22 August 2018

The Octave of the Assumption

Personally, I rather like the Novus Ordo idea of making the Octave Day of the Assumption the feast of Maria Regina. Especially if we remember especially the association of the Assumption with our Lady's role as Mediatrix of all Graces. This idea rather disappeared from the texts provided for the Assumption after the Definition of the Dogma by Pius XII.

But whatever aspect of Marian dogma one has in mind on this day, I commend a perception of Blessed John Henry Newman, when he was still an Anglican.

Newman intriguingly argued that the Arians, who were prepared to use the most extravagant language about our Lord while firmly denying that he is coequal in his divinity to the Father, accustomed Christians to believe in an exalted yet created mediator. They were condemned by the Church, on the grounds that Christ is God and thus, like the Father, Uncreated. So the question arose : who is the merely created being that really does occupy, in God's will, the lofty place which was still considered infinitely too lowly for the Divine Word? Now read on.

[The Arians] left Him a creature and were found wanting. Thus there was a 'wonder in heaven': a throne was seen, far above all created powers, mediatorial, intercessory; a title archetypal; a crown bright as the morning star; a glory issuing from the Eternal throne; robes pure as the heavens; and a sceptre over all; and who was the predestined heir of that Majesty? Since it was not high enough for the Highest, who was that Wisdom, and what was her name, 'the Mother of fair love, and fear, and holy hope', 'exalted like a palm-tree in Engaddi, and a rose-plant in Jericho', 'created from the beginning before the world' in God's counsels, and 'in Jerusalem was her power'? The vision is found in the Apocalypse, a Woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. The votaries of Mary do not exceed the true faith, unless the blasphemers of her Son came up to it. The Church of Rome is not idolatrous, unless Arianism is orthodoxy.

Newman goes on to argue that it was thus, during the period of the Arian controversy, that it was 'determined, that to exalt a creature was no recognition of its divinity'; and to speak of those in his own day who condemned devotion to Mary as (unconsciously) heretics. 'It is not wonderful ... if those who never rise higher in their notions of our Lord's Divinity, than to consider Him a man singularly inhabited by a Divine Presence, that is, a Catholic Saint, - if such men should mistake the honour paid by the Church to the human Mother for that very honour which, and which alone, is worthy of her Eternal Son.


Thomas said...

Is it perhaps possible to reconcile the older and newer liturgical themes about Our Lady's Assumption by saying that she is Mediatrix of All Graces precisely because she has been the recipient of all graces? So her glorious Assumption is indeed the ultimate outcome of her uniquely intimate role in Our Lord's life, death and resurrection, and at the same time and by the same token it initiates her unique share in his heavenly office as she becomes our motherly intercessor and the universal administrator of His saving graces.

Gil Garza said...

For those seeking the reference,

Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, CHAPTER VI, SECTION I, § 1 Developments growing out of the Question of our Lord’s Divinity, paragraph 9.

Banshee said...

Our Lady as recipient of all graces is a very old theme, from the Fathers on. Fr. Livius' book on Mary in the Epistles talks about that, and has some good quotes.