Sunday, August 14, 2016
On August 15 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
Recommended Reading on the Blessed Virgin Mary and her Assumption:
The Holy Bible (Catholic)
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Introduction to Mary: The Heart of Marian Doctrine and Devotion, Mark Miravalle, Queenship Publishing Company
Meet Your Mother: A Brief Introduction to Mary, Mark Miravalle, Marian Press
Hail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God, Scott Hahn, Image
Queen Mother: A Biblical Theology of Mary's Queenship, Edward Sri and Scott Hahn, Emmaus Road Publishing
Catholic for a Reason II: Scripture and the Mystery of the Mother of God, Scott Hahn (Editor) and Leon J. Suprenant, Jr (Author), Emmaus Road Publishing
The Glories of Mary, St. Alphonsus de Liguori, Tan Books
The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary: From the Visions of Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich by Anne Catherine Emmerich, Tan Books
Theotokos: Woman, Mother, Disciple, John Paul II, Pauline Books and Media
Mary: The Church at the Source, Benedict XVI, Ignatius Press
Mary and the Fathers of the Church: The Blessed Virgin Mary in Patristic Thought, Luigi S. M. Gambero and Gambero, Ignatius Press
The World's First Love: A Moving Portrayal of the Virgin Mary, Fulton J. Sheen, Ignatius Press