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The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary


"Mary assumed into Heaven shows you where love and complete fidelity to Christ on earth lead: the eternal joy of Heaven” ~ Saint John Paul II

Among his many sparkling accolades and monikers, Saint John Damascene has earned the title "The Doctor of the Assumption,” this due in large part to the many prolific homilies he wrote on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which we celebrate today

In one of those homilies, believed to have been proclaimed around the year 722, Damascene states “For just as her virginity remained inviolate while giving birth, when she departed her body was preserved from destruction and only taken to a better and more divine tabernacle, which is not subject to any death. Hence, I will call her holy passing not death, but falling asleep [dormition] or departure, or better still, arrival.”

Mary the Mother of God was granted this extreme privilege, that of being assumed bodily into the Heavenly Kingdom and thus spared the corruption of the tomb, not to rival Jesus' Ascension. Mary's Assumption instead points towards it, as does everything our Blessed Mother does and says. It is in Heaven where she will reign as Queen for all of eternity, a belief we will celebrate a week from today by way of the Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Saint John Danascene goes on to say of Mary “Your stainless and wholly immaculate body has not been left on earth; the Queen, the Mistress, the Mother of God who has truly given birth to God has been translated to the royal palaces of heaven." Saint Maximilian Kolbe said of Mary “Jesus honored her before all ages, and will honor her for all ages. No one comes to Him, nor even near Him, no one is saved or sanctified, if he too will not honor her. This is the lot of Angels and of men.”

The Virgin Mary now experiences in Heaven the union of a glorified body and soul. She is no disembodied spirit, but a complete human person, body and soul, matter and spirit, reigning with Christ in Heaven. Not to be confused with Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven, which was an active action, the Assumption was a passive event, a fitting earthly denouement for the woman whose glorious and fearless submission to God's will set forth the chain of events that would open the Gates of Heaven for a downtrodden, sinful, ungrateful and disobedient race.

Mary’s importance is not merely limited to the afterlife and our desire to follow in her footsteps, one day being raised from the dust and reunited with our resurrected bodies in the new Heaven and the new earth. Mary is a wellspring of hope in the face of everyday struggles, trials, and tribulations. She is the woman clothed with sun in Revelation (Revelation 12:1-2), with "the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars." She exemplifies the Lord doing great things for us (Luke 1:39-56) while taking delight in the Lord choosing her to be the mother of his Son. She persevered through sorrow As the Queen of Intercessors, she anxiously awaits our prayers so that she can bring them before the Throne of God.

Throughout Scripture, Jesus urges us to be Holy, as God out Heavenly Father is Holy (Matthew 5:48, etc). Jesus tells us that anyone who wishes to come after him must take up his cross and follow him (Matthew 16:24). Mary of course did both and it culminated in her previously aforementioned Heavenly Queenship.

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Normally the Solemnity of the Assumption is recognized as a Holy Day of obligation. Since it fell on a Monday this year, the church lifted the liturgical obligation to participate at Mass. Morning mass at my parish was nonetheless quite well attended, a true testimony to the love that the faithful have for our beloved Eternal mother and Heavenly Queen. I'm reminded of the words of Saint Bernard Clairvaux, who wondered aloud "And with regard to ourselves, how deservedly do we keep the feast of the Assumption with all solemnity. What reasons for rejoicing, what motives for exultation have we on this most beautiful day! The presence of Mary illumines the entire world so that even the holy city above has now a more dazzling splendor from the light of this virginal Lamp. With good reason thanksgiving and the voice of praise resound today throughout the courts of Heaven…let us not complain for here we do not have a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come, the same which the blessed Mary entered today.”

Let us rejoice today and every day that Mary is our Mother, intercessor, and Queen. Let us always turn to her in times of trouble, for as the Memorare reminds us, "Never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. For to borrow once again from the great Maximilian Kolbe, “I see Mary everywhere. I see difficulties nowhere.

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