Question: What are we celebrating on the feast of the Assumption of Mary?
Answer: The Assumption, along with the Immaculate Conception, are two Marian dogmas that have been infallibly defined by the church. The Assumption proclaims the reality that Mary was taken up body and soul into heaven. This was God’s special gift to her in response to her total giving of self to God’s plan and will.
The church believes that Mary was immaculately conceived, that is, conceived without original sin. This led the church to believe that she did not suffer one of the key consequences of original sin, death and corruption. The Orthodox Church celebrates the Dormition of Mary, the belief that Mary did not die but rather fell asleep and was thus assumed into heaven.
What significance does this feast have for our lives as Christians today? This feast is above all an assurance and hope of our continued life with God. Modeling ourselves on Jesus and living the Christian life molded by Jesus’ values is certainly the sure path to God. As a result, God will not leave us orphaned or alone to suffer the emptiness of death. Rather, we believe that death is merely a transformation of our present state into an even more glorious and eternal relationship with God.
This is the hope and assurance that Mary’s assumption celebrates. It is a celebration of our assumption as well. She is one of us, providing a model of what God has in store for all who love and give of themselves to God.