The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Revelation 11:19a, 12:1-6a, 10ab
Psalm 45:10, 11, 12, 16 (10bc)
1 Corinthians 15:20-27
August 15, 2021
Normally we would be celebrating the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time of Year B today. Instead, we are celebrating the Assumption of Mary, one of the solemnities on our church calendar.
Every saint has a feast day or memorial. They are set by the secular calendar. Most fall on the day of the saint’s death. They are optional memorials, obligatory memorials, and feast days depending on how well known the saint is. When memorials and feasts fall on Sundays, the Sunday readings and prayers take precedence and the memorial/feast is not normally celebrated.
Above feasts in importance are solemnities such as today’s Assumption of Mary. When a solemnity falls on a Sunday in Ordinary Time, it takes precedence over the Sunday. That is the case today. That’s why we are celebrating the Assumption instead of the Sunday.
Sound complicated? That’s why we have a little book called an “Ordo” that is updated each year to help us know what to celebrate.
So, let’s think about the Assumption. It is Mary’s Assumption that we are celebrating. In 1950, the assumption was declared infallible dogma in the Catholic Church.
Some Protestants may hear this and think we are inventing new teachings and worshipping Mary. Neither of those are true.
We do not invent new teaching. While the Assumption of Mary was only declared dogma 70 years ago, it has been the teaching of the church almost since the beginning.
We do not “worship” Mary or any of the saints. We venerate Mary and the saints. To venerate is to honor. The honor we give to Mary is biblical.
As the one who carried Jesus, Mary is seen as the ark of covenant.
Jesus is the firstfruits of the Resurrection. If we give our lives to Jesus, we will all share in the Resurrection at the end of time. Mary had a very special place in Jesus’ heart. So, He did not want her to have to wait to get into Heaven. So, the Lord saw fit to assume Mary into Heaven at the hour of her death. We have to wait for the Resurrection. Mary did not have to wait.
The honor we give to Mary is not made up. It is scriptural.
How did the angel Gabriel greet Mary at the Annunciation? Gabriel said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
Does this sound familiar? It should! These words are the beginning of the Hail Mary prayer. The Hail Mary prayer has its origins in scripture. How does the prayer continue?
“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus.”
Again, this is not made up! It comes from the words that Elizabeth, “filled with the Holy Spirit,” said to Mary in response to the presence of Jesus in Mary’s womb.
The Hail Mary prayer continues, “Holy Mary, mother of God.” This comes from Elizabeth’s words when she called Mary “the mother of my Lord.”
Mary surrendered herself to God’s will when she said, “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord, may it be done to me according to your word.”
Mary humbly surrendered herself to the Lord. Mary responded to Elizabeth, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.” This is not boasting on Mary’s part.
Neither is Mary boasting when she says, “all generations will call me blessed.” She knows this will only happen because “the Almighty has done great things for” her. Mary gives it all to God.
Because Mary surrenders herself to God and is the mother of Jesus, she is assumed into Heaven. In Heaven, we call Mary “queen”.
Why do we call her “queen”?
My recollection from studying history is the queen was the wife of the king. Mary is not the wife. She is the mother of Jesus our king.
Edward Siri helps provide an explanation for this in his book, Love Unveiled: The Catholic Faith Explained (Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 2015, pages 138-141). “In the culture of the Old Testament, it was not the wife of the king that was called Queen. It was the king’s mother” (see my blog article “Some Insights on Our Catholic Understanding of Mary” – http://blog.renewaloffaith.org/blog/?p=2576, cf. 2 Kings 24:12 and Jeremiah 13:18-20).
When one sought intercession to the king, one would go to the queen mother. Thus, we ask Mary, mother of Jesus our king and our God to intercede for us.
So, what our Catholic faith teaches about Mary is not made up. It flows from God’s Word in the Bible.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us now and the hour of our death.