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Newsletter of Mater Dei Seminary
August 2003

Other articles in this newsletter:
May invalids gain on other days the indulgences attached to the receiving of Holy Communion on the First Friday of the month?

Dear friends and benefactors,

During the month of August, we celebrate the beautiful feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (proclaimed a dogma by Pope Pius Xll on November 1, 1950). As often as we have celebrated this feast, perhaps we have given little thought to the meaning of this dogma and to the events which preceded the solemn definition by the Supreme Pontiff.

The dogma of the Assumption affirms as a divinely revealed truth that the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, after her earthy life, was assumed body and soul into heaven.

Shortly after the proclamation of the dogma of the Imaculate Conception in 1854, the Holy See was overwhelmed with petitions for the definition of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin.

At the First Vatican Council (1870), the Council Fathers renewed the same request to Pope Pius IX, and presented their reason:

“According to the teaching of the Apostle [Rom. 5:8; 1 Cor. 15:24, 26, 54, 57; Heb. 2:14, and other texts], when Jesus triumphed over the ancient serpent, He gained a three-fold victory over sin and its consequences, i.e., over concupiscence and death. Since the Mother of God is associated in a special way with her Son in this triumph (Gen. 3:15), and this in accord with the unanimous teaching of the Fathers, we have no doubt that in the above-mentioned passage (Gen. 3:15), this same Blessed Virgin is foretold as illustrious by a similar victory that is threefold: over sin by her Immaculate Conception, over concupiscence by her virginal motherhood, and, in like manner, over death by a triumphant resurrection similar to that of her Son” (The Vatican Council, Collectio Lacensis, VII 860).

Between 1870 and 1941, petitions for the definition of the Assumption were submitted by 113 Cardinals, over 300 Archbishops and Bishops, some 32,000 priests and brothers, 50,000 religious women, and by more than 8,000,000 laity.

In response to these petitions, the following questionaire in Pope Pius XII’s letter “Deiparae Virginis Mariae” was sent to all the Bishops in the Catholic World on May 1, 1946: “Do you, Venerable Brethren, in view of the wisdom and prudence that is yours, judge that the bodily Assumption of the most Blessed Virgin can be proposed and defined as a dogma of faith, and do you along with your clergy and people desire it?”

And those whom “the Holy Ghost has placed as bishops to rule the Church of God” (Acts 20:28) gave an almost unanimous affirmative response to both these questions.

This universal consent of the Bishops in union with the Pope represented the ordinary and universal magisterium of the Church. Let us remember the teaching of Vatican Council I in this matter:

“Moreover, by divine and Catholic faith everything must be believed that is contained in the written word of God or in tradition, and that is proposed by the Church as a divinely revealed object of belief either in a solemn decree or IN HER ORDINARY, UNIVERSAL TEACHING.”

In the Roman Breviary for the Feast of the Assumption we read “From the Acts of Pope Pius XII:”

“Since indeed the universal Church has always throughout the ages manifested faith in the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and since the bishops of the whole world by an almost unanimous agreement have petitioned that this truth which is enshrined in Sacred Scripture and deeply rooted in the souls of Christ's faithful, and is also truly in accord with other revealed truths, should be defined as a dogma of the divine and Catholic faith, Pope Pius XII, acceding to the requests of the whole Church decreed that this privilege of the Blessed Virgin Mary be solemnly proclaimed. . .

“Wherefore having oftered to God continual prayers of supplication and having invoked the light of the Spirit of Truth to the glory of Almighty God who has enriched the Virgin Mary with his special favor; in honor of his Son, the immortal King of ages and victor over sin and death; for the increase of the glory of the same august Mother, and for the joy and exultation of the whole Church; by the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of the holy 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, Mary ever Virgin, was, at the end of her earthly life, assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.”

Let us worthily celebrate this glorious feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, and let us remember that she who now reigns with her Divine Son is our own spiritual mother, ever ready to help us in all our spiritual and temporal necessities.

With my prayers and blessing,
Most Rev. Mark A. Pivarunas, CMRI

Other articles in this newsletter:
May invalids gain on other days the indulgences attached to the receiving of Holy Communion on the First Friday of the month?

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Printed copies of Adsum, a publication by the seminarians of Mater Dei Seminary for the reading enjoyment of friends and benefactors, are sent free of charge to all who request it. Most issues also contain photos of recent events involving the seminarians. If you would like to put on this mailing list, please use this form.

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