August 22 – The Octave of the Assumption (The Immaculate Heart of Mary); Comm. of Saints Timothy, Hippolytus, and Symphorian, Martyrs
He alone who could understand Mary’s holiness could appreciate her glory. But Wisdom, who presided over the formation of the abyss, has not revealed to us the depth of that ocean, beside which all the virtues of the just and all the graces lavished upon them are but streamlets. Nevertheless, the immensity of grace and merit, whereby the Blessed Virgin’s supernatural perfection stands quite apart from all others, gives us a right to conclude that she has an equal supereminence in glory, which is always proportioned to the sanctity of the elect. Whereas all the other predestined of our race are placed among the various ranks of the celestial hierarchy, the holy Mother of God is exalted above all the choirs, forming by herself a distinct order, a new heaven, where the harmonies of Angels and Saints are far surpassed. In Mary, God is more glorified, better known, more loved than in all the rest of the universe. On this ground alone, according to the order of creative Providence, which subordinates the less to the more perfect, Mary is entitled to be Queen of earth and heaven. In this sense, it is for her, next to the Man-God, that the world exists. The great theologian, Cardinal de Lugo, explaining the words of the Saints on this subject, dares to say: “Just as, creating all things in his complacency for his Christ, God made him the end of creatures; so, with due proportion, we may say he drew the rest of the world out of nothing through the love of the Virgin Mother, so that she too might thus be justly called the end of all things.”
As Mother of God, and at the same time his first-born, she had a right and title over his goods; as Bride she ought to share his crown. “The glorious Virgin,” says St. Bernardine of Sienna, “has as many subjects as the Blessed Trinity has. Every creature, whatever be its rank in creation, spiritual as the Angels, rational as man, material as the heavenly bodies or the elements, heaven and earth, the reprobate and the blessed, all that springs from the power of God is subject to the Virgin. For he who is the Son of God and of the Blessed Virgin, wishing, so to say, to make his Mother’s principality in some sort equal to his Father’s, became, God as he is, the servant of Mary. If then it be true to say that every one, even the Virgin, obeys God, we may also convert the proposition, and affirm that every one, even God, obeys the Virgin.”
The empire of Eternal Wisdom comprises, so the Holy Spirit tells us, the heavens, the earth, and the abyss: the same then is the appanage of Mary on this her crowning day. Like the divine Wisdom to whom she gave Flesh, she may glory in God. He whose magnificence she once chanted, today exalts her humility. The Blessed one by excellence has become the honor of her people, the admiration of the Saints, the glory of the armies of the Most High. Together with the Spouse, let her, in her beauty, march to victory; let her triumph over the hearts of the mighty and the lowly. The giving of the world’s scepter into her hands is no mere honor void of reality: from this day forward, she commands and fights, protects the Church, defends its head, upholds the ranks of the sacred militia, raises up Saints, directs Apostles, enlightens doctors, exterminates heresy, crushes hell.
Let us hail our Queen, let us sing her mighty deeds; let us be docile to her; above all, let us love her and trust in her love. Let us not fear that, amidst the great interests of the spreading of God’s Kingdom, she will forget our littleness or our miseries. She knows all that takes place in the obscurest corners, in the furthest limits of her immense domain. From her title of universal cause under the Lord, is rightly deduced the universality of her providence; and the masters of doctrine show us Mary in glory sharing in the science called of vision, whereby all that is, has been, or is to be, is present before God. On the other hand, we must believe that her charity could not possibly be defective: as her love of God surpasses the love of all the elect, so the tenderness of all mothers united, centered upon an only child, is nothing to the love wherewith Mary surrounds the least, the most forgotten, the most neglected of all the children of God, who are her children too. She forestalls them in her solicitude, listens at all times to their humble prayers, pursues them in their guilty flights, sustains their weakness, compassionates their ills, whether of body or of soul, sheds upon all men the heavenly favors whereof she is the treasury. Let us then say to her in the words of one of her great servants: “O most holy Mother of God, who hast beautified heaven and earth, in leaving this world thou hast not abandoned man. Here below thou didst live in heaven; from heaven thou conversest with us. Thrice happy those who contemplated thee and lived with the Mother of life! But in the same way as thou didst dwell in the flesh with them of the first age, thou now dwellest with us spiritually. We hear thy voice; and all our voices reach thine ear; and thy continual protection over us makes thy presence evident. Thou dost visit us; thine eye is upon us all; and although our eyes cannot see thee, O most holy One, yet thou art in the midst of us, showing thyself in various ways to whosoever is worthy. Thy immaculate body, come forth from the tomb, hinders not the immaterial power, the most pure activity of that spirit of thine, which, being inseparable from the Holy Ghost, breathes also where it wills. O Mother of God, receive the grateful homage of our joy, and speak for thy children to him who has glorified thee: whatsoever thou askest of him, he will accomplish it by his divine power; may he be blessed for ever!”
Let us honor the group of Martyrs which forms the rear guard of our triumphant Queen. Timothy, who came from Antioch to Rome, Hippolytus, Bishop of Porto, and Symphorian, the glory of Autun, suffered for God at different periods and at different places; but they gathered their palms on the same day of the year and the same heaven is now their above. “My son, my son,” said his valiant mother to Symphorian, “remember life eternal; look up, and see him who reigns in heaven; they are not taking thy life away, but changing it into a better.” Let us admire these heroes of our faith; and let us learn to walk like them, though by less painful paths, in the footsteps of our Lord, and so to rejoice Mary.
|Auxilium tuum nobis, Domine quæsumus, placatus impende: et intercedentibus beatis Martyribus tuis Timotheo, Hippolyto et Symphoriano, dexteram super nos tuæ propitiationis extende. Per Dominum.||We beseech thee, O Lord, to be appeased, and to impart to us thy help: and, by the intercession of Blessed Timothy, Hippolytus, and Symphorian, thy Martyrs, extend over us the right hand of thy mercy. Through our Lord, &c.|
The inexhaustible Adam of St. Victor gives us another Sequence for the Assumption; it was sung at Saint Victor on the Octave day.
|Gratulemur in hac die * In qua sanctæ fit Mariæ * Celebris Assumptio; * Dies ista, dies grata, * Qua de terris est translata * In cœlum cum gaudio.||Let us rejoice on this day whereon is celebrated the Assumption of holy Mary; this day, this dear day, when from earth she was translated into heaven with joy.|
|Super choros exaltata * Angelorum, est prelata * Cunctis c&oeli civibus. * In decore contemplatur * Natum suum, et precatur * Pro cunctis fidelibus.||Exalted above the choirs of Angels, she is set over all the citizens of heaven. She contemplates her Son in his beauty, and prays for all the faithful.|
|Expurgemus nostras sordes * Ut illius, mundicordes, * Assistamus laudibus; * Si concordent linguis mentes, * Aures ejus intedentes * Erunt nostris vicibus.||Let us cleanse away our stains, that clean of heart we may take part in her praises; if our minds be in accord with our tongues, her ears will be attentive to our voices.|
|Nunc concordes hanc laudemus * Et in laude proclamemus: * Ave, plena gratia! * Ave, Virgo Mater Christi, * Quæ de Sancti concepisti * Spiritus præsentia!||Let us then praise her with one accord, and in her praise cry out: Hail, full of grace! hail, Virgin Mother of Christ, who didst conceive him by the presence of the Holy Spirit.|
|Virgo Sancta, Virgo munda, * Tibi nostræ sit jocunda * Vocis modulatio. * Nobis open fer desursum, * Et, post hujus vitæ cursum, * Tuo junge Filio.||Holy Virgin, spotless Virgin, may the music of our voice be pleasing to thee. Bring us help from on high, and after this life’s course, unite us to thy Son.|
|Tu a sæclis præelecta, * Litterali diu tecta * Fuisti sub cortice; * De te, Christum genitura, * Prædixerunt in Scriptura * Prophetæ, sed typice.||O thou elect from all eternity, long wast thou hidden in the shell of the letter; of thee as future Mother of Christ, the Prophets foretold in the Script, but in types.|
|Sacramentum patefactum * Est, dum Verbum, caro factum, * Ex te nasci voluit, * Quod nos sua pietate * A maligni potestate * Potenter eripuit.||The Mystery was unveiled when the Word made Flesh willed to be born of thee, who in his love did powerfully snatch us from the power of the wicked one.|
|Te per thronum Salomonis, * Te per vellus Gedeonis * Præsignatam credimus; * Et per rubum incombustum, * Testamentum si vetustum * Mystice perpendimus.||Thee by the throne of Solomon, thee by the fleece of Gedeon, we believe to be foreshown, and by the bush unburnt, if the ancient Testament we mystically ponder.|
|Super vellus ros descendens * Et in rubo flamma splendens, * (Neutrum tamen læditur) * Fuit Christus carnem sumens, * In te tamen non consumens * Pudorem, dum gignitur.||On the fleece the dew descending, in the bush the flame resplendent (yet neither hurt thereby), was Christ assuming flesh in thee, yet not destroying thy purity by his birth.|
|De te virga processurum * Florem mundo profuturum * Isaias cecinit, * Flore Christum præfigurans * Cujus virtus semper durans * Nec cœpit, nec desinit.||The flower that was to spring from thee, the stem, and benefit the world, Isaias sang; by the flower prefiguring Christ, whose power everlasting neither began nor endeth.|
|Fontis vitæ tu cisterna, * Ardens, lucens es lucerna; * Per te nobis lux superna * Suum fudit radium; * Ardens igne caritatis, * Luce lucens castitatis, * Lucem summæ claritatis * Mundo gignens Filium.||Thou art the reservoir of the fountain of life, thou art a lamp burning and shining; through thee the light supernal on us hath shed its ray; burning with fire of charity, shining with light of chastity, bringing into the world thy Son, the light of supreme brightness.|
|O salutis nostræ porta, * Nos exaudi, nos conforta, * Et a via nos distorta * Revocare propera: * Te vocantes de profundo, * Navigantes in hoc mundo, * Nos ab hoste furibundo * Tua prece libera.||O gate of our salvation, hear us and comfort us, and from our crooked ways hasten to call us back: we are calling on thee from the abyss, sailing on the sea of the world; from the furious enemy deliver us by thy prayer.|
|Jesu, nostrum salutare, * Ob meritum singulare * Tuæ Matris, visitare * In hac valle nos dignare * Tuæ dono gratiæ. * Qui neminem vis damnari, * Sic directe conversari * Nos concedas in hoc mari, * Ut post mortem munerari * Digni simus requie. Amen.||O Jesus our salvation, by the incomparable merit of thy Mother, deign to visit us in this valley with the gift of thy grace. Thou who willest that no one be condemned, grant us to steer our course so straightly through this sea, that after death we may be worthy to be rewarded in thy rest. Amen.|
The following prayer is remarkable for the symbolism wherewith it is inspired. It is used at the blessing of medicinal herbs and fruits, given from time immemorial, in certain places, on the day of the Assumption.
|Deus, qui virgam Jesse, Genitricem Filii tui Domini nostri Jesu Christi, hodierna die ad cœlorum fastigia ideo evexisti, ut per ejus suffragia et patroicnia fructum ventris illius, eumdem Filium tuum, mortalitati nostræ communicares: te supplices exoramus; ut ejusdem Filii tui virtute, ejusque Genitricis glorioso patrocinio, istorum terræ fructuum præsidiis per temporalem ad æternam salutem disponamur. Per eumdem Dominum nostrum.||O God, who on this day didst raise up to the height of heaven the rod of Jesse, the Mother of thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ, in order that through her prayers and patronage thou mightest communicate to our mortality the same thy Son the fruit of her womb: we humbly beseech thee, that by the power of this thy Son, and by the glorious patronage of his Mother, we may, by the help of these fruits of the earth, be disposed by temporal health for eternal salvation. Through the same Christ our Lord.|
But let us close the radiant Octave by hearing Mary herself speak in this beautiful Antiphon, appointed amongst others in certain manuscripts to accompany the Magnificat on the feast. Our Lady there appears, not in her own name alone, but as representing the Church, which begins in her its entrance in body and soul into heaven. The present happiness of the Blessed Virgin is the pledge for us all of the eternal felicity promised us; the triumph of the Mother of God will not be complete until the last of her children has followed her into glory. Let us then join in this prayer so full of sweet love: it is truly worthy to express the feelings of Mary, as she crossed the threshold of her heavenly home.
|Maria exsultavit in spiritu, et dixit: Benedico te, qui dominaris super omnem benedictionem. Benedico habitaculum gloriæ tuæ, benedico te, cui factum est habitaculum in utero meo; et benedico omnia opera manuum tuarum, quæ obediunt tibi in omni subjectione. Benedico dilectionem tuam qua nos dilexisti. Benedico omnia verba quæ exierunt de ore tuo, quæ data sunt nobis. In veritte enim credam, quia sicut dixisti sic fiet.||Mary exulted in spirit and said: I bless thee who art Lord over every blessing. I bless the dwelling of thy glory, I bless thee for whom was made a dwelling in my womb, and I bless all the works of thy hands which obey thee in all subjection. I bless thy love wherewith thou hast loved us. I bless all the words that have come forth from thy mouth and are given to us. For I believe in truth that as thou hast said, so shall it be done.|
This text is taken from The Liturgical Year, authored by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)