“By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory”.
-Pope Pius XII November 1, 1950 Munificentissimus Deus
Mary lived her life as an example to the human race, and her assumption is our hopeful reward for a life faithfully lived.It is the promise made by Jesus to all faithful Christians that they too will be received into heaven. Mary’s incorruptibility in life does not end once her earthly life is completed, it is an immaculate life. In Pope Pius XII’s dogma of the Assumption he refers to her death before the assumption but since the dogma does not emphatically state her death,Catholics are free to believe that Mary did die not before the Assumption.
In the Orthodox Church’s tradition the Dormition of the Theotokos is celebrated on the same day , August 15. Their teaching does state that Mary did die a natural death, the same as all humans. Her soul was received by Christ at the time of death, and her body was resurrected three days after. An empty tomb was found on that third day. The Orthodox Church places emphasis on Mary’s natural death as to emphasize that Mary was truly human and a true example on how to live.Her example was fidelity to God and the simplest description of that fidelity can be found in the first two lines of the Magnificat, the Song of Mary:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant
From this day all generations will call me blessed
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.”
These are words fitting to be said of any human being. To declare a wondrous God that continuously desires our love and success. In these lines we also declare our own humanity, just as Mary did, and our role as humble servants of the Lord.