Friends, this week Tuesday we will celebrate the feast of the Assumption. This feast is when we celebrate the moment when Mary is taken up into heaven, body and soul, at the conclusion of her earthly life.
The difference between “Christ’s Ascension” and “Mary’s Assumption”
This may seem like moot point, but it’s important to highlight the difference between the two. For Christ’s Ascension into heaven, we celebrate that Christ goes up to heaven after the Resurrection. So Christ, in his glorified body, by his own power goes up into heaven.
For Mary’s assumption, we say that she was assumed into heaven. Paying
attention to the verb is key here – it reminds us that Mary is the one receiving the action. Mary is lifted up into heaven by the power of God. This difference reminds us that Mary is still one of God’s creatures, his beloved daughters, and she lives in the power of his grace – as do all of us.
Did Mary ever Die?
This is actually a good debate to have with other interested Catholic
theologians over a drink (of sprite of course!) 🙂 For us, it is important to
note that theologians in good standing with the Church argue both sides.
Some will say, “Yes Mary died on earth and then was assumed body and soul” into heaven. Others will argue, “No, Mary was brought into heaven before her earthly pilgrimage ended and therefore did not die.”
It may seem overly simplistic to say it this way, but this debate really does not matter. We believe that Mary is in heaven, and that she was brought into eternal life (body and soul) by our Heavenly Father.
Is there proof?
First, our Church, takes very seriously consistent beliefs of the faithful that have been there since the beginning. this belief is grounded in credible witnesses, that is, those disciples of Jesus who knew Mary when she was alive.
The second key point lies in the fact that we have No Remains of Mary. This may not seem odd to us now, but it really is an odd thing. Why? Consider that we have relics and burial places for several of the early saints, and yet we don’t have this for Mary – the most revered and saintly person in our Faith – but we have it for Saint Peter and others?
What’s the big deal about the assumption?
At Mass we confess our creed each week and we say, “I look forward to
the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” Mary’s
assumption into heaven is a sign of hope for the life we will receive. The
question we may ask is why did Mary enter into heaven with her body, before all of us? The answer is simple: We also believe that Mary was Immaculately Conceived, that is, born without Original Sin. Therefore, “it
would follow that she would not suffer the corruption in the grave, which is a consequence of sin (Gen 3:19)”. But one day, we too, at the resurrection of the body, will be united with God in heaven both body and soul.
Fr. Stephen J Durkee