This coming Friday is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We will celebrate Mass here at 8 a.m. and again at 6 p.m. I hope that you will be able to join us.
On this day we celebrate the victory of Christ over death, already complete and total in the case of His Mother, Mary. She was assumed, body and soul, into heaven, to share fully and completely in her Son’s victory over death. As the Apostolic Constitution, Munificentissimus Deus (Nov 1, 1950) that proclaimed this doctrine stated:
“Therefore, it seems almost impossible to think of her who conceived Christ, bore Him, nourished Him with her milk, held Him in her arms, and pressed Him to her breast, as separated from Him after this earthly life in her body, even though not in soul. Since our Redeemer is the Son of Mary, surely, as the most perfect observer of divine law, He could not refuse to honor, in addition to His Eternal Father, His most beloved Mother also. And, since He could adorn her with so great a gift as to keep her unharmed by the corruption of the tomb, it must be believed that He actually did this.”
Basically the argument is that since Jesus is such a good son, and could do this for His Mother, obviously He must have done so. It is an argument that leads with the heart, not the head.
The best reflection I have ever read on the Assumption comes not from a theologian but an artist. In Feb. 3, 1951 issue of the British magazine, The Tablet, the author Graham Greene asks why the doctrine of the Assumption was declared now, in 1950, when there were no heresies about Mary to combat. He connects it instead to the events of WWII, especially the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He wrote:
“In our day there are no obvious signs of heretical beliefs within the Church concerning the Assumption of Our Lady and therefore it was believed by some Catholics that to proclaim the dogma was unnecessary. But Catholics today cannot remain quite untouched by the general heresy of the time, the unimportance of the individual. Today the human body is regarded as expendable material, something to be eliminated wholesale by the atom bomb, a kind of anonymous carrion. After the First World War crosses marked the places where the dead lay, Allied and enemy: lights burned continually in the capitals of Europe over the graves of the unknown warriors. But no crosses today mark the common graves into which the dead of London and Berlin were shoveled, and Hiroshima’s memorial is the outline of a body photographed by the heat flash on asphalt. The definition of the Assumption proclaims again the doctrine of our Resurrection, the eternal destiny of each human body, and again it is the history of Mary which maintains the doctrine in its clarity. The Resurrection of Christ can be regarded as the Resurrection of a God, but the Resurrection of Mary foreshadows the Resurrection of each one of us.”
So as we celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary what we really are celebrating is our faith in the resurrection of each one of us. Happy Feast Day!