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Opinion

August 15: The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero Ballescas - The Freeman

Considered a holy day of obligation by Catholics and a public holiday in some countries, the Feast of the Assumption “recalls the spiritual and physical departure of the mother of Jesus Christ from the earth, when both her soul and her body were taken into the presence of God.”

Devotees consider this Feast of the Assumption as Mama Mary’s "heavenly birthday”. Rather than a day of mourning for her loss, this day is celebrated for the “joy for the union of the mother with her beloved son”.

This background information may help in understanding this Feast of Mama Mary’s Assumption.

It was Pope Pius XII who formally “confirmed this belief about the Virgin Mary as a dogma of Catholic faith in 1950, invoking papal infallibility to proclaim that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever-Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory”.

His Apostolic Constitution “Munificentissimus Deus” (Most Bountiful God), which defined the dogma, contained the Pontiff’s accounts of many longstanding traditions by which the Church has celebrated the Assumption throughout its history.

The constitution also cited testimonies from the early Church fathers on the subject and described the history of theological reflection on many Biblical passages which are seen as indicating that Mary was assumed into heaven following her death.

Pius XII cited several early Byzantine liturgical texts, as well as the eighth-century Arab Christian theologian St. John of Damascus, in his own authoritative definition of her assumption.

In a sermon on the assumption, St. John of Damascus wrote “that it was fitting that she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death,” and “that she, who had carried the creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles.”

Accounts narrate that “according to St. John of Damascus, the Roman Emperor Marcian requested the body of Mary, Mother of God at the Council of Chalcedon, in 451. St. Juvenal, who was Bishop of Jerusalem told the emperor “that Mary died in the presence of all the Apostles, but that her tomb, when opened upon the request of St. Thomas, was found empty; the Apostles concluded that the body was taken up to heaven,” the saint recorded.”

As earlier noted, in 1950, Pope Pius Xll, defined that Mama Mary "after the completion of her earthly life...was assumed body and soul into the glory of Heaven."

The Feast of the Assumption commemorates the following two important events: The departure of Mama Mary from this life and the assumption of her body into heaven.

In Eastern Christian tradition, the same feast is celebrated as Mama Mary’s death or the Dormition' of Mary “that expresses the belief that the Virgin died without suffering, in a state of spiritual peace”.

The Catholic Church clarifies that its “official doctrine of the Assumption says that at the end of her life on earth Mary was assumed, body and soul, into heaven”. Mama Mary did not ascend into heaven.

“By His own power, Jesus Christ ascended into heaven. Mama Mary, however, was "assumed" or taken up into heaven by God.”

Considered a very important day in the Catholic religion, in some parts of Europe, this day is celebrated and “even called the 'Easter of the summer” or the "Feast of Our Lady of the Harvest".

During this day, globally, devotees honor Mama Mary with masses and prayers.

Those who pray the Rosary’s Glorious Mysteries fondly remember that after the Holy Spirit’s descent upon the apostles (with Mama Mary also present), Mama Mary is assumed into heaven and crowned Queen of Heaven, the Mother of God.

VIRGIN MARY

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