Assumpta est Maria
The Assumption in the Catechism
966 “Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death.” The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son’s Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians:
In giving birth you kept your virginity; in your Dormition you did not leave the world, O Mother of God, but were joined to the source of Life. You conceived the living God and, by your prayers, will deliver our souls from death.
2853 Victory over the “prince of this world” was won once for all at the Hour when Jesus freely gave himself up to death to give us his life. This is the judgment of this world, and the prince of this world is “cast out.” “He pursued the woman” but had no hold on her: the new Eve, “full of grace” of the Holy Spirit, is preserved from sin and the corruption of death (the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of the Most Holy Mother of God, Mary, ever virgin). “Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring.” Therefore the Spirit and the Church pray: “Come, Lord Jesus,” since his coming will deliver us from the Evil One.
Some Thoughts on the Readings
Revelation 11:19; 12:1-10. The reading from Revelation 11 about the ark of the covenant which in another instant is presented as the Woman clothed with the Sun is a series of overlapping images that point to
- the ark of the covenant which Mary is as described in Luke’s account of the Visitation
- Mary, the Queen Mother and the Woman and Her Seed of Genesis 3:15
- the Woman and Her Seed with the Church and her children with this latter portrayed as one child
- the Church and the New Israel whom God will woo in the desert (see Hosea 2)
These overlapping images of Mary and the Church attacked without success by the Dragon is presented by the liturgy on the feast of the Assumption to highlight the place of Mary as the blueprint of the Church. She has gone ahead of the Church and is seated at the side of the King of Kings as an assurance that where she is, there the Church shall be also. The responsorial psalm taken from Psalm 45 is about a Queen of Israel and her place beside the king. If Christ is King of Kings, then Mary is the Queen Mother.
1 Corinthians 15:20-27. The text from 1 Corinthians 15 is part of a response to the question of the Corinthians about those who have died before and whom they fear would be excluded from the coming of the Lord. Paul informs the Corinthians that the order of the resurrection is Christ (the first fruits), then those belonging to Him. And when those belonging to Him has been raised from the dead, then the destruction of death and the restoration of all to God.
Victory over Satan is illustrated in the first reading. Here, Christ’s victory over Death is emphasized. And both are exemplified in the Assumption of Mary who did not taste death because of her preservation from sin.
Luke 1:39-56. The reading from Luke is taken from Mary’s recital of the saving deeds of God. The Magnificat is the Church’s song of victory, anticipated in Mary who witnessed the dawning of God’s saving deed in the Word taking flesh in her. The peace she brings to Elizabeth is the peace that only the Lord can give reaching even the unborn child in Elizabeth’s womb. “Henceforth, all generations will call me blessed”, sings Mary. She is the new ark of the Covenant, overshadowed in the Visitation by the Shekinah glory, bearing in her womb the Word of salvation. She is the image of the missionary Church bearing the good news to those who wait for it. And where she is now, the Church will also be.
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