By Vir Christi
Every year on the fifteenth of August, we celebrate the familiar Catholic teaching of the Assumption of Mary. We believe that at the hour of her death Mary was assumed, body and soul, into Heaven. Yet for all that we hear of the Assumption year after year, do we really understand its significance for us? So many Catholics know it is an important event in Mary’s life. However, they frequently fail to ask an essential question:
What does the Assumption of Mary mean for you and me, in both an immediate and an eternal sense?
God Fulfills His Promises
As John recalls in his Gospel, during the Last Supper Jesus tells His disciples, “In My Father’s house there are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to Myself, that where I am you also may be” (John 14:2-3).
It’s fitting that Mary, who trusted so completely in the will of God, should be the first to see this promise of Jesus realized. Not only that, but it’s also important to remember that Mary suffered greatly during the course of her life here on Earth. Searching frantically for Jesus when she thought Him lost in the Temple, witnessing the grief and agony of His Passion firsthand, and holding His lifeless Body in her arms were causes of immense anguish for Our Lady. Yet through it all, she remained faithful to the will of God and trusted in His plan of salvation. The Assumption is the reward rightly given to Mary for being obedient and faithful.
What does this mean for us? It means that through the very worst of our sufferings, we should remember that God is always faithful to His promises. We will experience great suffering and death in this world, but the corruption of death has no hold on us if we obey God’s will. Mary’s Assumption reminds us that all sorrows and trials are passing things. Jesus will fulfill His promise to come and take us back to Himself if we remain steadfast in His love. Mary is a living sign of God’s fidelity.
Mary Follows Christ in Everything
The Blessed Mother’s last recorded words in the Scriptures are to the servants at the wedding in Cana: “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5). That instruction reflects where the heart of Mary rested at all times throughout her life. She strove to be obedient to the will of God in all things. At three distinct times in the Scriptures throughout Mary’s life, we see her upholding this obedience to God: once at the Annunciation, again at the Wedding in Cana, and a third time standing at the foot of the Cross.
Given that Mary followed God in everything, it makes sense that when her time to leave this world came, she would follow God her Son into Heaven. However, this was not merely done for Mary’s sake, but for ours.
Imagine the disciples gathered together in the time between the Ascension and Pentecost. We know that Mary was with them. What a comfort she must have been to them! What guidance she must have provided them, calming any lingering doubts or fears they might have had as they waited for the Holy Spirit. Mary took on this role for the close friends of Jesus while she was on Earth. And now in Heaven as Mother of the Church, she intercedes for everyone, not just Jesus’ earthly friends.
Are we willing to follow Jesus like Mary did? We can be encouraged by the knowledge that Mary has gone before us and is interceding for us.
We’re Created for the Eternal
In Chapter 4 of his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis writes, “I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part that chooses, into something a little different than it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all of your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a Heavenly creature or a Hellish creature…”
It’s very easy to get bogged down by worldly cares. The nonmaterial things of the world, like stress and anxiety, can weigh us down. There are also the material things: money, possessions, etc. When we’re making our choices each day, we’re liable to get sidetracked by things that take away from the eternal picture. Mary’s Assumption isn’t just something that happened to a woman of deep faith, it’s an act of resounding defiance against the world. We are made for the eternal, not the temporal. Mary’s Assumption is the visible sign of what happens to us if we remain focused on the life after this one.
How do we approach suffering? Do we view it as a curse, or do we use it to meditate on what joys await the faithful in Heaven? When we suffer, do we use it as a reminder that at some point our time in this world must end? Do we check ourselves to see if we’re ready for death?
How do we approach the prospect of our own death? Do we allow our hearts to be filled with yearning to see God, as Mary’s heart must have burned between the Ascension and the Assumption, or do we try to avoid the subject? Are there areas of our lives where we could allow God in to heal us in anticipation of that moment? What are we doing to open up those areas to the Lord?
Fly to Mary
If you’re ever thinking about all of the honors God bestowed on Mary for her fidelity, and how unworthy you are to hope for that which was given to her…stop it. We have a powerful weapon in our corner! It’s a weapon that sends the hordes of Hell running as fast as they can in the other direction. It’s the love of the Blessed Mother for her children.
Not only does Mary want us to desire Heaven, she desires it for us even more than we do ourselves. Ask for her intercession! She wants to get all of us to where she is. She wants all of us to follow her into Heaven. If you entrust yourself to Mary and desire to follow her example, there is not a single terror of Hell that can touch you. Enlist her help to grow in grace and overcome sin, and the Assumption for you will be not just a desire, but a reality.
Our Lady, Help of Christians, pray for us!
Vir’s heart has been on fire for the Church from day one, and he dreams of the day when Constantinople will be a city again. He has a competitive drive satiated by sports and board games, but is also just as happy to sit down and read a good book for hours on end.