Thursday, August 14, 2014
Today the universal Church celebrates the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in which we commemorate her being taken up body and soul into heaven when her earthly life was finished. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us: “The Most Blessed Virgin Mary, when the course of her earthly life was completed, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven, where she already shares in the glory of her Son's Resurrection, anticipating the resurrection of all members of His Body” (974). Thus, the Assumption looks to eternity and gives us hope that we, too, will follow Our Lady when our life is ended.
The Assumption first began to be celebrated as a feast day in the Eastern Church after the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus (431) proclaimed Mary the Mother of God. By the sixth century, the feast celebrated Mary’s Dormition, “her falling asleep.” The western church began to celebrate this feast around 650. St. John Damascene (675-749), an early Father and Doctor of the Church, expressed the belief of his time by writing that Mary’s “pure and sinless body was not left on earth but was transferred to a heavenly throne.” The Church’s teaching on the Assumption was formally proclaimed a doctrine by Pope Pius XII in 1950.
Today we honor the Blessed Virgin Mary, who always directs us to her Son. According to Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, “The main ministry of Mary is to incline men’s hearts to obedience to the Will of her Divine Son.” Her last recorded words at Cana are the words that she conveys to us on the solemnity of the Assumption: “Do whatever He tells you.” She asks us to be obedient to Him, to surrender our hearts to Him, and to say “Yes” to Him, just as she did, despite our uncertainties. She desires that we come to Him with open and contrite hearts, seeking His mercy and His holy will in our lives, so that we may one day be united with Him in heaven for all eternity. The Blessed Mother is our advocate and guide in this life who loves us as only a mother can. Her maternal heart overflows with compassion for us, and she is always there for us, eager to listen to our prayers, and to draw us closer to the heart of her Son. Our Blessed Mother has preceded us into Heaven so that on the day of final judgment she will be there to accompany us on our eternal journey.
"The Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the oldest Marian Feast, returns every year in the heart of summer. It is an opportunity to rise with Mary to the heights of the spirit where one breathes the pure air of supernatural life and contemplates the most authentic beauty, the beauty of holiness."
~ Pope Benedict XVI, homily on the Solemnity of the Assumption, August 15, 2008