Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
The Feast of the Assumption
An informal lecture gave on August 14, 1965 (*)
The Assumption was a beautiful favor God granted to His mother. It began when Our Lady, very suavely died. Her passing is customarily called Our Lady’s dormition because the grace with which she passed from this life and the short elapse before her resurrection, made her death seem more like a dream.
After death, Our Lady resurrected, in imitation of Our Lord Jesus Christ. God then assumed her, body and soul, into Heaven, in the presence of the Apostles and many of the faithful.
The Assumption was a true glorification of Our Lady before the eyes of men and will remain so until the end of the world. Nevertheless, it was a mere foreshadowing of the glory she received in Heaven.
To benefit fully from this mystery, we will make a “composition of place,” according to the method of Saint Ignatius. Thus, we will imagine how the Assumption took place. In this, we are free to reconstruct the event as best conforms to our piety, because there are no detailed descriptions of it.
So we begin, imagining the Apostles, assembled before Our Lady’s body, on their knees in prayer. The presence of all the princes of the Church made the atmosphere ineffable, noble, sublime and recollected. Their countenances mimicked those found in the paintings of Fra Angelico.
Meanwhile, the Angels in Heaven were slowly gathering and filling the celestial court. Their faces were also like those portrayed by Fra Angelico. Empyrean Heaven was filled with the most diverse, yet nuanced, colors that radiated in such a way, as to create a truly incomparable scene.
Certainly, things could have happened this way, for if Our Lady was able to fill the sky with such diverse colors during the miracle of the sun at Fatima, why could she not have filled Heaven with colors on the day of her Assumption?
Her soul descended to earth and reunited with her body, revivifying it. She then stood up, body and soul, as the respect and recollection of all those around increased. The physical similarity between her and Our Lord, as mother and Son, was more apparent than usual. Also present, the Savior stood, transfigured, before her and increasingly communicated Himself to her.
As a result, her majesty and queenliness increased together with her motherly kindness. Everything about her that was most intimate was supremely manifested at that moment.
Some Angels – perhaps the most splendid of Heaven – approached and began to lift her upwards. As she slowly rose, the skies were marvelously transformed, until little by little, they returned to their normal state and the witnesses dispersed with a sensation similar to what they had experienced when Our Lord ascended.
They were filled with reverence and awe. The event had shown them that Our Lady was greater than anything they had dared imagine. However, their admiration was already transfixed by deep longings for their motherly queen, who would no longer be with them.
Meanwhile in Heaven, Our Lady’s triumph was just beginning. The entire Church Triumphant received her, especially Saint Joseph. Our Lord welcomed her and the Holy Trinity crowned her as Queen of Heaven and Earth.
These two aspects show the glorification of Our Lady before the Church Triumphant and Militant. And what about the Church Suffering?
Certainly, the souls in Purgatory were also inundated with graces. It is not too audacious to suppose that the Queen of Heaven took most of them to Heaven that day. Thus, there was exuberance throughout the entire Church.
I believe something similar to this will be repeated at the onset of the Reign of Mary prophesied by Saint Louis de Montfort, when we will see the world transformed and Our Lady’s glory shining on earth (note: the great Marian saint spoke numerous times of a coming, worldwide rebirth of the Church and Christian civilization, which he called the “Reign of Mary.” Such a prediction fits perfectly with the promise Our Lady made at Fatima, when she said: “Finally, my Immaculate Heart will Triumph!”).
Her reign will begin with marvelous days of graces, the likes of which have seldom, if ever, been seen before. Our Lady’s magnificence must be thus projected before the eyes of men. To understand why, we need only think of the tremendous celebrations men have prepared for victorious war leaders throughout history.
For example: the enormous ticker tape parade given for General MacArthur in 1951 and the tremendous feasts the Romans prepared for victorious generals show that men understand that the glory of a conqueror must be made manifest.
Since Our Lord is infinitely more generous than men and Our Lady’s victory will be greater than that of any conqueror, He will certainly usher in her triumph in an immeasurably greater way than these celebrations. Her glory will shine before men like it did during the Assumption.
We should meditate on this as we approach the Feast of Our Lady’s Assumption. We should also consider which virtue we should ask of her on this holy day. Certainly, everyone should ask for the virtue he most lacks. However, this does not prevent us from asking Our Lady for a sense of her glory and the understanding that everything in Creation represents her splendor.
Since she is the highest created expression of God, we should struggle to defend and strive to establish the highest possible expression of her spirit on earth. This will make us true knights and crusaders of Our Lady, struggling for her glory on earth. I believe this is the most proper virtue for which to ask on the feast of Our Lady’s Assumption.
(*) The preceding text has been translated and adapted for publication without the revision of Prof. Plinio. – Ed. American TFP