Having been taken into heaven both spiritually and bodily, the Virgin Mary helps believers to grow in “Christian hope” during their earthly lives, Pope Benedict XVI taught on the Feast of the Assumption.
The Pope celebrated Mass at Castel Gandolfo’s parish church of St. Thomas of Villanova on the Aug. 15 solemnity. During his homily, he said Mary's intercession with God can “help us to live well and with hope the time that God gives to us” on earth.
In remarks reported by Vatican Radio, he noted that the virtue of Christian hope “is not just nostalgia for Heaven,” but a “living and active desire for God here in the world.” That desire “makes us indefatigable pilgrims,” providing “the courage and strength of faith” through “the power of love.”
The Pope also observed that by entering the fullness of life with God, the Virgin Mary was not leaving behind the faithful on earth, but instead becoming closer to all.
Dogmatically defined in 1950, the assumption of the Virgin Mary's body and soul into heaven is a perennial part of the Church's faith, Pope Benedict told pilgrims who joined him to pray the Angelus at his summer residence later in the day.
He explained that Christ's mother, who was “redeemed from the first moment of her life,” is “associated in a special way” with the mystery of Christ's own life, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven.
Mary's physical and spiritual entry into God's presence represents “the Paschal Mystery of Christ fully realized in her,” as she is “intimately united with her Son” and “fully conformed to him.”
“But the Assumption is a reality that touches us too,” the Pope reflected, pointing out that it shows “the reality of the glory” to which God calls “each of us and the whole Church.”
As Pope Benedict greeted pilgrims gathered in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace for the mid-day Angelus on Wednesday, he expressed his desire that “the example and prayers of Mary, Queen of Heaven” would “inspire and sustain us on our pilgrimage of faith.”
Under her protection, believers on earth may hope to “rejoice with her in the glory of the Resurrection and the fulfillment of her Son’s promises.”