Father Lawrence Lew, OP via Flickr, licensed CC
Today the church celebrates Mary's Assumption into heaven. For reasons I'll never quite understand, the feast isn't a holy day of obligation this year because it falls on a Monday. Nonetheless, this is one of the greatest events on the liturgical calendar, because Mary's assumption of her earthly body into heaven is one of the best examples of what we say in the creed every single Sunday about the resurrection of the dead. The Catechism tells us:
966 "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,
A certain reminder to us that we too will be reunited with Christ one day, body and soul.
Mary's assumption has been a longstanding teaching of the church:
Scripture Catholic has quotations from the early Church regarding this doctrine.
“If the Holy Virgin had died and was buried, her falling asleep would have been surrounded with honour, death would have found her pure, and her crown would have been a virginal one...Had she been martyred according to what is written: 'Thine own soul a sword shall pierce', then she would shine gloriously among the martyrs, and her holy body would have been declared blessed; for by her, did light come to the world."
Epiphanius, Panarion, 78:23 (A.D. 377).
"[T]he Apostles took up her body on a bier and placed it in a tomb; and they guarded it, expecting the Lord to come. And behold, again the Lord stood by them; and the holy body having been received, He commanded that it be taken in a cloud into paradise: where now, rejoined to the soul, [Mary] rejoices with the Lord's chosen ones..." Gregory of Tours, Eight Books of Miracles, 1:4 (inter A.D. 575-593).
"As the most glorious Mother of Christ, our Savior and God and the giver of life and immortality, has been endowed with life by him, she has received an eternal incorruptibility of the body together with him who has raised her up from the tomb and has taken her up to himself in a way known only to him." Modestus of Jerusalem, Encomium in dormitionnem Sanctissimae Dominae nostrae Deiparae semperque Virginis Mariae (PG 86-II,3306),(ante A.D. 634).
"It was fitting ...that the most holy-body of Mary, God-bearing body, receptacle of God, divinised, incorruptible, illuminated by divine grace and full glory ...should be entrusted to the earth for a little while and raised up to heaven in glory, with her soul pleasing to God." Theoteknos of Livias, Homily on the Assumption (ante A.D. 650).
From The Year and Our Children by Mary Reed Newland.
Our Lady fell asleep at last after the yeas of living with St. John and waiting for Heaven, and all the Apostles were gathered about her bed. Except St. Thomas. He was off in India preaching the Gospel and couldn't get back in time although an angel is supposed to have told him to hurry. The Apostles carried her body to the tomb and laid it there and some time afterward they discovered that it was gone. They naturally concluded that it had been taken to Heaven (as indeed it had). Then St. Thomas came home, and when they went out to meet him and to explain, he would not believe. He would not believe, the legend says, until he had seen for himself. So they took him to see where they had laid Our Lady's body and in its place were flowers. Looking up, St. Thomas saw her going up to Heaven; and to convince him at least, an angel brought the girdle she had fastened about her rob, and dropped it to Thomas.
On November 1, 1950, Pope Pius XII defined the Assumption of the Blessed Mother of God into heaven in the following words: 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." Catholic Culture
This is a nice day to place a statue of Mary on your table at home and place some beautiful flowers around it with a simple votive candle if possible. For little kids (or older kids who can't stand to have a candle going without playing with it) the little battery powered votive candles are nice.
The whole family could say all the Marian prayers before dinner, and of course be sure to attend mass!
Hail Holy Queen
After Mass talk about the celebration with your child. Discuss the meaning of the feast, and why it is important to Catholics. This would be a good opportunity to talk about motherhood, death and heaven -- and to answer questions. (Take advantage of 'teaching moments'!)