Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
(Feast Day 15 August, Holy Day of Obligation)

assumption_piola.jpg (173890 bytes)
The Assumption of the Virgin - by Domenico PIOLA - Church of Saint John the Baptist, Chiavari (Genoa)

The image of the Assumption of the Virgin does not derive from the Bible but from an ecclesiastical tradition that took shape in the Middle Ages. By the 16th century, it had become a popular theme. The depiction of the Virgin, with her fluttering robe and swirling head-dress, is graceful and lively. She is borne up to heaven in a cloud by playful putti. The twelve apostles, assembled from around the world, stand around her sarcophagus at the bottom which is miraculously filled with fresh flowers. Her Assumption is a forshadowing of our own resurrection at the end of the world. Remember there are two bodies in Heaven, one the glorified human nature of Jesus, the other the assumed human nature of Mary. The rest of the saints in Heaven will not receive bodies until the Final Judgement.


First Reading: Revelation 11:19, 12:1-6, 10

God's temple in heaven opened and in the temple could be seen the ark of His covenant.

A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. Because she was with child, she wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. Then another sign appeared in the sky: it was a huge dragon, flaming red, with seven heads and ten horns; on his head were seven diadems. His tail swept a third of the stars from the sky and hurled them down to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, ready to devour her child when it should be born. She gave birth to a Son -- a Boy Who is destined to shepherd all the nations with an iron rod. Her Child was snatched up to God and to His throne. The woman herself fled into the desert, where a special place had been prepared for her by God.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have salvation and power come, the reign of our God and the authority of His Anointed One."

Gospel: Luke 1:39-56

Mary set out, proceeding in haste into the hill country to a town of Judah, where she entered Zechariah's house and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby stirred in her womb. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and cried out in a loud voice: "Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. But who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me? The moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby stirred in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who trusted that the Lord's words to her would be fulfilled." Then Mary said: "My being proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit finds joy in God my savior, for He has looked upon his servant in her lowliness; all ages to come shall call me blessed. God who is mighty has done great things for me, holy is His name; His mercy is from age to age on those who fear Him. "He has shown might with His arm; He has confused the proud in their inmost thoughts. He has deposed the mighty from their thrones and raised the lowly to high places. The hungry He has given every good thing, while the rich He has sent empty away. He has upheld Israel his servant, ever mindful of His mercy; Even as He promised our fathers, promised Abraham and His descendants forever." Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months and then returned home.


Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

by Father Charles Irvin, M.Div, J.D.

Visions, such as in our first reading, are not the sort of thing easily entered into computers in order to process their data and objectify their information. In a vision, the seer is transported out of our time and our space into a realm where literalness is simply inadequate.

The vision presented to us here as a
heavenly vision is related in perhaps a surprising way to earthly realities. It remains, however, a vision of the glory promised to God's creation; the glory promised to Jerusalem, the glory promised to God's people, promised to Mary the Mother of Jesus - and the glory promised to each and every one of us. What has been invisible, due to our earthly realities, becomes now visible in heavenly realities.

Is the woman of the vision
Mary? Or is she the Church? Or is she both?

Is the woman the New Eve, the woman who says "yes" to God's Will, where Eve said "no"?

The multiple images are consistent with the subtlety of Hebrew thought and literature. But clearly
Mary is a prototype of all that Israel was called to be, all that the Christian Church is called to be, and all that we as individuals are called to be. In our Profession of Faith which we recite over and over and over again, we often claim that we believe "in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Amen." The reason we can state this as an article of faith is because Jesus entered into our world and married Himself into our humanity. And the reason that Jesus could do this is because His mother, Mary, said "Yes" in response to God's offer. In her, the divinity of God the Son became our humanity in Jesus, born of Mary in Nazareth, an event that happened in real time, in real history, on our planet and in our world. Because of her, the glory of God became human flesh. Because of Mary, our humanity entered into the glory of divinity, the glory of God.

Human rebellion, however, is at work as always. Evil is always at work in the presence of goodness. Evil is always attempting to corrupt goodness, to reduce it and minimize it, to seduce and change it. Evil is the disfigurement of good. Haven't you noticed what happens when someone who is overtly good and holy is noticed? Forces instantly go to work tovictory2.gif (53723 bytes) attempt to minimize and diminish it, to attempt to seduce it and squash it. In the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus and our mother, is the story of the Woman, the Child, and the Dragon. It's a story of creation, of birthing, of life. It's a story of struggle, emnity, conflict and death. It's a story of dealing with the dragons of human rebellion, and lust for power over God. It's the story of our human pride and our vain attempts at replacing God when it comes to determining good and evil, along with our attempts to replace God when it comes to bringing life into our world as well as bringing death to human life.

Why do we think we can control
life and death when faced with the truth that we did not bring ourselves into life, nor do we determine the purpose of life, nor decide whose life is worthy of continuing being and whose life ought to be terminated? Yet that is precisely the struggle that is swirling around us. The story of the Woman, the Child and the Dragon is the stuff of the conflict (no, the warfare!) that faces us in the abortion and mercy killing struggle. [See The Final Battle]

It's a story, an epic, that cannot be processed by computers, a story that is incapable of being processed as data or merely as information. It's a story dealing with
vision and revelation, something that is ancient and yet ever new.

The story of the
Woman, the Child and the Dragon is our story; it's a story about us. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven is a foretaste and a promise of the conclusion of our own personal stories, something that we profess every time we state we believe in the resurrection of our own bodies and life everlasting with God and Mary in heaven.


by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

by Pope Pius XII