As so often, the Preface for this feast expresses with wonderful economy of words both its theological meaning and its devotional significance:
. . . hodie Virgo Deipara in caelos assumpta est,
Ecclesiae tuae consummandae initium et imago,
ac populo peregrinanti certae spei et solacii documentum;
corruptionem enim sepuleri
eam videre merito noluisti,
quae Filium tuum, vitae omnis auctorem,
ineffabiliter de se genuit incarnatum.
. . . today the Virgin Mother of God was assumed into heaven
as the beginning and pattern of your Church’s perfection
and a sign of sure hope and comfort to your pilgrim people,
For justly you would not allow her
to see the corruption of the tomb,
because from her own flesh she brought forth ineffably
your incarnate Son, the author of all life.
It is impossible to think of Mary apart from her Son or apart from the Church. In her we see what an ordinary human being can become, utterly transfigured by grace. That is why we celebrate her feast with such joy and gladness. She shows us what the Church (= ourselves) will be when all is made new at the end of time.
As I tap out these words my head is filled with the plainchant Alelleuia for the feast, Assumpta est Maria, which soars and eddies with a lyrical grace the neumes on the page can hardly contain. It is a reminder that Mary, alone of all our race, has lived her vocation with a degree of perfection the rest of us can only strive to emulate. But, if Mary is the Mother of God (as she is), she is our mother, too. We can ask her prayers with confidence: Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.