Explaining the Assumption of Mary
On August 15, Roman Catholics around the world commemorate the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a Holy Day of Obligation. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that Mary was assumed into heaven body and soul at the end of her earthly life, which was proclaimed as dogma in 1950 by Pope Pius XII.
In the Roman Catholic belief, every infant is born bearing the stain of the Original Sin of Adam and Eve, which can only be removed through the sacrament of Baptism. However, Mary’s soul was ‘immaculate’ from the moment of her own conception. From the first instant of her existence, she was in the state of sanctifying grace. Catholics celebrate this feast day on December 8 and it is known as The Immaculate Conception. By God’s grace, Mary’s soul was pure because she was destined to bear the son of God.
Catholicism teaches that upon death, our soul separates from our body and enters heaven (hopefully). And when Judgment Day arrives, our bodies will be reunited with our souls.
However, we know that Jesus was resurrected after his death and later, “He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.” This is known as the Ascension of Christ and is a Holy Day celebrated 40 days after Easter Sunday. And at the end of Mary’s earthly life, Roman Catholic doctrine teaches us that Mary was assumed, body and soul, into heaven. This feast day is known as the Solemnity of the Assumption or the Assumption of Mary and is always celebrated on August 15.
Therefore, Roman Catholics believe that the bodies of both Jesus and Mary are now in heaven. There is, however, a difference: Jesus arose from the tomb and ascended into heaven by his own power, whereas Mary’s body was taken up to heaven by the power of her Son. For that reason we use two different words: the Ascension of Christ and the Assumption of Mary.