Thursday, August 15, 2013

Devotion for today: Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven

1 Corinthians 2:9: "What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived – these things God has prepared for those who love him"

Today I offer some thoughts on the Assumption of Mary, celebrated as a Holy Day of Obligation in the Catholic Church. It simply means that we, as Catholics, believe that Mary was taken body and soul into heaven.

“The Catechism of the Catholic Church, quoting the Byzantine Liturgy, states, "The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son's resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians: 'In giving birth you kept your virginity; in your Dormition (falling asleep) you did not leave the world, O Mother of God, but were joined to the source of Life. You conceived the living God and, by your prayers, will deliver our souls from death'" (No. 966).

 In all, the Patristic Fathers defended the Assumption on two counts: Since Mary was sinless and a perpetual virgin, she could not suffer bodily deterioration, the result of Original Sin, after her death. Also, if Mary bore Christ and played an intimate role as His mother in the redemption of man, then she must likewise share body and soul in His resurrection and glorification.

In 1973, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, in their letter Behold Your Mother," stated, "Christ has risen from the dead, we need no further assurance of our faith. Mary assumed into heaven serves rather as a gracious reminder to the Church that our Lord wishes all whom the Father has given Him to be raised with Him. In Mary taken to glory, to union with Christ, the Church sees herself answering the invitation of the heavenly Bridegroom."

The Feast of the Assumption gives each of us great hope as we contemplate this one facet of the beautiful woman of faith, our Blessed Mother. Mary moves us by example and prayer to grow in God's grace, to be receptive to His will, to convert our lives through sacrifice and penance, and seek that everlasting union in the heavenly Kingdom.

Addressing a jubilant crowd of more than 500,000 people packed into St. Peter's Square, Pope Pius XII solemnly defined in Munificentissimus Deus on Nov. 1, 1950, 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." Although the solemn definition may have been at the midpoint of the 20th century, the belief in the Assumption of our Blessed Mother exemplifies the dynamism of revelation and the Church's ongoing understanding of it as guided by the Holy Spirit.” (Fr. William Saunders:

“So we do wish to live after all, but without having to suffer. We want to live happily, but not any sort of happy life. We would like our happiness to grow continually rather than diminish; in fact, the knowledge itself that we might find an insurmountable obstacle in our path would diminish our happiness. We long for happiness, but it should have no limits. Quite so. And not only should it have no limits, but it should last for a very long time, as long as possible; endlessly, if possible.
Indeed. Evidently, there is no such thing as unlimited hap­piness in this limited world; such happiness can only be found in the infinite, eternal God himself, in heaven. Besides, all of us who are here, long for this, and every person, regardless of nationality, lives on such longing. The longing comes from human nature itself, which is common to us all.
Could God himself, who has bestowed on us abilities and natural tendencies to reach our goal (eyes to see the objects that really exist, ears to hear the sounds that really exist), give his creatures a higher, intellectual longing, without offering them the chance to fulfill it? If this were the case, then that longing would be pointless.
A God who has created in nature this somehow unquenchable longing for happiness, explicitly intending it to be unlimited, but without offering the way to satisfy this burning thirst, would not be acting sensibly nor lovingly. In short, he would not be God. Therefore, there must be such happiness.”
St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe (who died on the feast of the Assumption after dedicating his entire life to Mary:

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 death. Amen.

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