The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
VIGIL: I Chr 15:3-4,15-16; 16:1-2 + 1 Cor 15:54-57 + Lk 11:27-28
DAY: Rev 11:19;12:1-6,10 + 1 Cor 15:20-27 + Lk 1:39-56
August 15, 2020
“… my spirit rejoices in God my Savior ….”
We Catholics believe that when a person dies, if he is in a state of perfect grace, his soul goes directly to Heaven. To use another word, we believe that his soul is “assumed” into Heaven. We may know people in our own families who, we’re sure, had their souls taken by God directly into Heaven. This may happen with many people who had time to prepare for a holy death. The main difference between the end of these persons’ lives and the end of Mary’s life is that both Mary’s soul and her body were assumed into Heaven.
Why was Mary’s body taken into Heaven along with her soul? It’s because Mary is the type of person that all of us were originally supposed to be, but didn’t become because of Original Sin. If Adam and Eve, and all of us in turn, had never sinned, then every one of us would rise body and soul into Heaven at the end of our lives. Death as we know it (including the separation of body and soul) only exists because of human sin.
Yet Mary was given a special gift by God, since God knew from eternity that she would accept His calling to be the Mother of Christ. This gift was the privilege given at the first moment of Mary’s existence: the privilege of her Immaculate Conception. The fact that she was conceived by her mother, St. Anne, without Original Sin meant that her whole life was uniquely holy among all God’s creatures. Her life was still filled with struggles and pain, but at the end of her life on this earth, Mary became a sign of hope for us.
Because Mary was never touched by the effects of Original Sin, and because she never chose to sin, she didn’t suffer the corruption of her body. Her soul and her body remained united at the end of her earthly life, and both were taken up into Heaven.
Mary is the perfect example of what it means to take the gifts given by God and use them completely for good. Because Mary faithfully accepted the great gift of being the Mother of Jesus, the Mother of God, and because she always stood faithful to Christ, even as he was dying on the Cross, she was protected by God from one of the effects of Original Sin: that body and soul should be separated at the time of death.
So when the end of Mary’s life came, she became the sign that shows all of us our own destiny as disciples of Christ. When we die, our souls and bodies will be separated for quite some time: until the end of time, in fact. Nonetheless, if you and I follow Christ even when it means embracing the Cross—if we are always willing to use the gifts God has given us for good and not evil—then when Christ comes a second time, our bodies will be raised by Christ and rejoined to our souls. With our Blessed Mother in Heaven we will all thank God for the gift of life. We shouldn’t forget that we proclaim this hope in our Creed when we pray, “We believe in the resurrection of the body.” Mary experienced this gift in a unique way immediately at the end of her earthly life.