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Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
Published: August 12, 2016
The solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated Aug. 15. This feast recognizes that Jesus' mother was "taken up body and soul into heavenly glory" when her "earthly life was finished." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 966) Normally this solemnity would be a holy day of obligation, but since it falls on a Monday this year, the requirement to attend Mass is relaxed.
Although Catholic teaching on this event goes back to the earliest days of Christianity, it was not declared a dogma of faith until 1950 by Pope Pius XII. In his apostolic constitution, "Munificentissimus Deus," the holy father explains the effects of original sin, and how Mary, who was preserved from original sin and remained sinless throughout her life, experienced immediately the hope of all faithful followers of Jesus.
"Christ overcame sin and death by his own death, and one who through baptism has been born again in a supernatural way has conquered sin and death through the same Christ. Yet, according to the general rule, God does not will to grant to the just the full effect of the victory over death until the end of time has come. And so it is that the bodies of even the just are corrupted after death, and only on the last day will they be joined, each to its own glorious soul.
"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." (Nos. 4-5)
For Your Marriage, an initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, explains that recognition of Mary's assumption matters to us because "her entry into heaven prefigures our own hope of experiencing the same eternal life." This event reveals not only the love God has for his children, but also the realization of what he intended before death entered the world. Mary was able to "experience the immediate perfect union with her Son in heaven, never knowing, tasting or suffering from bodily corruption or decay (due to death) in any way," explains Mark Hart, of Life Teen International.
"O immaculate virgin, mother of God and mother of men, — we believe with all the fervor of our faith in your triumphal assumption, both in body and soul, into heaven where you are acclaimed as queen of all the choirs of angels and all the legions of the saints; and we unite with them to praise and bless the Lord who has exalted you above all other pure creatures, and to offer you the tribute of our devotion and our love."