August 15th is the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This feast arose in the faith of the people who for many, many years that believed that Mary was taken up to heaven body and soul. The people of the Eastern Rite Churches call this feast Mary’s “dormition” or falling asleep. Others call this feast “harvesting” into heaven. Produce of the fields, gardens, and orchard in some cultures is customarily blessed on this day.
As early as the 5th century in the East and in Rome this feast was celebrated. Pope Pius XII made it an official dogma of the Church in 1950 to remind us that all creation is good, following years of war, Holocaust, and nuclear destruction. The dogma of the Assumption became a dogma at a time when the forces of technology, industrialization, and capitalism began to take precedence over the dignity and sanctity of the human person and the environment.
The Assumption of Mary provides a balancing point between the Annunciation on May 25th and the birth of Jesus on December 25th. Here Mary is honored both as Theotokos (God Bearer) and the first and best example of the glory of the resurrection for human beings. Mary dies, but she is taken into heaven that we might know all that awaits us after this life.
On Assumption Day we rejoice that this broken world will be made new again.