If the words of the title of this work sounds familiar, it is because they conclude the Apostles Creed. This statement of Faith, dating back to the second century, has remained relatively unchanged and is proclaimed among all mainline Christian denominations. The resurrection of the body into life everlasting is the hope of all believers.
The Virgin Mary, chosen by God from all eternity to bear and nurture the Messiah during his time on Earth, now reigns as Queen of the Universe. Assumed body and soul, unique to her resurrection, she is indeed, “our life, our sweetness and our hope” as we journey toward eternal life with God. Mary’s Assumption into Heaven embodies the hope of all Christians to share in the Resurrection of her Son. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains:
“Finally, the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son’s Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians.” (CCC 966)
The mysterious process of death, which is a natural part of life on Earth, has been experienced by all who have gone before us, and awaits every person alive now and in the future. Near Death Experiences (NDE) have been documented throughout the years and refer to “a light at the end of a tunnel”, or something similar. The exact details of death remain a mystery to all, even to those who have been given a glimpse of the afterlife. One thing is certain: death involves the end of earthly existence, and the beginning of eternal existence. The “gap” between these two states is sometimes referred to as a moment but cannot be quantified in temporal terms. The Catechism sheds light on what will occur at the “moment” of death:
“Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ”. (CCC 1022) The judge in this “proceeding” will be none other than Jesus Christ. The closest we can get to encountering the judgment of our soul and the divine mercy of God here on Earth is in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Admittance through the “pearly gates” of repentance and forgiveness begins and ends with God’s mercy.
Let us pray for the grace to live out the creed we profess as we journey toward the final “forgiveness of sins, resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.”