Assumption

Text: The truth of the Assumption, defined by Pius XII, is reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council, which thus expresses the Church’s faith: “Preserved free from all guilt of original sin, the Immaculate Virgin was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory upon the completion of her earthly sojourn. She was exalted by the Lord as Queen of the Universe, in order that she might be the more thoroughly conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords (cf. Rev. 19:16) and the conqueror of sin and death.”108 In this teaching Pius XII was in continuity with Tradition, which has found many different expressions in the history of the Church, both in the East and in the West.

Mother of the Redeemer (JPII):

“Mary uttered this fiat (Yes) in faith. In faith she entrusted herself to God without reserve and “devoted herself totally as the handmaid of the Lord to the person and work of her Son.”34 And as the Fathers of the Church teach-she conceived this Son in her mind before she conceived him in her womb: precisely in faith!35 Rightly therefore does Elizabeth praise Mary: “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” These words have already been fulfilled: Mary of Nazareth presents herself at the threshold of Elizabeth and Zechariah’s house as the Mother of the Son of God. This is Elizabeth’s joyful discovery: “The mother of my Lord comes to me”!14. Mary’s faith can also be compared to that of Abraham, whom St. Paul calls “our father in faith” (cf. Rom. 4:12). In the salvific economy of God’s revelation, Abraham’s faith constitutes the beginning of the Old Covenant; Mary’s faith at the Annunciation inaugurates the New Covenant. Just as Abraham “in hope believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations” (cf. Rom. 4:18), so Mary, at the Annunciation, having professed her virginity (“How shall this be, since I have no husband?”) believed that through the power of the Most High, by the power of the Holy Spirit, she would become the Mother of God’s Son in accordance with the angel’s revelation: “The child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (Lk. 1:35).

However, Elizabeth’s words “And blessed is she who believed” do not apply only to that particular moment of the Annunciation. Certainly the Annunciation is the culminating moment of Mary’s faith in her awaiting of Christ, but it is also the point of departure from which her whole “journey towards God” begins, her whole pilgrimage of faith. And on this road, in an eminent and truly heroic manner- indeed with an ever greater heroism of faith-the “obedience” which she professes to the word of divine revelation will be fulfilled. Mary’s “obedience of faith” during the whole of her pilgrimage will show surprising similarities to the faith of Abraham. Just like the Patriarch of the People of God, so too Mary, during the pilgrimage of her filial and maternal fiat, “in hope believed against hope.” Especially during certain stages of this journey the blessing granted to her “who believed” will be revealed with particular vividness. To believe means “to abandon oneself” to the truth of the word of the living God, knowing and humbly recognizing “how unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways” (Rom. 11:33). Mary, who by the eternal will of the Most High stands, one may say, at the very center of those “inscrutable ways” and “unsearchable judgments” of God, conforms herself to them in the dim light of faith, accepting fully and with a ready heart everything that is decreed in the divine plan.

The Assumption of Our Lady into Heaven. This is neither an assertion of scripture nor an historical fact. It is a development of the Church’s consciousness that came to recognition in the 6th c. (Altaner). Consciousness grows with the ontological gift of self (transcendence). And so, the Assumption was not an historical fact attested to in Scripture but the consciousness of veneration by the Church. It is this same phenomenon which is at the ground of the development of doctrine. Joseph Ratzinger wrote that “the dogma, so to speak, owes it origin, impetus, and goal more to an act of homage than to its content… This dogma was intended to be an act of veneration, the highest form of Marian praise. What the orient achieves in the form of liturgy, hymns, and rites, took place in the occident through the form of a dogmatic proclamation… This is how it should be understood… We can therefore say that the dogmatic proclamation of 1950 was an act of Marian veneration in the form of a dogmatic statement, which, by exalting the Mother to the highest degree, was intended to be a liturgy of faith.[1]

                To give more clarity, let me add: Faith is an anthropological act of self-transcendence which mimics divinity and transforms us into alter Christus, Ipse Christus. The act of faith sanctifies and divinizes. The act of faith of the Virgin at the Annunciation was a grace-filled,  Christ-driven. It was  the gift of self such that  only God was equal to it since it involved her giving her complete humanity to God for Him to assume. Had she not given her total humanity, God would not have assumed a total humanity. Something human would have been lacking. And insofar as something human had been lacking, that lack would not have been redeemed. As it was, the Church understands that all was given, and all redeemed. 

                That is the provocation of Elizabeth’s proclamation: “Blessed is she who believed,” which John Paul II extolled as indicating that Mary’s faith at the Annunciation was superior to Abraham.” What I want to point to is that faith is precisely the action of self-gift whereby one becomes who one really is. That sanctity of the Blessed Virgin can be no different from any of us. Only God can sanctify. And it is His Love, which is what we call “grace” that affirms us and gives us the identity and power to master ourselves to make the gift.  The point here is that she made the gift of herself totally giving the Second Person of the Trinity the entire humanity through which He will live out His divinity. Since she made the gift of herself with a faith more complete than Abraham, she is “blessed” and therefore should be with Her Son Who, as God, is the meaning of “blessedness.”

Where is the faith of Mary lived out? In ordinary life.

 Caryll Houselander:  ‘to what was she asked to consent? First of all, to the descent of the Holy Spirit, to surrender her littleness to the Infinite Love, and as a result to become the Mother of Christ… She was not aksed to do anything herself, but to let something be done to her. She was not asked to renounce anything, but t receive an incredible gift. She was not asked to lead a special kind of life, to retire to the temple and live as a nun, to cultivate suitable virtues or claim special privileges. She was simply to remain in the world, to g forward with her marriage to Joseph, to live the life of an artisan’s wife, just  what she had planned to do when she had no idea that anything out of the ordinary would=ever happen to her.     It almost seemed as if God’s becoming man and being born of a woman were ordinary.

                The whole thing was to happen secretly. There was to be no announcement… The one thing that He did ask of her was the gift of her humanity. She was to give Him her body and soul unconditionally, and  – what in this new light would have seemed absurdly trivial to anyone but the Child Bride of Wisdom – she was to give Him her daily life. And outwardly, it would not differ from the life she would have led if she had not been chosen to be the Bride of the Spirit and the Mother of God at all!

   She was not even asked to live it alone with this God who was her own Being and whose Being was to be hers.

                No. He asked for her ordinary life shared ti Jeseph. She was not to neglect her simiple human tenderness, her love for an earthly man, b ecause God was her un born child.

                On the contrary, the hands and feet, the heart, the waking, sleeping, and eating that were forming Christ were to form Him in service to Joseph.

                Yes, it certainly seemed that God wanted to give the wold the impression that it is ordinary for Him to be born of a human creature.

                Well that is a fact.
God did mean it to e the ordinary thing, for it is His will that Christ shall be born in every human being’s life and not, as a rule, through extraordinary things, but through the ordinary daily life and the human live that people give to one another.

                Our Lady said yes.

                She said yes for us all.

And so, she gave birth to heaven and was taken up to continue engendering it.   

[1] J. Ratzinger, Daughter Zion, Ignatius (1983) 72-75.

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