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SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

August 15, 2013 by  
Filed under Mary, Solemnity

Solemnity of
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

“The Virgin Mary is exalted above the choirs of angels;
let all believers rejoice and bless the Lord.”

(Antiphon 2 of Morning Prayer, Liturgy of the Hours)

Assumption

“In their homilies and sermons on this feast the holy fathers and great doctors spoke of the assumption of the Mother of God as something already familiary and accepted by the faithful. They gave it greater clarity in their preaching and used more profound arguments in setting out its nature and meaning. Above all, they brought out more clearly the fact that what is commemorated in this feast is not simply the total absence of corruption from the dead body of the Blessed Virgin Mary but also the triumph over death and her glorification in heaven, after the pattern set by her only Son, Jesus Christ …”

(From the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus by Pope Pius XII defining the Dogma of the Assumption, November 1, 1950, from the Second Reading, Office of Readings, Liturgy of the Hours).

Art: Himmelfahrt Mariens, Mariano Salvador Maella, by 1819, PD-US author's life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons.

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About Liz Estler

Editor, SpiritualDirection.com. Liz holds a Master of Arts in Ministry Degree (St. John's Seminary, Brighton, Massachusetts), Liturgy Certificate (Boston Archdiocese), and a BS degree in Biology and Spanish (Nebraska Wesleyan University - Lincoln). She has served as hospital chaplain associate, sacristan, translator and in other parish ministries. She was a regular columnist for a military newspaper in Europe and has been published in a professional journal. She once waded in the Trevi Fountain!

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  • “Almighty, everlasting God, who by the co-operation of the Holy Ghost didst prepare the body and soul of the glorious Virgin-Mother Mary to become a dwelling-place meet for thy Son: grant that as we rejoice in her commemoration; so by her fervent intercession we may be delivered from present evils and from everlasting death. Through the same Christ our Lord.” — Lauds concluding prayer from the traditional Latin Divine Office.

    Blessed and grace-filled Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary!

    • LizEst

      Thank you, Monica…and to you as well. Blessed be God who gave to us so great a mother.

    • Amen

  • walker_percy

    Two theological questions: 1. Though born without original sin, did Mary need redemption through Jesus? 2. I assume (ahem, sorry) we say “Assumption” and not “Ascension” in regard to Mary because Jesus ascended into heaven by his own power, whereas Mary was taken into heaven by God’s power, correct?

    • Dear Walker – She was in need of savior and in that need, His provision was to save her from sin rather than out of sin. Don’t know that answer to your second question.

    • LizEst

      1. Because God is eternal, Mary was preserved from sin by the application of the fruits of Christ’s redemption in order that she be fit to bear God’s Son. She benefited from His passion, death and resurrection. Even though these events took place historically, they also exist eternally. And, it is because of that that they were able to be applied to Mary to preserve her from sin. This same principle is in effect at every Mass. Christ’s passion, death and resurrection are re-presented, not re-enacted, in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.

      2. Yes, walker_percy, you are correct. Mary was assumed into heaven by God’s power not hers. Therefore, we call Mary’s ascent into heaven Assumption. Jesus, being God, ascended to heaven on His own power. Therefore, we call His ascent into heaven Ascension.

      • $1650412

        I just had this discussion with one of my children about the Mass and made the same connection you mentioned here Liz, thank you for saying this!

        • LizEst

          You’re quite welcome, Jo. To God be the glory!

      • walker_percy

        And one more series of questions: The Church has not defined whether Mary died before her Assumption, correct? Was she assumed while physically dead, or resurrected from the dead, or taken up physically alive? Or is the Church silent on this issue? And if silent, does that mean the Church allows for individual belief on the matter, or are we to remain silent, too?

        • LizEst

          The Church has always held that Mary died. She was assumed into heaven after having “gained a triumph out of death.” This is what Pope Pius XII said when he infallibly defined the Doctrine of the Assumption in the Apostolic Constitution “Munificentissimus Deus” http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xii/apost_constitutions/documents/hf_p-xii_apc_19501101_munificentissimus-deus_en.html : “This feast shows, not only that the dead body of the Blessed Virgin Mary remained incorrupt, but that she gained a triumph out of death, her heavenly glorification after the example of her only begotten Son, Jesus Christ-truths that the liturgical books had frequently touched upon concisely and briefly” (paragraph 20). “She, by an entirely unique privilege, completely overcame sin by her Immaculate Conception, and as a result she was not subject to the law of remaining in the corruption of the grave, and she did not have to wait until the end of time for the redemption of her body” (paragraph 5). “Following the footsteps of his distinguished teacher, the Angelic Doctor [Thomas Aquinas], despite the fact that he never dealt directly with this question, nevertheless, whenever he touched upon it, always held together with the Catholic Church, that Mary’s body had been assumed into heaven along with her soul” (paragraph 31).

          So, to answer your questions:
          1. The Blessed Virgin Mary died.
          2. She was assumed into heaven and did not have to wait until the end of time for the redemption of her body. She was not assumed physically dead. The redemption of her body was her body’s resurrection after the example (or pattern) of her Son, who granted her this singular privilege. Thus, her resurrection from the dead was not a mere resuscitation. Her resurrection was a triumph over death, the reuniting of her body and soul, a glorification of her body, after the pattern of her Son’s resurrection. So, she was not merely alive when taken up into heaven body and soul, she was in her glorified body…and, in this glorified body, she was taken up to heaven and further glorified there.
          3. She is indeed blessed even more than our minds can, at present, comprehend.

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