IN THE Gregorian Sacramentary which was sent by Pope Adrian I to the Emperor Charlemagne, the following words are found:
Venerable to us, O Lord, is the festivity of this day oil which the holy Mother of God suffered temporal death, but still could not be kept down by the bonds of death, who has begotten Thy Son Our Lord incarnate from herself.
In the Byzantine liturgy, tile Virgin Mary's Assumption is connected with the dignity of the Mother of God, and in particular with Virginal motherhood:
God, the King of the universe, has granted thee favors that surpass nature. As He kept thee a virgin in childbirth, thus He has kept thy body incorrupt in the tomb and has glorified it by His divine act of transferring it from the tomb.
Pope St. Seirgius I elevated the feast of the Dormition of Virgin Mary to be one of the four feasts of Mary with stational procession, along with the Nativity, Annunciation, and Purification.
Pope Leo IV made the feast, now under the title of the Assumption, more solemn by prescribing a vigil and octave. And St. Nicholas I testifies that the Holy Roman Church has observed for a long time and still observes holy fast prior to the feast of the Assumption.
Catholic faith is not derived from liturgy, but practices of the sacred worship proceed from the Faith as the fruit comes from the tree. Sermons and homilies of the Fathers and Doctors on this feast day were merely to present more clearly what has already been known and accepted by Christ's faithful.
IV. Practical Application:
For Mary, who had lived full of grace from the first instant of her existence, death is merely a passage from this place of exile into the perfect union with God and the bliss of heaven.
Death is naturally painful because of the separation of body and soul.
But what causes the greatest torture to the soul is the fear of what is to come after death. For all men have, sometime or another, offended God, and have not always made the best use of graces that God has given them.
Those who feel most guilty will fear death the most. Those who feel they bad not done enough to love God and do good during life will be filled with regret and would welcome a chance to live a little longer. But death usually will not wait one instant when the appointed moment has come. And even to those who are prepared, death comes unexpectedly.
Death is the end of our time of meriting. As long as we live, we have the chance to increase our love of God, and to obtain a closer place in heaven. How precious are our days on earth!
To make my death less painful, I will try never to offend God by sin. I will use the days God has given me to love Him and give Him all the service I am capable of.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Almighty and merciful God, Who in the person of the Blessed Virgin Mary has provided never-ending assistance for the defense of the Christian people, grant, we beg of Thee, that, strengthened by such help, we may do battle during life and be able to obtain victory over the treacherous foe in death. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.