Rorate Caeli

Our Lady of the Assumption, "Hammer of Heretics"
How Our Lady Hammered True Pelagianism


On this Feast of the Assumption, a fitting tribute to Our Lady, Hammer of Heretics. And more on recent pronouncements that some Catholics could be modern-day Pelagians.

Click here to listen to a quick, powerful sermon for today's feast, brought to you through our partnership with Audio Sancto.

Below, we now provide close written transcript to the audio version of the sermon:

“The Lord hath blessed thee by His power, because by thee He hath brought our enemies to nought.”

1.  Our Lady is often called the Hammer of Heretics. In fact, the Traditional Roman Breviary has this antiphon for Matins of the Assumption: “Rejoice, Virgin Mary: you alone have crushed all heresies in the whole world.” Note the universals! You aloneAll heresies… whole world.

2.   In his Apostolic Constitution defining the Immaculate Conception, Bd. Pope Pius IX writes: “We have a very certain hope and complete confidence that the most Blessed Virgin will ensure by her most powerful patronage that all difficulties be removed and all errors dissipated, so that our Holy Mother the Catholic Church may flourish daily more and more throughout all the nations and countries, and may reign ‘from sea to sea and from the river to the ends of the earth,’ and may enjoy genuine peace, tranquility and liberty. We are firm in our confidence that she will obtain pardon for the sinner, health for the sick, strength of heart for the weak, consolation for the afflicted, help for those in danger; that she will remove spiritual blindness from all who are in error, so that they may return to the path of truth and justice, and that there may be one flock and one shepherd.” For those who have ears to hear… this is a prophecy of the Age of Peace, the Age of Mary, the Triumph of Mary’s Immaculate Heart (this was also fulfilled in a little way at Lourdes with many healings and conversions). Once again, note the universals… ALL difficulties… ALL errors… ALL who are in error.

3.   Let test this truth of Our Lady’s role of Hammer of Heretics by considering a heretic that has been recently mentioned a number of times, namely the early 5th Century monk Pelagius (418). According to him there is no Original Sin that is passed on from Adam to his children… and death would be natural for Adam and all his children even if he had never sinned. Our Lady smashes these two errors, because she is the only human person conceived without Original Sin. Adam and Eve were not conceived but made directly by God… Adam from the slime of the earth and Eve from Adam’s side. Listen to a creed composed for the profession of our Catholic Faith by Pope Pelagius I (c. 560): “For I confess that all men are from Adam, even to the consummation of the world, having been born and having died with Adam himself and his wife, who were not born of other parents, but were created, the one from the earth, the other, however, from the rib of the man...” (Dz 228a). Adam sinned in the Garden and this was the cause of death for all men. Listen to St. Paul: “Wherefore as by one man sin entered into this world, and by sin death; and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned” (5:12).

4.   We have all sinned in Adam save one only, Our Lady. She was conceived without Adam’s sin. Listen to Pius IX in his Apostolic Constitution defining the Immaculate Conception: “the Church made it clear indeed that the conception of Mary is to be venerated as something extraordinary, wonderful, eminently holy, and different from the conception of all other human beings.” To St. Bernadette at Lourdes in 1858… not long before Darwin published his book on the Origin of Species, Our Lady said “I AM the Immaculate Conception”…note the definite article. There is only one. Pelagius was wrong. Darwin was wrong. All men come from Adam… All men share his sin, except one. Our Lady (Christ was a Divine Person with a human nature). The exception proves the rule. This heresy is given a hammer blow!

5.   The same can be argued about the death of man. Adam’s sin brought death into the world as St. Paul explains in Romans but there is one human person who did not have to die…and that is Our Lady. This is why in defining the dogma of Our Lady’s Assumption into heaven, Pope Pius XII carefully spoke thus… “by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter 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 life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory” (no. 45).

6.   Notice how the Pope did not mention Blessed Mary’s death in the definition. Again, this is the exception that proves the rule. Not having Original Sin, she did not have to die. Again, Pelagianism is dealt a deadly hammer blow!

7.   As it turns out, however, she voluntarily chose to die. She laid down her life for her children as Jesus laid His down. From the lesson … “thou has not spared thy life.” That is the long standing tradition in the West and in parts of the East. Pope Pius XII provided numerous quotes of doctors and saints of both East and West that held she did, in fact, die. But the main point is she did not have to and that was represented in the definition of the dogma. This shows Pelagius was wrong.

8.  Another very important point that comes out in Pope Pius XII’s Apostolic Constitution is how the glorious beginning of the Virgin in her Immaculate Conception must have its complimentary glorious ending in her Assumption into heaven (cf. no. 40). Keeping this in mind, let us also recall that Blessed Mary is also the perfect type of the Church. She is, as it were, the Alpha and Omega of what it means to be the Church. She embodies the Church in herself…in everyway. So, just as She had an pure and holy beginning, so the Church began in perfection. Her original members, Adam and Eve were created perfect and placed in a Creation that had not fallen until they had sinned. Furthermore, just as she had a glorious Assumption into heaven, so will the Church have a glorious end and all that was lost will be restored and greatly augmented by the superabundant graces of His Majesty, Our Lord Jesus Christ. No evolution of species in Mary…in the Church. All started in perfection! Evolution is false science…erroneous. Hammer blow!!!

9.   This point is important in light of a recent series of claims and discussions that label Traditional Catholics as “Pelagians” and “restorationists” seeking a “purely disciplinary solution” to the modern problems “through the restoration of outdated manners and forms which, even on the cultural level, are no longer meaningful.” Is this true? Our Lady shows us that what was lost in the Garden can be restored and recovered. She shows it in her own body, soul and whole life. She is the New Eve. She is Eden! She gives us the way to restore all things for us, the Church and the whole world!

10. But she also gives us ways to discipline ourselves to make this possible. By this I mean she gave us the Rosary with a multitude of promises for those who pray it. She came multiple times (e.g., Lourdes and Fatima) and told us to pray it daily. She has given us the Brown Scapular, the Miraculous Medal. The use of these things requires a sort of exacting discipline. So many beads, prayers, formulas for holiness…given to us by Our Lady with promises attached. Furthermore, she asked us to make the Five First Saturdays. To fulfill her request, certain exacting or disciplinary things must be done. Here is her request: “I promise to help at the hour of death, with graces needed for salvation, whoever, on the first Saturday of 5 consecutive months, shall confess and receive Holy Communion, recite 5 decades of the Rosary, and keep me company for 15 minutes, while meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary with the intention of making reparation to My Immaculate Heart.” Is such devotion and adherence to a discipline a part of Pelagianism? Too formulaic? An outdated form… no longer meaningful? The HAMMER falls…with the ringing response of NO. This is erroneous. This is not Pelagianism but devotion and piety. True devotion. Conformity to her will… these were given to us by her… and the saints show us it works!

11. Oh, Most Clement, Most Sweet, Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Hammer of all heresies, please come and remove all difficulties, all spiritual blindness, dissipate all errors in the whole world… and usher in the promised Triumph of Thine Immaculate Heart… the restoration of all things in Christ.


Woody said...

Thank you, Oh thank you, Father, for this tremendous homily which both inspires and clarifies things. The words of your confrere, from his 2009 Lenten Mission on the Passion of the Church, also still ring in my ears: "Only she can he'p us now." My very best wishes to you all.

Adfero said...

Here is the audio Woody is referring to:

Woody said...

Many thanks, Adfero. I give that mission the highest recommendation. Just listening to the Alabama accent of the preacher (whose name I can guess) enunciating traditional doctrine is worth the time spent. It is like hearing Bear Bryant preaching from above (hopefully).

Banshee said...

There's nothing Pelagian about doing traditional things.

There is something Pelagian about believing that doing traditional things _automatically_ makes one holier. Or that abuses never happened back in the old days, because the traditional behaviors _automatically_ prevented that.

And of course most traditional-style Catholics don't believe this sort of silliness. But sometimes people slip into a sort of Internet shorthand that does sound Pelagian, and that's dangerous.

A lot of the traditional ways please the Lord, and we do those traditional things because we love Him and want to please Him. They help us be holy, but do not _automatically_ make us holy, nor do we become holy by our own efforts without God's help.

Adfero said...

Banshee, your explanation is untrue. Even what your describing isn't Pelagianism and has nothing to do with the heresies of Pelagius.