CASTEL GANDOLFO, ITALY (Zenit) — Here is a translation of the address Pope Benedict XVI gave on Wednesday, Aug. 16, Feast of the Assumption of Mary, before praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered at Castel Gandolfo.
“In the heart of the month of August the Church in the East and the West celebrates the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary Most Holy into heaven. In the Catholic Church, the dogma of the Assumption – as we know – was proclaimed during the Holy Year of 1950 by Venerable Pius XII. The celebration of this mystery of Mary, however, has roots in the faith and worship of the Church’s first centuries, in that deep devotion to the Mother of God that progressively developed in the Christian community.
“Already at the end of the fourth century and the beginning of the fifth, we have the witness of various authors who affirm that Mary is in God’s glory with her entire being, soul and body, but it is in the fourth century that in Jerusalem the Feast of the Mother of God, the Theotokos, consolidated with the Council of Ephesus in 431, was transformed into the feast of the dormition, the passage, the transit, the assumption of Mary. It became the celebration of the moment in which Mary left the scene of this world, glorified in soul and body in heaven, in God.
“To understand the Assumption we must look to Easter, the great mystery of our salvation, which marks the passage of Jesus to the glory of the Father through the passion, death, and resurrection. Mary, who gave birth to the Son of God in the flesh, is the creature who is most deeply inserted in this mystery, redeemed from the first moment of her life, and associated in a special way with the passion and glory of her Son. Thus, Mary’s Assumption into heaven is the mystery of the Passover (Pasqua) of Christ fully realized in her. She is intimately united to her risen Son, victor over sin and death, fully conformed to Him. But the Assumption is a reality that touches us too because it points to our destiny in a luminous way, the destiny of humanity in history. In Mary, in fact, is that reality of glory to which each of us and the whole Church is called.
“The passage of the Gospel of St. Luke that we read in the liturgy of this solemnity shows us the journey that the Virgin of Nazareth took to be in the glory of God. It is the account of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth (cf. Luke 1:39-56), in which Our Lady is proclaimed blessed among all women and blessed because she believed in the fulfillment of the words of the Lord that were spoken to her. And in the song of the Magnificat, which elevates her to God in joy, the depth of her faith shines through. She places herself among the ‘poor’ and the ‘lowly,’ who do not trust in their own strength, but give themselves over to God, who make room for His action, which is capable of doing great things precisely in weakness. If the Assumption opens us up to the bright future that awaits us, it also powerfully invites us to entrust ourselves to God, to follow His Word, to seek and do His will every day: this is the path that makes us “blessed” on our earthly pilgrimage and opens the gates of heaven to us.
“Dear brothers and sisters, the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council states: ‘Mary, assumed into heaven ... by her constant intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and worries, until they are led into the happiness of their true home’ (Lumen gentium, 62). Let us invoke the Holy Virgin, may she be the star that guides our steps in meeting her Son on our journey to reach the glory of heaven, the eternal joy.”