“Through thee have the gates of Paradise been thrown open to us, O thou who this day did triumph so gloriously among the Angels.”
– Divine Office Antiphon
Each year on August 15 we celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven, a Holy Day of Obligation. According to St. Peter Canisius, Doctor of the Church, the Solemnity of the Assumption is the greatest of all Marian feasts and therefore holds the highest place of them all. Why?
Because Mary’s entrance into heaven was the happiest and most joyful event of her life—even greater than the Annunciation and the Nativity of Our Lord. Below are ten points regarding the awesomeness of today’s feast.
At her Assumption into heaven:
1. The Blessed Virgin Mary was, for the first time since His Passion and Ascension into heaven, physically reunited with her Son, Jesus, for all eternity, never to be separated from Him again.
2. Her long and difficult earthly mission as a co-worker in Christ’s redemption of the human race was now complete; through God’s grace she persevered to the end in perfect harmony and submission to the will of God.
3. At this moment she received the fulfillment of all she longed, sacrificed, sought, worked, desired, hoped, waited, and prayed for her entire life.
4. She experienced perfect and complete happiness in her entire person, as both her body and soul were united in heaven (Mary and Jesus are the only ones presently in heaven with their physical bodies; the souls of the other saints will receive their bodies at the final resurrection of the dead).
5. Everything mysteriously written and prophesied in the Scriptures of her role in salvation history was brought to its glorious fulfillment.
6. Mary, the true Ark of the Covenant where the Incarnate Christ dwelt, was finally in her exalted place in the Temple of the heavenly Jerusalem.
7. Just as Mary humbly received Jesus into the world at his nativity, now Jesus magnificently receives Mary into heaven for all eternity.
8. Mary, as the most beautiful and perfect creature in all of God’s created order, enters heaven for the first time—with her physical, human body—and is given the highest place above all the choirs of angels, and there receives the honor and praise proper to her exalted state.
9. Mary is crowned as Queen of Heaven and Earth to reign as Queen Mother alongside her Divine Son, to rule, protect, guide, intercede, and lead all of her spiritual children to be with her Son, Jesus, just as she is.
10. Mary is the first to receive the promise of the resurrection given to all who are united to Jesus Christ and persevere in faith as she did; therefore she embodies the future hope of the Church and of all believers.
“Among all these feasts which have been celebrated so devotedly for so many years, even unto the present day, the Feast of the Assumption is considered the greatest and holdeth chief place. Indeed there was no happier or more joyful day for Mary, if we duly consider the happiness of both body and soul granted to her on that day. Then especially, as never before, her spirit, soul and body rejoiced wondrously in the living God and she could rightfully say: He hath regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden; for behold, all generations shall call me blessed; for he that is mighty hath magnified me.” – Homily by St. Peter Canisius (Doctor of the Church)