was holy with a holiness that was greater than any other saint. Her body was TOO PRECIOUS A RELIC TO BE LEFT UPON EARTH. [nb. Jesus leaves His sacramental Body on earth because we need it as our spiritual food to reach heaven].
3. Perfect Queen with body and soul
In death, the soul separates from the body. This is an unnatural separation which means that the saints in heaven are not in the greatest state of perfection as long as their souls are not united to their bodies. The angels in heaven, however, are in their greatest state of perfection and so it would be inappropriate that their Queen, the greatest of creatures, be deprived her body.
4. We need a real mother in heaven
Just as Jesus became incarnate so that we could love Him better because we can see Him and imagine Him, the same is true of the Mary – we can turn to her more easily if we can imagine her with body and soul next to Jesus.
How can we best celebrate this feast today?
The greatest way we celebrate the feast today is by joining our hearts to the Holy Sacrifice of the Son of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Mass today and receiving his Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in Holy Communion in her honour. The reasons are multiple:
1. Mary brought Jesus to us
It is through Mary, that Jesus was brought into the world and left us Himself in the Holy Eucharist. It fitting that on her greatest feast day we honour her by receiving Him.
2. Jesus’ flesh was taken from Mary
The body of Jesus came from Mary, it is fitting that the same body of Jesus, flesh of her flesh, is received by us in her honour.
3. Today is the day when Mary is united to her Son in heaven
When Mary was assumed into heaven she was united to her Son in the Beatific Vision. It is fitting that we celebrate this feast by the closest possible union to her Son by our pious assistance at Mass and our reception of Him in Holy Communion.
Let us therefore lift up our hearts on this wonderful day, renew our faith in this great dogma and renew our devotion to the Mother who loves us best by receiving her Son both on our tongues and in our hearts with all the devotion we can muster. Through Him, we honour her. Through her we honour Him. Deo gratias!