This coming Saturday, August 15, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. While it is not a Holy Day of Obligation this year because it falls on a Saturday, I think this is a good time for us to delve into this dogma of the Catholic Church. Here are excerpts of a catechesis from St. John Paul II on the Assumption:
The Church’s constant and unanimous Tradition shows how Mary’s Assumption is part of the divine plan and is rooted in her unique sharing in the mission of her Son.
The Second Vatican Council, recalling the mystery of the Assumption in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, draws attention to the privilege of the Immaculate Conception: precisely because she was “preserved free from all stain of original sin” (Lumen gentium, n. 59), Mary could not remain like other human beings in the state of death until the end of the world. The absence of original sin and her perfect holiness from the very first moment of her existence required the full glorification of the body and soul of the Mother of God.
Looking at the mystery of the Blessed Virgin’s Assumption, we can understand the plan of divine Providence plan for humanity: after Christ, the Incarnate Word, Mary is the first human being to achieve the eschatological ideal, anticipating the fullness of happiness promised to the elect through the resurrection of the body.
In the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin we can also see the divine will to advance women.
In a way analogous to what happened at the beginning of the human race and of salvation history, in God’s plan the eschatological ideal was not to be revealed in an individual, but in a couple. Thus in heavenly glory, beside the risen Christ there is a woman who has been raised up, Mary: the new Adam and the new Eve, the first-fruits of the general resurrection of the bodies of all humanity.
The eschatological conditions of Christ and Mary should not, of course, be put on the same level. Mary, the new Eve, received from Christ, the new Adam, the fullness of grace and heavenly glory, having been raised through the Holy Spirit by the sovereign power of the Son.
Despite their brevity, these notes enable us to show clearly that Mary’s Assumption reveals the nobility and dignity of the human body.
In the face of the profanation and debasement to which modern society frequently subjects the female body, the mystery of the Assumption proclaims the supernatural destiny and dignity of every human body, called by the Lord to become an instrument of holiness and to share in his glory. Mary entered into glory because she welcomed the Son of God in her virginal womb and in her heart. By looking at her, the Christian learns to discover the value of his own body and to guard it as a temple of God, in expectation of the resurrection. The Assumption, a privilege granted to the Mother of God, thus has immense value for the life and destiny of humanity.
– St. John Paul II, General Audience, July 9, 1997