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Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Assumption of the Virgin, Annibale Carracci

Lessons iv - ix from Matins of the Feast.

A sermon of Saint John Damascene

Discourse ii on the Dormition, near the beginning.

    Today the sacred and living ark of the living God, she who conceived the Creator in her womb, comes to rest in the temple of the Lord which was not made by men's hands. David her father leaps with joy, and with him the Angels lead the dance, the Archangels celebrate, the Virtues give glory to God, the Principalities exult, the Powers are glad, the Dominations rejoice, the Thrones keep a feast day, the Cherubim give praise, and the Seraphim proclaim her glory. Today the Eden of the new Adam receives the living paradise in which our condemnation was dissolved, in which the tree of life was planted, in which our nakedness was clothed.


    Today the immaculate Virgin, who was soiled with no earthly desires, but reared in heavenly thinking, did not return to dust, but since she was a living heaven, was placed in the heavenly tabernacles. She from whom the true life has flowed to all men, how could she taste death? But she yielded to the law laid down by Him whom she conceived, and, as a daughter of the old Adam, underwent the old sentence (for her Son, who is Life itself, did not refuse it); but, as the Mother of the living God, she was rightly taken up to His side.

From the Acts of Pope Pius XII


    The universal Church through the ages has always shown faith in the bodily assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This truth rests upon sacred Scripture, it is deeply rooted in the souls of the faithful, and is clearly consonant with other revealed truths. With almost perfect unanimity, the hierarchy of the whole world asked that this truth be defined as a dogma of the divine and Catholic Faith. And so, Pope Pius XII, consenting to the desires of the whole Church, decided solemnly to proclaim this privilege of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Therefore on the first day of November in the year of the great Jubilee, 1950, at Rome in the court of St. Peter's basilica, amidst a great crowd including many cardinals of the holy Roman Church, and bishops even from distant places, and a great multitude of the faithful, to the applause of the whole Catholic world, he proclaimed the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven by his infallible pronouncement in these words: "After frequently praying to God, and invoking the light of the Spirit of truth, to the glory of almighty God, who enriched the Virgin Mary with special favor, to the honor of her Son, the immortal King of Ages, and victor over death and sin, to the increase of the glory of His august Mother, to the joy and exultation of the whole Church, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and by Our own authority, We declare and define as a revealed dogma that the Immaculate Mary ever Virgin, Mother of God, when she had finished the course of her earthly life, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven.

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke.
 Luke i: 41-50

    At that time, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost, and cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb! And how have I deserved that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, the moment that the sound of thy greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leapt for joy. And blessed is she who has believed, because the things promised her by the Lord shall be accomplished." And Mary said, " My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid; for, behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.; and His mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear Him."

A homily of St. Peter Canisius, Priest On Mary, the Virgin Mother of God 
Book v, chapter 6


    The Church both reverently and frequently celebrates feasts of the Mother of God. For she knows with certainty that it is a work pleasing to God, and worthy of the faithful, to honor among all the saints, the most saintly Mother of our Lord and God, on numerous established days of the year with public ceremonies. And among these feasts which have been observed for many centuries, down to our time, the feast of the Assumption is considered the greatest, and holds the chief place. For we can see that no other day was so happy and joyful for Mary herself, if we rightly contemplate the new happiness of soul and body granted to her on that day. As previously her soul and body had wonderfully rejoiced in the living God, now they did so as never before; she could now say with full right: "He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid; for, behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because He who is mighty has done great things for me."


    And so, thrice blessed, and truly august Mother, we who love you and your Son cannot but rejoice in your wonderful and unequalled joy, the more especially because everything that was said to you and about you by the Lord is fulfilled by your beautiful death, and made perfect in every way. You are blessed today, not only because you believed, but also because you have attained the fruit and purpose of all virtue, and have merited at last to enjoy the glad sight of Him whom you so greatly loved and desired. When Emmanuel entered into the house of this world, you hospitably received Him as a guest; today in turn you are received into His royal palace, and magnificently honored as befits the mother of such a Solomon.


    O happy day, which transferred such a precious gift from the desert of this world, and brought it to the holy, eternal city in such a way as to stir up a communal and unbelievable joy in all the heavenly beings; and just as much admiration as joy! O happy day, which granted the long and ardent desire of the Bride, faint with love, to find Him whom she had sought, to receive Him whom she had asked for, to possess securely what she had hoped for, resting completely in the perfect vision and enjoyment of that highest and eternal good! O happy day, which raised up and exalted the humble handmaid of the Lord to such a height that she became the most glorious Queen of heaven, and Mistress of the world; nor could she have risen higher, for she was exalted to the very throne of the kingdom, and seated in a glory second only the Christ's! Clearly this happy day is to be honored, which established and proclaimed as our Queen and Mother, one who is, at once, so powerful, and so merciful that we may have her, who ever remains the Mother of the Judge, as a Mother of mercy, protecting and interceding for us with Christ, and faithfully watching out for whatever concerns our salvation.

Assumption of the Virgin, Annibale Carracci, 1600-1601, Oil on canvas, 245 × 155 cm, Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome


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