(first published August 15, 2014)
by David Pence
"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 declaration of glory.” (Pope Pius XII, November 1, 1950)
When Christ asked Peter who the apostles thought he was, Peter made the first infallible papal statement. He said, “Thou art the Son of the living God.” Christ made it clear it was not personal insight which allowed this Petrine testimony without error. “Not flesh and Blood but my Father in heaven” had allowed Peter to proclaim this central truth of our Faith for the brethren. And so again, 2000 years later, Pius XII did not wake up one November morning in 1950 and introduce to the flock a novel teaching he and some cardinals had been concocting about Our Lady. He stated what the praying Church had known devotionally for centuries. The pope, though, with a singular voice spoke the Truth from Rome as Peter had spoken for all the apostles at Caesarea Philippi.
The Pope in a few terse words described the perfection of matter -- the most perfect blossom of the tree of Jesse. She was Immaculate -- conceived without sin. She is the Mother of God -- the locus of the Incarnation where God came into flesh to draw human flesh into his Body. She is ever Virgin -- an intact virgin not entered by man nor torn asunder by birth. And yet in the unity and holiness which the intactness of virginity represents there is a permeability to the Spirit which brings forth the Son. This moment in history of uncorrupted feminine flesh reminds all men of our original nature in Eden and of our present capacity for perfection. This Marian perfection of matter was never allowed to be corrupted by death, though she suffered it. In this modern era when the corrupted mist of the world seems omnipresent, the Church reminds us that purity is possible. The person separated from Evil can bear Christ on earth and will be drawn into Him where he sits at the right hand of the Father. Purity on earth is possible and the spiritual ordering of the flesh leads to Eternal life. Humans are not evolving to some higher form; perfection comes from imitating a form who was already here in a specific time and place. Let us sing of Mary.
Of heaven there is less to say. How will she reign where her son is the King and the King has a Father? She might be drawn to some inner chamber where the feminine holds the three masculine persons of the Trinity in One. C.S. Lewis described heaven as going higher and higher and deeper and deeper. Mary is not a Queen on a throne; she is the Queen of those depths. There is some inner chamber of the hidden God which we never name with a pronoun… but if we did it would be feminine. For the feminine is interiority.
There is an intact interior that separates God from all creation. This radical separation is the meaning of HOLY. Mary and the consecrated virgins of the Church seek not crowns for their heads, but an interior milieu where their hearts can come to final rest and ponder anew. Come, let us sing of Mary -- who on this day turns our eyes to Heaven where she abides with her Son. Let us admire from a distance the beauty of the Church’s consecrated virgins who keep us vigilant for our returning King by waiting for Him as their Bridegroom.
"Neither the tomb, nor death could hold the Theotokos,
Who is constant in prayer and our firm hope in her intercessions.
For being the Mother of Life,
She was translated to life by the One who dwelt in her virginal womb."
UPDATE: Take notice of what Christ is holding [click on the image above]: a small child clothed in white representing the soul of the Virgin Mary.
Taylor Marshall on the traditional teaching of the Church.
It is a good feast to remember Dietrich von Hildebrand’s classic reflection on purity and virginity in Catholic culture.
Here is an August 15th sermon by Monsignor Ronald Knox (d. 1957).