When I read many of the great Catholic authors of the 20th century – G.K. Chesterton, Bishop Fulton Sheen, Flannery O’Connor, Romano Guardini, and others like them, it seems to me as if they are writing today and witnessing the same distorted elements of the secular neo-pagan culture we see everyday. I think that many of these writers were prophets in their own times – for they saw then what was coming to the world in which we live in today. To understand the present, I believe we must look into the past.
So for today’s “Mondays with Mary”, I draw from one of the great Catholic Bishops of the mid 20th century, a figure I spoke about from above, and fan favorite of many devout Catholics today – Bishop Fulton Sheen.
In his book, The World’s First Love – Mary, Mother of God, Bishop Sheen writes about the contrast between today’s modern philosophies and the fourth Marian dogma – The Assumption of Mary into Heaven, which by the way is today’s Solemnity. Although I would love to explain in great detail the words of Fulton Sheen to you, I just don’t have that kind of time nor should you hear it from me. Reading him your self is the best option since I only have a small fraction of his intelligence.
The modern philosophies that Bishop Sheen begins with are Darwinism, Marxism and Totalitarianism. He continues down the rabbit hole of modern secularism by explaining the damages of not only the three philosophies above, but also dives into Jean-Paul Sartre and Sigmund Freud – two philosophers that have sowed countless seeds of confusion and distortion regarding the human person and human sexuality. Each of these modern philosophies has developed like weeds, seeking to destroy the fruit that grows around it – and this is what we witness today in our modern culture.
This however is only one side of the battlefield, for the Assumption of the Mary into Heaven brings light into the darkness, pouring upon us Love and Life. Even though the modern world seems to be heavily steeped in the philosophies above, the Assumption of Mary takes these head-on and insures us that these philosophies are bound to fail, finding themselves upon the trash heap of history and eternity. It is in Love and Life that the Assumption finds its home and rest.
Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Rubens.
To conclude today’s post, I now give you seven quotes from Bishop Fulton Sheen focusing on ‘The Assumption and the Modern World’ –
1. “This ‘pull’ on our hearts by the Spirit of God is always present, and it is only our refusing wills and the weakness of our bodies as a result of sin that keep us earth-bound…If God exerts a gravitational pull on all souls, given the intense love of Our Lord for His Blessed Mother that descended and the intense love of Mary for her Lord that ascended, there is a created suspicion that love at this stage would be so great as ‘to pull the body with it’.
2. “Love in its nature is an ascension in Christ and an assumption in Mary…One thing is certain: the Assumption is easy to understand if one loves God deeply, but it is hard to understand if one loves not.”
3. “To a world that worships the body, the Church now says, ‘there are two bodies in Heaven, one the glorified human nature of Jesus, the other the assumed human nature of Mary.’ Love is the secret of the Ascension of one and of the Assumption of the other, for love craves unity with its beloved. The Son returns to the Father in the unity of Divine Nature, and Mary returns to Jesus in the unity of human nature. Her nuptial flight is the event to which our whole generation moves.”
4. “In this doctrine of the Assumption, the Church meets the despair of the world in a second way. She affirms the beauty of life as against death. When wars, sex, and sin multiply the discords of men, and death threatens on every side, the Church bids us life up our hearts to the life that has the immortality of the Life that nourished it…Eat the food of earth, and one dies; eat the Eucharist, and one lives eternally. She, who is the mother of the Eucharist, escapes the decomposition of death.”
5. “The modern man gets back to nothingness through despair; the Christian knows nothingness only through self-negation, which is humility. The more that the pagan ‘nothings’ himself, the closer he gets to the hell of despair and suicide. The more the Christian ‘nothings’ himself, the closer he gets to God. Mary went so deep down into Nothingness that she became exalted…And her exaltation was also her Assumption.”
6. “In Mary there is a triple transition. In the Annunciation we pass from the holiness of the Old Testament to the holiness of Christ. At Pentecost we pass from the holiness of the historical Christ to the holiness of the Mystical Christ or His Body, which is the Church…The third transition is the Assumption, as he becomes the first human person to realize the historical destiny of the faithful as member of Christ’s Mystical Body, beyond time, beyond death, and beyond judgment.”
7. “Mary is always in the vanguard of humanity…by her Assumption, she goes ahead like her Son to prepare a place for us. She participates in the glory of her Son, reigns with Him, presides at His Side over the destinies of the Church in time, and intercedes for us, to Him, as He, in His turn, intercedes to the Heavenly Father…Mary always seems to be the advent of what is in store for man.”
In a time, when humanity seems to care nothing for the supernatural that pertains to God, let us ask for the intercession of Venerable Bishop Fulton Sheen to intercede for not only our country, but for all of humanity. Let us pray that the Assumption of Mary will wake up the world to beauty, love, and life – the same Beauty, Love, and Life that not only died for the world, but also intercedes on its behalf.
Blessed Virgin Mary, in your Assumption, as the Immaculate Conception…Pray for Us.