A Special Feast Day
The Assumption of Mary is also known as the Falling Asleep of the Blessed Virgin Mary or the Dormition of Mary. It is a Holy Day of Obligation (when it is not celebrated on a Monday) and is celebrated annually on August 15.
Every year, Christians celebrate when Our Blessed Mother was taken up into Heaven body and soul at the end of her life. On November 1, 1950 Pope Pius XII infallibly declared the doctrine of the Assumption a dogma:
“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 every Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”
Sleeping or Dying?
It has not been dogmatically defined whether Mary actually died or not – Pope Pius XII left this question open when he said “having completed the course of her earthly life.” Many people, however, believe that she did not die. However, there is a tradition that Mary died in the presence of all of the apostles. Saint Thomas, however, was absent. When he arrived, the other apostles opened the tomb for him and found it empty. The apostles then concluded that she had been taken up into Heaven. A later tradition says that Mary then dropped her sash down from Heaven for Thomas as proof that she really had been assumed into Heaven.
What is the difference between the Ascension and the Assumption? Jesus ascended. Mary was assumed. Because Jesus is God, He went up into Heaven by His own power. Mary, however, is a creature. She is not God. Thus, she could not ascend to Heaven by her own power. Thus, she was assumed – taken up into Heaven.
In Heaven but With Us
Even though Mary was assumed into Heaven, she is always with us. Heaven is our home and Mary wants us to be with her and her Son for all eternity. On the Solemnity of the Assumption, let us remember our Mother who is in Heaven and who loves us very much. The Assumption is the fourth Glorious Mystery in the Rosary. So, every time we pray the Rosary we can remember that she is always with us and that she loves us more than anyone else on earth could!
“Mary, give me your Heart: so beautiful, so pure, so immaculate; your Heart so full of love and humility that I may be able to receive Jesus in the in the Bread of Life and love Him as you love Him and serve Him in the distressing guise of the poor.” ~ Saint Mother Teresa