A curious commemoration appears in our Prayer Book's calendar for August 15 called The Falling Asleep of the Blessed Virgin Mary (see BCP p. xi). The origins of this strange sounding feast day are quite ancient, going back at least 1500 years. It was then known as the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which was the belief that Mary, like Enoch (Genesis 5.24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2.11) in the Old Testament, and Jesus in the New Testament (Acts 1.9), was “assumed” up into heaven, both in body and soul. There is no mention of Mary’s assumption in the Bible whatsoever, but the idea does appear in some later Christian texts. Because of its lack of a scriptural basis, the Protestant Reformers largely abandoned this feast and the same was true of the compilers of the Book of Common Prayer. However, our 1962 Canadian edition reinstated the feast, but changed its name. As such, the belief about what happened to Mary (whether she simply died like an ordinary person or was assumed up into heaven) is arguably left open-ended.
But of course Mary isn’t any ordinary person. She is the mother of our Lord. And as such, Mary has lent her very flesh to the Son of God. Her DNA was passed on to Jesus, and this same DNA was, in the Ascension of Jesus, assumed up into heaven.
While this feast tends to get overlooked because it falls in the depths of the summer travel season, spare a thought and prayer for Mary next Thursday, August 15. She is what we might call the first Christian, and we each follow in her footsteps throughout this life and into the next.
And join us this Sunday, August 11, for Holy Communion at 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. I will be celebrating and preaching and I look forward to reconnecting with you.
Blessings to you and your family for the remainder of these summer weeks.