Blessed Virgin Mary: August 2008 Archives

Today closes the Octave of the Assumption, the apt way to prolong the wonderful 12.gifsolemnity of the Blessed Mother's Assumption to heaven. In his October 11, 1954 encyclical, Ad Caeli Reginam, Pope Pius XII gave the Church the feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary.


I think the best way to think about today feast is to read the words of the Jesuit poet Father Gerard Manley Hopkins in "The Blessed Virgin compared to the Air we Breathe." While it was composed well before Pope Pius' declaration, Hopkins captures perfectly our Catholic belief in Mary.


WILD air, world-mothering air,
Coronation VELÁZQUEZ, Diego.jpgNestling me everywhere,
That each eyelash or hair
Girdles; goes home betwixt
The fleeciest, frailest-flixed
Snowflake; that 's fairly mixed
With, riddles, and is rife
In every least thing's life;
This needful, never spent,
And nursing element;
My more than meat and drink,
My meal at every wink;
This air, which, by life's law,
My lung must draw and draw
Now but to breathe its praise,
Minds me in many ways
Of her who not only
Gave God's infinity
Dwindled to infancy
Welcome in womb and breast,
Birth, milk, and all the rest
But mothers each new grace
That does now reach our race--
Mary Immaculate,
Merely a woman, yet
Whose presence, power is
Great as no goddess's
Was deemèd, dreamèd; who
This one work has to do--
Let all God's glory through,
God's glory which would go
Through her and from her flow
Off, and no way but so.
     I say that we are wound
With mercy round and round
As if with air: the same
Is Mary, more by name.
She, wild web, wondrous robe,
Mantles the guilty globe,
Since God has let dispense
Her prayers his providence:
Nay, more than almoner,
The sweet alms' self is her
And men are meant to share
Her life as life does air.

    If I have understood,
6corona1.jpgShe holds high motherhood
Towards all our ghostly good
And plays in grace her part
About man's beating heart,
Laying, like air's fine flood,
The deathdance in his blood;
Yet no part but what will
Be Christ our Saviour still.
Of her flesh he took flesh:
He does take fresh and fresh,
Though much the mystery how,
Not flesh but spirit now
And makes, O marvellous!
New Nazareths in us,
Where she shall yet conceive
Him, morning, noon, and eve;
New Bethlems, and he born
There, evening, noon, and morn--
Bethlem or Nazareth,
Men here may draw like breath
More Christ and baffle death;
Who, born so, comes to be
New self and nobler me
In each one and each one
More makes, when all is done,
Both God's and Mary's Son.

    Again, look overhead
How air is azurèd;
O how! nay do but stand
Where you can lift your hand
Skywards: rich, rich it laps
Round the four fingergaps.
Yet such a sapphire-shot,
Charged, steepèd sky will not
Stain light. Yea, mark you this:
It does no prejudice.
The glass-blue days are those
When every colour glows,
Each shape and shadow shows.
Blue be it: this blue heaven
The seven or seven times seven
Hued sunbeam will transmit
Perfect, not alter it.
Or if there does some soft,
On things aloof, aloft,
Bloom breathe, that one breath more
Earth is the fairer for.
Whereas did air not make
This bath of blue and slake
His fire, the sun would shake,
A blear and blinding ball
With blackness bound, and all
The thick stars round him roll
Flashing like flecks of coal,
Quartz-fret, or sparks of salt,
In grimy vasty vault.

    So God was god of old:
A mother came to mould
Those limbs like ours which are
What must make our daystar
Much dearer to mankind;
Whose glory bare would blind
Or less would win man's mind.
Through her we may see him
Made sweeter, not made dim,
And her hand leaves his light
Sifted to suit our sight.

    Be thou then, O thou dear
Gerard Manley Hopkins.jpgMother, my atmosphere;
My happier world, wherein
To wend and meet no sin;
Above me, round me lie
Fronting my froward eye
With sweet and scarless sky;
Stir in my ears, speak there
Of God's love, O live air,
Of patience, penance, prayer:
World-mothering air, air wild,
Wound with thee, in thee isled,
Fold home, fast fold thy child.


The Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1918

In a Georgian Hymnal we see a verse of a hymn which reads:


You went forth from the world,
O virgin Theotokos,
to the eternal light.


The sacred Liturgy bases its Marian Theology on the biblical images of Mary as the "New Eve," the Assumption Murrillo.jpg"Beloved of the Bridegroom," the "Ark of the Covenant," and the "Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven." From what we read in sacred Scripture to what we know by sacred Tradition, Mary remains the mother of mystery. Our Catholic belief is that Mary was raised up body and soul and sits in heaven with the Blessed Trinity. But was she raised up like Enoch (Genesis 5:24) or Elijah (2 King 3:11)? When Pope Pius XII declared the Assumption of Mary as a dogma of the Faith in the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus, he deliberately left the question open, saying that Mary was assumed after "having completed the course of her earthly life." Later, Pope John Paul II said that he believes Mary, like her Son, experienced the "human drama of death." Perhaps Saint John of Damascus says it best:  "As the Mother of the living God, she goes through death to Him. For if God said: 'Unless the first man put out his hand to take and taste of the tree of life, he shall live forever,' how shall she, who received the Life Himself, without beginning or end, or finite vicissitudes, not live forever."


Looking at the consistent teaching and liturgical observance of the fact of the Assumption it is clear that the Church, East and West, has believed from the earliest days that Mary shared in her Son's dramatic victory over death by conquering death. The Apostle Paul and the prophet Isaiah called this fact "the swallowing up of death." AND this is a reason for our Hope. 


Many of our Protestant brothers and sisters reject this feast as idolatry, missing what Pope dormition.jpgPius said about the divine truth revealed in the Assumption: In Mary, Mothers of God, we know, "to what lofty goal our bodies and souls are destined." The Church, therefore, prays at Mass this collect:


Almighty and Eternal God, You Who assumed the Immaculate Virgin Mary, the Mother of Your Son, body and soul into heavenly glory, grant, we beseech You, that, always intent on higher things, we may merit to be sharers in her glory.

And the Preface


Since today the Virgin Mother of God was assumed into heaven
as the beginning and pattern of your Church's perfection
and a sign of sure hope and comfort to your pilgrim people,
For justly you would not allow her
to see the corruption of the tomb,
because from her own flesh she brought forth ineffably
your incarnate Son, the author of all life.

(Draft 2006 I.C.E.L. Translation)

The Blessing of Herbs and Flowers in Honor of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary


After the Asperges if it is a Sunday, otherwise immediately before Mass, the priest, standing before the altar and facing the people who hold the sheaves of new grain, garden vegetables, flowers and new herbs and the finest fruits of their orchards in their hands, says in a clear voice:


P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.

All: Who made heaven and earth.


Pray Psalm 64


P; Glory be to the Father.

All: As it was in the beginning.

P: The Lord will be gracious.

All: And our land will bring forth its fruit.


P: You water the mountains from the clouds.

All: The earth is replenished from your rains.


P: Giving grass for cattle.

All: And plants for the benefit of man.


P: You bring wheat from the earth.

All: And wine to cheer man's heart.


P: Oil to make his face lustrous.

All: And bread to strengthen his heart.


P: He utters a command and heals their suffering.

All: And snatches them from distressing want.


P: O Lord, hear my prayer.

All: And let my cry come unto you.


P: The Lord be with you.

All: And with your spirit.


Let us pray. Almighty everlasting God, who by your word alone brought into being the

Herbs.jpgheavens, earth, sea, things seen and things unseen, and garnished the earth with plants and trees for the use of man and beast; who appointed each species to bring forth fruit in its kind, not only for the food of living creatures, but for the healing of sick bodies as well; with mind and word we urgently call on you in your great kindness to bless + these various herbs and fruits, thus increasing their natural powers with the newly given grace of your blessing. May they keep away disease and adversity from men and beasts who use them in your name; through Christ our Lord.


All: Amen.


Let us pray. God, who through Moses, your servant, directed the children of Israel to carry their sheaves of new grain to the priests for a blessing, to pluck the finest fruits of the orchard, and to make merry before you, the Lord their God; hear our supplications, and shower blessings + in abundance upon us and upon these bundles of new grain, new herbs, and this assortment of produce which we gratefully present to you on this festival, blessing + them in your name. Grant that men, cattle, flocks, and beasts of burden find in them a remedy against sickness, pestilence, sores, injuries, spells, against the fangs of serpents or poisonous creatures. May these blessed objects be a protection against

assumption El greco.jpgdiabolical mockery, cunning, and deception wherever they are kept, carried, or otherwise used. Lastly, through the merits of the blessed Virgin Mary, whose Assumption we are celebrating, may we all, laden with the sheaves of good works, deserve to be taken up to heaven; through Christ our Lord.


 All: Amen.


Let us pray. God, who on this day raised up to highest heaven the rod of Jesse, the Mother of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, that by her prayers and patronage you might communicate to our mortal nature the fruit of her womb, your very Son; we humbly implore you to help us use these fruits of the soil for our temporal and everlasting welfare, aided by the power of your Son and the prayers of His glorious Mother; through Christ our Lord. All: Amen.


And may the blessing of almighty God, Father, Son, + and Holy Spirit, come upon these creatures and remain always.


All: Amen.


They are sprinkled with holy water and incensed.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]



Humanities Blog Directory

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Blessed Virgin Mary category from August 2008.

Blessed Virgin Mary: September 2008 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.