A Mary Moment Monday post
I’ve been Catholic for a number of years, but it’s taken me a while to get used to Holy Days of Obligation. They’re not ingrained in my memory the way they seem to be for other Catholics I know, and some of them are just…well, they’re unfamiliar at best and weird at worst.
This week, we celebrate the Assumption of Mary, God taking Mary to heaven after her time here on earth was over (whether she actually died or not seems to be a fine point of theological debate). Just as she was spared the suffering of original sin thanks to the blessing of the Immaculate Conception, she was spared the decay of the tomb thanks to the Assumption, which is also called the Dormition.
For me, the Assumption has become a series of small lessons, things I can apply in my everyday life. Oh, sure, it’s great to think about the theology, to expound and pontificate. After all, I like theoretical things, but there’s nothing theoretical about the Church’s teaching about the Blessed Virgin Mary being taken, body and soul, to heaven. It’s so important that we are asked to attend an extra Mass to celebrate it, putting it on the list of Holy Days of Obligation, days our priest calls opportunities for holiness.
I’m called to heaven
From the earliest days of the Church, Mary was respected for her role as Jesus’ mother. She was there at all the important events, every part of Jesus’ life, from His first tentative steps to the beginning of His ministry to His passion, death, and resurrection, from His ascension to pentecost to the spreading of His Church.
She wasn’t just there in theory, she was really present. In the Assumption, where Mary is lovingly taken to heaven by God, I’m reminded that that’s where my goal is: heaven. It’s not just a fine idea or a great philosophy; it’s a way of living every single day.
My body will be redeemed there, in heaven; I don’t get to ditch it just as I don’t get to duck out from the responsibility of having a soul. Body and soul, heaven’s where I want to be, with Jesus and Mary and all the saints.
The battle against sin continues
The thing is, my Enemy knows of my lofty ambitions, and he’s doing all he can to thwart them. He plants all these silly notions in my head and feeds me junk food from the table of the culture around me.
But when I see Mary lovingly carried into the arms of her Son, Who’s waiting for her in heaven, I’m reminded of the importance of continuing the fight. I’m motivated to dig my heels in here on earth so that someday, in heaven, I can ask Mary if I can touch her sparkly crown for myself.
We need prayer, and more prayer, and MORE prayer
The way this battle on earth is fought sounds simple, doesn’t it?
I struggle with it every single day.
I’m not proud of that.
But knowing that it’s a struggle to let go and let God, to fold my hands and bend my knees when I would rather get up and get things done — that is a lesson all its own.
And there’s someone I can ask, someone who’s in heaven already, waiting for me to ask for help as she sits beside her Son.
In giving birth you kept your virginity; in your Dormition you did not leave the world, O Mother of God, but were joined to the source of Life. You conceived the living God and, by your prayers, will deliver our souls from death. (from the Byzantine liturgy, quoted in CCC 966)
- Munificentissimus Deus, by Pope Pius XII, defining the dogma of the Assumption
- Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 491 and 966
- “Mary’s Assumption: Irrelevant and Irreverent?” by Mark Brumley
- “Assumption of Mary Gives Lessons for Life,” from the archives of The Catholic Standard & Times
A version of this post was originally posted at Faith & Family LIVE in August 2009.
image credit: MorgueFile
Great post. I like that you mention it being also called the Dormition. Few RCs know that and there is some beautiful iconography in our Eastern Traditions that reflect the Feast.
Stuart, I *love* that iconography. It is so…I don’t know…different. It’s a kind of art that someone takes me beyond myself and lets me really get into the idea of things, even as I find it alien. Well, obviously I’m no good at explaining it.
And all that said, I also love the tradition behind the Assumption/Dormition, that it has a whole history. Pretty funny for someone who says she doesn’t like history, huh?