August is the known as the Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Originally August held a special feast for the Virgin Mary in response to the turmoil of World War II and the devotion of Pope Pius XII to Our Lady of Fatima. Some believe that the dedication of the month of August to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is centered on the efforts of Catholics around the world to have her message at Fatima (to return to God and to pray the Rosary) heard in a more extended way.
Mary is the most famous woman in history. She has appeared on the cover of Time Magazine more than any other person. She is a remarkable woman, role model – the mother of Jesus. Mary points us to Jesus; we come to Christ through Mary. As the mother of Jesus, who is God, she is the Mother of God – Theotokos, or God-bearer. And no, we don’t worship Mary, we pray to Mary. We pray to Mary to intercede on our behalf.
On August 15 we celebrate the oldest feast of Our Lady – The Assumption. The feast has its origins in the years after Jerusalem was restored to a sacred city and the “Memory of Mary” was being celebrated. It is a rich history and brings us to the “Assumption of Mary”, since we celebrate more than just her dying. It was Pope Pius XII who proclaimed that “after the end of her earthly life, the Blessed Virgin Mary was assumed together with her body and soul into heavenly glory.” Mary was taken up to heaven, body and soul.
Though there is no recorded date of her death, Mary is said to have died in the presence of the apostles. Her earthly remains were never found in the tomb at the edge of Jerusalem. Many are of the opinion that Mary was raised again to life and then was transferred to her heavenly home – she ended her earthly life and entered eternity. Mary’s assumption into heaven provides each of us with the hope that we will also enter into eternal life upon our death.
Interestingly, despite centuries of celebrations and ancient beliefs surrounding the Assumption of Mary, it wasn’t until 1950 that Pope Pius XII, in the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus, defined the dogma of the Assumption of Mary: “The Immaculate Mother of God, the ever-virgin Mary, having complete the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heaven.” With this, the Assumption was declared a truth revealed by God.
Prayer to our Lady Assumed into Heaven
Immaculate Virgin, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, we believe in your triumphant assumption into heaven where the angels and saints acclaim you as Queen. We join them in praising you and bless the Lord who raised you above all creatures. With them we offer you our devotion and love. We are confident that you watch over our daily efforts and needs, and we take comfort from the faith in the coming resurrection. We look to you, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. After this earthly life, show us Jesus, the blest fruit of your womb, O kind, O loving, O sweet virgin Mary. Amen