Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Tuesday, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary into heaven. The Catholic Church teaches that the Virgin Mary “having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.” This doctrine was dogmatically defined by Pope Pius XII on November 1, 1950, in the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus, while exercising papal infallibility. But this feast has long been a belief in the Church.
The question that people will often ask is: "Where is it found in scripture that Mary was assumed into heaven?" The answer is in the Church’s explanation of Revelation 11. In this passage we hear about the woman chosen by God who gave birth to a child who was destined to rule the nations. After this we hear that the woman was taken to a place prepared for her by God. The Church declared that this passage is about Mary.
But why should Mary be assumed into heaven? The Church answers this question also. Death and the results of death are the major effects of sin, original sin. When mankind turned away from the Lord of Life, mankind chose death. Mary, from the first moment of her conception within her mother Anne, was always united to God. We call this the Immaculate Conception. Although she had free will and could have chosen to reject God’s invitation to be mother of the Savior, she continually chose God. Mary suffered being an object of gossip. She had her baby born in a stinky stable. She suffered with him when he was scorned during his ministry. She suffered with him when he was tortured to death. Her entire life was a "Yes" to the Lord no matter how difficult life was for her. She was not only conceived free from sin, but she also lived free from sin. Therefore, she didn’t experience the effect of sin. At the conclusion of her life, her body and soul were united with God. That is the Assumption of Mary into Heaven.
Mary is there for us because Jesus wants her to be. We have experienced the monsoon season here in Phoenix. We have all seen the damage from these storms: giant trees that fell, property destroyed, power lines down, and roads closed. When we experience a bad monsoon type storm, hopefully we pray that no one will be harmed. As a Catholic, we are blessed to be able to turn to Mary. Christians throughout the ages have prayed to Mary to help them in difficult times. Mary is there to intercede for us and to remind us that we are never alone especially in our moments of suffering.
You have heard people wonder why we pray to Mary. The answer is very simple. We pray to Mary because she is our mother. Jesus gave her to us while he was dying on the cross. He said to the beloved disciple, “Behold your mother.” That is right in Sacred Scripture for all to see. It is very natural to call upon our mother when things are tough. When we were little and we fell and scraped our knee, often times we called out to our mother. When we became older, we stopped calling out to our moms in time of minor difficulties, but when major traumas hit, the loss of a baby, a diagnosis of cancer, mom is often the person a son or daughter still calls for help and prayerful support. A mother and child bond is one of the strongest relationships we are blessed have with another person.
Lord Jesus Christ, You have destroyed the power of death and given the hope of eternal life for body and soul. You granted your Mother a special place in your glory, and did not allow decay to touch her body. As we rejoice in the Assumption of Mary, grant us renewed confidence in the victory of life over death. Amen.