We leave a couple minutes early and stop at St. Joseph’s on Capitol Hill for the 8:00 a.m. Mass. I’ve seen Senator Rick Santorum heading into this Mass before, on other days, but no sign of him today. See, he goes on just any old day. Good for him. I’m here today actually only because we’re required to go somewhere today, it being a holy day of obligation, as we say.
Sadly, there’s no singing, except for the Alleluia. The start of the Mass is announced by bells ringing, something I’ve only otherwise seen & heard in Italy.
Crazy first reading from Revelations. I don’t even begin to know how to put together all the imagery, the woman wailing in pain as she gives birth to the child about to be devoured by the seven-headed dragon. Except that we’re all about the Blessed Virgin today, so maybe she’s supposed to be the woman. Except, check, right, this is Revelations, and it’s all just crazy.
The Gospel is the Magnificat. Of course!
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
The Assumption itself is a dogma, and it describes the conceit whereby the Mother of God did not die but rather was assumed into heaven. (Hmm. We were just talking on Sunday about Elijah and something similar.) Looking to the OED, assume comes from the Latin ad sumere, meaning to take to oneself, as in God taking her to himself. So that’s assume in that sense, rather than the we don’t know any better so we just assume it to be so sense, you jokesters.
I think it’s a lovely concept, probably somehow logically necessary even, in like divine argument or something. How could the mother of God die, I guess is the question, and that needs to be answered by, well, she didn’t. Like how could the mother of God be born with original sin? Again, she wasn’t. That’s the Immaculate Conception.
But it’s also something of an article of faith, more than merely a concept or a logical necessity. It’s a belief that to deny, according to His Holiness Pope Benedict XIV, would be impious and blasphemous. (That’s fourteenth, note. Not the current sixteenth.) And then it was formally constituted to be a dogma of the Church by His Holiness Pope Pius XII in 1950:
[W]e 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 glory.
Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith.