Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.
The Assumption has rightly been called "Mary's Easter." It's the great icon of the glory and joy awaiting every person saved by Jesus Christ. The Mystery of the Assumption reminds us that Christ's resurrection was not an end in itself. Jesus wasn't raised just to prove God could raise the dead. He was raised so that we would be raised with him and live, not as disembodied spooks, but as fully human beings in the glory of God forever. What Mary enjoys now, we shall enjoy when our time comes. She completes the picture of redemption for us; she is the foremost link between the God who gives living grace and the creature who receives it. In her, we see what that grace looks like in a mere creature. In her, we see what we mere creatures shall one day share.
In meditating on the Assumption, as distinct from simply acknowledging the doctrine, what strikes me is the sheer happiness of the thing. Here is the complete overcoming of death. A triumph over death that is not simply given in earnest, but is carried all the way through to the completion of the deed. In Jesus' resurrection, Mary receives the promise of her own triumph over death. But of course that triumph is only fully experienced by Mary when she herself triumphs over death in the Assumption. In the same way, we also live in the now and the not yet. Jesus has been raised. Mary has shared in that triumph over death so that we can see how the gift plays out in the life of the disciple. But we too have yet to wait for our own personal defeat of death. The temptation is to be afraid of this. But the lesson of Mary's life is that, once it is all over, we will look back with pure joy and laugh at death at a shadow that shall never trouble us again.