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14 August 2016
posted by Canon Dakin on 21-09-2016

I was standing in the piazza of St Peter’s in Rome on the day when from the balcony Pope Pius XII formally declared that the Assumption of our Blessed Lady was part of our faith. It had been celebrated as a feast by the Church for centuries. Before the year 600 the feast was made obligatory throughout the Eastern Church. Shortly afterwards it came to Rome and was celebrated with great solemnity, marked by a torchlight procession from the forum up the hill to St Mary Major’s. Taking out the theological jargon what Pius XII said was simply “If we believe it, let’s say so”.

So what does it mean? It means that Mary in heaven shares the condition of her Son, glorified as he is.   Why should she? Because she was - and is - his mother. As his mother, she was sanctified, made special by the presence of God within her. It was respect due to God that such intimacy required that at the end of her life she should not be discarded like a tool that had outlived its use and left to rot. Then there were the purely human implications.  There had been a unique bond of love between mother and Son. There’s a prayer we use at funerals: “The bonds of love that entwine us during life do not unravel in death”.  Jesus in heaven doesn’t point to Mary and say: “Do you see that woman over there, she used to be my mother”.  He would want her by his side, sharing everything he had to give. That, quite simply, is what the Assumption means. But it means more than that. It has meaning for all of us. As Mary is now, one day we shall be. The Second Vatican Council in its document on the Church said: “Mary, the Mother of God, in the glory which she possesses in body and soul in heaven is the image and the beginning of the Church as it is to be perfected in the world to come”.  So Jesus wishes us all to share, body and soul, all he has to give, and the pledge that this will happen is here at Mass when in our bodies we receive the sacrament of the of his self-giving.          

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