- This guest post was written by James Battle, Catholic Marketing Specialist here at Verbum.
Why does the Catholic Church hold each of the faithful to believe the Assumption of our Blessed Mother? What do we gain by meditating upon this mystery?
Like many converts, I had a lot of trouble with the Marian dogmas––but this one especially. I wondered, “What is the point of the Assumption?” The hymns and practice of the Church in celebrating this idea are recorded well back to the 6th century, so why was it only defined dogmatically barely more than 50 years ago? Of all of the Glorious Mysteries—Resurrection, Ascension, Descent of the Holy Spirit, Assumption .and Coronation of Mary—the last two are the least explicitly explained in Sacred Scripture (Revelation 12) and can be the most difficult to understand.
One reason that I can see why the Church took so long to declare the Assumption of Mary a dogma of the Church is that it cannot be well understood without first understanding and believing much of what the Church has said elsewhere about Christ. Let’s consider three signifcant aspectsof the Assumption:
- Because Christ is fully man and fully God, Mary had to receive special grace to be able to carry the Word in her womb (Lk 1:39-56)
- Like Elijah and Enoch, Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven – our bodies matter to God (1 Cor 6:20)
- Mary’s Assumption foreshadows our own Resurrection, and gives us hope (1 Cor 15; Rev 11:9-12:7).
To learn more about how this doctrine developed, I recommend the Mariology Collection in Verbum.
As my own faith grew, I eventually discovered, and began to believe, that every dogma that the Catholic Church has defined about Mary has the sole purpose of bringing us closer to Christ Jesus.
Meditating upon this mystery, I find myself amazed at the love of our God: From all eternity He would choose one of His creation to become His mother. He would make Himself a helpless baby in her arms, and he would bless the rest of us through her.
I guess that’s why Mary says, “All generations will call me blessed” (Lk 1:48).
This is one of my favorite prayers from the Kontakion from the Feast of the Assumption:
“Neither the tomb, nor death could hold the Theotokos,
Who is constant in prayer and our firm hope in her intercessions.
For being the Mother of Life,
She was translated to life by the One who dwelt in her virginal womb.”
Note: In the Orthodox tradition, Mary is known as “Theotokos,” or “God-bearer.”