Celebrating the Human Body
The Solemnity of the Assumption is the oldest and greatest feast of Mary. Orthodox Christians call August 15 the Dormition ("falling asleep") of Mary.
"She who sheltered the Divine Word in her breast was to be lodged in the dwelling place of her Son," says Saint John Damascene, describing his belief that after Mary's death, her body was raised to live with God forever.
That Mary's body not just her soul is in God's presence is a sign of the holiness of creation. The human body is not evil, it is good. Death is not the end of creation, it is the beginning of eternal life.
In our day, when violence can desecrate the human body, the sign of Mary's assumption gains new import.
The New Testament reading for this feast calls Jesus the first fruits of those who have died, to be followed by the harvest of all who hope in him.
As Mary, the model believer and sign of the church, is gathered in, we hope that we too will one day be part of this harvest.
We surround Mary's statue at church and at home with brilliant clusters of flowers, herbs and the first harvest of our gardens.
Text by Mary Ellen Hynes. Illustration by Steve Erspamer, SM.