On the 15th of August every year the Church remembers, honours and gives glory to God for the historic assumption of the new Eve and Spouse of the Holy Spirit-Mary Immaculate, Our Holy Mother and Mother of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
If Jesus, Our God, should assume Enoch and Elijah into heaven (Gen. 5:24, 2Kings 2:11), if He should promise assumption to all who will be found to be righteous at the end of time (1Thessa 4:17), then it is to be expected that He should honor and reward His sinless Mother with the same favor.
Assumption into heaven is the transportation of a person’s body and soul into heaven, to assume that eternal form which every human being will be transformed into at the end of ages. The Bible teaches that at the end of time, just before the final judgment begins all human beings (from Adam) who died under any circumstance whatsoever will be recalled from wherever they have been staying in soul and spirit – (Heaven, hell or Purgatory), and be reunited with their resurrected bodies to assume immortal forms which shall then live forever in either heaven or hell as determined by God’s just judgment.
Those who will still be living at that time will in a twinkle of an eye be similarly transformed into these immortal forms, the same form that Jesus assumed after His resurrection from the dead. (1 Cor. 15:51-53).
After the ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ into heaven, one of the things our Blessed Mother prayed to Her son for, was that all the apostles should be around to bury Her when the time would come for Her to depart this world.
While still living with St. John at Ephesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary became ill at the age of sixty-two. Meanwhile, the apostles were all engaged in their apostolic work in various parts of the world. In answer to Her prayer, the Holy Spirit infused into the minds of all of them a great urge to come home and see Mary who was regarded and treated as their Mother, with Ephesus being taken as their family home to which they returned once in a while from their various stations.
They all made it a point of duty to come back home to visit Mama and report to Her about the progress of their work, as she loved nothing more than to hear that Christianity was spreading all over the world.
And so, while Mary lay ill in Her bed, the apostles started arriving one after the other to the surprise of every one of them. Each wondered whether the other received any message about Mother’s ill-health before coming home. They all talked about a burning desire to come home which suddenly came upon them.
Before she finally breathed Her last, the apostles were standing round Her bed in prayer. St. Peter anointed Her with holy oil and gave Her the last Sacrament and Holy Communion.
The only apostle who was not present at that time was St. Thomas. He later came home from India the following day, accompanied by his Indian servant. He too reported of the same urge to come home but was prevented from returning earlier by an appointment he had with an Indian Chief who had accepted Christianity and pleaded with him to come and baptize his entire family. He had to wait for the day fixed for the baptism before departing India for home after performing that duty.
The apostles carried the body of the Blessed Mother and laid Her in a tomb after wrapping a cloth around her in accordance with the Jewish tradition of preparing a body for burial. They said a short prayer over the tomb, closed it, and walked back home full of tears.
When Thomas arrived and heard that our Lady had died and had been buried, he wept bitterly and requested to be taken to where she was buried so that he could see Her and pay his last respects. St. Peter then requested St. John with a few other apostles (who would help in removing the cover stone) to take St. Thomas to the tomb.
Upon arrival, John and his colleagues rolled away from the stone for Thomas to see. To their great surprise, the body of the holy virgin was no longer there. All they saw was the very cloth with which she was wrapped. This piece of cloth mysteriously remained wrapped around our Lady’s garment in the same form and pattern it was wrapped, showing no evidence of having been tampered with, yet Her body had been removed. It was as if the entire body evaporated like gas leaving the clothing materials over that body still intact. Since it was obvious that no human being can accomplish such a miracle of removing only the body without disturbing the cloth wrapped over that body, the apostles knew that the Lord must have sent His angels to come and bring His beloved mother’s body up to Him in heaven, since it was not necessary for her to wait with the rest of mankind for the Resurrection Day before accomplishing this reunion of body and soul.
The apostles then hurried back to Peter to report what they saw at the tomb. While they were discussing this, they recalled that the previous day after they had laid our Mother in Her tomb and were walking back home, they noticed a ray of light shining from above over the place where she was buried. Knowing how close Mary had always been with heaven and the angels, they concluded that the angels must have come to visit Her in the tomb to honor Her body. They did not realize that the angels came with instructions to remove the body and bring it to heaven until this experience of showing Thomas the tomb revealed it to them.
Although this Assumption of the body of the Blessed Virgin into heaven soon after Her soul was assumed at death was well known by the apostles and the early Christians who were close to them, yet the Church’s doctrine on Assumption was not based on this event. The Church based her teaching on revelation from heaven by the Holy Spirit who reveals all secret things about our faith to the Church just as Jesus had assured that the Spirit would (John 16;13). The above story in addition to Mary’s own declaration that she was the Lady of Assumption, (which name she called herself during one of Her apparitions), only goes to confirm what the Holy Spirit had revealed to the Church which Pope Pius XII formally announced in 1950.
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