The Assumption of Mary is So Beautiful, I’m Gonna Die!
They say that heaven is so wonderful that it’s impossible for us to completely imagine.
I’m smitten by the 2010 Illumination Entertainment film, “Despicable Me,” as well as its 2013 sequel, “Despicable Me 2.”
In the (Gasp! Horrifying!) chance, you’ve not seen either film, the basic premise is that mastermind criminal, Gru, adopts three orphaned little girls (sisters) as a front for one of his evil schemes. In the process, Gru’s heart softens toward the siblings, Margo, Edith, and Agnes.
There’s one scene in particular—aside from every single minion scene—that I love. Gru takes the girls to a carnival, where Agnes sets her huge, irresistible, brown eyes on a large, stuffed unicorn.
Clasping her hands, and staring up at the prize, Agnes, exclaims, “He’s so fluffy, I’m gonna die!”
She had me with the eyes, but that line won little Agnes a place in my heart forever. Now I find myself repeating versions of the same line to whatever strikes me as being awesome and must-have.
Right now Agnes has me thinking about the feast of the Assumption of Mary, celebrated on August 15 in the Catholic calendar.
What does little Agnes from “Despicable Me” have to do with the Assumption?
It’s this: The Assumption is the celebration of the Blessed Version Mary’s being taken up, body and soul, into heaven. Upon her death—either in Jerusalem or Ephesus, depending upon the source—the Apostles buried Mary in a tomb at the foot of Mount Zion and not far from our Lord’s tomb. Tradition from the earliest Christian times tells us that when the Apostles later returned to Mary’s tomb, it was empty.
No relics of Mary have ever been found.
The Catholic Church teaches that, at the end of the world, all of our souls will be reunited with their once-earthly bodies, transformed.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 1052) quotes Paul VI in his 1968 “Credo of the People of God” (28):
We believe that the souls of all who die in Christ's grace . . . are the People of God beyond death. On the day of resurrection, death will be definitively conquered, when these souls will be reunited with their bodies.
That, so to speak, will be the moment of our “assumption.”
And it’s that moment for which we should be so desirous all of our lives that we live every single moment in anticipation of it.
Sounds lofty, I know.
It’s reality. It’s the doctrine of our Catholic Faith. It’s our sole purpose for existence. It’s THE goal for which we should always be working—the goal that supersedes all other goals of our lifetime. Not that we become suicidal or acquiesce to euthanasia. That, of course, would be a grave sin.
Rather, we need to be like little Agnes looking up at the fluffy stuffed unicorn, opening our eyes wide, clasping our hands, and with all of our hearts wishing for, longing for, desiring with all our hearts, to be with God in heaven forever.
In the sense of that kind of all-encompassing longing, we should indeed be able to exclaim, “I’m gonna die!" We should look to the end of our lives in the same way Agnes looks at the unicorn—as if it’s the greatest good we could ever be given, because it is. We shouldn’t fear death, but instead look forward to a holy death that will assure that, one day we’ll die in Christ’s grace, and become illuminated and transformed and granted Eternal Life.
They say that heaven is so wonderful that it’s impossible for us to completely imagine. It’s the most sublime prize that we could ever be awarded. It’s beyond any glory imaginable—even Agnes’ is unicorn.
And so, meditating on the Assumption of Mary, I’m reminded that one day I hope to be in heaven reunited with my transformed body. Then I can easily think about my own “assumption” and, like Agnes, exclaim, “I’m gonna die!”
This story originally appeared at the Register on August 15, 2016.