With the passing of the Feast of the Assumption, I had completely forgotten about this great sermon from Archbishop Lefebvre. What beautiful words from a saintly man. Without further ado, I re-produce it here:
Twenty fifth Anniversary of the Promulgation of the Dogma of
the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
August 15, 1975 Ecône, Switzerland
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
My dear brethren,
We celebrate today the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Proclamation of the Dogma of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary by our Holy Father Pope Pius XII. It was November 1, 1950. I had the joy and pleasure of being present at Rome in St. Peter’s Square on this holy day and I still hear the words of our Holy Father, Pope Pius XII, proclaiming the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary as dogma of our Faith.
Did the Holy Church of God hear about the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary for the first time on November 1, 1950? Certainly not! One needs just to read the text by which Our Holy Father Pope Pius XII proclaimed the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary to see that since the most ancient times of the Church, the faithful already professed faith in the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. Whether in ikons, whether in stained glass windows, whether in the writings of the Fathers, already everywhere, faith in the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary was professed, but it was not yet solemnly defined by Holy Church.
These dogmas, indeed, we must remember, cannot be new truths. The Revelation was wholly completed at the death of the last Apostle. One must therefore look before the death of the last Apostle in the Deposit of Tradition, of Revelation, bequeathed to us, given to us by the Apostles, to find there the truths which we must still believe today. No Pope can invent a new truth which he would like to submit to our Faith. He can only find this truth in the course of centuries, signifying that this truth was already implicitly contained in that Revelation and Faith which the Apostles have given us. This is the teaching of the Church.
Thus when we believe in the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, that is, when we believe that the Good Lord granted that the body of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary be already glorified now, we do nothing else than unite ourselves to the faith of the whole Church, to the Church of all the centuries. And this must be for us a great joy, a great consolation, to think that our Faith today, stronger than ever, more solid than ever, is in union with that of the Catholics of all the centuries.
There is in this dogma of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary a very precious truth, very useful for our times, for our days. In these days, some want to deny miracles; in our days, some want to deny all supernatural realities. This word “supernatural” contains something somehow mysterious; the supernatural state may be difficult to understand for some faithful, it may be difficult to grasp. Yet it is present in the whole teaching of the Church.
In our catechisms we have learned that we became the sons of God, that the Good Lord has deigned not only to give us a human nature, a human soul, but that He wanted to make of us His privileged sons, sharing His Divine Nature, and thus being able to know God, to love God and to love our neighbor infinitely more than if we had only our natural state. We must always remember that: the Good Lord has called us to be His children, though we should have been merely His servants. If we had only had our nature, we would have never been able to know God directly, we would have known God only indirectly through creatures, through the effects of His almighty power, ascending from them to the Almighty Cause which made all these things that surround us, and even ourselves. We climb from the effect to the cause and naturally we think there is a Being extraordinarily powerful, a Being that can only be God for He made all these things by His almighty power. And our knowledge of Him would have remained there, without going further.
But the Good Lord did not want that. He wanted us to enter into His intimacy, He wanted us to enter somehow in Him, to know Him better, to love Him better. And this is a grace, a gift – the word “grace” signifies precisely this – an extraordinary, unbelievable gift to which we could not pretend ourselves.
We might be tempted to say, “But why did the Good Lord love us so much, why did He not leave us with our poor human nature? Did we need to enter into the very nature of God, to be so close to God? This gives us greater responsibilities!”
Yes, indeed, indeed! It gives us greater responsibilities. It changes completely our spirituality. It changes our interior life. It must change our whole interior life. And it does!
Our spiritual life is changed right from the beginning, as soon as we receive Baptism. As soon as we receive this grace of divine filiation in Baptism, and original sin is washed away from our soul, we become God’s privileged adopted children.
And today, this Feast of the Assumption shows us the very crowning of the work of God, of the supernatural work of God. God wants it for us too, as He did for the Most Blessed Virgin. He wants to “assume” our body, to spiritualize our body in a certain way and to give us all the joys of the spirit and all the joys of our divine filiation.
And how does that change our daily life? How must this supernatural life, this divine adoption, change our daily life?
Because we must not see things as we would have seen them if we had merely had our human nature! To know that we are called to live for God, to live in God, to know Him directly, Him Who has created all things, must arouse in our hearts, in our intelligences, a desire of God, a longing to love God, through this divine nature, which is in us by grace, by sanctifying grace, a longing as those aroused throughout all the centuries of the Church from the very beginning of the Christian era.
It has raised up countless acts of heroism, souls so much drawn by God, so much drawn by the desire to know God, to live with God, that they secluded themselves in deserts, in monasteries, in the religious life. And even in lay life they gave themselves completely: all these families were so Catholic that they lived in God. They prayed from morning to evening, they recited their daily family prayer, they had devotion to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, they lived a Christian life! And thus they had a certain contempt, they esteemed in a lesser way, the things of nature, created things, material things.
But now we are reproached for this, the Church is reproached for this! And now, within the Church itself, those who, in the Church, should continue to teach us these things, reproach the Church for them. They should use as models those who were detached from the things of this world, so that they might already here below give themselves completely to God. They should exalt Christian families who are detached, Christian homes where the family prays, where the idea of a religious vocation, of a priestly vocation in the family is held in esteem, is desired so that in a certain way the whole family is consecrated to God, out of love for God.
This is grace! This is supernatural grace. It is the divine filiation which is in your heart which must make you ask for this, which must make you desire this, long for this, so that your family might be totally consecrated to God, that nothing in your family might become a scandal leading souls away from God. This ought to be your main concern.
How much more this ought to be the main concern of those who give themselves to God, of future priests, of those who want to be united to God in the bonds of religious profession.
And see today how they have under-esteemed religious life, how they have under-esteemed Christian life in Catholic families, to such a point that they ceaselessly repeat the esteem that they have for the values of this world, for human values, the values of our reason, for the values of science. All this is false. All this is rooted in the contempt for the supernatural order, in the negation of the grace of the Good Lord, in the negation of all that Our Lord Jesus Christ came to bring us. This amounts to a denial of Our Lord Jesus. Continually insisting upon the human values, the values of this world, the values of science, one ends up denying Our Lord Jesus Christ!
Indeed, for what did Our Lord Jesus Christ come? For what purpose did He die on the cross? Why did He become incarnate? “Propter nos et nostram salutem – For us and for our salvation!” To give us His grace, to restore this Divine filiation. Our Lord is God, He is the True Son of God, the only Son of God, First-born of all creatures; He came to give us His Blood, His life, and to communicate to us His Divine Life already here below. Thus, by participation in Our Lord Jesus Christ, we truly participate in the Divine Nature.
Therefore, if we are truly conscious of this, we must despise the things of this world, despise the goods of the body, despise the good of our senses, as centuries of Christendom have done in the past. But today they desire to satisfy all their natural desires. Our Lord Jesus Christ never taught us this! Our Lord Jesus Christ taught us precisely to despise the things of this world because we are called to a life infinitely greater, infinitely higher.
This has been the whole spirituality of Christian life for all the centuries before us. The example of all those faithful who withdrew from the world and enclosed themselves for their whole life in a monastery was admirable, it was an encouragement for all Catholics.
But now see these deserted monasteries, these broken grilles in the convents of Franciscan nuns, of Carmelites. These nuns had a very strict enclosure, to be with God, to become more aware of their Divine filiation, to live already with heaven before being in heaven. Knowing that the few years they had to live on earth had to prepare them for heavenly life, they took refuge far from the world, far from the pleasures of this world, in order to live this life they received at Baptism, that was confirmed by the Sacrament of Confirmation and vivified by the Holy Eucharist and Penance. Those elite souls wanted to be enclosed! But what happened? The [Modernists] have broken the enclosures, they have broken the grilles, they have asked the nuns to leave; Our Lord Jesus Christ too left the convent!
And this is why there are no more vocations, this is why there is no more contemplative life. What shall draw souls to this contemplative life if one does not speak of the life of God which we have in us? What shall draw Christian families to live in a more Christian way, if they are not taught that through marriage they receive the special grace where the Most Blessed Virgin Mary is honored, where the crucifix is in a place of honor, where the Blessed Virgin Mary reigns, a family which is the beloved kingdom of Jesus and Mary. If this is no longer taught, there shall be no more Catholic families, there shall be no more vocations, and souls will be lost!
This is what the mystery of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary teaches us today. And there shall be a similar crowning for us too. We must expect this, we must hope for this. This is the great virtue of Hope. Now, this virtue of Hope is disappearing today precisely because all hope is here below. Now social progress, social justice, material progress, the equal distribution of goods of this world: these are the great themes of today’s sermons!
But we were not made for this. We are made, first of all, to be the children of God, to live with God. It does not matter whether we have lived in poverty or at ease, all that matters is the love that we have had for God, how we have spent these years which the Good Lord has given us to live here below with Him. How did we spend them in regard to this hope of heaven? How did we hand on this hope of heaven to our children, these heavenly realities? This is what the Good Lord shall ask of us.
Thus, my very dear friends, who in a few moments are going to pronounce your Profession of Faith and to repeat the Anti-Modernist Oath, you shall notice that this Anti-Modernist Oath is precisely almost in each one of its points a profession of the supernatural realities, against those who want to destroy the grace of the Good Lord, to destroy the Divine reality of the grace of God and of Our Divine filiation. Doing this they reduce to naught their very own intelligence. They pretend that their intelligence is incapable to know God, this is the first part [of the oath].
These people despise the Divine intelligence, the Divine life in which we somehow partake; despising the grace which the Good Lord has given us, the light which the Good Lord has put in our hearts and in our minds, they lose at the same time their own reason. They themselves say that they are no longer capable of knowing God. Thus according to them man is radically, definitively cut off from God, incapable of knowing Him. As a consequence they despise all the goods that Our Lord Jesus Christ has given us – Divine grace, the Sacraments, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass – all this is reduced to a natural state.
But you, on the contrary, you shall profess your faith in the grace of the Good Lord, in the supernatural life which the Good Lord has given us and in which He enables us to participate. And this on the Feast of the Assumption; you could not do this on a better day, all these blessings which the Good Lord has given us, this great charity which the Good Lord has had for us.
Indeed, it is a blasphemy to say what the Modernists say. It is to blaspheme against Our Lord Jesus Christ because they deny all that Our Lord Jesus Christ came to do here below: they deny His Church, they deny His Sacrifice, they deny His Sacraments, they deny everything and nothing is left. And this is what the modern catechisms teach today. For this reason these catechisms are very harmful because they reduce to nought the entire life of grace, the entire Divine Life, which is what is most precious to us.
Let us ask the Most Blessed Virgin Mary on this day of her Assumption to help us truly understand what our supernatural life is, a participation in the Divine Life. God knows that She knows it, this participation in the Divine Life, She who has given natural life to Our Lord Jesus Christ, through the grace of the Holy Ghost. How much did the Good Lord flood her with spiritual graces! And how much is She capable of making us understand how beautiful, how good, how sweet it is to be united with Our Lord, to know the Good Lord and to live with God!
Let us ask the Most Blessed Virgin Mary to put in our souls, in our hearts, this immense desire, this unquenchable desire, of all the moments of our life, of our whole life, of each week, month and year, to be with God for all eternity.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.