Many times we refer to the Blessed Virgin simply as Saint Mary. Many times our pictures of Mary in heaven are similar to those of Michelangelo’s Last Judgement on the wall over the altar in the Sistine chapel. Mary, is there, next to her son, but there is also a crowd of other people around Jesus, the apostles and other martyrs. We might even throw in our favorite saint in that crowd, and perhaps, even some of our loved ones who died in the Grace of God. All of this is proper, but we do need to be sure that we don’t miss the main difference between Mary in heaven and everyone else, except for Jesus. All the other saints are there in their spirits or souls. Their bodies are still waiting for the Second Coming and Resurrection of the Dead. Mary, is different. Only Mary is present before Jesus in her body and soul. This is the feast we celebrate, the Assumption of Mary into heaven, body and soul.
This has always been the living tradition of the Church. Various epochs and societies in the Church valued the relics of the saints, pieces of their bodies that opened prayers for the intercession of the saints. But never has their been a relic of Mary, the Mother of God. Her body was never buried. She was assumed into heaven. Why? The corruption of the body was due to the sins of human beings. The division of body and soul resulted from mankind’s choosing material over spiritual, choosing themselves over God. Mary was conceived without sin. She remained whole, body and soul throughout her life and on to the time when she would be united to God in heaven.
What does this mean for us, her children? Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI put it this way: Mary is the one who is totally united to God. Since we have God within us through our baptism and our living our baptismal commitment, Mary, our mother and His mother, is close to us.
We have all experienced a mother’s love. When we were little, our mothers cared for us, fed us, cleaned us, and, most importantly, led us to God. We call upon Mary today as our mother. She is close to us, closer than any of the other saints. She continues to care for us. She intercedes for us with God. She provides the food we need. She leads us to her Son in the Eucharist.
With the exception of her son, Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity made man, the world has never experienced anyone greater than Mary. And she is our mother.