In case you aren’t aware, tomorrow, Aug. 15, 2013, is the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Yes, that’s a Holy Day of Obligation.
What’s it all about, anyway?
In 1950, Pope Pius XII wrote Munificentissimus Deus, defining the Dogma of the Assumption.
It’s really the go-to guide for this feast.
Pope Pius XII said, “Since ancient times, there have been both in the East and in the West solemn liturgical offices commemorating this privilege.”
This isn’t something new that Pope Pius XII thought would be a great idea. Cool! Let’s make a new feast day for Mary and make it a Holy Day of Obligation!
No, this has been a tradition in the Church throughout the world since “ancient times.” When the Church talks about “ancient times,” you know it’s pretty serious.
Pope Pius XII continued, “The fact that holy fast had been ordered from ancient times for the day prior to the feast is made very evident by what our predecessor St. Nicholas I testifies in treating of the principal fasts which ‘the Holy Roman Church has observed for a long time, and still observes.'”
There are even traditions that most (read: me) Catholics don’t follow… a fast before the feast day? What a great idea! I wish we hadn’t given that up. I may try that today (Wednesday). Except… usually, I fast breakfast and lunch and then eat dinner. I should work on that and what a great time to start.
There’s more from Pope Pius XII:
“The Holy Fathers and the great Doctors, in the homilies and sermons they gave the people on this feast day, did not draw their teaching from the feast itself as from a primary source, but rather they spoke of this doctrine as something already known and accepted by Christ’s faithful.”
ALREADY KNOWN by Christ’s faithful. It was already in our (Catholics) corporate knowledge. It was just something that made sense to us. Of course. Mary’s body was not corrupted. She was just lifted up into Heaven. This makes perfect sense.
Pope Pius XII explains exactly what we know in our hearts.
“She, by an entirely unique privilege, completely overcame sin by her Immaculate Conception, and as a result she was not the 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.”
Now, if you haven’t got to that part about the bodily assumption of all humans… go check out your copy of the Catechism. That’s right. We aren’t going to be angels. We’re going to be humans, perfected in Heaven. We’ll be near Christ in our human bodies, in the same way Mary is now.
Just like not bearing sin, she’s the the forerunner. She does it before us (and with us, of course). You can’t get any closer to Christ than Mary is. She’s there, walking in his footsteps. She walks so close behind her rabbi, she’s covered in the dust from his sandals.
Let me break down this quote.
ENTIRELY UNIQUE – she’s the only one that not only had an Immulate Conception, was chosen (AND ACCEPTED) and was taken up to Heaven. The only one. She’s special.
NOT THE SUBJECT OF THE LAW – that’s right, those biological laws. she wasn’t subject to them. She didn’t have to die. God spared her from that, because she, too, sacrificed her only son.
END OF TIME FOR REDEMPTION – the rest of us have to wait until Christ returns. and oh, what a wait. Mary didn’t have to wait. She didn’t have to be away from Jesus.
Pope Pius XII said, “The august tabernacle of the Divine Word had never been reduced to dust and ashes.”
I had to look up august in this sense. It means marked by majestic dignity. Is there any better way to describe Mary? Majestic dignity.
St. Robert Bellarmine said, “And who, I ask, could believe that the ark of holiness, the dwelling place of the Word of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit, could be reduced to ruin? My soul is filled with horror at the though that this virginal flesh which had begotten God, had brought him into the world, had nourished and carried him, could have been turned into ashes or given over to be food for worms.”
St. Peter Canisius, the Vatican’s secret agent, said, “This teaching (of the Assumption) has already been accepted for some centuries, it has been held as certain in the minds of the pious people, and it has been taught to the entire Church in such a way that those who deny that Mary’s body has been assumed into heaven are not to be listened to patiently but are everywhere to be denounced as over-contentious or rash men, and as imbued with a spirit that is heretical rather than Catholic.”
WOW. St. Peter Canisius thinks this doctrine of Mary’s Assumption is pretty serious stuff.
And we should, too.
Pope Pius XII tells us, “Since our Redeemer is the Son of Mary, he could not do otherwise, as the perfect observer of God’s law, than to honor, not only his eternal Father, but also his most beloved Mother. And, since it was within his power to grant her this great honor, to preserve her from the corruption of the tomb, WE MUST BELIEVE (emphasis mine) that he really acted in this way.”
Now, Mary sits “in splendor at the right hand of her Son,” Pope Pius XII said.
Wait, the right side? So Jesus is in between Mary and God. Interesting.
It’s like… A HOLY FAMILY. Wow.
I’ll let you know how my fast goes… if it goes. Maybe I’ll give up coffee.
Yes. I’ll start with abstaining from coffee. And add on.
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