She was assumed, body and soul, into heaven

Each year around this date we come together to celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who we call the Theotokos which is Greek for God Bearer, the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Mother of God. On November 1, 1950, Pope Pius XII declared, “that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory,” as a dogma of the Church. But Christians have professed this since apostolic times. It is in fact the oldest feast day of our Lady. Numerous accounts of the life of Mary after the Ascension of our Lord describe her assumption.

The Assumption of Mary

The Assumption of Mary

It is generally accepted that Mary was around fourteen years of age when she conceived our Lord and Savior through the power of the Holy Spirit. This would place her around forty-five to forty-seven at his death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. There is evidence that she traveled with the Disciple whom Jesus loved to Ephesus where she is thought to have lived until her death at an age between fifty and sixty-two.

It is important to note that there is virtually no disagreement that Mary experienced a normal human death. Possibly the earliest account of her death and assumption can be found in an apocryphal work entitled  The Falling Asleep of the Holy Mother of God[1] which recounts through the voice of John that she was told by the Archangel Gabriel that her earthly life had reached its end and so she returned to Bethlehem to meet her death. All of the apostles having been caught up in clouds by the Holy Spirit were transported to Bethlehem to be with Mary in her final days. Together with the help of the Holy Spirit they carried her bed to her home in Jerusalem where on the following Sunday, Christ appeared to her and told her not to fear.

While Peter sang a hymn, the face of the mother of the Lord shone brighter than the light, and she rose up and blessed each of the apostles with her own hand, and all gave glory to God; and the Lord stretched forth His undefiled hands, and received her holy and blameless soul… And Peter, and I John, and Paul, and Thomas, ran and wrapped up her precious feet for the consecration; and the twelve apostles put her precious and holy body upon a couch, and carried it to the Garden of Gethsemane, where they placed her body in a new tomb.  And behold, a perfume of sweet savour came forth out of the holy sepulcher of our Lady the mother of God; and for three days the voices of invisible angels were heard glorifying Christ our God, who had been born of her. And when the third day was ended, the voices were no longer heard; and from that time forth all knew that her spotless and precious body had been transferred to paradise.”[2]

By any measure her life was expected to be completely forgettable. When we view Mary from the prism of her time and place we see someone who was considered barely human, of less value than a farm animal, a female in a world ruled by men, the property of others—her father’s as a child, her husband’s as an adult, ignored and forgotten when widowed. Born into poverty with no education, she was a peasant from a backwater, insignificant spot in one of the most desolate places on this earth. She was by all rights destined to live her life unknown and forgotten to the rest of the world.

And yet she became universally known and revered. God chose her above all others to bear His only Son. Only four persons throughout the long history of humanity have been born without the stain of original sin: Adam, Eve, Jesus Christ, and His earthly mother, Mary. She was created by God to be the Theotokos—the God bearer—a pure and stainless tabernacle for our Lord.

Given the times in which she lived, her age, and marital status, her acceptance of God’s will is beyond our comprehension. When she said “yes” to God she placed herself at death’s door for the penalty for an unwed pregnancy was stoning, an abhorrent practice that unbelievably continues to be in play throughout some parts of the world today.

She gave birth to Christ, the only Son of God, despite the threat of death from the rich and powerful. She raised and nurtured Him and watched over Him until His death on the cross. She watched over and guided the apostles and his church in its infancy just as she mothered her son in his life.

Our Blessed Mother Mary said yes to God and in doing so was elevated to a place so high that no creature could ever displace her. She became the Mother of God, the Mother of Jesus, and the spiritual Mother of us all. And as our mother she watches over us as she did with her son Jesus. She is, body and soul, with God in heaven just as Jesus promised. Mary is our hope and inspiration for our own resurrection at the end of time when we will be with her and see God. And so for this let us pray:

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

 

[1] The Account of St. John the Theologian of the Falling Asleep of the Holy Mother of God, http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0832.htm.

[2] Ibid.

Deacon Chuck

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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