Catholics believe without hesitation that the Holy Mother of God is, body and soul, in Heaven with her Divine Son in Glory unimaginable. Eastern schismatics are as clear in their minds as are Catholics with regard to this truth. Moreover, it is practically taught by the Church. We can learn the church's faith from her liturgical prayers. From very is certain. early times the Feast of the Assumption has been celebrated throughout the Catholic world. 1 In all the ancient Sacramentaries the triumph of the Virgin-Mother over death and corruption is celebrated in glowing terms. Her " passage " is spoken of in ail of them as a hidden thing, without parallel amongst men. Mary died indeed, but only for a time. Her virginal body was superior to the dissolution of the tomb. The hands of death were unable to hold in their embrace the immaculate flesh of her who was at once a Virgin and a Mother, nor could any rock enclose that Mother, whose Childbearing had been without pain. The " secret" prayer for the Mass of the Feast in the Gregorian Missal is the same as we use at the present day : " May, O Lord, the prayer of the Mother of God come to the aid of Thy people; for although we know that, in accordance with the law of flesh, she has passed hence, yet are we sensible that in heavenly glory she is interceding for us with Thee." Here we have a testimony to the ancient tradition of the Roman Church, of which the great Apostle of the English was ever a most faithful guardian. A learned writer in the Dublin Review comments on this prayer as follows:
"Here it is plainly intimated [at least it is implied] that the Blessed Virgin really died ; and that notwithstanding her death, she is certainly now in the Glory of Heaven, interceding for us with God, both in body and soul. Any interpretation short of this, that is, our Lady's integral Assumption to Heaven, would give a sense to the prayer, unmeaning and irrelevant. For it would be superfluous that the Church should express so emphatically her belief—as though of something more than ordinary —that the Blessed Virgin, though deceased, is in soul in Heaven, there interceding for us, whilst her body still remains on earth, since this is common to all the Blessed alike." 2
1 By order of the Emperor Maurice, in the sixth century this Feast was transferred from January 18 to August 15, on which date it was observed in Rome under St. Gregory the Great (Nicephorus, L. XVII., c. 28). It was known as the Pausatio, Dormitio, Transitus, or Assumptio, terms used as synonymous.
2 Dublin Review, October, 1870. The Assumption of the B.V.M. an Apostolical Tradition, p. 408.