THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

The doctrine of Mary's entrance into heaven, body and soul. As defined by Pope Pius XII in 1950, the dogma declares that "Mary, the immaculate perpetually Virgin Mother of God, after the completion of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into the glory of heaven."

While there is no direct evidence of the Assumption in the Bible, implicitly the Church argues from Mary's fullness of grace (Luke 1:28). Since she was full of grace, she remained preserved from the consequence of sin, namely corruption of the body after death and postponement of bodily happiness in heaven until the last day.

The Church does not rely on the Scriptures for belief in Mary's Assumption. The doctrine is rather part of the oral tradition, handed down over the centuries. It was therefore certainly revealed because, in reply to the questions, the Catholic bishops of the world all but unanimously expressed the belief that this was part of the divine revelations. In explaining the grounds for the Church's belief, Pius XII singled out the fact that Mary was the Mother of God; as the body of Christ originated from the body of Mary (caro Jesu est caro Mariae); that her body was preserved unimpaired in virginal integrity, and therefore it was fitting that it should not be subject to destruction after death; and that since Mary so closely shared in Christ's redemptive mission on earth, she deserved to join him also in bodily glorification.

- Father John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary

 

APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTION OF POPE PIO XII

MUNICENTISSIMUS GOD

ON THE DEFINITION OF THE DOGMA OF THE ASSUMPTION 
OF OUR LADY
 IN BODY AND SOUL INTO HEAVEN

 

Scriptural Foundation

All these arguments and reasons of the holy Fathers and theologians are ultimately based on Sacred Scripture. This presents us with the Mother of God extremely united to her Son, and always a participant in her fate. From what seems almost impossible to contemplate the one who conceived, gave birth, fed with her milk, to Christ, and held him in her arms and held him to her breast, were now, after earth life, separated from him, if not as to soul, at least for the body. Our Redeemer is also a son of Mary; and as the most perfect observer of the divine law he could not fail to honor his most loving Mother next to the Eternal Father. And since he could adorn it with such honor, and preserve it from the corruption of the sepulcher, it must be believed that he actually did it.

Above all, it is worth bearing in mind that, from the second century onwards, the Holy Fathers present the Virgin Mary as the new Eve, subject indeed, but intimately united to the new Adam in the struggle against the infernal enemy. And this struggle, as already indicated in the Protoevangelium, would end with the complete victory over sin and death, which are always united in the writings of the Apostle to the Gentiles (cf. Rom 5; 6; 1 Cor .15.21-26; 54-57). Just as the glorious resurrection of Christ constituted an essential part and final trophy of this victory, so the victory of the most holy Mary, common with that of her Son, was to end in the glorification of her virginal body. For, as the apostle says, "when this mortal body is put on immortality, then what is written will be fulfilled: death has been swallowed up in victory" (1 Cor 15:14).

In this way, the most august Mother of God, unfathomably associated with Jesus Christ from all eternity "by a single decree" of predestination, immaculate in her conception, ever virgin, in her divine motherhood, generous companion of the divine Redeemer, who obtained complete triumph over sin and its consequences, finally obtained, as the supreme crown of his privileges, that she should be preserved from the corruption of the sepulcher, and that, like his divine Son, having conquered death, she would be carried in body. and soul to heaven, where she shines as Queen at the right hand of her Son, the immortal King of the ages (cf. 1 Tim 1:17).

Testimony of the Holy Fathers

St. John Damascene, who is distinguished among all as the preacher of this tradition, when comparing the glorious assumption of the Mother of God with her other prerogatives and privileges, exclaims with vehement eloquence: "It was fitting that she who in childbirth kept her virginity unblemished should keep the incorrupt body even after death. It was fitting that she who bore the incarnate Creator in her womb should dwell among the divine tabernacles. It was fitting that she whom the Eternal Father had espoused should dwell in the heavenly thalamus. It was fitting that she who saw her Son on the cross, with the heart pierced by a sword of pain from which it had been immune in childbirth, to contemplate seated at the right hand of the Father God".

Consistent with these words of s. João Damasceno those of many others who affirm the same doctrine. And no less expressive, nor less exact, are the words that are found in the sermons given by the holy Fathers older or of the same period, ordinarily on the occasion of this festival. Thus, to cite another example, s. Germanus of Constantinople believed that the incorruption of the body of the Virgin Mary Mother of God and her assumption into heaven are corollaries not only of her divine motherhood, but even of the singular sanctity of that virginal body: "You, as it is written, appeared 'in beauty'; your virginal body is totally holy, totally chaste, totally abode of God, so that even for this reason it was exempt from crumbling to dust; it was, indeed, transformed, while it was human, to live the highest life of incorruptibility; but now he is alive, most glorious, unharmed, and a partaker of the perfect life". Another very ancient writer asserts in his turn: "The most glorious Mother of Christ, our God and Saviour, giver of life and immortality, was glorified and clothed with the body in eternal incorruption by him who raised her from the tomb and called himself in a way that only he knows".

Solemn definition of dogma

"Therefore, after we have made repeated supplications to God, and invoked the peace of the Spirit of truth, for the glory of Almighty God, who bestowed his special benevolence on the Virgin Mary, for the honor of his Son, the Immortal King of centuries and the conqueror of sin and death, for the increase of the glory of his august mother, and for the joy and rejoicing of the whole Church, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the blessed apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul and with ours, we pronounce, declare and define it to be divinely revealed dogma 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".

Given in Rome, at St. Peter's, in the year of the Great Jubilee, 1950, on the 1st of November, the feast of all saints, in the twelfth year of our pontificate.

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
and my soul shall be joyful in my God:
for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation:
and with the robe of justice he hath covered me,
as a bridegroom decked with a crown,
and as a bride adorned with her jewels.
Isaiah 61, 10

At that time, I will bring you home,
at the time when I will gather you together;
yea, I will make you renowned and praised
among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
before your eyes, says the Lord.
Zephaniah 3, 20

I will perpetuate your memory through all generations;
therefore the nations will praise you for ever and ever.
Psalm 45, 17

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
then we thought we were dreaming.
Our mouths were filled with laughter;
our tongues sang for joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us;
Oh, how happy we were.
Psalm 126, 1-3

And Mary said:
My soul does magnify the Lord.
And my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.
For he has regarded the lowliness of his handmaid;
behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Because he that is mighty,
has done great things to me;
and holy is his name.
Luke 1, 46-49

My beloved spoke and said to me,
“Arise, my darling, my beautiful one,
come with me.
See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.”
Song of Solomon 2, 10-11

You stretch out your hand and save me,
your hand will do all things for me.
Your love, O Lord, is eternal.
Discard not the work of your hands.
Psalm 138, 7-8

Arise, Lord, come to your resting place,
you and your majestic ark.
Psalm 132, 8

The LORD is faithful in all His words
and gracious in all His deeds.
Psalm 145, 13

A great sign appeared in the sky,
a woman clothed with the sun,
with the moon under her feet,
and on her head a crown of twelve stars.
Revelation 12, 1

Salve Regina