From Ave Maria Meditations
‘Come then, my love, my lovely one, come’. (Songs 2:10)
The Catholic Church teaches that Mary was taken up body and soul into heaven after her death. Although the formal definition was not made until 1950 by Pope Pius XII, this belief in Mary’s Assumption dates back to the apostolic age. This is a formal Dogma of the Church which all Catholics are required to believe.
“The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son’s Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians.” Catechism of the Catholic Church (966)
MEDITATION . The Blessed Virgin Mary, whom we contemplate today assumed body and soul into heaven, reminds us very definitely that our permanent abode is not on earth but in heaven where she, with her divine Son, has preceded us in all the fullness of her human nature.
This is the dominant thought in today’s liturgy. “O Almighty and everlasting God, who hast taken up body and soul into heavenly glory the Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of Thy Son: grant, we beseech Thee, that, ever intent upon heavenly things, we may be worthy to be partakers of her glory” (Collect)
The Feast of the Assumption is a strong appeal to us to live “ever intent upon heavenly things,” and not to allow ourselves to be carried away by the (things) of the world. Not only was our soul created for heaven, but also our body, which, after the resurrection, will be welcomed into our heavenly home and admitted to a parti?cipation in the glory of the spirit.
Today we contemplate in Mary, our Mother, this total glorification of our humanity. That which has been wholly realized in her, will be realized for us, as well as for all the saints, only at the end of time. This privilege was very fitting for her, the all-pure, the all-holy one, whose body was never touched by even the faintest shadow of sin, but was always the temple of the Holy Spirit, and became the immaculate tabernacle of the Son of God. It is a reminder to us to ennoble our whole life, not only that of the spirit, but also that of the senses, elevating it to the heights of the ce1estiallife which awaits us.
“0 Mother of God and of men,” exclaims Pius XII in his beautiful prayer for the Assumption, “we beg you to purify our senses, so that we may begin to enjoy God here on earth and Him alone, in the beauty of creatures.”
Mary has been taken up to heaven because she is the Mother of God. This is the greatest of her privileges, the root of all the others and the reason for them; it speaks to us, in a very special way, of intimate union with God, as the fact of her Assumption speaks to us of the beatific union of heaven. Mary’s Assumption thus confirms us in this great and beautiful truth: we are created and called to union with God. Mary herself stretches out her maternal hand to guide us to the attainment of this high ideal.
Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene OCD (Divine Intimacy)
(Taken from “Treasury of Novenas” with
Meditations by Rev. Lawrence G. Lovasik, S.V.D.)
The Blessed Virgin Mary obeyed the law of death , but her death was rather a peaceful slumber, a gentle separation of the soul from the body. Her soul reached such a degree of love that it seemed unable to rest any longer except in the blissful embrace of the Blessed Trinity. It left her immaculate body and sped to enjoy the blessed vision of God. But soon her beautiful soul was again united to her body which lay peacefully in the tomb, and suddenly Mary stood immortal and glorified, clothed in queenly glory.
As angels sang their hymns of praise, Mary was raised on high to the Kingdom of glory by God’s own power. Who can tell the joy of that loving embrace whereby Jesus welcomed and admitted His own Virgin Mother to unending union with Him in the glory of heaven!
Mary’s peaceful tomb had been opened by the Apostles and found to be empty. Tradition tells us that beautiful flowers filled the place where her body had once lain, and heavenly music enveloped her empty tomb. The Apostles then realized that she had been taken up into heaven, soul and body.
It was fitting that Mary should be assumed into heaven with soul and body. By her Assumption, God honoured her body that was always the temple in which He dwelt by grace. It was a gate through which the Son of God, the Divine Word, passed to earth and became Man.
It was fitting that Mary’s holy and virginal body which gave flesh and blood to the God of all sanctity, the Victor over death, should never experience the corruption of the grave. Death and corruption are a result of original sin; but by her Immaculate Conception Mary was preserved from original sin and its effects.
Mary offered herself to suffering and her beloved Son to death for the redemption of mankind; it was fitting that she should be united with Him in glory.
We should rejoice that after years of suffering on earth, Mary has at last been taken to the throne prepared for her in heaven where she reigns with her Son. The Church expresses this joy on the solemn feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, August 15, which is also a Holy Day of Obligation.
Prayer to Mary Assumed into Heaven
Mary, my dear Mother and mighty Queen, take and receive my poor heart with all its freedom and desires, all its love and all the virtues and graces with which it may be adorned. All I am, all I might be, all I have and hold in the order of nature as well as of grace, I have received from God through your loving intercession, my Lady and Queen. Into your sovereign hands I entrust all, that it may be returned to its noble origin.
Mary, Queen of every heart, accept all that I am and bind me to you with the bonds fo love, that I may be yours forever, and may be able to say in all truth: “I belong to Jesus through Mary.”
My Mother, assumed into heaven, I love you. Give me a greater love for Jesus and for you.
Mary, Assumed into Heaven and Queen of the Universe, ever-Virgin Mother of God, obtain peace and salvation for us throgh your prayers, for you have given birth to Christ the Lord, the Saviour of all Mankind. Amen.
APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTION OF
POPE PIUS XII
DEFINING THE DOGMA OF THE ASSUMPTION
November 1, 1950
3. Actually God, who from all eternity regards Mary with a most favorable and unique affection, has “when the fullness of time came”(2) 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.
4….according to the general rule, God does not will to grant to the just the full effect of the victory over death until the end of time has come. And so it is that the bodies of even the just are corrupted after death, and only on the last day will they be joined, each to its own glorious soul.
5. Now God has willed that the Blessed Virgin Mary should be exempted from this general rule. She, by an entirely unique privilege, completely overcame sin by her Immaculate Conception, and as a result she was not subject to the law of remaining in the corruption of the grave, and she did not have to wait until the end of time for the redemption of her body.
14. Christ’s faithful, through the teaching and the leadership of their pastors, have learned from the sacred books that the Virgin Mary, throughout the course of her earthly pilgrimage, led a life troubled by cares, hardships, and sorrows, and that, moreover, what the holy old man Simeon had foretold actually came to pass, that is, that a terribly sharp sword pierced her heart as she stood under the cross of her divine Son, our Redeemer. In the same way, it was not difficult for them to admit that the great Mother of God, like her only begotten Son, had actually passed from this life. But this in no way prevented them from believing and from professing openly that her sacred body had never been subject to the corruption of the tomb, and that the august tabernacle of the Divine Word had never been reduced to dust and ashes. Actually, enlightened by divine grace and moved by affection for her, God’s Mother and our own dearest Mother, they have contemplated in an ever clearer light the wonderful harmony and order of those privileges which the most provident God has lavished upon this loving associate of our Redeemer, privileges which reach such an exalted plane that, except for her, nothing created by God other than the human nature of Jesus Christ has ever reached this level.
21. 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 honored by every creature as the Mother and as the handmaid of God.”
22….”You are she who, as it is written, appears in beauty, and your virginal body is all holy, all chaste, entirely the dwelling place of God, so that it is henceforth completely exempt from dissolution into dust. Though still human, it is changed into the heavenly life of incorruptibility, truly living and glorious, undamaged and sharing in perfect life.”
33….The likeness between God’s Mother and her divine Son, in the way of the nobility and dignity of body and of soul – a likeness that forbids us to think of the heavenly Queen as being separated from the heavenly King – makes it entirely imperative that Mary “should be only where Christ is.”(35) Moreover, it is reasonable and fitting that not only the soul and body of a man, but also the soul and body of a woman should have obtained heavenly glory. Finally, since the Church has never looked for the bodily relics of the Blessed Virgin nor proposed them for the veneration of the people, we have a proof on the order of a sensible experience.
35….”What son would not bring his mother back to life and would not bring her into paradise after her death if he could?” And St. Alphonsus writes that “Jesus did not wish to have the body of Mary corrupted after death, since it would have redounded to his own dishonor to have her virginal flesh, from which he himself had assumed flesh, reduced to dust.”
38….These set the loving Mother of God as it were before our very eyes as most intimately joined to her divine Son and as always sharing his lot. Consequently it seems impossible to think of her, the one who conceived Christ, brought him forth, nursed him with her milk, held him in her arms, and clasped him to her breast, as being apart from him in body, even though not in soul, after this earthly life. Since our Redeemer is the Son of Mary, he could not do otherwise, as the perfect observer of God’s law, than to honor, not only his eternal Father, but also his most beloved Mother. And, since it was within his power to grant her this great honor, to preserve her from the corruption of the tomb, we must believe that he really acted in this way.
40. Hence the revered Mother of God, from all eternity joined in a hidden way with Jesus Christ in one and the same decree of predestination,(47) immaculate in her conception, a most perfect virgin in her divine motherhood, the noble associate of the divine Redeemer who has won a complete triumph over sin and its consequences, finally obtained, as the supreme culmination of her privileges, that she should be preserved free from the corruption of the tomb and that, like her own Son, having overcome death, she might be taken up body and soul to the glory of heaven where, as Queen, she sits in splendor at the right hand of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages.
44….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.
45. Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith.