Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!


Ave Maria!
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary—15 August AD 2016

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin,
Bartolome Esteban Murillo   (1618 - 1682)
circa 1640

[Ordinary of the Mass]
[Latin Text]
[English Text]
[Blessing of First Fruits]

    Today we celebrate the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  That is to say that we are celebrating the fact that at the end of her earthly life, “the immaculate Mary, ever virgin Mother of God, when she had finished the course of her earthly life, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven.”[1]

    Since the Assumption is not recorded in scripture, the two readings this morning were chosen, instead, to reflect the glorious situation of Mary— “He who his mighty has done great things for [her]” — and to reflect her triumph over the forces of sin and death—“The Lord has blessed her by His power, because by her He has brought our enemies to naught.”[2]

    We know that our first parents, Adam and Eve, were not intended to suffer sickness and the corruption of death.  The mortality of the human race is the result of sin and the consequent loss of God's special graces.  The Blessed Virgin was an exception to the rule of sin and death.  We know that from the very first moment of her existence, she was free from every trace of sin.  That was a necessary pre-condition for her to have given birth to the sinless Savior of mankind.  But, at least from the human perspective, it might be even more significant that she lived the rest of her life without sin.  Her Immaculate Conception was a free gift from God, something that happened to her, utterly beyond her control.  But her sinless life, on the other hand, was her free gift to God, something that she had to and did control each and every moment of her life.

    Sometimes we speak of Mary as being the “co-redemptrix,” which means that she had a share in our redemption, together with her Son.  It is reasonable to think of Mary's life without sin as something she offered to God, just as she offered her Son, who offered Himself on the cross.  And just as our Lord was raised from the dead and taken up into heaven, He came with His angels to take His Mother with Him at the end of her 73 years on earth.  And today she sits at the right hand of her Son—body and soul—the Daughter of the Father, Spouse of the Holy Ghost, and Mother of the Son.

    Pope Pius XII proclaimed the Assumption as a dogma of our Faith in 1950.  But he really did nothing more than give the Church's “official seal of approval” to a doctrine that has been known and believed by Christians since the time of its taking place.  It certainly predates the Great Schism which took place almost a thousand years ago—this feast is celebrated today in Orthodox churches, just as it is in our Catholic churches.  Thirteen hundred years ago, St. John Damascene wrote that “she did not return to dust, but since she was a living heaven, she was placed in the heavenly tabernacles....  As the Mother of the living God, she was rightly taken up to His side.”[3]   In fact, we have writings that date back to Apostolic times, describing the circumstances of Mary's “falling asleep in the Lord.”

    The written tradition of the time has it that when she was near the end, all of the Apostles were summoned to her bedside.  And that after she expired, Christ Himself came and raised her from the dead and took her to heaven, accompanied by legions of angels.  In one account, we hear a prayer uttered by the Blessed Virgin just before her Assumption.  It reminds us that Mary is the mediatrix of all graces:

    O my Lord, my God, and my Master, Jesus Christ, at the will of the Father in the strength of the Spirit, and by action of Your own divinity and Your own will, You did create the heavens and the earth and all that therein is.  I beg You to hear the prayer I offer for Your children reborn in Baptism, for the just and for sinners.  Grant them Your grace.  Receive all who gather together in Your name, all who make offerings in Your name, all who call upon You in prayer, in hope, and in suffering.  Grant them a safe issue from their troubles that they may grasp those things for which they have hoped in faith.  Deliver them from threatening evils; heal them in illness; increase them in their estate; multiply their children; support them in all their worldly endeavors; and finally grant them the happiness of sharing in Your kingdom.  Cast out Satan, their enemy, full of ill-will; strengthen them and lift them up into the flock ruled by the Good Shepherd, full of mercy and loving kindness.  Grant the prayers in this life, and in the life to come, of all who ask Your self in my name.  May they be aided by Your help as you have promised;  for You are mindful of what You have sworn to do; you are abundantly merciful; Your name is worthy of all praise, now, henceforth, and forever.  Amen.[4]

    We even have our Lord's response:  “What you have asked, that I do.  At your prayer, I will not shut up My grace and My mercy.”

    Mary, the Mother of God, is our Mother.  By her sinless life she cooperated with her Son in the work of our redemption.  By her sinless life she earned the ability to intercede for us in everything necessary for our salvation.  But, perhaps above all, her sinless life is the model for our imitation:

    Her bodily assumption into heaven is our tangible evidence that human beings can live a holy life.  She had free will, she could have sinned, but she did not.   Through her intercession, and the graces of her Son, we can do the same.


[5]  See also:



[2]   Gospel:  Luke i: 41-50 ;   
     Epistle: Judith xiii: 22-25, 15, 10

[3]   John Damascene, Discourse II on the Dormition   Lesson iv and v for Matins

[4]   The Arabian Book of the Passing of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Chapter 7 in Henri Daniel Rops, The Book of Mary (NY: Hawthorn, 1960) page 203.

[5]   See also: St. Melito of Sardis, Bishop (circa 180 A.D.)


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