Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Solemnity of the Assumption

The Assumption of the Virgin was painted by Bartolome Esteban Murillo of Spain in 1670. The painting is on display in The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia.

The Solemnity of Assumption is the oldest feast day of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but we don't know how it first came to be celebrated.

After the course of her earthly life was over, Mary had been taken up, body and soul, into heaven. There are different theological opinins as to whether Mary died first or was taken up to heaven alive. We believe that this was a privilege granted to her which follows from the Immaculate Conception and the fact that she remained faithful to God throughout her life. The Assumption completes God's work in her since it was not fitting that the flesh that had given life to God himself should ever undergo corruption.

Both the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption are special privileges granted to Mary because of her unique role she was to play to be the Mother of the Savior. She needed the Savior too. It was because God foresaw the future sacrifice of his son and the role Mary was to play, that he granted her the privilege of the Immaculate Conception.

In Mary God recreates human nature. Mary’s ‘yes’ reversed the ‘no’ of Eve. In the Gospel of Luke Mary is spoken of in the same manner as the Ark of the Covenant. The Book of Revelation speaks about the Ark revealed in heaven and a Woman clothed with the Sun who does battle with the Dragon as she protects her Son. The Church sees the Woman as Mary who will play an important role in Christ’s Second Coming as she did in his First Coming.

Mary’s Assumption reminds us that the body is not just a thing, a container we use temporarily and toss aside at death. We are constituted of both both body and soul. They are united. In heaven we will have bodies, but they’lll be made perfect immortal and indestructible. So we should treat even the bodies of the dead with respect.

The Assumption was proclaimed as a dogma, that is, a teaching that all Catholics were called to believe in 1950. This was before the advent of the sexual revolution and radical feminism which led to the degradation of the woman’s body, pornography, contraception, abortion, divorce, the breakdown of the family. These evils grew stronger as devotion to Mary waned.
It is devotion to Mary that is an antidote for these evils.

We call on Mary today to bring about a victory of the culture of life. A victory for modesty, chastity, respect for life, the family constituting one man and one woman committed for life and open to the transmission of human life as the foundation of society, respect for the vocation of motherhood and the vocation to the consecrated life.

Mary’s prayers are powerful in heaven, since she holds a privileged place there. We should call on her often to intercede for our nation and in all our personal needs.

The feast reminds us of eternity and heavenly glory. Where Mary has gone, we hope to follow. Heaven awaits us too, if we are faithful on this earth to our own particular vocation in life. We will experience heaven in our bodies, but our bodies will be changed to become glorious, immortal and indestructible.

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