Saturday, 16 August 2008

Our tainted nature's solitary boast: the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our holy Mother and Queen, the flower of Israel

To the right is the work of Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, called Guercino, 1591-1666, in his beautiful but simple Assumption of the Virgin.

It is scarcely possible for us even to imagine the purity, holiness and spiritual greatness of the Blessed Virgin.

No Feminist, she, but the willing servant of God and man, whether high or low, and the exemplar for us all as she shows us that it is in serving that we become great and not by demanding that we be served.

She became great before the Lord because she was so small before the Lord and before men.

Now she towers over all creation - even the Angels.

She stoops to conquer. By her humility is she the greatest of all God's creatures.

The more man turns from himself and defers to God, the greater he becomes and the more fully human.

Our Blessed Lady achieved this in the greatest manner possible.

Think of the best, gentlest, kindest and most generous lady that you have ever met in your life. Our Lady is a million times yet more kind, gentle, generous and good.

Men have struggled to capture in art the greatness of this woman but all must necessarily fail. We shall not really comprehend her greatness until we see see her kneeling before the Throne of Grace, with Almighty God Himself stooping to embrace her, His greatest creation, for God Himself is yet more humble still even than the Virgin herself.

Think of the humility of God in so stooping as to allow Himself to be born of his own creation, an earthly mother, and to allow her the greatest possible title imaginable for a mere creature, Dei genetrix, Deipara, Theotokos, the "God-bearer", the very Mother of God!

Tiziano Vecelli ("Titian", 1488-1576). The Assumption of the Virgin, 1516-18.

What greater God could there be than this, that He, the very God Himself, should stoop to be, as it were, lower even than His own creation whilst all the time remaining Almighty God. What a marvellous conception! What a pinnacle of perfect love. Of such kind is our God. Words fail. We can but adore, adore, adore!

Think, too, O woman, of the greatness of your dignity simply in being mothers; for by so being you imitate the greatest event in all history and creation, the birth of our Saviour, the very Son of God, JESUS CHRIST, from the womb of the Blessed Virgin.

Through her fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum, she turned all her attention away from herself and toward the Holy Trinity, her Father, her Spouse and her Son. She annihilated self, as the best mothers do, and gave all for the sake of her Father, her Spouse and her Son.

Annibale Caracci (1560-1609). Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

This is the highest perfection man or woman can ever achieve. And she, the Queen of Heaven, embodies it.

Let us recall some of the great prayers that the Church gives us in the Roman rite for the Feast of our Lady's Assumption into heaven.

Ant. Assúmpta est María in cælum : gaudent Angeli, laudántes benedícunt Dóminum.

Ant. Mary hath been taken up into heaven : the company of Angels is joyful ; yea, the Angels rejoice, and glorify the Lord.

Capitulum: Judith 13. 22-23.
Benedíxit te Dóminus in virtúte sua, quia per te ad níhilum redégit inimícos nostros. Benedícta es tu, fília, a Dómino Deo excélso, præ ómnibus muliéribus super terram.
R. Deo grátias.

The Little Chapter: Judith 13. 22-23.
The Lord hath blessed thee by his power, because by thee he hath brought to nought the enemies of thy people. Blessed art thou, O daughter, by the Lord the most high God above all the women upon the earth.
R. Thanks be to God.

Pablo de San Leocadio (1445-1520). Virgen de la Leche (Virgin of the milk). 1472-1514.

V. Exaltáta est sancta Dei Génitrix.
R. Super choros Angelórum ad cæléstia regna.

V. Thou art exalted, O holy Mother of God.
R. Above choirs of Angels, unto the heavenly kingdom.

The infallible proclamation of the Assumption of our Lady by the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Pius XII, in 1950. The doctrine had been taught and believed since the time of the Apostles but was formally declared only in the 20th century. Churches have been dedicated to the Assumption since the earliest times and artists have celebrated the event since long ago. York Minster, for instance, is dedicated to the Assumption. Anyone who thinks the doctrine is a novelty invented by the Catholic Church is simply ignorant of history.

Ad Magnif. Ant: Virgo prudentíssima, quo progréderis, quasi auróra valde rútilans? Fília Sion, tota formósa et suávis es, pulchra ut luna, elécta ut sol.

Ant. for the Magnificat: O wisest of virgins, whither goest thou, like to the Day-Spring gloriously rising? O daughter of Sion, altogether lovely art thou, and pleasant for delights, fair as the moon, clear as the sun.

Luc. 1. 46-55

MAGNIFICAT : ánima mea Dóminum.
2 Et exsultávit spíritus meus: * in Deo, salutári meo.
3 Quia respéxit humilitátem ancíllæ suæ: * ecce enim ex hoc beátam me dicent omnes generatiónes.
4 Quia fecit mihi magna, qui potens est: * (Fit reverentia) et sanctum nomen ejus.
5 Et misericórdia ejus, a progénie in progénies: * timéntibus eum.
6 Fecit poténtiam in bráchio suo: * dispérsit supérbos mente cordis sui.
7 Depósuit poténtes de sede: * et exaltávit húmiles.
8 Esuriéntes implévit bonis: * et dívites dimísit inánes.
9 Suscépit Israël púerum suum: * recordátus misericórdiæ suæ.
10 Sicut locútus est ad patres nostros: * Abraham, et sémini ejus in sæcula.
11 Glória Patri, et Fílio, * et Spirítui Sancto.
12 Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, * et in sæcula sæculórum. Amen.

The Holy House in Ephesus where our Lady ended her days on this earth

Luke. 1. 46-55

My soul * doth magnify the Lord.
2 And my spirit hath rejoiced * in God my Saviour.
3 For he hath regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden : * for behold, from henceforth * all generations shall call me blessed.
4 For he that is mighty hath magnified me; * (
Here all make a profound reverence) and holy is his Name.
5 And his mercy is on them that fear him * throughout all generations.
6 He hath shewed strength with his arm; * he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
7 He hath put down the mighty from their seat, * and hath exalted the humble and meek.
8 He hath filled the hungry with good things; * and the rich he hath sent empty away.
9 He remembering his mercy * hath holpen his servant Israel.
10 As he promised to our forefathers, * Abraham and his seed for ever.
11 Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
12 As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, * world without end. Amen.

Antonio Allegri da Correggio (1489-1534). Virgin and child.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!


No comments: