August 15th.

Anne Lastman

With the approaching of the great Catholic feast of Our Lady’s Assumption (August 15) declared a Dogma of the Catholic Church in 1950 By Pope Pius XII, we are called to remember Our Holy Mother and our final destiny, that is, to return body and soul to our heavenly home.

We even proclaim this hope in our Creed “we believe in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.”

Our Lady’s assumption to heaven has gone before us. A human being, (not divine like her son Jesus) who was assumed or raised into heaven after her time on earth had been completed.

Millions of pages have been written about Our Lady, her call to be the mother of the Divine Son. Her life as much as we can make of what is written.  The titles she has been accorded and the Dogmas of the Catholic Church which are to be believed by all Catholics as part of our faith. 

These dogmas are not given because the Pope and Bishops think that this should happen, but after many years of lay faithful practice and belief and petitions and the end also in union with Bishops from around the world and of course much prayer, the Dogma is proclaimed.

Pope Pius XII infallibly (ex Cathedra) and without error proclaimed and defined the dogma of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Assumption.  This finally declared November 1, 1950.

“The immaculate mother of God, Mary ever virgin, after her life on earth was completed was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”

Apostolic Constitution, (Munificentissimus Deus., cf Lumen Gentium No.59, CCC # 966 & 974).

There are however, some questions and perhaps even one might say doubts as to whether the Blessed Virgin died before she was assumed to heaven as she was born without original sin, which of course meant that if this was so then she would have been born with original sin, but it is our belief that she was born without original sin and its consequences and was free from the curse of death.

There are some saints and theologians who do believe that she died before being assumed not because of her own personal sin but to be in conformity and union with her son Jesus who died in order to defeat death, the curse of original sin.

It’s important to remember that if the Blessed Mother was not born free from original sin she could not have carried the infant Jesus in her womb because grace and sin cannot abide together.  Mary or as the angel Gabriel called her “full of Grace” was full of grace and therefore able to receive the holy child to take up residence there.

As the first Eve was not created to sin but holiness so did the new Eve (Mary) was created in holiness but she did not sin, as did the first Eve, she began the story of recreation by being able to bear the Child who would destroy death. The new Eve was not seduced by the seducer.

The blessed virgin was tempted but did not succumb to the temptation even at the moment of the Conception of Jesus “but how can this be since I have no relations with a man” (Lk. 1:26-38) but like her Son she responded with “let it be done according to your word” A mirror image of her son’s “Father if it be possible let this cup pass from me” (Mt. 26:39).

I believe and have said in past that one of the saddest days in the life of the Blessed Mother would have been the Ascension to heaven of her son. Not because he should not have gone but because this would be the last time that she would see him on this earth as, her human baby and young son. Young man. Her love.

Had the Virgin not been assumed body and soul to heaven she would have experienced a death and a return to dust made of earthly chemicals and she would have been defeated by the enemy, and Jesus would not have permitted such ignominy to happen to His beloved mother.

Mary, Virgin and mother, was created perfect and did not succumb to the temptations of the seducer enemy of the Father’s creation.  The new Eve (Mary) is again a new creation and remained as she was meant to be, unlike the first Eve who at the beginning knew the words of the creator “from the fruit of the tree do not eat for when you do you shall surely die.” (Gen. 2:17).

There is some theological reasoning for the belief in the Assumption of Virgin Mary to heaven and it is that Jesus, her son, by His death, resurrection and Ascension to heaven purchased and gained for us a perfect victory over the evil one, that is, sin and death and Mary his blessed mother and the new “woman” and new “Eve” participated with her son in his perfect victory (Gen 3:15-16).

That the blessed mother would be in heaven with her son cannot be doubted, her son would not permit otherwise
“a great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun and with the moon under feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars…….and she gave birth to a male child who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron” (Rev. 12:1-5)

In the early days of the beginning church the beginning of doctrine of Mary’s Assumption began to emerge that when her time on earth approached the end, the apostles were forewarned and gathered around her, except (it is said) Thomas (Is this a repeat of his doubt about the resurrection of her son?) And the apostles present were all present for her funeral.

Legend has it that those around her tomb were said to have heard a heavenly music and when          St Thomas arrived and asked to see her body (like he asked to see the wounds of Jesus) it was found to be gone and in place were found flowers and a funeral shroud.

From the fifth century the feast of “Memorial of Mary” which later became the feast of the Dormition (or falling asleep) of the blessed Mother began to be held.  Homilies on the assumption of Mary began to be given from 6th century onward and later a prayer dated August 15th was composed. 

On this day the Holy Mother of God suffered temporal death but could not be held fast by the bonds of death.  She, who gave birth to Our Lord made flesh” (Behold your Mother” National Conference of US Bishops (1973)

No bodily remains of the Blessed Virgin Mary have ever been declared to be found anywhere, even the bones of St Peter have been found and are venerated in Vatican.

As the mother of the Son of God made man, she would not have been allowed to see corruption or decay, for her blessed womb held our blessed Lord and Saviour and she with her fiat which entailed all the required yeses to the request to be the mother of the highest Lord would be honoured by her son as His Queen Mother. A precent is found in the Old Testament “When Bathsheba went to king Solomon to speak to him about Adonijah, the king stood up to meet her, bowed down to her and sat down on his throne.  He then had a throne brought for the king’s mother, and she sat at his right hand.” (1 Kings 2),

 As Jesus did not experience decay and returned to His place next to his father so he would want His mother who gave him human life to also be next to him in eternity,  just like him, body and soul.