Understanding the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

“The Most Blessed Virgin Mary, when the course of her earthly life was completed, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven,” says the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “where she already shares in the glory of her Son’s Resurrection, anticipating the resurrection of all members of His Body.”

August 15 is the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The fact that Mary was taken up – assumed – directly into heaven from here on earth is a strong reminder of one of the foundations of our faith. It serves as a model for our destiny – the belief that one day, at the end of time, we will be in heaven in a material, bodily way.

“In the mystery of her Assumption, Mary experiences immediately what we all will experience eventually, a bodily resurrection like Christ’s own,” says the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults.

The Assumption of Mary is not a Holy Day of Obligation this year, because it falls on a Saturday. The same is true when the Solemnity falls on a Monday.

It is one of three Solemnities of Mary that are Holy Days. The others are January 1, the Solemnity of Mary the Holy Mother of God; and December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.

Although Scripture does not give an account of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, it has been a longstanding belief in Catholicism. Interestingly, it was not formalized into dogma – the divinely revealed truth of our faith -- until Pope Pius XII did so in 1950.

The Assumption of Mary is one of the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary, along with the Resurrection, the Ascension into Heaven, the Sending of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles at Pentecost, and the Crowning of Mary as the Queen of Heaven and Earth.

The Assumption is not to be confused with the Ascension, in which the risen Jesus, in the presence of his apostles, was lifted up into heaven. The Ascension of Our Lord is celebrated forty days after Easter Sunday.

Speaking on the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary to a sunbaked crowd in St. Peter’s Square on Aug. 15, 2017, Pope Francis had this to say:

“Celebrating Mary assumed into heaven, we want her to once again bring us, our families and our communities that unique Grace which we must always ask for before the other graces that also are important to us – the grace that is Jesus Christ.”


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