Today we celebrate the feast of the Assumption of Mary, the patroness of the parishes in Herndon and Clifton
What does Catholicism teach about the assumption of Mary? And why is this event contemplated in the fourth glorious mystery? Let us begin by considering a few key points from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (see 966).
First, in discussing the assumption, the Catechism affirms that Mary did not suffer from original sin but was conceived full of grace. According to this doctrine, known as the Immaculate Conception, God’s supernatural life dwelt in Mary from the very beginning of her existence.
It is important to emphasize that from a Catholic perspective, the Immaculate Conception is not simply about Mary. This doctrine, which has its roots in early Christianity, ultimately is about the mystery of Jesus Christ. God became man in Mary’s womb. Since Jesus truly is the all-holy God, the Second Person of the Trinity, Catholics believe he is worthy to dwell in a pure vessel, a holy temple. Thus, it is fitting that God would prepare Mary as an immaculate dwelling place, full of grace and not stained by sin, for the God-man.
The annunciation scene in Luke’s Gospel may at least point in this direction. The angel Gabriel greets Mary, “Hail, full of grace.” The Greek word in Luke’s Gospel for “full of grace” (Luke 1:28) is in a perfect passive participle form, which would indicate that Mary already has been filled with God’s saving grace, even before Jesus was conceived in her womb.6 As we will see, the Immaculate Conception will serve as a basis for understanding Mary’s assumption.
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