by Fr Wiseman Nkomo
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The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary: reminds us that if we like Mary the model believer place our Trust in God’s plans, we will receive our glorified bodies at the end of time.
Mary the model believer (Luke 1:38), Mary “the blessed among women” (Luke 1:45) is praised for her trust in the fidelity of God. God whose plans for humanity are always seen by him from the beginning to their fulfilment. He asks just one thing from the believer “TRUST.” She who through her “YES” becomes the mother of our Lord and it is from her that the infant Jesus got his flesh.
The Church has always known the inseparable bond that exist between Mary the blessed and her Son Jesus our saviour. Mary was preserved from the stain of original sin, she preserved her virginity even after childbirth has been venerated by the Church as one who was preserved from decomposition after death. The devotions were also coupled with request from bishops and individual devotees for this fact in the life of Mary to be declared a dogma in the Church.
Hence, on May 1, 1946, Pope Pius XII gave to bishops a letter “Deiparae Virginis Mariae,” in which these words are contained: “Do you, venerable brethren, in your outstanding wisdom and prudence, judge that the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin can be proposed and defined as a dogma of faith? Do you, with your clergy and people, desire it?” In this letter the Pope seeks the guidance of the entire Catholic community before he eventually declares the Assumption of the Blessed virgin a dogma of faith.
In the bull defining the Assumption as a dogma Pope Pius XII stated that “the Holy Spirit has placed as bishops to rule the Church of God and the bishops gave an almost unanimous affirmative response to both these questions.” He continued to say that “this outstanding agreement of the Catholic prelates and the faithful, affirms that the bodily Assumption of God’s Mother into heaven can be defined as a dogma of faith.”
What then is the Assumption of the Virgin Mary? This dogma testifies that “when the Virgin Mother of God passed from this earthly exile to heaven, what happened to her sacred body was, by the decree of divine Providence, in keeping with the dignity of the Mother of the Word Incarnate.” Hence at every celebration of this august feast the Church recalls the fact that on the “day on which the holy Mother of God suffered temporal death, she could not be kept down by the bonds of death.”
According to Pope Pius XII said that “it was fitting that Mary, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death.” He further says that “it was fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles.” It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross and who had thereby received into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had escaped in the act of giving birth to him, should look upon him as he sits with the Father. This is what the Assumption means for us who are believers after Mary the model believer. St. Anthony of Padua, asserts that “just as Jesus Christ has risen from the death over which he triumphed and has ascended to the right hand of the Father, so likewise the ark of his sanctification “has risen up” since on this day the Virgin Mother has been taken up to her heavenly dwelling.” It was after this understanding of the reality of the Assumption and the unanimous response of the bishops of the Church and all the faithful that Pope Pius XII on the 1st November 1950 pronounce the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary as dogma to be believed by all Catholics. He did so in the following words:
“after we have poured forth prayers of supplication again and again to God, and have invoked the light of the Spirit of Truth, for the glory of Almighty God who has lavished his special affection upon the Virgin Mary, for the honour of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages and the Victor over sin and death, for the increase of the glory of that same august Mother, and for the joy and exultation of the entire Church; 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 ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”
Since that day the Assumption has been celebrated with great solemnity in many Churches in the world, many Churches have been named after it and yes devotions have been offered in honour of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin into heaven. Let us pray also as a Diocese that our celebration of this august feast may lead us to ever growing belief modelled in the life of the Virgin assumed into heaven. May our trust in the FIDELITY of God be strengthened through our commemoration of this feast of the Church.
Mary the model believer, Mary the Blessed…..Pray for Us.