- Date: August 15
- Type of Feast: Solemnity, Holy Day of Obligation.
- Readings: Revelation 11:19a, 12:1-6a, 10ab; Psalm 45:10, 11, 12, 16; 1 Corinthians 15:20-27; Luke 1:39-56
- Prayers: The Hail Mary
- Other Names for the Feast: The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary; the Assumption of Mary Into Heaven; the Dormition of the Theotokos; the Falling Asleep of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Assumption of Mary is the teaching 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 [Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus 44].
The month of August is dedicated to The Immaculate Heart of Mary. The entire month falls within the liturgical season of Ordinary Time, which is represented by the liturgical color green. This symbol of hope is the color of the sprouting seed and arouses in the faithful the hope of reaping the eternal harvest of heaven, especially the hope of a glorious resurrection. It is used in the offices and Masses of Ordinary Time. The last portion of the liturgical year represents the time of our pilgrimage to heaven during which we hope for reward.
On November 1, 1950, Pius XII defined the dogma of the Assumption. Thus he solemnly proclaimed that the belief whereby the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the close of her earthly life, was taken up, body and soul, into the glory of heaven, definitively forms part of the deposit of faith, received from the Apostles. To avoid all that is uncertain the Pope did not state either the manner or the circumstances of time and place in which the Assumption took place — only the fact of the Assumption of Mary, body and soul, into the glory of heaven, is the matter of the definition.
The Assumption is the oldest feast day of Our Lady, but we don't know how it first came to be celebrated.
After the building of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 336, the sacred sites began to be restored and memories of the life of Our Lord began to be celebrated by the people of Jerusalem. One of the memories about his mother centered around the "Tomb of Mary," close to Mount Zion, where the early Christian community had lived.
On the hill itself was the "Place of Dormition," the spot of Mary's "falling asleep," where she had died. The "Tomb of Mary" was where she was buried.
At this time, the "Memory of Mary" was being celebrated. Later it was to become our feast of the Assumption.
All the feast days of Mary mark the great mysteries of her life and her part in the work of redemption. The central mystery of her life and person is her divine motherhood, celebrated both at Christmas and a week later (Jan. 1) on the feast of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. The Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8) marks the preparation for that motherhood, so that she had the fullness of grace from the first moment of her existence, completely untouched by sin. Her whole being throbbed with divine life from the very beginning, readying her for the exalted role of mother of the Savior.
The Assumption completes God's work in her since it was not fitting that the flesh that had given life to God himself should ever undergo corruption. The Assumption is God's crowning of His work as Mary ends her earthly life and enters eternity. The feast turns our eyes in that direction, where we will follow when our earthly life is over.
Holy Mother Mary, we all rejoice with you today on the feast of your glorious Assumption into heaven. Long ago in the Garden of Eden, our first parents, Adam and Eve, were told that they would have to earn their bread in the sweat of their brow and that the earth would be cursed, bringing forth thorns and thistles. Now, after Christ our Redeemer has come, and taught us how to make use of the thorns and thistles of this life, and turn them into blessings, you, like Him, have been taken up body and soul into heaven. There, with your divine Son, you await our coming, and prepare a place for us. Mother Mary, it is a great comfort to us to realize that your precious body, the tabernacle of the infant Christ, is now in heaven with Him. Your being taken into heaven is also, like the resurrection of Christ's body, a pledge to us of the resurrection of our own bodies. It is wonderful to think that these hands, with which we earn our bread now in the sweat of our brow, will, because of the merits of Christ, one day, with our bodies, be glorified forever in heaven. O most pure Virgin Mary, help us to realize this as we go about our work from day to day. Help us to have great respect for these bodies of ours, and for those of others because we recognize in them the temple of the Holy Spirit, and because we look forward to seeing each other, body and soul, with you and your Son Jesus Christ forever in heaven. Amen.