Today we celebrate the Feast of the Assumption – a Marian feast marking Mary’s natural death and bodily assumption into heaven.
New Advent has a great summary of the technical aspect of this Marian feast day. But if you have no clue what the feast day is even about here’s a quick summary of the summary – Mary’s natural death and assumption into heaven was held as a belief back to the time of the apostles, but it wasn’t written about officially until sometime around the 6th century and wasn’t included as part of the Catholic Church’s dogma until Pope Pius XII released the encyclical Munificentissimus Deus on Nov. 1, 1950. In this encyclical, Pope Pius declared “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.”
Two quick notes on Catholic technicalities:
- Dogma means it is considered heresy to knowingly contradict a specific Church teaching. Dogma are defined by the Magesteriem “when it proposes truths contained in divine Revelation or having a necessary connection with them, in a form obliging the Christian people to an irrevocable adherence of faith.” (From the CCC)
- While the Feast of the Assumption IS a holy day of obligation, if the date falls on a Sunday or Monday (like it does this year), then it isn’t. Confusing? Yeah. Basically since it falls so close to a Sunday, attending Sunday (or Saturday Vigil) Mass fulfills both your Sunday obligation AND your holy day obligation.
I make no secret of my affection to Our Lady Mother. Mary is basically THE girl to have on your team. She has Jesus’ ear, she knows a mother’s heart intimately and she is a startling example of self-sacrifice for the love of Christ. Reflecting on the importance of her assumption, I am drawn back to her Magnificat – specifically
Because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid;
We are reminded God didn’t choose a woman of lofty stature, a remarkable beauty, a scholar, a noble, he chose a handmaid to be the mother of His Son. From the very beginning with her immaculate conception to the immaculate conception of Jesus, she was set apart. She was gifted the opportunity to mother the Savior of the world. And at the end of it all, still a lowly handmaid of a spurned and crucified Messiah, she was assumed, body and soul, to heaven.
Let the Feast of the Assumption be a reminder of how little God cares about status. His definition of worth looks much deeper than that, at our heart, our core, our soul. May Mary’s constant Fiat be an inspiration and her assumption a reminder that Jesus is always there, blessing you with opportunities to be worthy, not because of fame or fortune, but because of love, obedience and faith.
Mary, mother of God, pray for us.