Msgr. Joseph A. Pellegrino
The Solemnity of the Assumption:
Mary, the Greatest of Us
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary into heaven. The Dogma of the Assumption was solemnly declared by Pope Pius XII on November 1, 1950. This was the declaration that after her death Mary was taken up to heaven body and soul.
The belief in Assumption dates back to the early centuries of the Church. Christians always believed that Mary’s death was a falling asleep in the Lord or dormition. She was immediately taken up to God. Actually the Dormition of Mary or, to use our terminology, the Assumption of Mary, was one of the most popular themes in religious art of the medieval times.
With the exception of Jesus Christ, who is the Eternal Word, conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary is the greatest person to ever exist. She is the greatest person to be conceived through a human mother and a human father. She is greater than Buddha, or Mohammed, or Moses, or David, or any of the great people of history. She is the one who gave her life so we can have a Savior. She is the greatest of us all.
The greatest of us all is a woman. Mary brought a new dignity to every woman who has ever lived and who ever will live. Women bring life into the world and nurture this life. Because Mary sacrificed herself for us, our women bring unique reflections of God into the world, and nurture His Image with their bodies and with their lives. Women are life givers. Christian women give life to the Divine. Women are sources of love, carriers of love and nourishers of love. In these days when the most lucrative industry in the world is the pornography industry, where mainly young girls are exploited, Mary reminds us of the Dignity and Respect that are the natural rights of every female among us. We men are reminded that it is our obligation to care for and protect our women, be they little girls, teens, wives, singles, widows or the elderly. Recently, the young men in our youth group have been meeting to pray for our young women. All men need to pray for those among us whose biblical origin was a gift from God to Adam.
In these days of the glorification of the self, Mary reminds us of a person whose body and spirit were created for another. She said “Yes” to the angel Gabriel at the Annunciation and threw her life into turmoil. She nurtured and cared for the child that others wanted dead. She supported Him as a young man when others thought he was deranged. She stood with Him as He was tortured to death to complete the Father’s plan of redemption, and she accepted John and us into her heart and became our mother. For all this and more than we could ever imagine, Mary was rewarded with her total union with God at the conclusion of her earthly life. She was assumed into heaven. Now, seated the closest to her Son, the judge of the Living and the Dead, within whisper length from his ear, she brings our prayers before Him. She brings the prayers we offer when we honor her in the Rosary. She brings the prayers we offer when we just call out, “Mother, help us.”
And we pray today on the feast of her assumption. We pray for our ladies, young and old. We pray for our brothers and sisters who are hurting. We pray for peace. We pray for ourselves. Together, now, we pray the prayer that is the profound expression of our devotion to our mother: Hail Mary.