Friday, August 14, 2009

Vigil of the Assumption

Heaven with transcendent joys her entrance graced,
next to his throne her Son his Mother placed;
and here below, now she's of heaven possessed,
all generations are to call her blessed.

– Thomas Ken, "Her Virgin eyes saw God incarnate born"

I like the words of an Anglican blogger - that the St Mary the Virgin was assumed into heaven that she might perpetually intercede for us.

Immaculate at her own conception, ever sinless, graced and all-holy in her life, virginal in her conception of the Eternal Word, sacred in her overshadowing and indwelling by the Holy Spirit, blessed for her firm believing and stedfast adherence to the will of God, blest for her firm and stedfast stance at the foot of the Cross, blest for her continual intercession for the nascent Church and for every Christian soul bequeathed her by her Son, blest in her sacred repose, blest in her assumption into the celestial tabernacle and nuptial chamber on high, wherein her Son reigns on a starry throne - for all ages, in the heaven of heavens above all the heavens, in the Empyrean, by the power of the Almighty there abide a Man and a Woman, the Sacred Humanity of Our Lord, and the all-glorified Mother of God.

As was said at Mass to-night, the Assumption marks God's acceptance of creatureliness into His perfect heaven. What must it be to be so glorified, superglorified, that one is brought to be united body and soul with God in heaven evermore - a grace second only to that of the hypostatic union! In principio erat Verbum, et Verbum erat apud Deum... Signum magnum apparuit in cælo, mulier amicta sole... (St John i, 1; Apoc. xii, 1)

As the Preface at Mass has it (echoing the Marian decree of Vatican II, contained in its larger work on the Church), Our Lady in heaven is the image and exemplar of the Church and each soul, that we may see in her made perfect what is our most high calling. And therefore with angels and archangels and the whole company of the heavenly host, even now here on earth let us join in their worshipping song without end, joining in the Eucharistic Sacrifice as our point of cross-over from this world to the Father: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus...

Finally, in the offering of the Sacred Victim - Per ipsum, et cum ipso, et in ipso, est tibi, Deo Patri omnipotenti, in unitate Spiritus Sancti, omnis honor et gloria - and the unspeakable grace of reception thereof, we have our foretaste of what bliss Our Lady ever has with her Son our Lord: God grant that we prove worthy of what we have received in mystery, that we may too one day made perfect be forever with the Lord. (But we must not rest: Newman frighteningly says that there are many who are now growing in grace and virtue that yet shall not come to be saved!)

Very appropriately, especially as I've been reading it daily in the Little Office, we sang at Mass the great Marian hymn of Venantius Fortunatus, Quem terra, pontus, sidera, in Neale's incomparable translation, for the central dogma of all Mariology is that Mary is Mother of God - all stems from it, from her Immaculate Conception to her Corporeal Assumption and everlasting Queenship:

The God whom earth, and sea, and sky
adore, and laud, and magnify,
who o'er their threefold fabric reigns,
the Virgin's spotless womb contains.

The God whose will by moon, and sun,
and all things in due course is done,
is borne upon a Maiden's breast,
by fullest heavenly grace possessed.

How blest that Mother, in whose shrine
the great Artificer Divine,
whose hand contains the earth and sky,
vouchsafed, as in His ark, to lie.

Blest, in the message Gabriel brought;
blest, by the work the Spirit wrought;
from whom the great Desire of earth
took human flesh and human birth.

All honor, laud, and glory be,
O Jesu Virgin-born, to Thee,
all glory, as is ever meet,
to Father and to Paraclete. Amen.

(Look at my posting from last year on this solemnity, gentle reader, for links to two fine Assumption hymns...)

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