August 15 is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven, a Holy Day of Obligation. We celebrate the fact that God took Mary bodily into Heaven. But why did the Church make this a feast? Why is it important for your life?
Mary shows us our destiny
Unlike Christ, Mary was a mere human to whom God gave special graces. When Jesus took His mother into Heaven, body and soul, He showed us what is in store for those who die in a state of grace. At the end of time, He will raise us bodily from the dead. The faithful will have glorified bodies in Heaven. We will not be ghosts for all eternity. We will be complete, perfect versions of ourselves. This is one reason prayers like the Salve Regina call Mary our “hope.”
Mary shows us our purpose
God made us to be united with Him in love. In her death, bodily resurrection, and Assumption, Mary embraced Christ’s mission. Since she was free from original and actual sin, Mary did not have to die. The Church has not defined infallibly that Mary died, but the general consensus of Church Fathers, along with the Church’s Liturgy, teaches that she did. In choosing to follow her Son’s example as closely as possible, she most likely chose to participate in our redemption through dying like He did.
God calls us to be conformed to Christ as well. We must die because of original sin. However, we can unite our suffering and death to Christ’s and help to advance the salvation of the world. We can also choose to die to ourselves in the course of ordinary events.
Mary shows us the necessity of detachment
St. John of the Cross spoke of the soul as a bird that desires to fly. When we are improperly attached to things or people other than God, it as though the bird is tied to the ground. Before the bird can fly, the ropes or strings that hold him must be cut.
I like to think of Mary as a bird who was completely free from attachment to worldly things. After her death, nothing could hold her back. Nothing could keep her from God’s side. She was perfectly whole in life and after death.
We can imitate Mary’s detachment by saying with her at every moment, “Let it be done unto me in accordance with your word” (Luke 1:38).