Many well intending Christians will argue that the Catholic Church goes too far in honoring the Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The Rosary, the Marian Dogmas, and the Brown Scapular all seem to take something away from Jesus and His act of Redemption. In an attempt to protect themselves from falling into a Marian pitfall they reject it all. After reflection however we find that it is the exact opposite that happens—every privilege that you take away from Mary actually diminishes Christ and ourselves. This principle has been articulated with respect to the Immaculate Conception already, but in this regard, the Assumption is no different.
It is instructive first of all to speak of Marian dogmas in general. Everything that we believe is based on the fact that she was chosen from all eternity to be the Mother of God. When God calls, He equips. In His Providence He had the redeeming mission of the Son depend upon her in a wholly unique way. One could say that it would not have been accomplished without her in the same way that we would say that once a man decides to go to England it is necessary for him to take a boat or a plane. She may not be absolutely necessary but God’s plan makes her relatively necessary.
We should then understand her to be the most necessary of all those who cooperated with Him. When we say that among all Christians she is the most vital and therefore the most equipped, any detraction of her is really a subtraction of the Goodness, Power and Wisdom of God. It was the “Almighty who did great things” for her precisely so that she might cooperate most fully with Him. Therefore anything we say about Mary’s Assumption is first and foremost flows as a consequent of her mission of Divine Motherhood. We can then offer reasons why it is fitting that the Church has always believed that Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven.
First, we can appeal to the greatness of Christ’s act of redemption. With the Immaculate Conception Christ’s redeeming act is greater when He preemptively redeems at least one member than if He redeemed everyone after their fall. Likewise we can say that His act of redemption is more glorious if at least one member shares in the fullness of His Resurrection now. If Mary’s soul only is taken to heaven awaiting the general resurrection for its body then we have imagined at least one scenario where Christ’s act is greater. The Assumption proves that His power over death is not limited in any way. He could have reunited body and soul at death immediately for us all (because He did so in one case) but chose not to according to His Wisdom. Again to take away the Assumption takes away from God the surety on our part that He trampled over death by His death.
There is also a just reason for belief in the Assumption (about Mary’s death you can read more here). The “wages of sin is death” really means two things. First, as a result of the first sin, man was rendered back to his natural state in which death was possible. God preserved Adam and Eve from death as a preternatural gift only. When Adam sinned this gift was forfeit for all mankind. Technically speaking though the curse of the covenant is not death per se but corruption— “you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gn 3:19). This means that one of the punishments for sin is bodily corruption.
Whether Mary was free from death or not is not theologically certain, what is certain however is that she would be free from the corruption of the grave because she was without sin. Because she had total enmity with the devil (Gn 3:15) she was immune to his two weapons—sin and death. He could have no power over her. God, ever faithful to His promises would have to assume Our Lady, body and soul to heaven. To deny the Assumption, is to deny that God is faithful (1Cor 1:9).
It is also her role as “the Woman” that merits consideration of the Assumption. As the new Eve and Mother of all those alive in Christ, she must precede her sons and daughters on the new Earth. To deny the Assumption is to deny her true motherhood and disobey Our Lord’s last will and testament for His disciples to “behold your Mother” (Jn 19:27).
In the introduction it was mentioned that when we subtract from Mary we end up with a reduced understanding of ourselves. In this we can see God’s Providence in the Church operative once again. Since the formal declaration of the dogma of the Assumption a cult of the body has arisen that has no historical precedent, not even in the most pagan of cultures. While we spend untold amount of time and money to remove every spot and blemish, Mary’s Assumption reminds us that it is only in glory that we will be without spot and blemish (Eph 5:27). It is the radiance of holiness that will make our bodies shine. To deny the Assumption is to attack Our Lady who is “Our Hope.” The Assumption is the seed of supernatural hope because we know that Christ really is the first fruit and not the only fruit.
It is also the false cult of the female body that the Assumption attacks. We are literally bombarded with images of the perfect (mostly photo-shopped) female body trapping “ordinary” women in an imaginary world and men in the cult of pornography. The Assumption is a reminder to us all of the dignity of women. As John Paul II put it: “In the face of the profanation and debasement to which modern society frequently subjects the female body, the mystery of the Assumption proclaims the supernatural destiny and dignity of every human body, called by the Lord to become an instrument of holiness and to share in his glory” (GA, July 9,1997).