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Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Lk. 1:39-56

15th. August has always been a memorable day in my life. It was the day, when at the age of 10, I arrived with my family at Tilbury Docks after a four week cruise through the Suez canal from India. My family originated from England and it was my father’s wish to bring his ten children to England to receive a better education. I never forget the day. But as the years went by it had even more meaning for me because it was the day the Church celebrates the Assumption of our Blessed Mother Mary into Heaven.

I remember well the day Pope Pius XII, in 1950, solemnly declared it to be an article of the Catholic faith that at the end of her earthly life, Mary was assumed body and soul into Heaven. I was 12 at the time and I can still picture all the boys of my small school silently huddled around a wireless listening to the Pope’s declaration. Our Capuchin teacher told us it was a very important day in the life of the Church, and our own because we would be unlikely ever again in our lifetime to see another article of faith declared from Rome.

In the words the Pope used there is no reference to Mary's death. You are free to decide whether she died or not. Her death is not a matter of faith. What is a matter of faith is that she was assumed body and soul into Heaven.

If you want to believe that Mary never died you have a good foundation for this because death is a consequence of sin - and Mary was conceived sinless and remained sinless all her life. It is fitting that her sinless body should be preserved from the indignity of corruption which is one of the consequences of sin.

The sepulchre of Our Lord is venerated in Jerusalem. The tomb of St Peter is venerated in Rome under the High Altar of St Peter's Basilica.
But Mary, the Mother of God, unique in human history, has no veneration of her tomb! There is in Jerusalem a Church called the Domitian of Mary but this only commemorates her passing from this world to Heaven.

The moment we die our soul goes before the judgement seat of God. It is then that our eternal destiny is made known to us. Where we go is consequent on the choices we have made in this life. If our choices have been to do God’s will and live in Heaven with Him, then we hope God will give us Heaven. But very likely, because of our sins and our failures to make up for them, we will have to spend time in Purgatory. If our choices in life were to do as we please and not God’s will, then we have asked God to send us to Hell. It is our souls that go to these places. At that moment we are incomplete persons. Unlike our Blessed Lady, we have to wait until the end of time before our glorious bodies or our damned bodies will be reunited with our souls. Only then will we be complete persons.

When Pope Pius XII declared that Mary was assumed into Heaven he was claiming her Assumption as a great sign of hope for humankind. Mary shared, earliest of all, in the fruits of Christ’s Redemption. By assuming her body and soul into Heaven, God started in her what He means to continue in us. Her Assumption is our assurance; what happened to Mary is God’s plan for all of us. Mary, our Mother has gone before us. She now beckons us her children to follow her.

The Assumption is a marvellous manifestation of Christ’s redeeming work and of His final victory over sin and death. Mary inspires us to be true followers of her Son and inspires us on our journey to Heaven. Since it was through her consent that His Son was able to become Man and be our Saviour, it is so fitting for her to be assumed body and soul into Heaven on the completion of her earthly life.

Holy Mother, we congratulate you on the beautiful holy life you led and pray that you will help us, every day, to try and follow your example to live holy lives, that we too will have our glorified risen bodies at the end of time.

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