The Eucharist: Accept No Substitutions.

It’s widely known that the Catholic Church doesn’t allow non-Catholics to receive the Eucharist (read about it here), but what about the flip side of that coin? If for some reason a Catholic is attending a Protestant service, can they partake in communion?

No, they cannot. Under no circumstances are Catholics to receive communion from a Protestant denomination.

The rule is outline in the Code of Canon Law 844:

Catholic ministers administer the sacraments licitly to Catholic members of the Christian faithful alone, who likewise receive them licitly from Catholic ministers alone.

As it is known, Catholics believe that by partaking of Holy Communion, we are eating and drinking the literal Body and Blood of Jesus Christ (transubstantiation). It is not a symbol, nor is it a metaphor, nor do we believe, as the Lutherans, that Jesus is with the bread and wine (consubstantiation). Once consecrated, the bread and wine cease to be, and we are left with the Body and Blood.

Receiving communion is the most important part of our faith. It’s not just a big deal; it’s THE biggest deal there is. The entire Mass is centered on the Eucharist. It’s the crux of our salvation. When we present ourselves before the Eucharist, we are literally standing at the feet of our savior.

As Catholics, we must confirm with our words and actions that we believe in the real presence of Christ as the Eucharist. This is why we genuflect before the altar, and why, we must first clear our heart of mortal sin through reconciliation before receiving.

By taking communion in a church that does not accept our beliefs of the Eucharist, we are equating the real presence with a symbolic gesture, and that is irreverent to the Church, and a sin.

But, regardless of the law, I can’t understand why a faithful Catholic would want to receive from anywhere other than the Catholic Church in the first place. When we take the Eucharist, we bind ourselves to the Father, body and soul. We renew our spirit, strengthen our faith, and rejoice in the unconditional love and grace that God has for us.

There is nothing for Catholics in the communion of other churches. No added grace. No redemption. No salvation. For us, it is an empty, incomplete action. Why would we want to celebrate that?

Now, there is a second part to Canon Law 844 that should be explained. It states:

Whenever necessity requires it or true spiritual advantage suggests it, and provided that danger of error or of indifferentism is avoided the Christian faithful for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister are permitted to receive the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick from non-Catholic ministers  in whose Churches these sacraments are valid.

At a first glance, this might make everything I just said irrelevant, but lets take a closer look at the stipulations.

First, receiving outside of the Church is permitted only when it is impossible for a Catholic to approach a Catholic priest. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, we need to take note of the part of the law: in whose Churches these sacraments are valid.

This means that if a Catholic is to receive outside of the Catholic Church, he or she must do so in a church where the Eucharist is also recognized as the literal Body and Blood of Christ, and was consecrated by a validly ordained priest (valid, being contingent upon the Roman Church Authority and not our personal opinion).

With these restrictions in mind, a Catholic can only receive the Eucharist at an Orthodox Church. Though, through a schism, we are not in complete communion with the Orthodox Church, they are the only other Christian church where the Catholic Church recognizes the sacraments and ordination as valid.

Understandably, all this can cause Catholics to feel a bit awkward at other church services, and sometimes we might feel as if we’re offending other Christians by denying ourselves communion. However, when it comes to Church teaching and law, our feelings should play not part in the matter, nor should the opinions of others.

As Catholics, our lives are a perpetual witness to the faith. Let us not compromise that faith by pretending that Real Presence exists anywhere else.

God Doesn’t Owe Us Anything: A Short Reflection

I  actually wanted to post about the Gospel readings for Nov 11 the day of, but I never got around to it. Thank God for a universal Gospel, right?

The reading was from Luke 17, and goes as follows:

Jesus said to the Apostles:
“Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’? Would he not rather say to him,‘Prepare something for me to eat. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished’? Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded? So should it be with you.
When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’”

I love the allegorical nature of our Savior’s teachings. In comparing his disciples with the servant, Christ is reminding us that all we do for God is out of obligation and Christian duty. Like the master to the servant, God doesn’t owe us anything, and we should never expect to profit from our salvation (sans the whole dying and going to Heaven part).

Unfortunately, many people are more concerned with what they can “get” out of following Christ than what they should be giving, and not just with material things.

Yes, there are the Osteen’s of the world who tell you that if you surrender yourself to Christ, He’s going to shower your with money, cars, friends, and good fortune, and while there are those out there who are duped by the infamous prosperity gospel, I think a lot of us expect something on a more spiritual or emotional level.

We think that if we make it to Mass, participate at all the right moments, and receive the Eucharist, we’ll be granted insight, knowledge, healing, special protection, or, as it is so often these days, for God to look past our unrepentant hearts and turn a blind eye to our sins.

But that misses the whole point of being a Christian.

We fulfill our obligation to God out of love for the Father. We do it out of thankfulness that he gave His Son so we could one day enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. We sacrfice our own human desires for the will of God. Salvation is not tit for tat. It’s not a quid pro quo. It’s not a transaction.

When Christ commanded us to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, he didn’t promise us a reward or a pat on the back. When he commanded us to turn from sin, he didn’t add that doing so would make life easier for us. In fact it’s quite the opposite. Christ just said “do,” and we follow because as His disciples, it’s our job.

Our only reward is the joy of doing the Lord’s work, and what more could we possibly need?

How Catholics Should Respond to Cardinal Burke’s Demotion.

Trust the Pope.

That’s all any Catholic needs to do about this situation. No more speculating about Francis’ completely made up “liberal agenda” or some other conspiracy, heretical nonsense. He’s the Pope. We’re the laity. Trust the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

On another note, it would do the laity a massive amount of good to stop trying to segment in the Church into “liberal” and “conservative” factions. I doubt you can find an article online that doesn’t mention Cardinal Burke as a “conservative hero.” It’s pointless, and it does more harm than good.

There is no conservative Catholicism or liberal Catholicism. There is only Catholicism. Such titles put politics and agenda before the faith, and that is dangerous.

The State of Protestantism Today

In June of this year, the largest Presbyterian denomination in America voted to allow their clergy to perform same-sex “marriages” within the church, thus joining the ranks of other Protestant denominations, such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Episcopalian Church, and United Church of Christ.

This “evolution” of theology and “modernizing” of church doctrine is a trend that I predict we’ll continue to see in non-Catholic Christian circles for years to come, and not just with marriage. Today, nearly all Protestant denominations support and even advocate the use of artificial birth control, turn a blind eye to divorce, and many allow at least some level of support for abortion.

Of course, not all Protestants are willing to “move with the times”, so to speak; there remains, especially among the more conservative groups, quite a bit of dissent. However, it cannot be denied that many modern day Protestant denominations are falling further into the depths of secularism.

While it pains me to see Christians turning their backs on the sanctity of life and marriage, I have to admit that whenever the media lights up with news of another Protestant church endorsing an otherwise wholly unchristian act, I find myself entirely unsurprised.

The reason for my utter lack of shock lies, interestingly enough, within two of the critical tenants of Protestant Theology: the doctrines of sola scriptura (scripture alone) and sola fide (faith alone). (I discuss these two at length here and here)

As Catholics, the Bible is not our sole source of authority, nor was the Catholic Church based upon it. In fact, what we now call “The Bible” — the collected Old Testament and New Testament writings — was put together by the Church herself, and is meant to enrich and support our doctrine and Tradition.

(Consider too that the Gospel is the written testimony of the teachings of the apostles, which, due to apostolic tradition and the God-given teaching authority of the Church, precedes the written text. Thus, any authority of the Scriptures is derived from the recognition of the Church.)

Yet, the Protestant Reformation severed the Tradition from the Bible, and put all other authorities beneath it. By doing so, they created a type of religious relativism (unwittingly, I’m sure) that opened the door for an “anything goes” mentality.  So long, of course, as it can be found — or not found — in the scriptures.

For years, sola scriptura was a major weapon against Catholic theology, claiming that our practices were either absent or directly forbidden by Sacred Scripture. However, since the latter part of the 20th century, the charges that “Jesus never said (x)” or “That’s not in the Bible” have turned on themselves and have now become, “Jesus never said (x) was wrong, so that means (x) must be okay.”

This idea blends well with many in my generation, the millennials, who wish to hold on to some shred of spirituality but cannot bring themselves to relinquish the desires of the flesh.  It is also a base notion of “Progressive Christianity”, which is basically the feel-good parts of following Christ without any actual sacrifice.

The same problem goes for sola fide. Though the only place in the Bible where the words “faith” and “alone” appear next to one another is in James 2:24 (“See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone”), it still remains a significant tenant of Protestant Christianity. However, much like sola scriptura, it has seemingly evolved into an even more bastardized version of itself that states, “As long as I’m a good person and believe in Jesus, I’m okay.”

Now, understand, I’m not among the ilk who believe that Protestants can’t go to Heaven (though the path is significantly more challenging, and not in a “take up your cross” kind of way). They can, and many will. I do believe, however, that Christianity was never meant go in this direction. And I certainly believe that, should things continue in the manner, modern-day Protestants will eventually have nothing left to call Christian at all.

Pope Francis Speaks About Human Dignity

Any long time followers of this blog should be pretty familiar with my pro-life stance and how it reaches far beyond just opposing abortion.

To call oneself pro-life means to see the dignity and sanctity in all life from conception to natural death. For me, and many Catholics, part of this manifests itself in an absolute rejection of unjust war and the death penalty.

So of course, I’m always happy to hear the Holy Father talk about such issues. Recently, in an address to the International Associates of Penal Law, Pope Francis spoke about corruption, condemnation of the death penalty, and some of the deplorable conditions in which prisoners are forced to live. I’ve posted the full text below:

Vatican City, 23 October 2014 (VIS)Today, the Holy Father received delegates from the International Association of Penal Law (AIDP), addressing them with a speech focusing on the issues in their subject area that have recourse to the Church in her mission of evangelization and the promotion of the human person.

The Pope began by recalling the need for legal and political methods that are not characterized by the mythological “scapegoat” logic, that is, of an individual unjustly accused of the misfortunes that befall a community and then chosen to be sacrificed. It is also necessary to refute the belief that legal sanctions carry benefit, which requires the implementation of inclusive economic and social policies. He reiterated the primacy of the life and dignity of the human person, reaffirming the absolute condemnation of the death penalty, the use of which is rejected by Christians. In this context he also talked about the so-called extrajudicial executions, that is, the deliberated killing of individuals by some states or their agents that are presented as the unintended consequence of the reasonable, necessary, and proportionate use of force to implement the law. He emphasized that the death penalty is used in totalitarian regimes as “an instrument of suppression of political dissent or of persecution of religious or cultural minorities”.

He then spoke of the conditions of prisoners, including prisoners who have not been convicted and those convicted without a trial, stating that pretrial detention, when used improperly, is another modern form of unlawful punishment that is hidden behind legality. He also referred to the deplorable prison condition in much of the world, sometimes due to lack of infrastructure while other instances are the result of “the arbitrary exercise of ruthless power over detainees”. Pope Francis also spoke about torture and other inhuman and degrading treatment, stating that, in the world today, torture is used not only as a means to achieve a particular purpose, such as a confession or an accusation—practices that are characteristic of a doctrine of national security—but also adds to the evil of detention. Criminal code itself bears responsibility for having allowed, in certain cases, the legitimacy of torture under certain conditions, opening the way for further abuse.

The Pope did not forget the application of criminal sanctions against children and the elderly, condemning its use in both cases. He also recalled some forms of crime that seriously damage the dignity of the human person as well as the common good, including human trafficking, slavery—recognized as a crime against humanity as well as a war crime in both international law and under many nations’ laws—the abject poverty in which more than a billion people live, and corruption. “The scandalous accumulation of global wealth is possible because of the connivance of those with strong powers who are responsible for public affairs. Corruption is a process of death … more evil than sin. An evil that, instead of being forgiven, must be cured.”

“Caution in the application of penal codes,” he concluded, “must be the overarching principle of legal systems … and respect for human dignity must not only act to limit the arbitrariness and excesses of government agents but as the guiding criterion for prosecuting and punishing behaviors that represent the most serious attacks on the dignity and integrity of the human person.

The One Where I Defend Vatican II

Though we are one, Holy, and apostolic Catholic Church, we still have our own internal spats. Arguments about this doctrine or that discipline can be found in every spectrum of the Catholic blogosphere. While a great many disputes can be settled by simply referring to the Catechism, there still exist some rifts between the Church faithful — and some of those rifts can become downright nasty.

Perhaps one of the biggest points of contention between Catholics today is over Second Vatican Council, or Vatican II as it is often called.

Vatican II was the 21st ecumenical council (the second to take place in the Vatican, hence the name) and acted as a major turning point in the Church’s history. Taking place from 1962 to 1965, it wasn’t called to dispel any heresy or establish new dogmas — unlike other Councils before it. That’s actually a very important fact to recognize before going any further: Vatican II changed nothing about sacred tradition.

Instead, it focused on different areas of discipline, ecumenicism, and a host of other topics that helped to reaffirm the Church’s role in modern times. However, for the more stubborn, orthodox Catholics, Vatican II was seen as break away from tradition and an attempt to “secularize” the Church—an idea that is still held by many “traditional” Catholics today.

Now, I’m not going to break down every point of Vatican II in order to prove why those who criticize the council are misguided and perhaps overly zealous. Much hooplah has been attributed to Vatican II, and many try to point to it as the cause for some of the Church’s internal issues. Instead, I want to make two points about Vatican II (especially for those of you who joining RCIA this year) that should silence any critic, and satisfy any of those who have perhaps read too much anti-Vatican II jibber-jabber on the internet.

1: Vatican II was supported by an overwhelming majority of the Church authority, including John Paul II and Benedict XVI (both of whom were present at the Council before becoming Pope). That alone should be enough for any member of the laity. If the Church says it’s right, then it’s right. End of story.

2: Perhaps the most important aspect of Vatican II, and the one that I’ll be discussing from here on out: it encouraged and increased participation and engagement with the Mass.

One of the changes made in Vatican II was that Mass could be said in the vernacular, rather than Latin. This meant that people attending Mass who didn’t know Latin would actually be able to hear and understand the prayers and participate along with the priest.

In fact, before Vatican II, it wasn’t uncommon to hear lay Catholics on Sunday say that they were headed to “watch Mass,” because that’s what they did. They watched the priest say Mass rather than actually participate.

Vatican II opened the door for people to engage in the Mass in a way that they previously couldn’t — and that’s a huge deal.

Before and during my conversion, one of the things that really drew me in was that during Mass, Catholics worshiped with their entire body, mind, and spirit. It was an all-inclusive experience—one of constant participation throughout. I’d never been a part of anything like that before. It made me excited to become Catholic and that Holy experience was available to me because of Vatican II.

Those who criticize Vatican II are mistaken. I believe they do more to divide and splinter the Church than bring it together. At the same time, by challenging the nature of Vatican II, they challenge the authority of the Church, and that is a dangerous road to travel. For the rest of us Catholics, old and new alike, I’ll end with this notion. When we attend Mass, we come face to face with the literal Body and Blood of our savior Jesus Christ. Vatican II allowed us the opportunity to come even closer — to not only partake of the Eucharist, but participate in the consecration, the moment that bread and wine cease to be as they are and become the Holy Flesh and Precious Blood.

‘What a treasure there is, dear brothers and sisters, in the guidelines offered to us by the Second Vatican Council… I feel more than ever in duty bound to point to the Council as the great grace bestowed on the Church in the twentieth century’ there we find a sure compass by which to take our bearings in the century now beginning.’—Saint John Paul II

 

 

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Be A Living Parable

I’ve personally never had a difficult time believing in God, and for that I consider myself blessed. Even in the particularly difficult times of my life, times when God felt eons away, I have never been able to simply relinquish my faith in His existence. For me, it’s all too reasonable.

Yet, for so many, this is not the case. For them, believing in God poses  much more of a challenge, and it’s not so much that they’re unwilling to believe, but rather they are unable or not quite ready.

This is an important point that I think tends to get overlooked when we speak about evangelization. However, if we want to be truly effective in spreading the Gospel, then we need to carefully consider this fact, and approach it with the wisdom of Christ that we find in the Scriptures.

We can get a better understanding of this wisdom by starting in Matthew 13, when Jesus preached to a crowd of people from a boat using the parable of the sower:

And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear.” (Mt 13:3-9)

After he does this, his disciples come to Him and ask Him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” Jesus replies, “Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted.”

While the disciples were willing and able to accept the truth, many others at that time weren’t ready to hear that this carpenter’s son was the promised Messiah. So rather than hitting these listeners directly with the truth, he gave them a story that contained the truth.

(What’s funny is that Christ seems to be telling these people that they aren’t ready to hear the truth through a parable about hearing the truth.)

These passages can help us better understand the troubling question posed above. Perhaps much in the same way the people in the crowd weren’t ready to hear the truth, so too are those who reject God, His Church, and the Gospel in our world today.

Let’s consider the explanation of the Sower’s Parable in verses 18-23:

“Hear then the parable of the sower. The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart. The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away. The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit. But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.

I’m sure all of us can think of friends and family who are like the seeds thrown into the rocks and weeds. For them, belief is not easy.

Talk to any atheist long enough, and they’ll eventually tell you how bible thumpers and over-zealous Christians are more likely to send them packing than cause them to do any true reflection.  That’s why it’s not just evangelization that’s important, but how we evangelize.

At the same time, the secular world is constantly putting the Church in a negative light, making us out to be enemies of liberation, equality, and progress.

We can’t come barreling at these people with the full force of the Gospel, because not everyone is willing, or even able, to accept it.  You can’t tell an atheist that their purpose in life rests with God alone and expect them to just start believing. Simply pointing to the scriptures as proof of Christ’s redeeming power won’t hold much water with the skeptic.

We don’t always have to be so direct with the truth. Instead, we can simply let the truth show through us like a living parable. This starts with simple acts of kindness, friendship, and compassion, small ways to plant seeds in even the most egregious of non-believers.

In December of 2000, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in a letter to catechists and religion teachers on the New Evangelization, reminds us that “large things begin from the small seed.” He tells us that the New Evangelization does not mean immediately reaching all those who have fallen away through “new and more refined methods.” Instead, he says, “It means to dare, once again and with the humility of the small grain, to leave up to God the when and how it will grow.”

 

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I Assure You, I’m Still Here.

Hello, fellow snappers. 

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I wanted to put up a little blurb to let everyone know that I haven’t abandoned my post or fallen into a deep pit of writer’s block and despair. 

Things have been a bit hectic here at the Tyson home. We’re inching closer and closer to the arrival of second child (who, according to a dream I had, will be a boy and must be named Joachim), while our firstborn gets bigger, more talkative, and significantly more energetic (read: destructive).

At the same time, after much prayer and even more patience, I have started a new job, and the transition has taken a lot out of me mentally and physically. 

So, I haven’t had much time to focus on my blogging, but I certainly haven’t quit. The Mackerel Snapper Blog means a great deal to me, as do my readers. I’ll be back to posting again very soon. 

Until then, pray for me, my family, and keep checking back. 

In Christ, 

Matthew

 

Behold Your Mother

Perhaps the single most misdirected and misunderstood idea that many non-Catholics have about the Catholic Church is that we worship Mary as we do God.

Let me make this very clear before we move forward.

Catholics believe that God alone is worthy of worship. We do not, in any way, shape, or form, worship Mary. She is not God, nor is she some Catholic goddess. She is not the Christian version of Venus. She does not wield any power like that of God.

As much as we love Mary, as devoted we are devoted to her, and as holy as she is, we do not worship her. We only worship God.

But we venerate the Blessed Mother.

To venerate something means to hold it in great respect and reverence. We believe Mary has a special role as Queen of Heaven. We look to her not only as Mother of God, but also as our mother, as Mother of the Church and all the Church faithful.

In this way, how could we not approach Mary with anything but great respect?

Like our biological mother nurtures us in our physical life, Mary nurtures us in our spiritual life. Just as children cling to their mothers, we too cling to Mary. We call out to her; we beseech her guidance, her comfort, and her intercession. And we have faith that her prayers, said on our behalf, will fall on the loving, understanding and open ears of the Father. 

Countless saints found their way to God through the help of the Mother. Laity have for centuries cited miracles based upon her intercession. In the words of St. Francis de Sales, “Let us run to Mary, and, as her little children, cast ourselves into her arms with a perfect confidence.”

Still, some are bothered by the idea of our asking Mary to intercede on our behalf due to a verse found in 1 Timothy. 

For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as ransom for all. 1 Tim 2:5

In this letter, Paul is reiterating the base point of Christianity, which is that through Jesus Christ we find salvation with God. Jesus is our mediator to eternal life, the one who will testify on our behalf.

That is not the same as asking Mary to pray for us. If it was, then what does that say about you and me when we are asked to pray for someone? Are we usurping Christ and putting ourselves in the role of mediator? Of course not! We are, like Mary, reaching out to God with intercessory prayers on behalf of another. And most often, we do so because we were asked.

So now — let us all — Catholic and Protestant alike — ask Mary to pray for us.

HAIL MARY, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners — now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

There’s Assumption About Mary

On August 15th, the Catholic Church will celebrate one of its oldest and most important feast days: The Assumption of Mary.

This feast day celebrates the end of Mary’s life on Earth when God, the Father, took her into Heaven, body and soul together.

Much like the Immaculate Conception and Mary’s perpetual virginity, you won’t find this event in the Bible. The belief in Mary’s assumption is a part of our Tradition that has survived since the age of the apostles, and it plays a very important role in our understanding of the Virgin Mother.

It should first be understood that it is required of all members of the Catholic Church to accept the Assumption as truth. In 1950, Pope Pius IX, in the apostolic constitution Munificentissimus Deus, declared ex cathedra (meaning “from the chair”) that the Assumption of Mary is an infallible doctrine of the Church.

[B]y 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. Munificentissimus Deus 44

Keep in mind that this statement only made the Assumption a required belief of the Catholic faithful; it did not create that belief. As I already mentioned, the belief itself is as old as the Church, and was held by those who knew Mary personally. In fact, it has been so crucial to the Church’s history that within the Rosary prayers there is an entire decade dedicated to meditation on the Assumption.

So why is this doctrine important to our Catholic faith?

If we truly understand Mary’s nature — pure, immaculate, and ever virgin — then the Assumption would be the only logical and fitting end to her life.

Remember, Mary was unlike any other person who has ever, or will ever, exist. While our bodies are stained with original sin, Mary’s was not. She was perfect in body, perfect in spirit, and in full communion with her son, the Savior. Her flesh could not suffer the same decay and corruption that ours surely will.

This actually brings up an interesting point to consider. The Church has provided great care and reverence to the remains of those important to Christian history. The bones of Peter, for example, are buried under the altar of St. Peter’s Cathedral. In fact, all Catholic churches have a Saint’s relic buried under its altar. That’s how important remains of the faithful are to the Church.

Knowing this, one can surely understand that, if the body of Holy Mary, Mother of God was still part of this Earth, the Church would have entombed and enshrined it — most likely within the Vatican — and we can only imagine the pilgrimages that would be made to visit it.

But that isn’t the case, because we don’t have the body of our Blessed Mother. Like her Son, she was assumed into heaven.

Starting with the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption of Mary acts as the perfect completion of her faithful service to God on Earth. It was the final grace bestowed upon her, to be taken up body and soul and crowned Queen of Heaven.

But there’s also something else to keep in mind.

According to the Catechism: the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son’s Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians.

Through Mary’s assumption, we see, for the first time, the fulfillment of God’s promise to His faithful, that through salvation in Christ, we too will one day be joined together in perfect flesh and spirit.

Not only does Mary’s Assumption complete our understanding of her divine nature, but also puts on display for us the fruits of our own labors for the Father — a reminder of what awaits each of us after death.

By contemplating Mary in heavenly glory, we understand that the earth is not the definitive homeland for us either, and that if we live with our gaze fixed on eternal goods we will one day share in this same glory and the earth will become more beautiful. Pope Benedict XVI