On Wednesday, the Church will celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary into heaven. It is thus a fitting occasion to conclude the series of reflections upon great events of Mary’s life and lessons for us with a discussion of the Assumption. In 1950, Pope Pius XII declared it to be a matter of divine and Catholic faith that, at the end of her earthly life, Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven. Jesus likewise ascended body and soul into heaven. For the rest of humanity, with possible exceptions such as Moses and Elijah, death involves a separation of body and soul, a separation that leaves the soul incomplete until the culmination of all things on earth at the general resurrection. As a result, the saints in heaven are united with us, know us and pray for us; but the unity is imperfect. There is perhaps an analogy to people who live at a distance and can communicate by technology, but not in person. By contrast, Mary is more with us on earth because she has a glorified body, a first promise of the glory and unity of all peoples in eternal light.
Now reigning in heavenly majesty, Mary joins together the glory and splendor of a queen with the personal love of a mother. A few weeks ago, the world watched the wedding of Prince Harry and Princess Meghan of Great Britain; they do not actually have a great deal of power, but the world’s fascination reflects a desire for celebrating the glory of royalty. Never was there such a celebration of royalty as when Jesus ascended into heaven, and then later welcomed His great Queen Mother to be with Him in eternal splendor.
And with the celebrations of the Assumption and the Queenship of Mary on August 15 and 22 (renewed in the final two mysteries of the rosary) we join in that wondrous joy. However, Mary’s exalted status does not make her remote from us. Rather, united body and soul, she joins with us as a mother in every town and country on earth, as she shown in her apparitions such as at Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe, and Knock. She thus helps make our homes new Bethlehems and new Nazareths where the glory and love of God dwell on earth. And we look forward to crowning of all the faithful and all areas of earth in the final resurrection.
In venerating Mary on earth, we look forward to joining with all of God’s people throughout time and space and hearing from Jesus, “Welcome, my friend. My mother has had so many good things to say about you.”