All too often, women’s histories and true identities are left behind or exchanged for stories that perpetuate systemic oppression. I don’t want Mary’s historicity and individuality to be subjected to the same kind of treatment. Through prayers and contemplations, Mary has become the ultimate role model for me. She is a woman who gave birth to love, and her life story both inspires and comforts me.
What happened to Mary’s body and soul really mattered to Pope Pius back in 1950, when he declared Mary’s assumption to be official dogma. Pope Pius wrote that the assumption of Mary “is to be believed.” I feel threatened and bullied by many of his words in his Munificentissimus Deus. What alarms me is the Pope’s concern for Mary’s purity and virginity, and how he seemed to conflate virginity with incorruptibility. (You can read just how much the Pope focused on Mary’s incorruptibility here.)
I don’t know exactly how God has transformed Mary through the assumption, but it’s hard to receive guidance from a Pope who seemed so invested in misogyny. The crux of my concern is not whether or how Mary has been transformed by God, body and soul, but why. Did God grant Mary this divine favor because she is a sinless virgin or because she is the beloved mother of God?
At the very least, I must take care to remember that I do not need to be pure or virginal to be loved by God.
Monica plans to celebrate the Assumption of Mary this year at St. Gertrude’s Church in Chicago.