On Saturday, the Church celebrates the great feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This celebration marks the day on which our Blessed Mother was raised from the dead and taken up in her glorified body into Heaven. This is a historical feast (meaning it happened on this day). The Church of Jerusalem commemorates her death on August 13 and celebrates a Marian Triduum leading up to the celebration of her resurrection on August 15. With this feast, we joyfully proclaim the truth of our Catholic faith that there are two glorified bodies in Heaven, that of Jesus and that of Mary!
The feast of the Assumption, then, is a kind of Marian Easter. It is a celebration of Blessed Mary’s office as the true disciple of Jesus Christ, the one who kept His Word perfectly and did His Will always. She is our great model and example in her discipleship and she receives the reward of her fidelity in her glorious resurrection and assumption into Heaven. In her glory, she is also an example to us, for we hope to follow her in receiving our own resurrection unto glory on the Last Day.
On August 15, we rejoice in the glory of our Blessed Mother, who is so holy and beautiful in her following of her Son that she gets to share before everyone else in His Resurrection. We should not be shocked by this doctrine of the faith, for we also hope to share in Jesus’s Resurrection after sharing in His Suffering and Death. The feast of Mary’s resurrection helps to normalize the idea of the resurrection of the dead for us. This is the great good for which we are striving: the complete happiness of our soul and body in the Glory of Heaven.
Jesus merited His Resurrection, Mary’s resurrection, and our resurrection by His Passion and Death. Because He is God, He merited all this glory “de condigno,” which means “in strict justice.” Our Lady merited her glorious resurrection, for her part, by suffering and dying in her soul with Jesus in His Passion. St. Simeon prophesied to her that the sword that pierced Jesus’s Sacred Heart would pierce her soul as well. She merited her glory “de congruo,” which means “in a totally participated manner” with the grace of Jesus. You and I are called to follow her, to merit “de congruo” our own resurrection by suffering and dying in our souls with Jesus. Thus, Our Lady of Sorrows is our teacher of how to arrive at the glory of her Assumption!
Mary’s heart is sorrowful and glorious. Just like Jesus, she combines death and resurrection and points us to the same path. On the octave of the Assumption, we will celebrate the feast of her Immaculate Heart. August is dedicated to this sorrowful and glorious heart! In these weeks, we also hear much of Jesus’s Bread of Life discourse (John 6) in the Ordinary Form Sunday Gospels. Glorious and Immaculate Mary is our teacher of how to receive Jesus in Holy Communion. May we always receive Holy Communion with our hearts like Mary’s, so that we may suffer, die, and rise with our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Fr. Joseph Previtali