Homily on the Assumption

Source: District of Asia

Thirty-Five Cardinals, two-thirds of the members of the Sacred College, took part in the semi-public consistory held October 30, 1950, to voice their assent to the proclamation of the dogma of the Assumption. The Cardinals all replied “Placet” (“It is pleasing”) when His Holiness Pius XII asked the group whether it is “your good pleasure” that the dogma be defined.  Also at the consistory were some five hundred patriarchs, archbishops, and bishops. Their collective assent to the definition was expressed in a declaration by Patriarch Joseph VII Ghanima of Babylon.

Homily on the Assumption

Allocution of Pope Pius XII, October 30, 1950

YOU WELL KNOW the motive for which we have convoked this Youred Consistory today. It is an event which will fill us, you and the whole Catholic world with unspeakable joy. On the first of November, the Feast of All Saints, the radiant brow of the Queen of Heaven and of the beloved Mother of God will be wreathed with new splendor, when, under divine inspiration and assistance, we shall solemnly define and decree her bodily Assumption into heaven.

With the authority which the Divine Redeemer transmitted to the Prince of the Apostles and to his successors, we have the intention of ordaining and defining what from the earliest days the Church piously believes and honors, what the Holy Fathers have elaborated and brought to a clearer light through the centuries, and what the faithful of all classes everywhere have earnestly requested and implored by innumerable documents - namely, that Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, was assumed, body and soul, into the glory of heaven.

Before taking this resolution, we deemed it opportune, as you are aware, to entrust the study of the matter to experts. They, at our command, assembled all the requests which had been addressed to the Holy See on the matter, and examined them with all attention, so that there might emerge, in the clearest possible manner, what the Sacred Magisterium and the entire Catholic Church held should be believed on this point of doctrine.

Furthermore, at our bidding, they studied with the greatest diligence all the attestations, indications and references in the common faith of the Church regarding the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin into heaven, whether in the concordant teaching of the Sacred Magisterium, or in the Sacred Scripture, or in the most ancient cult of the Church, as well as, lastly, in the writings of the Fathers and of the theologians and in the admirable harmony of this with other revealed truths.

We also sent letters to all the Bishops requesting them to state not only their own opinion, but also the thought and desire of the clergy and faithful.

In a wonderful and almost unanimous chorus, the voices of the pastors and of the faithful from every part of the world reached us professing the same faith and requesting the same things as supremely desired by all. We judged then that there was no reason for further delay, and we decided to proceed to the definition of the dogma.

If it is true that the entire Catholic Church cannot deceive or be deceived, the Divine Redeemer, Who is truth itself, having promised to the Apostles: “And behold, I am with you all days even unto the consummation of the world,” it follows that this truth, firmly believed by the holy pastors and by the people, has been revealed by God, and can be defined by our supreme authority.

Nor is it without the will of Divine Providence that this happy event should coincide with the Holy Year, which is now drawing to a close. It seems that to all and especially to those who from all parts of the earth came to this beloved city to purify their souls and renew their life in Christian practice, the Blessed Virgin Mary, resplendent on her throne as with a new light, stretched forth her maternal arms exhorting them to climb with courage the heights of virtue, so that, at the end of their earthly exile they may come to the enjoyment of supreme happiness in their heavenly home.

May the sublime Mother of God take under her watchful protection the innumerable multitudes, whom, with unspeakable joy, we have seen giving proof of fervent faith and ardent piety as they throng not only the house of the Common Father and the immense Basilica of St. Peter, but also the square of St. Peter, and the adjoining streets, and may she obtain for them the heavenly lights and those gifts whereby they, illuminated and strengthened, may tend more readily to Christian perfection.

Further, we nourish the great hope that the beloved Mother of God, crowned with new glory on earth, may contemplate with loving gaze and bind to herself those who languish in spiritual apathy, or slothfully dally in the snares of vice, or who, having lost the straight way of truth, do not recognize that sublime dignity of hers with which the privilege of her bodily Assumption into heaven is strictly connected.

May our most benign Mother, assumed to the glory of heaven, lead to that divine light which descends only from on high the entire human race, which, in many places is still enveloped in the darkness of error, tormented by cruel chastisements and afflicted by grave dangers. May she obtain for them those supernal consolations which restore and raise up the soul of man, even if prostrate with frightful sufferings.

May she obtain from her Divine Son that peace, which is based, as on a most solid foundation, on the tranquillity of right order, on the just treatment of citizens and peoples, and on the liberty and dignity due to all, may finally return to shine among the nations and peoples at present divided to the common detriment.

May she above all defend, with her most powerful patronage, the Catholic Church, which in not a few parts of the world is either little known or is charged with false accusations and calumnies, or oppressed by unjust persecutions; and may she lead back to the unity of the Church all the erring and the wayward.

May you, venerable brothers, and with you the entire Christian people, strive to obtain all these things from the heavenly Mother by fervent prayer.

But now, although, as we have said, the answers of the Bishops of all parts of the world have reached us on this matter, we desired nevertheless that you manifest your opinion to this thronged and august assembly asso.

Is it your good pleasure, venerable brothers, that we proclaim and define, as a dogma revealed by God, the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin into heaven?

[After receiving the views of those present, expressed by the word “placet” or “non placet,” the Pope continued.]

We greatly rejoice that all of you as with one thought and one voice assent to that which we ourselves think fitting and desire; because by this admirable agreement of the Cardinals and Bishops with the Roman Pontiff there emerges still more clearly what the Holy Church believes, teaches and desires in this matter.

You will nevertheless kindly continue to implore God with unceasing prayer, so that, by His favor and inspiration, that which all ardently await may happily come to pass; and may this event redound to the honor of the Holy Name of God, to the benefit of the Christian religion, to the glory of the most Blessed Virgin, and may it be for all a new incentive to piety toward her.