Thursday, August 15, 2002

He has lifted up the lowly: the Assumption/Dormition

Everything that the holy Church defines about Mary either has to do with who Jesus is, or has to do with who we his Church are. So, what is this doubly-named feast we celebrate today, and what does it teach us about the Lord or his Church that our Church has defined it?

The Assumption, aka the Dormition, of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Mary, at the end of her life on earth, was taken up to heaven by her Son, both soul and body. There she lives forever in the glory of the Presence of God in her resurrection body.

There is a pious disagreement among believers about the details, which is part of why this feast has two names. Some say that Mary died, and was resurrected from death to be taken into heaven by her Son; others say that she was just taken when her time came, like Enoch and Elijah (and, some say, Moses) were. The Church has refused to define this part, since it truly makes no difference; both opinions are legitimate.

Just as Mary was the very first believer, totally obedient to the will of God, totally faithful to the way of her Son, being our model and example in all of her life, she is also our example in her passing over from this life to the next. Where she is now, in the glorious Presence in heaven, both soul and glorified resurrection body together, is where we are called to be ourselves, and where in time's fullness we will be. Mary has already been taken up by her Son; we all will be resurrected and taken into the presence of God at the last days.

We live in hope. We live in active fruitful faith.

Our Lady, Mother of God, Mother of the Church,
Assumed into heaven, body and soul together,
Pray for us both now and when we meet death
that we be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
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