In one of Benedict XVI's homilies (2010) we read these words referring to the Solemnity of the Assumption: "In this Solemnity we contemplate Mary: she opens us to hope, a future filled with joy, and she shows us the path to gain it: receive Her Son in faith; to never lose our friendship with Him, rather let ourselves be illuminated and guided by His Word; to follow Him each day, even in moments when we feel that our crosses are heavy to bear.”
It was Pope Pius XII who on November 1, 1950 solemnly defined a new dogma of faith: “We pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.” Some years later the Second Vatican Council reiterated: “The Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory.”
Although the dogma was defined in the twentieth century, the history of the Church tells us that the feast day was probably celebrated since the sixth century. There are no specific dates known about its origin but it is possible that it is related to the anniversary of the dedication of some church.
This solemnity elevates our gaze towards Heaven. We lift our gaze from what is earthly to what is eternal. We remember that Heaven exists and that it is our true homeland. The Virgin, Our Mother, awaits us there. Perhaps today, in a society that drags us down to what is below, towards what is earthly, towards the “here and now,” we are not used to thinking about Heaven and the last things: death, judgment, purgatory, heaven, and hell. Nevertheless, to do so is a very healthy practice which will certainly take us away from the nothings of this world and help us look at what awaits us in eternity, that which is truly important. How we have lived here on earth will define how and where our life will be hereafter.
By looking at the Virgin Mary we find a model who teaches us how we ought to live if we want to be with Her forever in Heaven. Her “yes,” in both the Annunciation and at the foot of the Cross, is an example that we have to follow. United to the entire Church we pray: “Almighty ever-living God, who assumed the Immaculate Virgin Mary, the Mother of your Son, body and soul into heavenly glory, grant we pray, that, always attentive to the things that are above, we may merit to be sharers of her glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever” (Collect Prayer – Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary).