By: Marta Timar
On August 15, the Church celebrates what we know as the Fourth Glorious Mystery – the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, when at the conclusion of her earthly life, Our Lady was assumed body and soul, into Heaven by her Divine Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. The doctrine of our Lady’s Assumption was dogmatically defined by Pope Pius XII in Munificentissimus Deus in 1950:
“Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death.” (CCC 508)
While Pope Pius’ bull defined the dogma of the Assumption, the Church does not have dogmatic teaching as to whether Mary had a physical death and was then immediately assumed body and soul into heaven or if she was assumed without a physical death. Many Catholics believe Mary experienced a physical death, shortly after which, she was assumed into Heaven, while others believe Mary was assumed into Heaven without first experiencing physical death. Because this question is not authoritatively addressed in Catholic theology, the faithful may legitimately hold either understanding. In bearing witness to the Assumption, many early church fathers held that our Lady wanted to be totally conformed to her Divine Son, and if He had tasted death, then it was fitting that she would, too.
Throughout her earthly life, Mary’s heart remained open to and focused on God’s Will, doing what He asked of her, and through it all, her faith remained steadfast, persevering to the end. The reward for her unwavering faithfulness, is her being assumed body and soul into Heaven with no stain of the corruption of the grave having touched her, where, now crowned with glory, our Blessed Mother lovingly intercedes with her Divine Son on behalf of her children still making their earthly sojourn.
So let us approach her with trust and confidence, asking our Blessed Mother for the graces we need during our earthly life, to help us stay focused on Jesus and on His promise of the reward of everlasting life. There can be no doubt that Mary will lovingly enfold in her tender, motherly embrace all her children who come to her because she only ever wants to lead us to her Divine Son – to Jesus through Mary.