Today, the 15th. August, is the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the Fruit of your womb, Jesus. Who crowned you, Blessed Virgin, in Heaven. – (Rosary prayer, the Glorious Mysteries, the 5th. Mystery)

The Assumption and Consecration of the Virgin Mary, Titian: 1516–1518, Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Venice

This is an excerpt from the Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius XII  Munificentissimus Deus (AAS 42 [1950], 760-762, 767-769) which proclaimed the Assumption of Mary as a dogma of faith.  It is used in Roman Office of readings for the Feast of the Assumption on August 15. (via The Crossroad Initiative)

In their sermons and speeches on the feast day of the Assumption of the Mother of God, the holy fathers and the great doctors of the church were speaking of something that the faithful already knew and accepted: all they did was to bring it out into the open, to explain its meaning and substance in other terms. Above all, they made it most clear that this feast commemorated not merely the fact that the blessed Virgin Mary did not experience bodily decay, but also her triumph over death and her heavenly glory, following the example of her only Son, Jesus Christ.

Thus St John Damascene, who is the greatest exponent of this tradition, compares the bodily Assumption of the revered Mother of God with her other gifts and privileges: It was right that she who had kept her virginity unimpaired through the process of giving birth should have kept her body without decay through death. It was right that she who had given her Creator, as a child, a place at her breast should be given a place in the dwelling-place of her God. It was right that the bride espoused by the Father should dwell in the heavenly bridal chamber. It was right that she who had gazed on her Son on the cross, her heart pierced at that moment by the sword of sorrow that she had escaped at his birth, should now gaze on him seated with his Father. It was right that the Mother of God should possess what belongs to her on and to be honored by every creature as the God’s Mother and handmaid.

St Germanus of Constantinople considered that the preservation from decay of the body of the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, and its elevation to heaven as being not only appropriate to her Motherhood but also to the peculiar sanctity of its virgin state: It is written, that you appear in beauty, and your virginal body is altogether holy, altogether chaste, altogether the dwelling-place of God; from which it follows that it is not in its nature to decay into dust, but that it is transformed, being human, into a glorious and incorruptible life, the same body, living and glorious, unharmed, sharing in perfect life.

Another very ancient author asserts: Being the most glorious Mother of Christ our savior and our God, the giver of life and immortality, she is given life by him and shares bodily incorruptibility for all eternity with him who raised her from the grave and drew her up to him in a way that only he can understand.

All that the holy fathers say refers ultimately to Scripture as a foundation, which gives us the vivid image of the great Mother of God as being closely attached to her divine Son and always sharing his lot.

It is important to remember that from the second century onwards the holy fathers have been talking of the Virgin Mary as the new Eve for the new Adam: not equal to him, of course, but closely joined with him in the battle against the enemy, which ended in the triumph over sin and death that had been promised even in Paradise. The glorious resurrection of Christ is essential to this victory and its final prize, but the blessed Virgin’s share in that fight must also have ended in the glorification of her body. For as the Apostle says: When this mortal nature has put on immortality, then the scripture will be fulfilled that says “Death is swallowed up in victory”.

So then, the great Mother of God, so mysteriously united to Jesus Christ from all eternity by the same decree of predestination, immaculately conceived, an intact virgin throughout her divine motherhood, a noble associate of our Redeemer as he defeated sin and its consequences, received, as it were, the final crowning privilege of being preserved from the corruption of the grave and, following her Son in his victory over death, was brought, body and soul, to the highest glory of heaven, to shine as Queen at the right hand of that same Son, the immortal King of Ages.

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The following is an article for further reading and better understanding of this dogma. From EWTN Library 

THE ASSUMPTION OF MARY: A BELIEF SINCE APOSTOLIC TIMES

The Assumption is the oldest feast day of Our Lady, but we don’t know how it first came to be celebrated.Its origin is lost in those days when Jerusalem was restored as a sacred city, at the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine (c. 285-337). By then it had been a pagan city for two centuries, ever since Emperor Hadrian (76-138) had leveled it around the year 135 and rebuilt it as <Aelia Capitolina> in honor of Jupiter.

For 200 years, every memory of Jesus was obliterated from the city, and the sites made holy by His life, death and Resurrection became pagan temples.

After the building of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 336, the sacred sites began to be restored and memories of the life of Our Lord began to be celebrated by the people of Jerusalem. One of the memories about his mother centered around the “Tomb of Mary,” close to Mount Zion, where the early Christian community had lived.

On the hill itself was the “Place of Dormition,” the spot of Mary’s “falling asleep,” where she had died. The “Tomb of Mary” was where she was buried.

At this time, the “Memory of Mary” was being celebrated. Later it was to become our feast of the Assumption.

For a time, the “Memory of Mary” was marked only in Palestine, but then it was extended by the emperor to all the churches of the East. In the seventh century, it began to be celebrated in Rome under the title of the “Falling Asleep” (“Dormitio”) of the Mother of God.

Soon the name was changed to the “Assumption of Mary,” since there was more to the feast than her dying. It also proclaimed that she had been taken up, body and soul, into heaven.

That belief was ancient, dating back to the apostles themselves. What was clear from the beginning was that there were no relics of Mary to be venerated, and that an empty tomb stood on the edge of Jerusalem near the site of her death. That location also soon became a place of pilgrimage. (Today, the Benedictine Abbey of the Dormition of Mary stands on the spot.)

At the Council of Chalcedon in 451, when bishops from throughout the Mediterranean world gathered in Constantinople, Emperor Marcian asked the Patriarch of Jerusalem to bring the relics of Mary to Constantinople to be enshrined in the capitol. The patriarch explained to the emperor that there were no relics of Mary in Jerusalem, that “Mary had died in the presence of the apostles; but her tomb, when opened later . . . was found empty and so the apostles concluded that the body was taken up into heaven.”

In the eighth century, St. John Damascene was known for giving sermons at the holy places in Jerusalem. At the Tomb of Mary, he expressed the belief of the Church on the meaning of the feast: “Although the body was duly buried, it did not remain in the state of death, neither was it dissolved by decay. . . . You were transferred to your heavenly home, O Lady, Queen and Mother of God in truth.”

All the feast days of Mary mark the great mysteries of her life and her part in the work of redemption. The central mystery of her life and person is her divine motherhood, celebrated both at Christmas and a week later (Jan. 1) on the feast of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. The Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8) marks the preparation for that motherhood, so that she had the fullness of grace from the first moment of her existence, completely untouched by sin. Her whole being throbbed with divine life from the very beginning, readying her for the exalted role of mother of the Savior.

The Assumption completes God’s work in her since it was not fitting that the flesh that had given life to God himself should ever undergo corruption. The Assumption is God’s crowning of His work as Mary ends her earthly life and enters eternity. The feast turns our eyes in that direction, where we will follow when our earthly life is over.

The feast days of the Church are not just the commemoration of historical events; they do not look only to the past. They look to the present and to the future and give us an insight into our own relationship with God. The Assumption looks to eternity and gives us hope that we, too, will follow Our Lady when our life is ended.

The prayer for the feast reads: “All-powerful and ever-living God: You raised the sinless Virgin Mary, mother of your Son, body and soul, to the glory of heaven. May we see heaven as our final goal and come to share her glory.”

In 1950, in the Apostolic Constitution <Munificentissimus Deus>, Pope Pius XII proclaimed the Assumption of Mary a dogma of the Catholic Church in these words: “The Immaculate Mother of God, the ever-virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heaven.”

With that, an ancient belief became Catholic doctrine and the Assumption was declared a truth revealed by God.

Father Clifford Stevens writes from Tintern Monastery in Oakdale, Neb.

This article was taken from the July-August 1996 issue of “Catholic Heritage”. To subscribe write Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, IN 46750-9957 or call 1-800-348-2440. Published bimonthly at a charge of $18.00 per year.

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14 Responses to Today, the 15th. August, is the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

  1. sixupman says:

    Does anyone know ++Muller’s slant upon this Article of Faith?

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  2. toadspittle says:

    .

    “It was right that she who had kept her virginity unimpaired through the process of giving birth should have kept her body without decay through death.”

    Why? Toad can’t see any logical connection between the two disparate events.
    Except perhaps that both events defy logic. But is that enough? Presumably it is.
    But, by the same token, perhaps it was right that Mary didn’t grow physically old, either. Or did she? Wouldn’t that be right, too, if she didn’t? What’s the dogma on that?

    “Mary had died in the presence of the apostles; but her tomb, when opened later . . . was found empty ..”
    Which clearly indicates she was dead when she was taken up. Nevertheless she could still be uncorrupted, as we seem to be talking about miracles here.

    How do we explain this? Was she dead or alive? Resurrected?

    (Now off to Mass. To pray for guidance. And answers. )

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  3. teresa says:

    @sixupman, I am weary of the Trads’ constant attack on the new Head of CDF. I think they should first inform themselves and have a solid study of theology, before they sneer at a learned theologian. You should read his 800 pages of Catholic Dogmatics, before you make such comments, in German, because there is not yet an English translation. Though I decided not to write on comment thread of our blog but I think if you keep making this kind of comment (today is not the first time that you do it), some answer must be provided.

    In my copy of the Catholic Dogmatics written by Archbishop Müller, there is a lengthy and detailed description and explanation of the Dogma of Virgin Mary’s Assumption. And Archbishop Müller states very clearly what Pope Pius XII tried to confer to the Christianity. The position of Archbishop Müller and of Pope Pius XII is summarized very clearly in the Document of Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 59 and 62, which Archbishop Müller quoted in length in his book, on page 508, German original: (the following quotes appear on page 508 but for the convenience of our reader, I quote them from the English version of Luman Gentium):

    ” Finally, the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all guilt of original sin,(12*) on the completion of her earthly sojourn, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory,(13*) and exalted by the Lord as Queen of the universe, that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords(297) and the conqueror of sin and death”. (LG 59)

    and

    “Taken up to heaven she (Mary) did not lay aside this salvific duty, but by her constant intercession continued to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation.(15*) By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and cultics, until they are led into the happiness of their true home. Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked by the Church under the titles of Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix, and Mediatrix.(16*) This, however, is to be so understood that it neither takes away from nor adds anything to the dignity and efficaciousness of Christ the one Mediator.” (LG 62).

    And as for the Virginity of Mary before the birth, in the birth and after the birth (ante partum, in partu, post partum), there is an explanation given by Archbishop Müller on page 495-500 (pagination of the German original). On page 498, he makes clear, that Mary didn’t experience pain during giving birth and that her virginity in the birth belongs to the Content of the Faith.

    Trads quote out of context a sentence (one a half lines out of a chapter containing 3 pages) on 498, where it is said that the statement of the Faith that Mary gave birth without pain is, as a subject of theology, is not to be interpreted with surgical details, but should be theologically interpreted. Which means we should be more interested in the theological message it brings with itself instead of thinking the whole affair merely in a physiological way. We know that Mary was Virgin during giving birth and that she didn’t experience pain, which is what the dogma says and that should suffice for us, and we should not speculate further on physiological specialities: it is a miracle and thus not to be explained in medical terms. We should be more interested in finding out what this dogmas says to us in regard of Faith and Salvation. That is what is really meant with this short sentence which is incriminated by Trads. But the trads disregard the explanation Archbishop Müller gave beneath this short sentence. Archbishop Müller said also, just several lines beneath the quote, that the Virginity of Mary during giving birth was UNIQUE AND MIRACULOUS. (p. 499).

    The theological message which we should concentrate on, writes Archbishop Müller, is the following: “the statement of Mary’s Virginity during the Birth realizes that already in the Birth of Christ there are signs of the eschatological salvation of the Messianic end of time, which began with Jesus” (Sie erkennt vielmehr in der Geburt Christi schon die Vorzeichen des eschatologischen Heils der messianischen Endzeit, die mit Jesus angebrochen ist” (p. 498).

    And then, in the following chapter, Archbishop Müller explains the Virginity Mary’s after the birth of Christ (post partum) also belongs to the Content of our Faith, and it means that Mary has devoted herself totally to God and also shows that chastity is a way to salvation. He reassures in this chapter that Mary was also a Virgin throughout her marriage with Joseph. (p. 500).

    If people keep reading someone with a malicious intention, keep picking out words out of context and seeking for things which, when read out of context, would likely compromise him. I am sure they will turn even a Saint into a presumed “heretic”. Thomas Aquinas was also accused of heresy, by enviers, overtly zealot people or people who just misunderstood him or refused to understand him. But this kind accusation says more about the attackers than about the attacked himself.

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  4. toadspittle says:

    .

    Carefully re-reading this fascinating piece, it seems to clearly indicate that Mary died and was resurrected. Why aren’t we celebrating that event?
    Isn’t ressurection more significant than assumption?

    St. John Damascene… expressed the belief of the Church on the meaning of the feast: “Although the body was duly buried, it did not remain in the state of death, neither was it dissolved by decay. . . .

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  5. toadspittle says:

    .

    “He reassures in this chapter that Mary was also a Virgin throughout her marriage with Joseph. (p. 500).”

    Says Teresa. But Toad thought he had brothers. Thought it was in the book! Wrong, again. Doh!

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  6. As I just posted on Watchtower, The Blessed Mother was Assumed into Heaven body and soul because nothing but Perfect can give birth to The Perfect.

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  7. sixupman says:

    Teresa:

    I do not aspire to your erudition and as a mere Catholic oik the convoluted language of theologians leaves me cold. Such language also tends to go hand in hand with self-satisfaction and aggrandisement – of course, I only refer to latter day pontificators. This a.m. I attended my local parish NOM for the record.

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  8. sixupman says:

    Teresa:

    BTW if ++Muller curbed his tongue relative to SSPX then matters might proceed more smoothly. He certainly gives the impression of not approaching the problem with equanimity and humility, but one of “I am right and you are wrong” regardless of argument. My experience of churches in Germany is that, with exceptions, they do not exude Catholicism, whilst, strangely, many Lutheran ones do. The Catholic churches reflect the thinking of the bishops and ‘Conference’ –
    Lex Orandi …… .

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  9. teresa says:

    @sixupman:
    1) I know SSPX is hostile to the new Head of CDF that is why they are restlessly spreading rumours (cf. Father Gaudron, a young SSPX priest in their Priorate in Germany) about Archbishop Müller, before but especially after his nomination as the head of CDF. There are several reasons, two of them should be mentioned: 1) Archbishop Müller condemned the anti-semitism of Williamson, soon after the Williamson-gate broke out in 2009; 2) He demands that SSPX subordinate itself to the authority of the local Bishop. This caused among the SSPX and its sympathisers great animosity towards him. Since then, attacks on him on Trads run sites never cease. Archbishop Müller, as a conservative Bishop, is holding here upright a traditional principle of obedience. Before the SSPX gains the status of a personal Prelature, it must obey the local bishop (because SSPX-members are Catholic they fall under the jurisdiction of the local bishops, only members of independent orders are not subordinate to the bishop, but SSPX is not such an order. But even Order members can’t baptise without permission of the local bishop. Opus Dei is a personal Prelature but its laity is under the jurisdiction of the local Bishop. The FSSP is a Priest congregation but in order to be active in pastoral care, they need permission of the bishop). But fact shows that SSPX still ordinates its priests without permission from the local bishop and performs marriage without being given any faculty.

    2) Theology has existed since the Church fathers, St. Augustine and St. Thomas speak also a theological language which is much too difficult for untrained ears. If one is humble enough to read and learn some theology, one will have less difficulty with theological writings.

    3) Your experience doesn’t say much about the German Catholicism as a whole, you are welcome to visit South Germany, where in the Mass almost all knee down during the consecration, where you can visit Mass in the town from 6 to 19 o’clock (in Munich even at 21 o’clock, where there is an evening Mass in the Renaissance Jesuit Church St. Michael), where you find queues before the confessional and where the priests ask you to pray for the poor souls in purgatory, where even university hospitals have crosses in each patient room and their own Catholic chaplain, where in local banks there is a cross hanging on the wall, where on the edge of fields you can find a Marian Shrine or a Cross to pray to, where in restaurants you can find a wooden crucifix decorated with flowers, where the local firebrigade decorates their building with St. Florian and a priest is called to bless their firemen’s vehicle, where breweries ask priests, bishops or prelates to tap the first barrel of beer and where in village churches, especially in the Alpine, men and women are still sitting in separated pews. You are also welcome to join in the pilgrimage to Altötting or visit a Corpus Christi procession in Munich, where the police, the Mayor, university professors join in. Enough Catholicism if one is charitable enough to discover.

    That said, I hope that people will have more peace in the heart on such a beautiful Feast Day like today.

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  10. sixupman says:

    ++Muller is a conservative by German and Austrian standards, and, as to theologians, I refer to the Johnny-come-lately’s and those who worded Vatican II documents in a manner which could be read in more ways than one. ++Muller should enter the CDF without his prejudices and +Williamson is not the SSPX. As to subordination to one’s bishop: I say Linz as an example. Even in the UK I have experience of one bishop, ex seminary rector, who preached for a lay-led church against that of the ordained priesthood, and another, who facilitated one parish priest and his Deacons to preach against the Magisterium. To what extent are the priest movements across the Continent subject to their bishops when they seek to undermine the Magisterium without apparent hindrance. So to which Local Ordinary should +Fellay make obeisance? As to one educating oneself, I sense, in such a statement, the same self-opinionation as that found in ++Muller and I have found in other Germans – but I do not judge the whole on that basis and SSPX should not be judged on the basis of +Williamson’s ramblings.

    My experience is based upon the Ruhr and the ‘Devastated Vineyard’ of France.

    As reading matter, may I draw your attention to chapter XXXVII (37), “The Eucharist”, of Amerio’s tome “Iota Unum” to understand the cancer attacking Mother Church from within, not to mention the rest of the book, or that of Msgr. Gherardini. Apparently ++ De Noia has just started reading the same and I would be interested to have +Muller’s, and possibly your own, views on the the two books.

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  11. teresa says:

    @sixupman:

    1) Linz is an extremely badly led diocese. The local Bishop Schwarz is a learned man, a classics scholar but with a weak character. He is not capable of keeping his ultra-modernists priests and laity under control. I don’t know Austria well enough so I refrain from speculating why Austria is so hostile to orthodox Catholicism and brings forth so many abnormalities.

    2) Every document of the Church but also the Bible can be read in many different ways and manners, that is why we need a Magisterium that is a teaching authority to give the universal Church a binding interpretation, as lay people we are to subject us to the Teaching Authority of the Church, that is the Bishops, the Synode and the Council and CDF, not the other way around.

    3) The SSPX should subordinate to the local bishops, that is,they should ask the local Bishop for permission, when they ordinate new priests in Menzinger or Zaitzkofen, where they run two seminaries, But they never ask for permission. They act as if there were no local bishop. Actually, they were asked by the Vatican to suspend their priest ordination for a year and wait until their regulation. But they disobeyed. Which shows how little they care for authority. They lived too many decades without taking account of Rome and the Universal Church, they will find it hard to re-integrate into the life of the Universal Church. Only humility can help in this case, but it is obviously lacking.

    As for Church regulations in regard of congregations and orders, one can look at the examples of Opus Dei, a personal Prelature. They have their own bishop but their lay members are subordinate to the jurisdiction of the local bishops. FSSP (Peter’s Brotherhood) must ask the local bishops for permission to be able to run a parish. Orders are traditionally independent. But even Order members must ask the local Bishop for permission, if pastoral activity of the laity is involves. For example, the Benedictine Pater I know was not allowed to baptise me, I was baptised with the permission of the local Bishop by my parish priest.

    Bishop Fellay should subordinate himself to the Pope and Council and stop attacks from his ranks on the head of CDF, on Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict, on Vatican II and on the universal Church, discipline his priests who are acting as if they themselves were the Holy Inquisition in person.

    4) I read Romano Amerio’s Iota Unum several years ago. He is talking about confidence in the Church and obedience in the last Chapter, which the trads never quote.

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  12. sixupman says:

    The jealousy of the Local Ordinary as to the effectiveness of Msgr. Lefebvre leading to the withdrawl of his Canonical Approval started-off the SSPX problem.

    Local Ordinaries have collectively been found guilty of lying, in respect of the Old Mass, when they insisted, to all and sundry, that the said Mass had been abrogated – without any evidence to prove such to be the case. They thereby caused distress to millions and waged a war of ‘re-education’ of reluctant clergy. Those who prosper on untruth deserve no obeisance regardless of that which Canon Law may state.

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  13. teresa says:

    @sixupman

    There is no jealousy involved. It is just the Canon Law which should be binding for every member of the Universal Church.

    In my place we have twice in the week Old Mass, in the town, if one is willing to take a 30 minutes bus ride, then there are actually three days when one can visit an Old mass. That is sufficient, as during the 5 years since Summorum Pontificum, the number of the Old Mass group stays constant around 30 to 50 visitors. We are allowed to use one of the most magnificent church buildings in the town, while having been given a chapel for the own usage. If our priests, who are all parish priests could spare more time, they are free to read the Tridentine Mass everyday. One of them dismissed the girls from altar service in his own parish without causing any moaning and discontent. He is a nice man and an excellent priest, very down to earth.

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  14. sixupman says:

    mere “………….. crumbs from the masters table …”

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