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The Assumption of Mary confirms that death is when our story truly begins

No Artist Listed: Dormition of the Virgin Mary at Troya / Wikimedia Commons

The Dormition and the Assumption of Mary are two parts of a special event in the history of salvation. The first part, dormition, refers to his death (as the word, dormition, employs the euphemism that Paul used to represent death, i.e. sleep, cf. 1. Thes. 4: 13-15). Her death led directly to the second part of the event, that is, to her entry into eternity, made in a particular way, since she was fully assumed in heaven, body and soul, so that may participate in the glory of the resurrection in anticipation of the rest of us. “She was earth by her mortality and she entered the earth by her death.” [1] She died, not because she was a sinner, but because she was human, the one who lived in the world and possessed, through her humanity, a temporal life. She died and was buried, but, like her son, it is said that her body did not remain in the grave, so Christians realized that her body had been taken up to heaven. And yet, though she was glorified, she remained bound to the rest of creation, for her body, though spiritualized through the glorification she received in her assumption, was still bound to the creation of which it was sprung, for he remained was part of that creation, which meant that she still possessed within herself a connection to the world from which she came. His hypothesis did not make him abandon the world, but rather gave him a new way to engage with it:

There is no one closer to man, more akin to human beings than the Mother of God in heaven. She covers the world [with her mantle], intercede for this. She is with all creation, over all nature, She is over waters and dry lands, fields and forests, over humans and creation. She embraces all things within herself, unites all things – She is a merciful heart to all. After praying to the Lord and while praying to the Lord, also pray to His Mother, the Bearer of the Holy Spirit. Believe that the Mother of God will have mercy and will send you the gift of the Holy Spirit, and you will see the Son of God living in you.[2]

We will all die. It is part of the human condition, a condition that Mary, the Theotokos, shared with us. But it is important to remember that Christ confirmed to us that death is not the end. This is illustrated by Mary. His assumption, his glorification into heaven, shows us that the resurrection was not just something that belonged to Christ alone. Likewise, as death is not the end, our connection with the rest of creation does not end with our death. Indeed, let us remember, eternity transcends time in a way that it also contains time within itself, so that what happens in eternity, eternal life, can and must have an effect about what happens over time. The assumption of Mary, which made her pass from temporal existence to eternal existence, therefore allows her to continue to have an influence on what happens in time, while continuing to experience the history of the world, and all that happens in it, in its new, eternal perspective; she feels sorrow for the pain and suffering in the world even as she rejoices for all the good, all the grace, shared through creation.

The assumption of Mary, of course, is linked to the incarnation; for it is in her and through her, in and through her flesh, that the Word became flesh. It is that the Word assumed human nature through her, taking from her, from her flesh and her blood, transforming what he took so that it became his own. In this way, the assumption of Mary, after her death, can be seen as the final act, and even as the consequence of the way the Word became incarnate through her. “The assumption of our nature was also to be its liberation. And that no one should by chance assume that the creator of sex despised sex, he became a man born of a woman.[3] As the assumption of our flesh was made by Mary, so the assumption of her flesh was first for her own liberation, then in her and through her, she served for the liberation of all humanity. , indeed of all creation. The assumption or glorification of Mary after her death attests to this, showing us that indeed, although Jesus is the firstborn of the dead, the first to experience the full transformation of the resurrection, he is not the only . However, we must not confuse the resurrection with a simple resuscitation; on the contrary, it brings Jesus back not only from the dead, but into a new existence, an existence where the restriction of material creation no longer applies, for his body has become spiritualized. So when we are resurrected, we will see how Jesus has freed us, for we will also find ourselves free from the constraints of pure materiality.

Mary died, not because of a sin she committed, but because of her humanity; she was a temporal being. For her to be admitted to heaven, she would have to see the end of her temporal life. We are told that she willingly embraced this death, recognizing that if her son, Jesus, could face death, then so could she. She had already experienced the pains and sorrows of death, as she had experienced them through the death of Jesus; and though she was glorified in her death, she still felt the pains and sorrows of death by the way she was connected to the rest of humanity, and with it, human history:

She is in heaven, the glorified queen of heaven, but she is also a creature, undivided by the world: she lives her life and is wounded by it and cries by it and will heal the world in the fullness of time. [4]

Mary really died, but that wasn’t the end of the story. We too will die, but that will not be the end of our story either. The resurrection of Jesus has set us free, ensuring that death is truly not the end; rather, it will be the moment when our story really begins.

[1] Richard de Saint-Victor, “On Emmanuel”, in Interpretation of Scripture: Practical. Trans. Frans van Liere. Ed. Frans van Leiere and Franklin T. Harkins (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2015), 431. [About the Theotokos].

[2] Sergius Bulgakov. Spiritual biography. Trans. Mark Roosien and Roberto J. De La Noval (Brooklyn, NY: Angelico Press, 2022), 68-9. [16/29. VIII.1924].

[3] Saint Augustine, “On the True Religion”, in Augustine: Earlier writings. trans. John HS Burleigh (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1953), 239.

[4] Sergius Bulgakov. spiritual biography, 72 [6/19.IX.1924].

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