"Deus, qui spe salutis aeternae beatae Mariae virginitatie foecunda humano generi praemia praestitisti, tribue, quaesumus, ut ipsam pro nobis intercedere sentiamis per quam meruimus auctorem vitae nostrae suscipere."
"Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui terrenis corporibus Verbi tui veritatis Filii unigeniti per venerabilem ac gloriosam semper virginem Mariam ineffabile mysterium coniungere voluisti, petimus immensan clementiam tuam, ut quod in eius veneratione deposcimus, te propitiante consequi mereamur."
Neither collect mentions the miracle of the Assumption, instead drawing attention to Mankind's hope for salvation in the Mystery of the Incarnation of Christ. The expectation of intercession in exchange for veneration, what Eamon Duffy called a "transactional" aspect of medieval piety, is apparent in the last words of the second collect and survived in the Veneranda collect used in the Sarum, Dominican, and most other non-Roman, Latin rite Missals:
"Veneranda nobis, Domine, hujus diei festivitas opem conferat sempiternam, in qua sancta Dei genitrix mortem subiit temporalem, nec tamen mortis nexibus deprimi potuit; quæ Filium tuum Dominum nostrum de se genuit incarnatum."
One wonders if Veneranda began as the second collect above, Omnipotens, and passed through Byzantine influence. The words "nec tamen mortis nexibus deprimi potuit" call to mind the Greek hymn sung on the feast:
"When you gave birth you kept your virginity, when you fell asleep you did not abandon the world, O Theotokos. You passed into life, you who are the mother of life, who through your intercessions redeem our souls from death."
As always, the Roman rite favored the more subtle and restrained text, Famulorum:
"Famulorum tuorum quaesumus Domine, delictis ignosce ut, qui tibi placere de actibus nostris non valemus, Genitricis Filii tui Domini nostri intercessione salvemur."
The Roman collect aligns more clearly with the first prayer from the Gelasian Sacramentary, Deus, qui spe salutis, with its emphasis on Mankind's necessity for Mary's intercession and our general helplessness without it. While certainly medieval, the prayer does not embrace the period piety as strongly as the other [proposed] set of prayers.
Both Famulorum and Veneranda appear in the 10th century Gregorian Sacramentary, although the respective Masses proper to the feast varied locally. Interestingly, neither collect retains the ancient, post-Patristic emphasis on the Incarnation that the Gelasian prayers do, and only Veneranda mentions Our Lady's death and assumption directly. Famulorum, however, is not a generic Marian prayer. Outside of local feasts, the Assumption was the Marian feast in the early Middle Ages—the Annunciation being a commemoration of the Incarnation, not solely in dulia of Maria. As the primary Marian feast, the Assumption was worthy of a more generalized petition in the collect.
Not all Missals, however, split into these two neat camps. For example the surviving Missal from the St. Lucia Monastery in Abruzzo gives an entirely different text. The Lyonese rite, even after the neo-Gallican textual vitiations of the 18th century, retained Veneranda on the feast and Famulorum during the octave. Such is the rich history of this rich feast.
Liturgical theology is, according to Aidan Kavanagh, not a theological examination of the liturgy, but theology done by means of the liturgy. Liturgy is the theologia prima of the Church. When someone asks a Catholic how to learn more about the faith, the believer never directs the inquirer to obtain a copy of Denzinger. Invariably, the believer tells the non-Catholic to go to Mass (and hopefully at a carefully selected location). With this in mind, let us [very succinctly] consider what the Church told and taught us about the Assumption of the Mother of God today.
|Apse of St. Mary Major with mosaic of Mary as Queen of Heaven,|
crowned by and reigning with Christ.
source: Rad Trad's collection
"the Lord Pope went to St Mary Major, where, surrounded by his court, he celebrated First Vespers. At the beginning of the night the Matins with nine lessons were chanted in the same church.
"Meanwhile an ever-growing crowd gathers on the piazza of the Lateran, awaiting the Pontiff's return.... Around the picture of the Saviour, within the sanctuary, stand twelve bearers who form its perpetual guard, all members of the most illustrious families, and near them are the representatives of the senate and of the Roman people.
"But the signal is given that the papal retinue is redescending the Esquiline. Instantly lighted torches glitter on all sides, either held in the hand, or carried on the brancards of the corporations. Assisted by the deacons, the Cardinals raise on their shoulders the holy image, which advances under a canopy, escorted in perfect order by the immense multitude. Along the illuminated and decorated streets, amid the singing of the psalms and the sound of instruments, the procession reaches the ancient Triumphal Way, winds round the Coliseum, and, passing through the arches of Constantine and Titus, halts for a first Station on the Via Sacra, before the church called St Mary Minor.... In this church, while the second Matins with three lessons are being chanted in honor of the Mother, some priests wash, with scented water in a silver basin, the feet of the her Son, our Lord, and then sprinkle the people with the water thus sanctified. Then the venerable picture sets out once more, crosses the Forum amidst acclamations.... it at least enters the piazza of St Mary Major. Then the delight and the appluse of the crowd are redoubled; all, men and women, great and little, as we read in a document of 1462 (archivio della Compagnia di Sancta Sanctorum), forgetting the fatigue of a whole night spent without sleep, cease not till morning to visit and venerate our Lord and Mary. In this glorious basilica, adorned as a bridge, the glorious Office of Lauds celebrates the meeting of the Son and the Mother and their union for all eternity." (The Liturgical Year, August 15)
1 Let him kiss me with the kiss of his mouth: for thy breasts are better than wine,2 Smelling sweet of the best ointments. thy name is as oil poured out: therefore young maidens have loved thee.3 Draw me: we will run after thee to the odour of thy ointments. The king hath brought me into his storerooms: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, remembering thy breasts more than wine: the righteous love thee.4 I am black but beautiful, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Cedar, as the curtains of Solomon.5 Do not consider me that I am brown, because the sun hath altered my colour: the sons of my mother have fought against me, they have made me the keeper in the vineyards: my vineyard I have not kept.6 Show me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou liest in the midday, lest I begin to wander after the flocks of thy companions.7 If thou know not thyself, O fairest among women, go forth, and follow after the steps of the flocks, and feed thy kids beside the tents of the shepherds.8 To my company of horsemen, in Pharao's chariots, have I likened thee, O my love.9 Thy cheeks are beautiful as the turtledove's, thy neck as jewels.10 We will make thee chains of gold, inlaid with silver.11 While the king was at his repose, my spikenard sent forth the odour thereof.12 A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me, he shall abide between my breasts.13 A cluster of cypress my love is to me, in the vineyards of Engaddi.14 Behold thou art fair, O my love, behold thou art fair, thy eyes are as those of doves.15 Behold thou art fair, my beloved, and comely. Our bed is flourishing.16 The beams of our houses are of cedar, our rafters of cypress trees.
"From her true life had flowed for all men, and how should she taste of death? But she yielded obedience to the law established by Him to Whom she had given birth, and, as the daughter of the old Adam, underwent the old sentence, which even her Son, Who is the very Life Itself, had not refused; but, as the Mother of the living God, she was worthily taken by Him unto Himself."
"An ancient tradition has been handed down to us, that, at the time of the glorious falling-asleep of the blessed Virgin, all the Apostles, who were wandering throughout the world preaching salvation to the Gentiles, were caught up aloft in the twinkling of an eye, and met together in Jerusalem. And when they were all there, a vision of Angels appeared to them, and the chant of the heavenly powers was heard; and so with divine glory she gave up her soul into the hands of God. But her body, which bore God in an effable manner, being lifted up amid the hymns of Angels and Apostles was laid in a tomb in Gethsemane. There for three whole days the angelic song was heard.
"But after three days, the chant of the Angels ceased, and the Apostles who were present (for Thomas, the only one who had been absent, came after the third day, and wished to adore the body which had borne God) opened the tomb; but they could by no means find her sacred body in any part of it. But when they only found those garments in which she had been buried, and were filled with indescribable fragrance which emanated from them, they closed the tomb. Amazed at this wonderful mystery they could only think that he, who had been pleased to take flesh from the Virgin Mary, to be made man, and to be born though he was God the Word, and the Lord of glory, he who had preserved her virginity without stain after childbirth, should also have been pleased to honor her pure body after her death, keeping it incorrupt, and translating it into Heaven before the general resurrection."
|The Annunciation by Fra Angelico|
"Forgive, O Lord, we beseech thee, the sins of thy servants: that we who by our own deeds are unable to please thee, may be saved by the intercession of the Mother of thy Son our Lord."