2021-08-15 – Queen of Heaven

The Dormition (Falling Asleep) & Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Eleventh Sunday after Trinity

August 15, 2021

Verse 8 of Ecclesiasticus 24:7-15

“Queen of Heaven”

“So the Creator of all things gave me a Commandment: and he that Made me Caused by Taber-nacle to Rest and said: Let thy Dwelling be in Jacob, and thine Inheritance in Israel.” (Eccles. 24:8).

Our Lord Jesus gave to his beloved Mother, honor like unto no other person in human history.  It was miraculous, heavenly, glorious!  In that he suffered her Body not to experience deathly corruption!   He brought her, soul and body into the Kingdom of Heaven, into the Eternal Presence of the Most Holy and Ever Blessed Trinity, into the company of all the Angels and Saints, there to Reign with him forever in Eternal Glory as Queen of Heaven, Queen of Angels, Queen of Saints!

With her Dormition (the ‘Falling Asleep’ – death) and her Assumption, the Blessed Virgin Mary participated in her Son’s Mighty Resurrection, in anticipation of the General Resurrection of all the Faithful and Obedient followers of Jesus Christ in the age to come.

Festivals commemorating the Death of the Blessed Virgin were common from the Fifth century.    In the mid Sixth century (556 AD) Theodosius, Patriarch of Alexandria (Egypt) attests to two popular Feasts of our Lady as being commemorated in Egypt: Her Death (January 16th) and her Assumption (August 9th).   Theodosius understood Mary to have died before being Assumed, and thus the dates of the two Feasts indicated her Assumption to be 206 days after her Death!

St. John of Damascus (Eighth century) tells that it was believed all the Apostles witnessed her Death.   He also mentions the Tradition that during the great Council of Chalcedon (425 AD), Emperor Marcian and his Empress wished to locate the Body of Mary.  But when the Tomb reported to be hers (in Ephesus) was opened, it was found empty upon inspection!

The earliest references to the Bodily Assumption of Mary appear as early as the Fourth century in the ancient Middle East.   The Early Church Fathers believed that the Blessed Virgin was Assumed into Heaven: Some whilst she was yet Alive, others believed she was Assumed soon or later after Death.

Fifteen centuries ago, in 600 AD the Emperor Mauricius made a Decree that the Assumption of Mary was to be celebrated throughout the Empire, and the Date of celebration was set to be August 15th.   The date for the celebration which has endured until this very day.

That Mary died a fullyhuman death, and that her Body saw no corruption (no matter how long it may have Rested in the tomb) was a shared core belief of the Undivided Church and remained so even after the Great Schism of 1054 AD between the Eastern and Western Branches of Christianity.  

The Assumption is not Biblical in origin; but it is a Universal Belief within Sacred Tradition.   Though not Biblical in origin, nonetheless, the example of a holy and unique individual being taken bodily into heaven – as was the Prophet Elijah so taken – is solidly within Biblical Tradition, unless one wishes to dispute or dismiss what was a unique, indisputable occurrence, clearly Biblical in origin.

The belief in the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is befitting the honor due to the one chosen  to bear the Son of God into the world, she who was pronounced ‘Full of Grace’ by the Angel Gabriel, and who also told she had ‘Found favor with God.’  And her own lips foretold: ‘All Generations shall call me Blessed.’   She is indeed worthy of all the honor we offer to her today.

Which brings us now to a final consideration of what was found; or to be more precise, what was not found in the tomb where the Blessed Virgin had been placed following her Death.   The third chapter of Wisdom declares: ‘The Souls of the Righteous are in the Hand of God,’ And there shall no torment touch them: In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die; but they are at Peace!’   How much more, soul and body, Mary is in the Hands of her Beloved Son and God – And this because of the selfless role she willingly played in God’s Plan for our Salvation!

Exclaimed St. John of Damascus of the Blessed Virgin, her Dormition and Assumption: Indeed, Thou art Blessed from generation to generation.  The Prophets foretell thee.  The Angel announces thee.  The Spirit overshadows thee. The Holy Child fulfills thee.   Apostles minister to thee.   The Angels and Spirits of the Just, the Patriarchs and Prophets surround thee in thy Departure to thy Son.

The Choirs of Angels awaited to receive thy Departed Soul: The Powers welcome thee, Princi-palities praise thee, Thrones proclaim thee, Cherubim exclaim thee, the Seraphim magnify thee – the True Mother by Nature and by the Grace of the Lord.   Thy Blessed Soul is naturally parted from the blissful and undefiled Body; and the Body is delivered to the rave; yet it does not remain in Death, nor is it prey to Corruption.  

Finally, he concludes: Those who gainsay the miracle, consider this: Must she be subject to the Law of Nature, who in conceiving Christ hath already surpassed the boundaries of Nature?   The Virgin Mother, now as Queen, the Angels with Archangels bear thee up!

God the Father commanded us to honor our Fathers and Mothers.  Also, honor shown to Servants is honor shown to the Lord.   Jesus himself taught his disciples, “In as much as you did it to one of these, you did it to Me!”

Therefore today we honor the greatest of the Servants of God, the supremely obedient Handmaid of the Lord.   She who bore in her own Body, in her Blessed Womb, the Anointed one of our Salvation, the Cause of our everlasting Joy!

Yet it is not Mary in her heavenly state that has need of our praise; as much as we, in our sinful state, have need of her Prayers!   Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for Us Sinners – Now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.