Monday, August 7, 2017

Padre Pio's Tribute to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin

Translated in English for the first time, with permission, from the Italian of the fourth book of the Letters of Padre Pio; see at bottom for details.

     Great events merit great commemorations; we see that this constantly occurs. The anniversary of the coronation of a prince is celebrated, that of an important victory, and unfortunately sometimes dates are remembered that are tragic for the Church, the memory of which cannot do other than further sadden the hearts of humble Catholics. But for the most affectionate children, the most beautiful dates are those which record the triumphs and glories of their Mother. We Catholics who venerate in Most Holy Mary the most tender and affectionate of Mothers that one can speak of, can do no less than rejoice on that day sacred to the memory of her greatest victory, that is, her Assumption into Heaven and her Coronation as Queen of the angels and of all the saints. Therefore let us pause here somewhat to consider the power and the glory of Most Holy Mary assumed into Heaven, to better arouse our devotion and confidence towards her.
Dormition; Fra Angelico
     After the Ascension of Jesus Christ into Heaven, Mary was continually on fire with a most intense desire to be reunited to Him. And Oh! The burning sighs, the pitiful moans that she addressed to Him constantly, that He would call her to Himself. Without her divine Son, it seemed that she found herself in a most hard exile. Those years in which she had to be separated from Him were for her a most slow and painful martyrdom, a martyrdom of love that consumed her little by little. But behold, finally the longed-for hour arrived, and Mary heard the voice of her beloved, which called her from on high. “Come sister, my delight, my spouse, come! [cf. Cant. 4, 8ff.] Come O beloved of my heart, the time of your groans on earth is finished; come O spouse, and receive from the Father, from the Son, and from the Holy Spirit the crown that has been prepared for you in Heaven!”

      This loving invitation was manifested to Most Holy Mary by means of the burning love that made her desire ever more ardently to see her Son and be united to Him. Her heart told her that her longings were finally to be satisfied, and totally happy she prepared herself to leave this earth. Already it seemed she could hear the angelic harmonies coming towards her. However, her heart was torn between her divine Son who was in Heaven, and her other adopted sons still on earth – the apostles. As a tender Mother, she wished to bless them before departing this world. God, in order to render her passage completely blissful, wanted to satisfy her desire - and in a short time the apostles, who were dispersed in various parts of the world in order to preach the Gospel, were carried by invisible hands to the humble house of Mary. She was greatly pleased by their arrival, and revealed to them that she was soon to be united with her son Jesus.
      The apostles, upon hearing that Mary would soon leave them, reacted like children who stood to become orphans, and they burst forth in sorrowful lamentations. She took steps to console them, assuring them that she would not completely abandon them, but would continue to assist and help them from Heaven. They did not leave her alone even for a moment, and Mary in response to the sighs that they were raising up to Heaven, braided wise counsels with words of comfort as she addressed the desolated apostles. 
Assumption; Fra Angelico
      The divine love in the heart of Mary burned with such great intensity, that it could no longer be contained within a mortal creature. And so the blessed soul of Mary, as a tied dove that had broken its bonds, separated itself from her holy body, and flew into the bosom of her beloved. But Jesus who ruled in Heaven with His most holy Humanity, which He had taken from the womb of the Virgin, desired that His Mother, not only with her soul but also with her body, be reunited with him and share fully in His glory. And this was truly just and right. Her body which was never for an instant the slave of the demon or of sin, should rightly never be subject to corruption. 
      Now what tongue can fittingly describe the triumphant entrance of Mary into Heaven? If the celebrations that are prepared here down below arouse such admiration and great enthusiasm as to move and attract the thoughts of so many people, what can possibly be said of the triumphs prepared by God Himself for His very own Mother? Saint Anselm affirms that the Redeemer wished to ascend into Heaven before His Mother not only to prepare a throne worthy of her Queenship, but also to render more triumphant and glorious her entrance into Heaven, to arrive there and encounter Himself along with all the angels and the blessed of Paradise. Thus, Saint Peter Damian does not hesitate to affirm that the Assumption of Mary into Heaven was more glorious than the Ascension of Jesus Christ, since only the angels came to greet Him, but with Most Holy Mary, not only the angels came to meet her, but also the saints and at the head of all, that same Jesus Christ.
Coronation; Fra Angelico
      Mary shook off the sleep of death which had deprived her of the angelic melodies. The celestial spirits burst open the tomb which had received her body; her divine Son stretched forth His hand, and Mary followed Him, all majestic and bright like the rising sun. Sweetly and calmly she rose from the earth, up towards the clouds and the celestial spheres, to the boundaries of the home of the Blessed. The gates of Heaven opened and the Mother of God entered in. As soon as the saints in Heaven saw her arrayed in the splendor of her beauty, with great festivity and joy they surrounded her, greeting her and honoring her with lofty titles. Offering their homage by prostrating themselves at her feet, by mutual consent they proclaimed her as their Queen. The heavenly celebration was joined by the Most Holy Trinity; the Father welcomed her as His favored one, inviting her to partake of His power. 

Translated in English with permission, from the Italian of the fourth book of the Letters of Padre Pio, Epistolario IV, pp 1123-1126, Edizioni Padre Pio da Pietrelcina, San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, 2002. This is my personal translation and is not to be considered official. The Friary is currently working on an English translation for book IV. 

Fra Angelico (1395 - 1455):  Dormition, Assumption, Coronation

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