Rorate Caeli

De Mattei: The Assumption: a Dogma for Our Times

 Roberto de Mattei 
Corrispondenza Romana
August 19, 2020

Waiting for the Virgin in Heaven  (Michael Willman 1681). 

Seventy years ago, on August 15, 1950, the dogma of the Assumption in Heaven of the Blessed Virgin Mary was proclaimed. The promulgation of the dogma was decreed on November 1, 1950, with the Apostolic Constitution  Munificentissimus Deus, but Pius XII made the announcement on August 15, the day  in which, from time immemorial, the Feast of the Assumption has been celebrated.

The Assumption is the transit of the Blessed Virgin, body and soul, from earth to the celestial life.  This truth of Faith springs from the Divine Maternity and virginal integrity of Mary’s Body. Mary being the Mother of God and immune from original sin, it was not fitting that She be subject to the corruption of death, which is a punishment for sin. The dogma of the Immaculate is the premise, the Assumption is the conclusion of a coherent vision of the Mother of God’s privileges.

 “Christ – explains Pius XII in the encyclical proclaiming the dogma -   overcame sin and death by his own death, and one who through Baptism has been born again in a supernatural way has conquered sin and death through the same Christ. Yet, according to the general rule, God does not will to grant to the just the full effect of the victory over death until the end of time has come.” [4]

As a consequence of original sin, also the bodies of the just dissolve after death, and only on the last day will each be reunited to their own glorious soul. “Now God has willed that the Blessed Virgin Mary should be exempted from this general rule. She, by an entirely unique privilege, completely overcame sin by her Immaculate Conception, and as a result she was not subject to the law of remaining in the corruption of the grave, and she did not have to wait until the end of time for the redemption of her body.” [5]

On October 30, two days before the definition of the dogma, Pius XII, had the extraordinary grace of seeing the same spectacle of the sun spinning in the heavens like a fiery globe, which 70,000 pilgrims had witnessed in Portugal more than thirty years before, on October 13, 1917.  “The “dance of the sun” was repeated again right in front of Pope Pacelli on October 31 and November 8.  For the Pontiff, the prodigy seemed to be the heavenly seal on the recently proclaimed dogma and an encouragement to develop the great Marian Movement, which, after the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption, cried out for the proclamation of the Mediation of Mary and the Consecration of Russia to Her Immaculate Heart.

Eugenio Pacelli was consecrated Bishop in Rome on May 13, 1917, the day the Marian apparitions began in Fatima for the three little shepherds, Lucy, Jacinta and Francesco and on October 31, 1942, he  consecrated the Church and the world to the Immaculate heart of Mary.   From that time onward the name and the message of Fatima began to spread all over the Catholic world. For this, many consider him the “Pope of Fatima” and were convinced that during his papacy, Our Lady’s requests to the three visionaries at the Cova da Iria would be fulfilled: the diffusion of the practice of the First Saturdays of the month and the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, solemnly declared by the Pope in union with all the bishops of the world.

Unfortunately, things went quite differently. Neither Pope XII nor the Popes following him have fully performed these requests. The Fatima message nonetheless helps us illuminate, in light of the Assumption, other truths of the Catholic Faith and in particular those concerning the Regality of Mary and Her universal Mediation.

The dogma of the Assumption is strictly tied to the privilege of Mary’s Regality, whereby Mary is crowned in celestial glory and reigns in Heaven and on Earth as sovereign of the Church Militant, Purgative and Triumphant, Queen of the Angels and the Saints. The day of the Assumption is in fact the same day of the glory and coronation of Mary in Heaven and if in eternity one could differentiate the days, we should say that this was the most beautiful and extraordinary of all.

The great plan that God had foreseen for Mary, in the limitless visions of His mind, was at its complete fulfillment the day Our Lady left the earth for good and was placed body and soul on the throne of eternal glory in Heaven. The prophet Elijah was transported to Heaven in a chariot of fire, which according to some interpreters, was a group of angels that lifted him up from the earth. According to St. Alphonsus Liguori, in his masterpiece The Glories of Mary, it wasn’t only a group of angels, but it was the King of Heaven Himself Who came to get Her and accompany Her into Heaven, along with the entire celestial court.  For this St. Peter Damien defines the Assumption of Mary as an even more glorious sight than the Ascension of Jesus Christ, since it was only the angels who came to meet Him, whereas the Lord, Himself, the King of Heaven, with a multitude of Angels and Saints went to meet Our Lady

The moment Our Lady arrived in Heaven, the citizens of the heavenly sphere were speechless at the sight of such beauty and repeated the words of the Song of Songs (VIII, 5); “Who is this  that cometh up from the desert, flowing with delights, leaning upon her beloved? ”  “Who is She?” the accompanying angels respond, according to St. Alphonsus, with these words,: “This is the Mother of Our King; She is Our Queen;  She is the Blessed among women; the Fullness of Grace; the Saint among all saints; the Delight of God; the Immaculate; the Dove;  the Most Beautiful among all the creatures” (The Glories of Mary, 165).

But if the human mind, says St. Bernard, cannot grasp the immense glory God has prepared for those on earth who have loved Him, who can ever grasp. St. Alphonsus adds, what glory He had prepared for His Beloved Mother, Who, while on earth, loved Him more than all mankind, even from the very first instant She was created, loved Him more than all of mankind and all the angels put together?
By crowning Our Lady assumed into Heaven, Queen, the Lord made Her dispenser of all graces.

Our Lady had already been associated, by Her first Fiat, with the redemptive work of Jesus. The work of the Redemption is an integral whole which comprises two parts: one, Jesus accomplished with His Passion associating Himself with Our Lady as “Co-Redemptrix”:  in Her all the heavenly graces necessary  were acquired, once again associating Himself with Our Lady, as Mediatrix of all graces. It is a truth of enormous importance for our spiritual life but also for all mankind. We know that in fact we can do nothing without the help of God, but instead with the help of God, all things are possible. This help from God reaches us through His grace, to which we must correspond with our faith and works.  

Grace depends on God, but He willed that the distribution of graces be dependent on Our Lady. Mary is the universal Mediatrix and the channel through which all graces pass. If a man, if a nation, if an entire population ask a grace from Mary, they will receive it. Otherwise they will be lost. This truth of the Faith does not need to be believed by us in order to be true. It is true independently of us, but believing in this truth, professing it, in words and actions, we will obtain all the benefits.  And in these difficult times we are living in, we have an extreme need of the benefits of grace. We need them, each one of us, individually; our families need them; our nation needs them;  above all, the Church, which is experiencing a  dramatic hour in its history, needs them.

We must pray that after seventy years since the decree on the Assumption, that the Consecration of  Russia to the Immaculate Heart be done and the new Marian dogmas be proclaimed by the Church. The official proclamation of a great Marian dogma, that of the universal mediation of Mary and Her Co-redemption of humanity, could offer a decisive response to the crisis of our time:  showing mankind that only in Mary and thanks to Mary, it can still find salvation in the face of the problems afflicting it.    

At times we have the impression of being in darkness, but looking up at Our Lady of the Assumption, a strip of  sky seems to tear open and we get a glimpse of the dazzling sight of Our Lady Who came in person to Fatima, promising us Her Kingdom in Heaven and on Earth, with the words: “In the  end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.” Those who trust in Her will not be deluded. 

Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana