Irish Hierarchy’s Statement on Our Lady’s Assumption
The following statement was issued by the Irish Hierarchy and read out from the pulpit at all public Masses on Sunday, October 29th, 1950.
Very Rev. and Rev. Fathers and dearly beloved Brethren:
The announcement that our Holy Father Pope Pius XII would solemnly proclaim and define the doctrine of the Assumption of Our Blessed Lady gave great joy to the hearts of the Irish people. In common with the faithful throughout the world they have for centuries held firmly to the belief that the virginal body of Mary, Mother of God conceived without sin, was not allowed to suffer corruption but was taken up into heaven and throned above the angels.
The doctrine of the Assumption is not new; it has been enshrined in the liturgy, the art and the teaching of the Church for long centuries. From the time when the Council of Ephesus defined that Mary is the Mother of God the devotion and belief of the Church unfolded the full meaning of the privileges of the Immaculate Virgin Mother and of the complete victory over sin and death won for her by her Divine Son. So it is that this doctrine has been firmly held even by the schismatic churches of the East.
The fact of Mary’s Assumption into heaven, like her Immaculate Conception, is a supernatural fact that can be guaranteed to us not by human testimony but by divine revelation.
Divine Revelation is contained in Sacred Scripture and in Tradition. The teaching authority of the church, aided and guided by the Holy Spirit, is the divinely appointed guardian and interpreter of revealed truth: it is for this authority, and it alone, to declare what is contained in Sacred Scripture and Tradition. The solemn definition of Our Lady’s Assumption means that the supreme teaching authority in the church now declares with infallible certainty that this doctrine is contained in divine revelation, that it is vouched for by God himself, and that we can and must accept it from the authority of Him who cannot deceive or be deceived.
The definition is an event which will have great spiritual and religious value. In a world which has fallen victim to the error of materialism it proclaims in a most striking and effective manner the essential truths that death is not the end of all, and that not merely the soul, but the body also, will by God’s grace share in eternal life.
It declares in a manner that even the simple and unlearned can understand the full meaning of our redemption by Christ and the glory that God has in store for redeemed mankind.
The definition will affirm and proclaim our faith in Christ’s conquest over sin and death. It will draw all eyes and hearts to Mary the Queen of Heaven to whom are applied the words of Scripture: “A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun.” (Apoc. XII). It will bring all Christians to pray more fervently for Mary’s help, that, as formerly she saved Europe at Lepanto and Vienna, so now, in a peril more terrible, she may comfort and protect Christians in every land against the attacks of God’s enemies.
When the Holy Father defines a doctrine, it the immediate and solemn duty of all Catholics to give their sincere and full assent.
We ask all our faithful people to observe the first of November as a day of special devotion when all will endeavour to receive Holy Communion; and we authorise the Exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament in all churches and chapels after the celebration of last Mass on that day so that the faithful may have the opportunity to join in prayer with the Holy Father and the whole Church on this solemn occasion. Furthermore we direct that on Saturday, 19th November, the text of the dogma of the Assumption be read and explained at all Masses in every church and chapel, so that the congregation may profess its acceptance of it; that after last Mass Solemn Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament be held for some time until a convenient hour of the evening, that the Rosary be recited, and thanks be offered to God for the proclamation of the glorious Assumption of our Blessed Lady.
We ask all the faithful to prepare themselves for the solemn profession of their faith in the Assumption on November 19th by obtaining absolution of their sins in the Sacrament of Penance and by receiving Holy Communion.
Given at Maynooth on 10th October, 1950.
Signed on behalf of the archbishops and bishops of Ireland.
Archbishop of Armagh,
Primate of All Ireland.
Bishop of Raphoe.
Bishop of Ferns.
Posted on December 12, 2010, in Archbishop John Charles McQuaid, Bishop Con Lucey, Bishop Michael Browne, Bishops' Pastorals, Blessed Virgin Mary, Irish History. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.