BY GEORGENE FARMAN
ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF LITURGY AND MUSIC
On the fifteenth of August every year we celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which a major feast of the church. This feast is celebrated all over Christendom and, in some countries, it is even a public holiday. There are street processions, festivals and much pageantry. The feast is a commemoration of the Virgin Mary’s bodily ascent into heaven at the end of her life. Mary is said to be blessed not just because she was faithful and has gone to heaven, which is the hope of all Christians who die in a state of grace and believe the promise that on the last day there will be a redemption of their earthly bodies. According to the teaching of the Catholic Church, Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven, because she was the Mother of God and free from any stain of sin, both original and personal.
The assumption of Mary into heaven was not defined as dogma until Pope Pius XII did so in 1950. Before this, the assumption of Mary into heaven was widely believed but not official dogma. This dogma states that Mary, who was without sin, was taken body and soul, into heaven. This was supported by the fact that there were no relics for people to venerate, and there was an empty tomb near the site of her death. In the fourth century, bishop Epiphanius of Salamis wrote about the varying thoughts on Mary’s death. By the eighth century, the assumption of Mary had become generally accepted and became the official version of the Church. Later in the eighth century Pope Leo IV made the Feast of the Assumption official.
The gospel today reminds us that Mary, was born untouched by original sin, and was therefore worthy to give birth to the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Because of her openness to God, God could work through her to bring salvation to all.