In 1950, Pope Pius XII proclaimed the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in his apostolic constitution Munificentissimus Deus (God Ineffable or Indescribable). It was about time, for not only had canonized Saints written about it, the Christian faithful since the early Church had already been expressing that article of faith in their traditions, prayers, devotions, sacred images and liturgies.
In his proclamation, Pope Pius XII tied in the dogma of the Assumption with the three preceding Marian dogmas: the Immaculate Conception in 1854 (Pope Pius IX’s Ineffabilis Deus), the Perpetual Virginity of Mary in 649 (Pope Martin I in the Lateran Synod), and Mary the Mother of God in 431 (Council of Ephesus).
The dogma of the Assumption stated that by an entirely unique privilege, the Blessed Virgin Mary overcame sin by her Immaculate Conception, and therefore she was not subject to the law of remaining in the corruption of the grave, and that she did not have to wait until the end of time for the redemption of her body (MD#5). In addition, Mary’s Assumption was in keeping with her dignity as the Mother of God (MD#17), and according to St. John Damascene, just as Mary’s virginity had been kept intact in childbirth, her body should have been kept from all corruption even after death (MD#21).
St. Alfred the Great reaffirmed that the Blessed Virgin Mary’s blessedness would not have been complete unless she was in heaven, in both body and soul. Otherwise, she would not possess her complete beatitude as the Angel Gabriel had annunciated: “Mary, full of grace!” (MD#32).
Hence, the revered Mother of God, from all eternity joined in an exceptionally unique way with Jesus Christ, immaculate in her conception, a most perfect virgin in her divine motherhood, and the noble associate of the divine Redeemer who has won a complete triumph over sin and its consequences, finally obtained, as the supreme culmination of her privileges, that she should be preserved free from the corruption of the tomb and that, like her own Son, having overcome death, she might be taken up body and soul to the glory of heaven where she, as Queen, sits in splendor at the right hand of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages (MD#40).
Perhaps the most compelling proof of what we believe about Mary is her own testimony of faith. The Magnificat is a triumphant proclamation, neither for her own praise nor to glorify her achievements, but solely to reaffirm her own lowliness and her unfailing faith in God’s greatness and mercy towards the humble, the poor and the oppressed. Mary reminds us that it is to God to whom we should give our praise and thanks, and that it is God upon whom we should rely on and be faithful to.
God has scattered the proud in their conceit; He has cast down the mighty and lifted up the lowly. God has made Mary great because of her humility. No words on earth can describe the love and mercy of God upon those who humble themselves before Him. Such is the love and mercy of our ineffable God – Munificentissimus Deus.
As we meditate upon the glorious example of Mary, may we also humbly devote our lives to carry out the heavenly Father’s will and in bringing good to others. Even while materialism, self-indulgence and the corruption of morals in today’s world continue to threaten our quest to live in virtue, may we, through the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, see clearly our true and unadulterated destiny of someday sharing in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord.