The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin

After His resurrection from the dead, and after He had spent forty days with His apostles taking them more deeply into the revelation of God’s Truth, our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven. And He took with Him something especially precious – He took into heaven with Him what he had received from the Blessed Virgin Mary: namely, our human nature. And in doing so, He’s telling us that where he has gone, we are meant to follow.

The Blessed Mother's assumption is rather like an echo of the Lord’s ascension. A pattern is set; a truth is revealed: mankind is meant to dwell body and soul with God forever in heaven. This is God’s plan; this is His intention from the time He created us. In fact, St. Paul teaches us that our true “citizenship” is in heaven.

And notice this, as a parallel to the ascension of Our Lord — as Mary is assumed into Heaven, she also takes something with her. What she takes with her is us, her children. Now, she doesn’t take us with her in the same way that the Lord brought our human nature with Him into heaven at His ascension, nor does she take us in the same way that God will raise us up at the last day. But she does take us – she takes us with her in her Immaculate Heart. The Mother of God, who is our Mother also, knows each and every one of us, as only a Mother can – and she brings us lovingly to Her Son and asks Him to bless us.

There’s a beautiful story about Blessed Pope John XXIII, who was once recalling his earliest childhood memory. He tells of being a four-year old boy, and of how his family had gone to Mass for the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin. When they arrived, the church was overflowing with people, and being just a little boy, he wasn’t able to see the ceremonies or venerate the image of the Blessed Mother.

Seventy-seven years later when he was reminiscing, Pope John XXIII recalled it in this way: “My only chance of seeing the image of the Madonna was through one of the two windows of the main entrance, which were very high and covered with an iron grating. Then my mother raised me up in her arms and said, “Look, Angelo, look how lovely the Madonna is – I consecrate you entirely to her!”

The assumption of the Blessed Mother is something like that: Mary our Mother lifts us up. She lifts us up, and she lifts our cares and our concerns, all up to her Divine Son. She lifts us up in her Immaculate Heart so that we can catch a glimpse of the glory that will be ours in heaven.

As we celebrate Mary's assumption, let’s rededicate ourselves to God, and to the Mother He chose for Himself and for all of us, so that we may always be her faithful children.

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On 1 November 1950, His Holiness Pope Pius XII solemnly defined the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in his Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus. If you haven’t already read it, have a look at the whole document. It’s beautiful.

Here’s an excerpt:

“…after we have poured forth prayers of supplication again and again to God, and have invoked the light of the Spirit of Truth, for the glory of Almighty God who has lavished his special affection upon the Virgin Mary, for the honor of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages and the Victor over sin and death, for the increase of the glory of that same august Mother, and for the joy and exultation of the entire Church; by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a 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.

Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith.”

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O God, who hast taken to thyself the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of thine Incarnate Son: Grant that we, who have been redeemed by his blood, may share with her the glory of thine eternal kingdom; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Author: Fr. Christopher Phillips

Fr. Christopher G. Phillips is the pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he has served for the past twenty-eight years. He is the founding pastor of the first Anglican Use parish, erected in 1983 under the terms of the Pastoral Provision. Fr. Phillips was ordained as an Anglican for the Diocese of Bristol, England, in 1975. After serving as Curate for three years at St. Stephen Southmead, he returned to the United States and served in two Episcopal parishes in the Diocese of Rhode Island. In 1981 he left the Episcopal Church and moved with his family to Texas, where he was subsequently ordained as a Catholic priest in 1983. Fr. Phillips and his wife, JoAnn, have been married for forty years. They have five children, all grown and married, and three grandchildren.

5 thoughts on “The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin”

  1. I appreciate your use of the BCP version of the collect rather than the BDW version. I have no objection to the idea of Mary and the other saints interceding for us in prayer (and our request that they do so), but it just sounds cluttered the way the BDW squeezes it in.

  2. BCP???? Which version of the Book of Common Prayer are you talking about? The Assumption isn't even in the calendar of the 1662 version, and there's certainly no collect for it.

    1. The 1979 American BCP–the main source from which the BDW was compiled. Some Anglican provinces (Canada is the one I know off hand) had August 15th as the "Falling Asleep of Blessed Virgin Mary." Since it was not a feast, there was no collect. But before 1950, the collect for the Assumption in the Roman Missal made no reference to the doctrine, so it would make sense that another set of Marian propers (such as the Annunciation) would be used on that day by Anglicans keeping the feast back then.

  3. The collect which Fr. Phillips quotes is in "The Lesser Feasts and Fasts" from PECUSA 1963, under "St. Mary the Virgin", August 15th, the operative phrase being, "Who hast taken unto thyself"—certainly implying an assumption of body and soul, I believe…

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