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THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY


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The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary proclaims that at the end of her earthly life Our Lady was taken to the glory of heaven. What is the evidence for this doctrine and why does the Church teach it?

Although there is no direct description of the end of Mary’s life in the New Testament, it is significant that no early tradition sprang up or remain to us reverencing a grave or the location of her physical relics.  Unlike every other major figure in the Apostolic period. There must, therefore, have been something particular about the end of Our Lady’s life that meant this didn’t happen.

Traditions circulated as early as the 2nd and 3rd centuries that Mary was taken to God at the end of her earthly life.  This means it is perfectly reasonable to assume  the community memory there was that she was neither buried nor dead like other Christians, but rather was graced with some sort of immediate experience of heaven.

From the 4th century onwards a number of written texts mention Mary’s Assumption, such as the Dormition of Mary (attributed to the Apostle John). The one thing that seems to characterise all evidence concerning early speculation about Mary is an unanimity from the very earliest times, in both written, and oral  evidence that Mary was not to be found buried anywhere, that no place claims her remains or a story of her death and permanent burial. The idea that Mary had been taken into heaven clearly had wide early Christian credence even if it had not been crystallised as a universally defined doctrine.

It is important to remember that although the New Testament contains no direct description of the end of Mary’s life, there is much scriptural evidence of a figurative nature that points to the truth of this doctrine.

The most important evidence of this kind comes from the Book of Revelation. The Heavenly Woman described in Chapter 12 of that book clearly has a representative significance. She is described as in heaven, “clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” Through her childbearing, she defeats the dragon representing evil, and gives birth to a son “who was to rule the nations.”

 It is very difficult indeed to imagine some reference to Mary is not intended by John of Patmos in his description of this heavenly woman and her kingly son. This Mary figure in Rev 12 is both exalted in heaven and taken to a place of safety because of her role in our salvation. It is easy to see how Christians from the earliest times saw this passage as evidence Mary was assumed into heaven.

It is also important to consider why the Assumption is important and what it teaches us both about Our Lady and our salvation.

The Assumption is both a natural outworking of truths at the heart of the Gospel and a logical consequence of what the church has always taught about Mary’s role. It is a rational and coherent assertion to make about Our Lady.

Our Lady was both the source and location of our salvation’s dawn, but also the first amongst the redeemed. Because God had taken flesh in her, he would not let her know decay and death, and so brought her body and soul into the glory of heaven.

In other words, though exalted as the Mother of God, she is saved just as much through her Son’s death and resurrection as we are. She shares now in the same glory we hope to be clothed with when we die.

 From ancient times the Church has proclaimed lex orendi, lex credendi (the law of prayer is the law of belief). The feast of the Assumption, in its evolution from the common belief of the faithful, as represented by the proliferation of apocryphal literature to a dogma of the Church, is a manifestation of this time-honoured dictum. Mary’s role as the Mother of God and the dignity of her life make the Assumption her privilege as she continues to serve as the perfect model of discipleship for all the faithful.

 

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Prayer for the Assumption of Mary

Father in heaven,
all creation rightly gives you praise,
for all life and all holiness come from you.
In the plan of your wisdom
she who bore the Christ in her womb
was raised body and soul in glory to be with him in heaven.
May we follow her example in reflecting your holiness
and join in her hymn of endless love and praise.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

 

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JMJ+

For me, it is simply that Jesus took human flesh in the womb of Mary and so when His Body (Flesh) and Soul ascended into Heaven without undergoing any sort of decay, then the same happened to His Mother - flesh with (same as or united to) His Flesh.  The Father, through The Holy Spirit, would not permit the Flesh of His Son to know decay as in the normal course of death; therefore, indeed the human flesh of The Mother of Jesus was not to know decay either. I needed an 'explanation' of The Assumption of Our Lady that an ordinary everyday person could grasp.  We MUST get The Gospel etc. into the vernacular.  As Archbishop Fulton Sheen commented in one of his talks, it is up to The Church to go out to others***, rather than others must come in.  

The Assumption is my mother's birth date.  When I was a child, I would say that when Our Lady went up,

my Mum came down :) 

Mum died and went to Heaven on Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week - the day Jesus was hailed victorious into Jerusalem on a humble little donkey.  Archbishop Fulton Sheen in one of his talks gives a lovely little mythical anecdote about that little very humble donkey.

___________________

*** The Mass comes from the noun "missa" or the verb "missio" (my Latin remains absolutely pathetic!): ........... "After the blessing, the deacon dismisses the people. In fact, the dismissal gives the liturgy its name. The word "Mass" comes from the Latin word, " Missa." At one time, the people were dismissed with the words " Ite, missa est," meaning "Go, you are sent. The word " Missa" comes from the word " missio," the root of the English word "mission." The liturgy does not simply come to an end. Those assembled are sent forth to bring the fruits of the Eucharist to the world." https://www.usccb.org/offices/public-affairs/structure-and-meaning-mass

Are we a Missionary Church sent forth by Jesus into the world, or are we not?  It is good, methinks, almost essential, methinks again, to consider the missionary works and wanderings, the teaching or conversion mode, of St Paul as a guidepost to missionary missions (sent forth) or ministries, activity, in the world today.  And the Laity is primarily sent to the temporal order of creation.  Nor does The Lord send us forth 'empty handed' as it were.  As Laity, He specifically blesses us with all necessary to go forth and "bear fruit that will last/remain"

 https://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decree_19651118_apostolicam-actuositatem_en.html  (Apostolate of The Laity)

And see: https://www.usccb.org/committees/laity-marriage-family-life-youth/church-teaching-laity

Quote

John 15 in some translations: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He [a]prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4Remain in Me, [c]and I in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit [d]of itself [e]but must remain in the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me. 5I am the vine, you are the branches; the one who remains in Me, and I in him [f]bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown away like a branch and dries up; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7If you remain in Me, and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so [g]prove to be My disciples. 9Just as the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you; remain in My love. 10If you keep My commandments, you will remain in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love. 11These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full."

The above indicates the foundational, central and vital importance of valid Holy Communion.  In The Holy Mass, we confess our sinfulness and beg to be pardoned and then we 'sing', or indeed sing, the Praises of The Lord and all He has done for us.

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