August 15 is the solemnity of the Assumption of Mary.
Here are 5 things to know…
1) What is the Assumption of Mary?
The Assumption of Mary is the teaching 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” [Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus 44].
2) How did this come about?
Teaching of the Assumption of Mary was established by Emperor Maurice around AD 600 and became widespread across the Christian world. It was celebrated in the West under Pope Sergius I in the 8th century and Pope Leo IV then confirmed the feast as official. Theological debate about the Assumption continued, climaxing in 1950 when Pope Pius XII defined it as dogma for the Catholic Church.
3) What is meant by “ex cathedra”?
This teaching was infallibly defined by Pope Pius XII on November 1, 1950 in the bull Munificentissimus Deus. Since it is a dogma defined by the pope, it is also an “ex cathedra” statement (one delivered “from the chair” of Peter). Pope John Paul II explained: “The definition of the dogma definitively excludes every doubt and calls for the express assent of all Christians.”
4) Does the dogma require us to believe that Mary died?
It is the common teaching that Mary did die. The Bull Munificentissimus Deus limits itself to affirming the elevation of Mary’s body to heavenly glory, declaring this truth a “divinely revealed dogma.”
5) Why should Mary die if she was free from Original Sin and its stain?
Being free of Original Sin and its stain is not the same thing as being in a glorified, deathless condition. Jesus was also free of Original Sin and its stain, but even he could—and did—die. Expressing a common view among theologians, Ludwig Ott writes: For Mary, death, in consequence of her freedom from original sin and from personal sin, was not a consequence of punishment of sin. However, it seems fitting that Mary’s body, which was by nature mortal, should be, in conformity with that of her Divine Son, subject to the general law of death.