As we celebrate the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I’m taken back to my time in the Holy Land, and especially to my visit to the Church of the Dormition in Jerusalem. The church has traditionally marked the place at which Mary “went to sleep” and was then assumed, body and soul, into heaven.
I remember the exceptional peacefulness of the site, in particular the lower church in which there’s a life-size statue of the Blessed Mother as she may have looked at her falling into sleep, or dormition. Kneelers surround the statue, and as I knelt there, I could sense the sadness of the disciples as they bid farewell to their beloved Mother – the mother of their Friend, Companion, and Savior, but also their own Mother, given to them through St John as their (our) Lord hung dying on the Cross.
Along with that sorrow, I also could sense tremendous joy. Perhaps Jesus’ followers didn’t feel joy at the Assumption, but I’m sure they do now, as I do. Because of Mary’s Assumption, we have the privilege of her presence among us, even to the point of physically appearing at places like Fatima, Lourdes, Our Lady of Good Help Shrine, and others. Her apparitions give us reason to feel joy and also hope. Mary appears in order to point the way to her Son and bring us hope in salvation.
Below is a quote from St. John Damascene that I like very much. It describes in layperson’s terms the doctrine of the Assumption, formally proclaimed by Pope Pius XII on November 1, 1950. I re-read the apostolic constitution, Defining the Dogma of the Assumption, in light of the upcoming feast, because it’s good to review and commit to heart and mind the truths of the Catholic faith.
I highly recommend that you do the same. Here’s the link to the online version: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_xii/apost_constitutions/documents/hf_p-xii_apc_19501101_munificentissimus-deus_en.html
“It was fitting that she, who had kept her virginity in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles…it was fitting that God’s Mother should possess what belongs to her Son, and that she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and the Handmaid of God.” – St. John Damascene
Blessed Feast of the Assumption!