I was intrigued by the article on “Mary, Mortal or Immortal” by Father Paul Duggan that appeared in the August issue of The Priest magazine.
I do not claim to have an answer to the long tradition of Mary’s death vel non. The death of the sacred Virgin Mary has never been defined by the Church. Even in the apostolic constitution Munificentissimus Deus by Pius XII in 1950, it did not say that the sacred Virgin died or did not die. Only that after her temporal life on earth God raised her to heaven body and soul. But I suggest an analogy.
We know that Christ, the Incarnate Word, was true God and true man. We know that he died and rose from the dead, his death destroying man’s last enemy which is death. Yet there remains a theological problem. Christ died in His humanity on the cross but could not die in His divinity. I suggest simply that, at the very moment of Christ’s death, God raised Him up in the Resurrection.
The three days in the tomb is a form of catechesis in human time for men but it is not in God’s time. God’s time is not our time, and the mystery of the Resurrection is one with His bodily resurrection instantaneous with His death. Christ was raised immediately at death so there was no separation of His body, soul and divinity. So too Mary. At the moment of her death in God’s time, she was immediately assumed into heaven body and soul in God’s time.
There was a death of Mary — like the death of the humanity of Christ — but there was an instantaneous Resurrection; so too in Mary’s death. There was at her death an instantaneous assumption of her body and her soul into heaven — as in God’s time, not ours. No corruption was even possible. The analogy fits well in the imitation of God’s only begotten Son with His mother following the same path as the Incarnate Word.
Perhaps I am wrong, but theologically speaking, our time is not God’s time, which still remains a mystery to us.
The Assumption is a mystery as Christ’s resurrection is a mystery of His victory over man’s last enemy — death. Mary is the first of our race to directly imitate the mystery of Christ’s Resurrection in her Assumption. This will be our heavenly fate as well. Mary died like Christ but, like Christ’s immediate resurrection of body, soul and divinity, so too was Mary’s heavenly assumption in body and soul — exactly like that of her Son.
She imitated His death and rose in her glorious Assumption by the power of God. She is the first of our cosmic redemption, and we are sure to follow by the glorious will of God into the heavenly kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. As Mary imitated Christ in her death and Assumption by the grace of God, so we will follow like her glorious Assumption with Christ. She is the first fruit of the Resurrection of Christ. Thus the analogy of Christ/Resurrection, Mary/Assumption.
MR. RIGA is a retired attorney and writes from Houston, Texas.