Sunday, August 15, 2010

St. John Damascene on the Assumption

There's great stuff to be found in the breviary:
It was necessary that she who had preserved her virginity inviolate in childbirth should also have her body kept free from all corruption after death. It was necessary that she who had carried the Creator as a child on her breast should dwell in the tabernacles of God. It was necessary that the bride espoused by the Father should make her home in the bridal chambers of heaven. It was necessary that she, who had gazed on her crucified Son and been pierced in the heart by the sword of sorrow which she had escaped in giving him birth, should contemplate him seated with the Father. It was necessary that the Mother of God should share the possessions of her Son, and be venerated by every creature as the Mother and handmaid of God.

   St. John Damascene was born in the 600's, and I was interested to learn from Catholic Encyclopedia's article that he was the first (that we know of) to attempt a Summa Theologica, "to collate and epitomize in a single work the opinions of the great ecclesiastical writers who have gone before him." His book Concerning the Orthodox Faith, "is the most important of John Damascene's writings and one of the most notable works of Christian antiquity. Its authority has always been great among the theologians of the East and West." Now you know. :)

   I also really liked the point that Pius XII made in Munificentissimus Deus that sin and death are linked and triumphing over one means triumphing over the other:

Above all, it must be noted that from the second century the holy Fathers present the Virgin Mary as the new Eve, most closely associated with the new Adam, though subject to him in the struggle against the enemy from the nether world. This struggle, as the first promise of a redeemer implies, was to end in perfect victory over sin and death, always linked together in the writings of the Apostle of the Gentiles. Therefore, just as the glorious resurrection of Christ was an essential part of this victory and its final trophy, so the struggle shared by the Blessed Virgin and her Son was to end in the glorification of her virginal body. As the same Apostle says: When this mortal body has clothed itself in immortality, then will be fulfilled the word of Scripture: Death is swallowed up in victory.


KAM said...

Ooo, what a great post! Where in the breviary? And thanks for the point that sin and death seemed linked, and how the triumph over one is the triumph over the other.
'Death is swallowed up in victory' I love that.

Rachel Gray said...

Thanks KAM! Both are from the Office of Readings for today, the Assumption (the St. John Damascene passage is quoted in Pius XII's document). Right now it can be found here.

Good Thunder said...

Rachel, I have a Catholic dessert for you:

I'm by no means as cool as you but I figured I'd share my love of Catholic desserts with another lover of Catholic desserts. By the way, my jaw dropped too when I saw the brown scapular brownies...

Rachel Gray said...

Thanks Good Thunder-- your blog looks interesting; I'll have to start reading it!