Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary AD 2007

Ordinary of the Mass
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Blessing of First Fruits

    Back in 1950, Pope Pius XII solemnly defined that: “... by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by Our own authority, We pronounce, declare and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: 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” [44].

    It has been the constant teaching of the Church that since the fall of Adam & Eve, mankind has lost its special favor with God and has become subject to bodily sickness and, ultimately and inescapably to death. This death is twofold; a sort of spiritual death in which mankind lost the ability to do anything good in the sight of God and was denied even the possibility of eternal happiness; and a the physical death with which we are all directly familiar.

    We know too that our Lord Jesus Christ was born into this world of the sinless Virgin Mary, gave His life on the Cross, and rose again from the dead, in order to deliver us from both spiritual and physical death. In Baptism and through the other Sacraments we share in our Lord's death and resurrection. We are raised to a state of spiritual life in which the good things we do are meritorious before God, and we are capable of working toward and gaining our eternal salvation.

    But, Pope Pius goes on “... 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 the bodies of even the just are corrupted after death, and only on the last day will they be joined, each to his own glorious soul” [4].

    But “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 grave, and she did not have to wait until the end of time for the redemption of her body [5].

    We are told by the tradition of the Apostles and the Fathers of the Church that our Lady simply fell asleep and was taken to heaven without feeling any of the normal effects of death. The Greeks, both the Catholic and the Orthodox call this day the “dormition” or falling asleep of our Lady.

    This feast is, of course, primarily to honor our Lady, and to praise her for her sinlessness. But it also has some very important implications for us. Occasionally, when we meditate on the history of our salvation, there is the temptation to consider the example of our Lord as something that will always be unattainable for us. After all, Jesus Christ is God and we are but mere mortals. Specifically, we might be tempted to believe that our Lord was resurrected from the dead, while despairing of the possibility of our own resurrection-and also, while we have no problem believing that our Lord led a perfectly sinless life, many of us despair of living anything like it ourselves.

    This feast of the Assumption shows us that we to can live the life of Christ-we can do it because our blessed Lady, who was a human being just as we are, was able to do so. In the Blessed Virgin we see a fellow human being who shared in the resurrection of our Lord. Perhaps more important, in the same Blessed Virgin we see a person like ourselves who was able to resist the temptations of the world to sin.

    We may not have direct control over our resurrection, but we can certainly follow our Lady's lead concerning sin. Through Baptism we have been freed from spiritual death; not immaculately conceived, of course, but still very much like our Lady as long as we remain in the state of grace.

    This feast of the assumption, then, should remind us to try to do the same: We can sin, but hopefully we will be like our Lady, who could have sinned, but did not.

Numbered paragraphs from: Pope Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus, November 1, 1950



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