August 15, 2019
Masses as on Weekday.
Along with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8) the Assumption is a principal feast of the Blessed Virgin and a Holy Day of Obligation – one of the most important feasts of the Church year.
The Assumption means that God who planned the very first moment of Mary’s life with such extraordinary care also planned her very last moment just as carefully. At the first moment of her life, by a very special privilege of God, Mary was preserved free from the stain of sin. At the last moment, by another very special privilege she was preserved free from the corruption of the grave. At the end of her life Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven. (Whether or not she died first, is an open question.)
In the Immaculate Conception the emphasis is on the soul. In the Assumption the emphasis is on the body. Both are important. They were made for each other. At death, there is only a temporary separation. Body and soul will be reunited in the Resurrection. The Assumption means that the body that participated in the battle of life will also participate in the victory.
Today we are very aware of the importance and the vulnerability of the body. We diet and we exercise. We watch the level of cholesterol and blood pressure. We realize that the body is the vehicle of life. We live as long and as well as the body supports the soul. We know well that the body is the instrument of pleasure, pain and procreation.
But the body is also the instrument of knowledge, (…) communication and grace. We receive the sacraments, the channels of grace, through the body. The body is also the instrument of worship. True worship is in spirit and truth. But it is expressed through the body in words, gestures, genuflections etc. (…)
What a magnificent creation is the body! It has a resident physician and a built-in pharmacy, the immune system. It can heal itself! (…) The great mystery is not disease, but health. How all of these glands, cells and organs work together so perfectly without our even thinking about it. (…)
But by Original Sin we have lost the preternatural gift of integrity whereby the lower faculties were under complete control of the higher faculties. We do not have integrity. There is a law in our body warring against the law of our mind. We do not have perfect control. The imperfect control we do have comes only after much discipline. Discipline is what we need most and want least. Today we have an inordinate, superficial care of the body. We are the cleanest, most hygienic, best groomed, sweetest smelling sinners the world has ever known. (…)
The lesson of the Assumption is that the whole person, body and soul, participates in the battle of life and the whole person, body and soul, will participate in the victory. Let us ask Mary, Assumed into heaven, to obtain for us the grace to respect and discipline the body so that one day we may join her body and soul in heaven.
Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J.