August 11, 2019
By the time you read this, I’ll be on retreat. Please be assured of my prayers for all of you during my days of retreat. As St. John Vianney noted, “Priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus.” Please keep me in your prayers that his words would be true in my priestly life and ministry.
Over the past month, I have hopefully offered a new, perhaps fuller, manner of viewing the mystery of Mary’s Dormition and Assumption. As we get ready to celebrate our parish feast day on Thursday, August 15, I would like to close out these reflections by asking the question, “If Mary did die, as the majority of saints and doctors of the Church have believed, what was unique about her death?”
Death is a punishment due to sin (Romans 5:12). Since Mary was preserved from sin, she was not subject to sin’s punishment, namely death. However, because she didn’t need to undergo death, it must have been fitting for her. We could say the same of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. He, clearly not subject to death, fittingly chose to accept death as an act of love for all of us.
So the Fathers of the Church describe her death not as a death due to sin, but a death due to love. Her passing was more her heart and soul longing to be united with her Son, Our Lord, and leaping from her body, than her body simply undergoing its natural corruptibility.
Though her death was not necessary, the Fathers declare it fitting for a number of reasons: It was fitting for her as the perfect disciple of Christ to similarly accept death freely. Desiring to share in all things Jesus Himself did, she would likewise desire to share in the reality of death. It was fitting for her as the mother of every Christian to forge that path that leads to life everlasting. What mother wouldn’t long to set an example for her children, that death should not be feared, but welcomed as the door to eternity? It was fitting for her as the model of the Church to be the example to us of our hoped for end, namely, being united body and soul in heavenly glory with Christ Our King. We can now look to her reality in heaven for what is promised for each of us who love God to the end.
So, as disciples of Christ and children of Mary, we can approach this mystery and the mystery of our own death and glorification in heaven with courage, trust, and hope because she first chose to tread the path to eternal life for us.
Challenge: In addition to Mass, which is obligatory on August 15, and also offers a specially granted plenary indulgence for this church, how will you express your thanksgiving to God for what He has done in the life of Our Lady?
Rev. Brian Wayne