The Feast of the Assumption of Mary
In the teachings of our church, there are only two people who were assumed into heaven. One is Jesus Christ at the end of his time with us on earth. The other is his mother, Mary. This Tuesday, we celebrate the feast of her assumption. It is the oldest feast day we have to honor and celebrate her. Originally called “The Memory of Mary,” by the 4th century the name had been changed to “The Assumption of Mary” because there was more to her passing from this life than an ordinary death.
As the story goes, the apostles were present with her at the time of her passing and laid her in a tomb as was customary. But after checking her grave at one of their requests, they found her tomb, too, was empty. When Emperor Marcian of Constantinople requested that the body of Mary be brought to be enshrined in the capitol, the Patriarch of Jerusalem explained there was no body or relics of her for she had been raised up by God. Of the many relics of saints and apostles that have been preserved through the centuries, there remains no bodily relic of Mary of Nazareth.
I have always felt a deep connection to this particular feast day. On this day in 1990, my mother went into the hospital to deliver me. I was born the following day, August 16th in the late afternoon. Needless to say, it was not an easy delivery. But in the process, I was given my first name. While I am Erin and have always been called that, my mother chose my first name to be Mary in honor of the Blessed Mother.
It’s a tall order to live up to when you’re named after the Mother of God. And the older I have gotten, the more I doubt whether I do a good enough job with my faith and relationship with God to live up to that standard. But if Mary teaches us anything, it’s that you can be ordinary to become extraordinary.
Birth is one of the most ordinary parts of our lives. It is something so human and yet so divine. Our existence as women is so human and yet so divine. It’s easy to put Mary up on a pedestal. I mean, we teach that she was literally so holy she was assumed into heaven by God Himself. But she was a woman and human just like all of us. So when the world wants to tell us that we are not holy enough or we are second best, remember Mary. She was never less than. And in even the small glimpses of her story that have been told by others, we can see how she shines. In her womanhood, she shines. She is a mother, but she is also an apostle, advocate, ally, believer, fighter, and chosen. She is a multitude. And that is what she would want each of us to remember about ourselves. Let yourself be multitudes. And cherish each part. Because each ordinary part is extraordinarily divine.
– Erin Perkins