August 15 marks one of the most important Marian feast day of the year: The Assumption. This day commemorates when Mary was assumed into Heaven, body and soul. In 1950, Pope Pius XII made it a dogma of the Church, an unquestionable teaching that verified this undeniable truth. While the New Testament makes no explicit mention of Mary’s dormition or assumption into Heaven, it has been affirmed by Christian Tradition and the accounts of saints, and historical Scripture points to its veracity. Just as God brought Enoch and Elijah directly into Heaven, He has the power to bring Our Lady, who was conceived without sin.
Because of this flawless conception, Mary was not subject to the stains and scars of Original Sin, namely labor pains, sickness, and death. Therefore, when Pope Pius XII wrote the dogma for the Assumption of Mary, he did not specify whether she died or whether she “fell asleep.” Some say that she died, not because of sin, but to imitate the life and death of Christ, perfection in all things. Others say that because she was not subject to it, she merely entered a deep sleep before her assumption.
Whatever the case, the dogma states the following: “Now God has willed that the Blessed Virgin Mary should be exempted from this general rule. 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.” (POPE PIUS XII, MUNIFICENTISSIMUS DEUS, para. 5) Mary was assumed body and soul into Heaven. While others are subject to decay, being buried, and waiting to be reunited with their Heavenly bodies, the Virgin Mother of God was not only granted incorruptibility but instant entrance into eternal salvation.
This event alone speaks to the vital significance of our bodies while on earth. While we are not ultimately called to be permanent inhabitants of this world and we should not tether our being to the material goods of our mortal lives, the purpose of our bodies remains singularly critical. It is responsible for helping us conduct ourselves in a way that helps us honor God, know God, and love God. That is our most important goal in life. To that end, we are called to respect our bodies, just as the Virgin Mary did, in the hopes that our bodies too will make their way to Heaven at the final judgement. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 366, “Body and Soul but Truly One”)
After all her body and mind had to undergo on earth, Mary was finally granted a release, a letting go of the seven sorrows. The end of her life marked the end of her earthly trials. God was finally taking His beloved mother home to bask in His infinite paradise. This image of Mary being carried the rest of the way can be an inspiration to us in our darkest times. When we feel like letting go and giving up, God will not let us go. He will shoulder our burdens if we let Him.
And there is no better intercessor than Our Lady herself. Let us go to Mary through the Rosary and bring her all our intentions, struggles, and petitions. Join us live at 7pm CT for the Family Rosary Across America!
Holy Mary, our hope, handmaid of the Lord, seat of Wisdom, pray for us.