“Dad, did grandpa lose his soul in 1950?”  Certainly an odd question, but one I worried a great deal about as a child. August 15 was my grandpa’s birthday. He would dryly claim that everyone went to church today to pray for his lost soul. So, after learning that the Church first began officially celebrating the Assumption in 1950, I connected the dots the way only a child could.

A priest-mentor once explained that Marian doctrines are really about us, about the Church.  At first glance the woman in the clouds is Mary; but for some scholars the woman is Israel birthing Christianity. With that interpretation, today’s celebration grows. It’s not just Mary’s assumption, but the assumption of the whole Church.

In a way, my grandpa was right. Every August 15 we pray for and celebrate God’s sure promise that his pilgrim people are journeying together toward our heavenly home. How does this interpretation of the Assumption either challenge or expand your faith?

—Mark Bartholet, grandson of Al Bartholet Sr., is celebrating the Assumption and Big Al’s birthday at St. Peter Catholic Church, the Jesuit-staffed parish in Charlotte, NC.