by Pope Pius XII, Nov. 1, 1950. Munificentissimus Deus.
the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles
and "Paul, and by Our own authority, 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
assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.
if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny
or to call
into doubt that which We have defined, let him know
that he has fallen away completely from the divine
and Catholic Faith.”
the fourth glorious mystery we contemplate how Mary, some
years after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, departed this
life and was carried up by angels to heaven. It is a certainty
of tradition that our Lady endured death, in imitation of
her divine Son, and it is an infallible dogma, in this age
proclaimed by Pope Pius XII, that our Blessed Lady was assumed
into heaven, as most Catholics have long believed. We celebrate
the feast of the Assumption on August 15.
death of Mary was peaceful and full of consolation, because
her life had been all holy. Her body, virginally chaste
and the throne of Eternal Wisdom, was not to remain in the
tomb. The triumph of Mary would have been imperfect, had
it been accomplished without her flesh which was, as it
were, the very source of her glory; Christ was of that same
death will not be like hers, for our sins will be then a
subject of alarm. But if we abandon our sins, and consecrate
ourselves to the service of Mary, then our good Mother will
comfort us in that terrifying moment, as she has done already
for so many of her faithful servants. Let us place ourselves
under her protection, with the firm purpose to amend our
lives, and let us ask her now to assist us, sinners, in
the hour of our death.
to you in devotion to the Blessed Virgin, I am,
Fr. E. Herkel
Death and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin,
True Devotion to Mary
know nothing positive concerning the death of the most Holy
Virgin; tradition says that the Apostles were assembled
around her at the moment she quitted this earth; and it
is a pious belief, admitted by the Fathers of the Church,
and to which all the truly faithful subscribe, that the
sole cause of Mary's death was the ardent love that made
her long continually for heaven. We cannot for a moment
suppose that the Immaculate Queen of heaven and earth, who
was exempt from original sin, ever had any of the sicknesses
or diseases that are the consequence and punishment of sin.
Yes: the death of Mary was the springing forth of the soul
to her well-beloved Son. There is also a tradition which
is in harmony with all our sentiments of piety, that the
body of the most pure Virgin was taken to heaven by angels,
and that the Apostles having gone to visit the tomb, found
only flowers which exhaled a delicious perfume, - an image
of the celestial purity and sweet virtues of the Queen of
festival of the Assumption is in honour of the triumph of
Mary over death, and of her glorious entrance into heaven,
where Jesus received her with love and placed in her hands
the scepter of pardon and clemency. She is then all powerful
in heaven, not like God, who alone and of Himself is Sovereign
Master of all things, but by the permission of God who wishes
her to be our mediatrix with Him, and who in heaven refuses
nothing to her whom on earth He obeyed.
may then, have recourse to Mary with confidence, and we
should rely upon her power and goodness; but is there no
fear of abusing the devotion to the Blessed Virgin? There
is none, if our confidence is as enlightened as it is great;
but there is, if our confidence is ignorant and presumptuous.
Our confidence is enlightened and Christian-like if we have
recourse to Mary as the charitable Mother of the Redeemer,
who receives our prayers to present them to her Son, if
we remember that she loves and assists even sinners, but
that she has a horror of sin, and that all her efforts are
to destroy it in order to procure the greater glory of God.
Our devotion to Mary is agreeable to God and beneficial
to ourselves if we ask her assistance to overcome our evil
inclinations, to resist temptations, and to preserve the
grace of God, or to recover it if we have had the misfortune
to lose it.
we in fact say that we love the Blessed Virgin if we did
not try to imitate her? Could we call her Mother if we were
to live habitually committing sins which she detests? That
would be to have an ignorant and presumptuous devotion to
Mary. She is, it is true, the Refuge of Sinners; she proffers
them assistance, obtains for them, when they sincerely wish
it, pardon from her Son and strength to return to Him. But
Mary, the most holy of God's creatures, does not protect
sin, and would regard with indignation those who would wish
to make a rampart of her Name, behind which they would imagine
they could deliver themselves up with impunity to the depraved
desires of their heart and offend her divine Son. No, it
is not enough to call ourselves servants of Mary; we must
before all be servants of God, or at least have a sincere
desire to be His true servants, and imitators of Mary in
spirit and truth.
is not rare to hear Christians say: I have prayed to the
Blessed Virgin with all my heart, and even burnt a taper
before her altar, and yet I have not obtained what I asked
for. What must we conclude? Certainly not that
the Blessed Virgin is less powerful and less willing to
help us; but we must accuse ourselves, for on examination
we shall find that either we have prayed without faith,
or with presumption, or that our heart was badly disposed,
or that we limited our devotion to some exterior acts and
to some words hastily uttered without our heart having anything
to do with the prayer.
Lack of faith is frequently an obstacle to the success of
our petitions. We do not rely on the omnipotence of God,
nor on the credit of the Blessed Virgin with her Son. Our
prayers are made without hope, without a firm confidence,
we are languid, indifferent, perhaps discouraged downhearted.
Such prayers cannot be heard.
Our prayers are sometimes indiscreet and presumptuous. Do
we not sometimes ask for graces which may not be conducive
to our salvation? We frequently and ardently ask her to
bless our crops, to give us an abundant harvest. It is right
for us to do so; but if in making this prayer we commit
sin, as working on Sunday, our prayers do not deserve to
be heard. Do we not also see Christians who ask to be delivered
from sin without, at the same time, avoiding dangerous occasions
of sin Such Christians resemble a man who would cast himself
in the fire and ask the Blessed Virgin not to allow him
to burn. Mary never listens to such prayers.
We often pray with badly disposed hearts: not only have
we sin in our heart but we have no desire to expel it. We
ask the Blessed Virgin to cure our maladies, to help us
in our poverty, but we keep in our hearts the malady of
sin, - we care not for the riches of grace. The Blessed
Virgin is truly willing to aid us in our bodily wants, but
she desires also that we think seriously of curing our spiritual
maladies, and if we wish to remain in sin, she will turn
away from us.
Finally, we think sometimes that to obtain what we ask for,
it suffices to kneel before the altar of Mary and there
hurriedly recite with our lips a few prayers, without thinking
of what we are saying, without respect, without attention,
without fervor. That is not the way we ask for what we
really desire. No, - let us ask her with filial confidence,
with holy fervor, a humble desire to be worthy of her protection;
then we shall be sure
of being heard, provided what we ask for be conducive to
our salvation, for the
Blessed Virgin knows far better than we what is beneficial,
and often instead of granting what we ask, gives us a greater
grace, which we frequently do not appreciate. Let us remember
that when we ask for temporal favors we must always do so
in perfect submission to the Divine Will. The prayer of
Jesus in the Garden should be the model of ours: "My
God, if it be possible (this chalice pass * * * but
not will, but Thine, be done."
saints have all left us the example of a devotion to Mary,
both tender and enlightened. Their greatest care was to
serve and imitate her. These examples are so numerous that
it would require volumes to relate them: let us select a
few. St. Stanislas from his earliest years took the Blessed
Virgin for his Mother; he had always in his hand some picture
of the Blessed Virgin, or the beads or some book written
to honour her, and advised all he met to consecrate themselves
to her service.
Teresa having when only twelve years old lost her mother,
prostrated herself at the feet of the Blessed Virgin and
besought her to be her Mother and receive her as a daughter.
She was always assisted by-Mary in her great undertakings;
and to testify her gratitude as well as her confidence she
gave to the Blessed Mother the keys of all the monasteries
she founded, and made her the first superior.
the saints, in fact, have regarded the Blessed Virgin as
their Mother, but all, also, endeavored to imitate her,
knowing well that that is the best way of pleasing her and
of obtaining her protection.
Maria May 23, 1868
to our Lady of the Assumption
Pope Pius XII. Nov. /.
1950. address in st. Peter's Square
Immaculate Virgin. Mother of God and Mother of
men, we believe with all the fervor of our faith
in Thy triumphal Assumption both in body and in
soul into heaven where Thou are acclaimed as Queen
by all the choirs of angels and all the legions
of saints; we unite with them to praise and bless
the Lord who has exalted Thee above all other
pure creatures and to offer Thee the tribute of
our devotion and our love.
know that Thy gaze, which on earth watched over
the humble and suffering humanity of Jesus, in
heaven is filled with the vision of that humanity
glorified and with the vision of uncreated Wisdom,
and that the joy of Thy soul in the direct contemplation
of the adorable Trinity causes Thy heart to throb
with overwhelming tenderness; and we, poor sinners
whose body weighs down the flight of the soul,
beg Thee to purify our hearts so that while we
remain below, we may learn to see God and God
alone in the beauties of His creatures.
trust that Thy merciful eyes may deign to gaze
down upon our miseries and anguish, upon our struggles
and our weaknesses; that Thy countenance may smile
upon our joys and our victories; that Thou may
hear the voice of Jesus saying to Thee of each
one of us, as He once said to Thee of His Beloved
Disciple: "Behold Thy son," and
we who call upon Thee as our Mother, we, like
John, take Thee as the guide, strength and consolation
of our mortal life.
are inspired by the certainty that Thy eyes, which
wept over the earth crimsoned by the blood of
Jesus, are yet turned toward this world racked
by wars and persecutions, the oppression of the
just and the weak. From the shadows of this vale
of tears, we seek in Thee heavenly assistance,
tender mercy, comfort for our aching hearts, and
help in the trials of Church and country.
believe finally that in the glory where Thou reign,
clothed with the sun and crowned with stars, Thou
are, after Jesus, the joy and gladness of all
the angels and the saints, and from this earth,
over which we tread as pilgrims, comforted by
our faith in the future resurrection, we look
to Thee our life, our sweetness, our hope; draw
us onward with the sweetness of Thy voice, so
that one day, after our exile, Thou may show us
Jesus, the blessed fruit of Thy womb.
clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.