This Sunday is the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The feast celebrates the doctrine that Mary was taken both body and soul into heaven, at her death. Her body was preserved from the decay of death, because it had been the Ark of the New Covenant, bearing the Son of God, as the original Ark bore the tablets of the Ten Commandments, some of the manna, and the staff of Aaron.
This privilege granted to the Blessed Mother reveals to us that we, too, will experience a resurrection of both the body and the soul. We will not spend eternity as angels, disembodied spirits, but as full human beings, with both body and soul.
As always, the doctrines concerning Mary and her special privileges are really about her son, Jesus, and her other children, the members of the Church. Ever a good mother, she is never pointing to herself, but to her children.
One question that is sometimes raised is, did Mary die before her Assumption? Some have argued that since “death is the wage of sin” and Mary remained sinless throughout her life, she could not have died. The writings of the early Church Fathers and the doctrinal statements of the Church point toward the idea that she did die, and the Assumption took place later. This seems to be the majority opinion of those writing on the matter. But, it has never been officially defined by the Church that Mary did or did not die.
We have two windows that deal with the death of Mary and her Assumption. The southern-most side window on the right shows Mary on her death bed, surrounded by the Apostles. The large window on the right shows Mary rising up into heaven. Below her are the Apostles looking at her empty tomb. The art work in our church certainly portrays Mary as having died, and then having been assumed body and soul into heaven.
–Fr. Mike Comer