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The Assumption of Mary

4th Glorious Mystery of the Rosary
Solemnity - 15 August

Pope Francis's words on this feast day in: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 & 2013.
Papa Benedict XVI's words on this feast day in: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006 & 2005.
Saint John Paul II's words on this feast day in: 2004 (in Lourdes), 2003, 2002, 2001, Great Jubilee 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1994, 1993 (at WYD Denver), 1992, 1991 (at WYD Czestochowa), 1990, 1989, 1988, 1987, 1986, 1985 (in Kinshasa), 1984, 1983 (in Lourdes), 1982, 1981, 1980 & 1979.

Pope St John Paul II was a pilgrim to Lourdes for this beautiful feast day in 1983 & 2004 (his last pilgrimage abroad). He also celebrated the Assumption of our Mother Mary with 100s of 1000s of young people at 2 World Youth Days: at the Marian Shrine of Czestochowa in Poland for WYD 1991 & in Denver, USA, for WYD 1993.

Pope Pius XII defined the dogma of the Assumption in Deiparae Virginis Mariae & Munificentissimus Deus. JPII & BXVI have given catecheses on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
JPII gave us his apostolic exhortation on St Joseph on this feast day in 1989.

St John Paul II's homily at WYD Denver 1993      
Cherry Creek State Park, Denver, Sunday 15th August

"At her Assumption, Mary was "taken up to Life" – body and soul. She is already a part of "the first fruits" (1 Cor 15, 20) of our Saviour’s redemptive death and resurrection. The Son took his human life from her; in return He gave her the fullness of communion in divine life. She is the only other being in whom the mystery has already been completely accomplished. In Mary the final victory of Life over death is already a reality. And, as the Second Vatican Council teaches: "In the most holy Virgin the Church has already reached the perfection whereby she exists without spot or wrinkle" (Lumen Gentium, 65). In and through the Church we too have hope of "an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for us" (cf 1 Pet 1, 4).

3 2us by Fr Iain Matthew OCD      

"Mary's assumption into heaven, as well as speaking of her littleness, also speaks of humanity's greatness. St John of the Cross has a phrase that God rejects nothing that is human, nor excludes anything human from this love: to love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind. Everything human, soul and body, is fit for the glory of God. And Mary's assumption, soul and body, is a declaration that we - spirit, mind, heart, and body, this body that is so easily idolised or mistreated or kicked around in our world, is meant for glory, is sacred, is good. To be assumed into heaven means to be taken into the fullness of love.'

3 2us by Fr William Pearsall SJ      

"From the village girl of Nazareth to this wonderful Queen of Heaven, this is the story of the hidden glory of God and of the divine in all of his children, made real of course in this one perfect example held up to us. So this is a celebration not only of Mary, the one we love so dearly, but also of the whole of the Christian Church and, for that reason, very often the theology of the Blessed Virgin Mary will be linked directly to the theology of the Church, that is ecclesiology, our understanding of the Church, because what the Church says about Mary is what the Church proclaims about the work of redemption."

The Assumption of Mary, a truth of faith        
Catechesis with St JPII

"So it was that in May 1946 with the encyclical Deiparae Virginis Mariae Pius XII initiated a broad consultation, questioning the Bishops and, through them, the clergy and the people of God, about the possibility and opportunity of defining the bodily assumption of Mary as a dogma of faith. The feedback was widely positive: only six responses out of 1181 showed any reservations about the revealed character of this truth.

Citing this data, the Bull Munificentissimus Deus affirms: "The universal consensus of the Church's ordinary Magisterium provides a certain and solid argument to prove that the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven ... is a truth revealed by God, and should thus be firmly and faithfully believed by all the children of the Church" (AAS 42 [1950], 757).

The definition of the dogma, in the wake of the universal faith of the people of God, definitively excludes every doubt and postulates the express adherence of all Christians.

After having underlined the Church’s actual faith in the Assumption, the Bull recalls the scriptural basis for this truth.

The New Testament, while not explictly affirming the Assumption of Mary, offers a foundation because it strongly emphasizes the perfect union of the Holy Virgin with the destiny of Jesus. This union, which is manifested from the prodigious conception of the Saviour, with the participation of the Mother in the mission of the Son and, above all, in her association with his redemptive sacrifice, cannot fail to demand a continuation after death. Perfectly united to the life and salvific work of Jesus, Mary shares in his heavenly destiny in soul and body.

4. The aforementioned Bull Munificentissimus Deus, by making reference to the participation of the woman of the Proto-gospel in the struggle against the serpent and by recognizing in Mary the New Eve, presents the Assumption as the consequence of Mary’s union with Christ’s redeeming work. In this regard it affirms: "Consequently, just as the glorious Resurrection of Christ was an essential part and the ultimate trophy of this victory, thus it was necessary that the combat undergone by the Holy Virgin, united to her Son, should end with the glorification of her virginal body" (AAS 42 [1950], 768).

The Assumption is therefore the culmination of the struggle which engaged the generous love of Mary in the redemption of humanity and is the fruit of her unique participation in the victory of the Cross."

The Assumption of Mary in the tradition of the Church       
Catechesis with St JPII

"4. Looking at the mystery of the Virgin's Assumption it is possible to understand the plan of divine Providence relative to humanity: after Christ, the Verb Incarnate, Mary is the human creature who realises first the eschatological ideal, anticipating the fullness of happiness, promised to the elect through the resurrection of bodies.

In the Assumption of the Virgin we can also see the divine will to promote woman.

By analogy to that which happened at the origin of the human race and of the history of salvation, in God’s project the eschatological ideal was to be revealed not in an individual, but in a couple. Thus in heavenly glory, beside Christ risen, there is a woman 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 condition of Christ and that of Mary certainly should not be placed on the same level. Mary, the new Eve, received from Christ, the new Adam, the fullness of grace and of heavenly glory, having been raised up through the Holy Spirit by the sovereign power of the Son.

5. Although succinct, these notes allow us to shine light on the fact that the Assumption of Mary reveals the nobility and dignity of the human body.

Faced with the profanation and debasement to which modern society frequently subjects, in particular, 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 participate 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, while waiting for the resurrection.

The Assumption, a privilege granted to the Mother of God, thus constitutes an immense value for the life and destiny of humanity."

Catechesis with Pope Benedict XVI
Castel Gandolfo, General Audience, Wednesday 16 August 2006 - also in Croatian, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear brothers and sisters,
Our customary weekly Wednesday appointment takes place today still in the climate of the solemnity of the
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. So I would like to invite you to turn your gaze, once again, towards our heavenly Mother, whom yesterday's liturgy made us contemplate (as) triumphant with Christ in Heaven. This feast has always been deeply felt by the Christian people, since the first centuries of Christianity; as is well known, it celebrates the glorification, also corporal/bodily, of that creature whom God chose as Mother and whom Jesus on the Cross gave as Mother to all humanity. The Assumption evokes a mystery that interests/concerns each one of us because, as the Second Vatican Council affirms, Mary "shines (forth) hither/on earth as sign of sure hope and consolation to the people of God who are on the pathway/on pilgrimage" (Lumen Gentium, 68). However, we are so caught/taken up in the events of each day as to sometimes forget this consoling spiritual reality, which constitutes an important truth of faith.

How then to ensure/can it be ensured that this luminous sign of hope be perceived more and more by all of us and by today's society? There are those today who live as if they would never have to die or as is everything would have to end with death; others, holding that man is the unique architect of his own destiny, act/behave as if/though God did not exist, sometimes even going so far as to deny that there is room for Him in our world. The great successes of technology and science, which have considerably improved humanity's condition, however leave unsolved the deepest questions of the human soul. Only openness to the mystery of God, who is Love, can fill/quench the thirst for truth and happiness in our hearts; only the prospect of eternity can give authentic value to historical events and above all to the mystery of human fragility, of suffering and of death.

In contemplating Mary in celestial/heavenly glory, we understand that
also for us/for us too the earth is not the definitive homeland and that, if we live turned to/with our gaze fixed on eternal goods, one day we will share her same glory and also the earth becomes more beautiful. For this reason, even amidst the thousands of daily difficulties we must not lose serenity and peace . The luminous sign of Our Lady assumed into heaven shines (out) even more from us all and when sad shadows of suffering and violence seem to accumulate on the horizon. We may be certain/sure of it: from on high, Mary follows our steps with gentle trepidation/concern, reassures us in the hour of darkness and storm, reassures us with her maternal hand. Sustained/Supported by this awareness, let us continue trustingly/trustfully/confidently on our pathway of Christian commitment there where/wherever Providence leads us. Let us go forward, under Mary's guidance, in our life."

Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius XII

on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

The Fathers of the Church, the great Doctors, in the sermons they preached on the feast of the Assumption of the Mother of God, had as their theme a doctrine which all the Christian world already knew and accepted; it was for them to elaborate it, to bring out the essential meaning of it, beyond what lay on the surface. To say that the body of the Blessed Virgin never knew decay was not to exhaust the meaning of this solemnity. What we celebrated was the triumph she won over death when she was glorified, after the pattern of her only Son Jesus Christ in heaven.

Thus Saint John Damascene, the interpreter of this tradition par excellence, makes an eloquent comparison between the high privileges conferred on the Mother of God in general, and her bodily Assumption. ‘It was fitting that she who in giving birth had preserved her virginity unspotted should keep her body incorrupt even after death. It was fitting that she who had borne the Creator as a child in her bosom should have a dwelling-place with God. It was fitting that the bride espoused by the Father should dwell in the bridal-chambers of heaven. It was fitting that she who had gazed on her Son on the cross, receiving then in her breast the sword of sorrow she had been spared at his birth, should behold him seated with the Father. It was fitting that the Mother of God should enjoy the privileges of the Son and should be honoured by all creation as the Mother and the handmaid of God.’

Saint Germanus of Constantinople sees the translation of Our Lady’s incorrupt body as fitting in, not only with her divine motherhood, but with a special sanctity which attaches to its virgin state: ‘You appear in beauty, as it is written, and your virginal body is altogether holy, altogether chaste, altogether God’s dwelling; so that it can never know dissolution into dust; transformed indeed, because human, to the glory of incorruptible life; yet, the same body, living and glorious, preserved from harm, sharing in perfect life.’

Another very ancient writer states: ‘Being the most glorious Mother of Christ the Saviour, our God, who bestows life and immortality, she is restored to life by him, and in her body shares for evermore bodily incorruptibility with him who raised her from the grave and assumed her to himself in a manner known only to himself.’

In the last resort, all these Fathers base their conclusions on the Bible, which has given us the picture of our Lord’s Mother as inseparably attached to her divine Son, and constantly sharing his lot.

It is to be remembered that, from the second century onwards, Our Lady has been identified by the Fathers of the Church as the second Eve. Not on the same level, indeed, as the second Adam, but intimately associated in his warfare against the enemy of our race. It was to issue, as we know from the promised made in paradise, in a complete triumph over sin and death, those twin enemies that are so often coupled together by Saint Paul. Of this victory, Our Lord’s resurrection is the operative part, the supreme trophy; but Our Lady, too, who shared in the conflict, must share in its conclusion, through the glorifying of that virgin body of hers. Only then, as the apostle says, ‘when this mortal nature wears its immortality, the saying of scripture will come true, Death is swallowed up in victory’.

Great Mother of God, so wondrously united with Jesus Christ, from all eternity, by the same decree of providence; in her conception immaculate, in her divine motherhood a virgin most pure, the noble associate of our Redeemer in his victory over sin and its consequences – what reward awaited her at last? For the crown of all her graces, she was exempted from the sentence of decay; shared her Son’s victory over death, and was carried up to heaven, soul and body, there to reign as queen at his right hand, who is the King of Ages, the immortal.

Saint Amadeus of Lausanne (1108-1159; Cistercian monk, then Bishop)
Homily in praise of the Blessed Virgin Mary VII, SC 72 (On the praises of the Blessed Virgin Mary: 8 homilies, trans. Grace Perigo. Kalamazoo: Cistercian publications Inc, 1979)

"You are blessed of all women" (Lk 1, 42)
But now, who would worthily extol her holy assumption? Who unfold in words how joyfully she went forth from the body, how joyfully she beheld her Son, how exultingly she hastened to the Lord, attended by choirs of angels, supported by the reverence of apostles, while she beheld the King in his beauty. She was brought forth from the house of her flesh to live for ever with Christ. She passed over in the vision of God, she breathed out to God her blessed soul, brighter than the sun, higher than the heavens, of more worth than the angels. (…)
Is it not life when one goes to the source of life and drinks eternal life from life in an unbroken stream? Of this unfailing draught the virgin Mother tasted even before her death, so that in her very passing she should not be touched by the slightest taste of death. Therefore as she went forth she saw life, that she might not see death. She saw her Son that she might not grieve at her separation from the flesh. Therefore going out free with such a happy vision and being possessed of the face of God that she had longed for, she found the revered citizens of heaven ready to render service and attend her.