Today, August 15, is the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary. One of the four principle dogmas of the Church on the Blessed Mother, the Assumption was declared a dogma by Pope Ven. Pius XII on November 1, 1950 via the apostolic constitution Munificentissimus Deus (“The most bountiful God”).
Pope Pius wrote with the authority of papal infallibility:
“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.”
Pope Pius tied the Assumption of Mary to her Immaculate Conception, which Pope Bl. Pius IX had declared a dogma of the Church in 1854. Since Mary had been conceived free of the stain of original sin, and since death is a consequence of sin, it would not be appropriate for Mary to suffer death as others do. Rather, Mary was assumed, body and soul, into heavenly glory where she now rules as Queen of Heaven and Queen of All Saints.
Elizabeth Scalia offers an interesting take on the Assumption of Mary at her blog, the Anchoress. She writes about microchemerism, the fact that every child leaves within his mother a microscopic bit of him or herself, and that microscopic bit remains within her forever. This would have been true for Mary and Jesus. That microscopic bit of Jesus left behind in Mary would be divine, since Jesus is God. And, since God cannot suffer corruption (Ps 16), then even the microscopic bit of Himself left inside Mary could not suffer corruption. Mary, then, was spared suffering corruption on the basis of her having inside her a microscopic bit of the divine Jesus.
I like to think of Mary’s privileges – the Immaculate Conception and Assumption – simply as manifestation of Jesus’ great love for His Mother. I understand and completely embrace the theological logic of Pope Pius XII. I find Ms. Scalia’s take on the matter interesting and convincing. But, for me, as a man who had a deep love for his own mother, I can see how Jesus would simply want to extend to His own Mother every grace and favor under His power – and all graces and favors are under His power! Surely the love between a mother and her child is one of the greatest human loves. Jesus, being fully human, shared that love for His Mother. Why would He not gift her with the greatest gift possible, union with Him free from all sin? It only makes sense. I believe it was Bl. Dun Scotus, the Franciscan theologian who, remarking on the Immaculate Conception, said, “He could do it. It was good that He do it. So, He did it.” Nuff said!
All-powerful and ever-living God, you raised the sinless Virgin Mary, mother of your Son, body and soul to the glory of heaven. May we see heaven as our final goal and come to share her glory.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Liturgy of the Hours, Solemnity of the Assumption
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.