The Dogma of the Assumption is relatively new – 1950. Yet, the faithful embraced this notion long before it became an ecclesial reality. It is often the people of God who make known to the Church a new reality. Today, as we celebrate her final journey – body and soul – into heaven, it is helpful to glean our tradition for insights into the mystery of her being.
In Chapter 8 of LUMEN GENTIUM, (solemnly promulgated by his holiness, Pope Paul VI on November 21, 1964,) the role of Mary is considered both in her relationship to our salvation and to the Church. Her “yes” to God’s plan of is a definitive moment – an unparalleled model of perfect discipleship. Prepared to mother the Savior from her own conception, Mary becomes a model for the Church as it shall be – perfect and without sin. Even in her dying, God uses her to reassure us – to give us a glimpse of the resurrection that awaits all who believe. “Finally, the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all guilt of original sin, (12*) on the completion of her earthly sojourn, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, (13*) and exalted by the Lord as Queen of the universe, that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords (297) and the conqueror of sin and death. (l4*) (LG 8, II, 59.)” Mother and Son together at last…what joy there must have been!
It’s been just two weeks since we carried Sister Denise’s precious body to the grave. This solemn feast feels like a gift. It is a reminder that the human body is dear to the Lord who made our flesh His home. Death divides the body and soul. Like an eagle the soul soars home, but on the “last day,” the body will be raised with it. That is our faith. That is the promise made to us in this feast of Mary. We must follow Mary in her example of faith. We must strive for the depth of her love and fidelity. And for our striving and struggling we shall win the prize of perfect wholeness. May she who has gone before us watch over her children now, “and at the hour of our death.”
- Sister Vicki