On August 15, the Church celebrates with great joy the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, body and soul, into Heaven. It is such a solemn feast that it is a holy day of obligation (i.e. we are bound to attend Holy Mass, like on a Sunday)! With this, the Church seems to exclaim: “Our Mother has gone to Heaven; we must thank God in solemn worship!”
What joy we have in the Assumption of Our Mother! This feast day is like a little Easter, for we celebrate the solemn truth of our faith that Blessed Mary is risen from the dead along with her Son, that she possesses in Heaven already the glory of both soul and body.
Our joy in Our Mother’s glory comes from our realization that she, who walked perfectly by faith her whole earthly life, finally has received the Beatific Vision of God in Heaven and that this Vision has overflowed into her body, glorifying it like her Son’s. She, who suffered so much sorrow – especially at the foot of the Cross – now has no more sorrow and no more waiting. She is all-holy and all-happy now in Heaven, glorified entirely in soul and body.
The teaching of the ordinary Magisterium of the Church is that Mary’s Assumption was preceded by a most peaceful death, free of all bodily corruption and surrounded by the Apostles. Her death was a death of love, her soul leaving her body with the ease of perfectly ripe fruit being picked off its tree. Three days later, she rose from the dead, by the same divine power by which we too hope to rise on the last day. She was then taken up into Heaven to be crowned Queen of Heaven and the entire universe. Fittingly, the Church sings “Ave, Regina Caelorum” at Night Prayer on this feast day.
Mary’s Assumption is a sharing in the Easter of Jesus. She had died with Him a most violent death spiritually at the foot of the Cross. Our tradition insists that she truly died with Him, albeit spiritually. Her soul was really pierced and she was the perfect martyr. At the foot of the Cross, she shares His Good Friday, the Queen of Martyrs perfectly associated with His Bloody Offering. In her Assumption, she receives the glory she merited in Him by dying with Him on the Cross.
So, on her little Easter, as she enters into her glory, which is only and always God’s glory, we say to her: “Rejoice, O Virgin Mary! Rejoice a thousand times!” She is Our Mother! She is in glory! Where she has gone, we hope to follow!
Fr. Joseph Previtali