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By Dr. Jeff Mirus, Catholic Culture, Aug 16, 2019
Yesterday was the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so it seemed fitting to spend part of the day adding to the reflections on the Mother of God which make up our Sing of Mary series. Since the Catholic dogma of the Assumption of Mary body and soul into heaven was not formally defined until 1950, it is good to recall that this definition was simply a Magisterial confirmation of what Catholics had understood to be an essential component of the Christian faith from the beginning.
There are innumerable ways to demonstrate the unique status of Mary, which is rooted in her Immaculate Conception, the special role she was given as the Mother of God, Our Lord’s gift of His mother to His disciples through St. John while he hung on the cross, and of course the corresponding certainty that she was “full of grace”. With no trace of sin, she could not be subject to the wages of sin, that is, the corruption of death (Rom 6:23). For this reason, the earliest non-Scriptural Christian writings (the apocrypha), while they tell varying stories about the end of Mary’s life, all agree on her special bodily elevation into heaven.
One common tradition is that Mary’s tomb was found, like Christ’s, to be empty after a “dormition” (a falling asleep) of three days. A feast of this “Dormition” was celebrated in both East and West by the Patristic age at least. In the West, the name gradually changed to “Passing” and finally to “Assumption”. By the eighth century, the doctrine of the Assumption was taught everywhere in the East, and the greatest doctors of the Church affirmed it as a certain part of the Christian Faith over the next few centuries. In The West, for example, as early as 693, St. Gregory of Tours was able to state with certainty that Mary had been taken up and borne on a cloud into Paradise. ….