Constantly Risking Absurdity
Monday, August 15, 2005
Feast of the Assumption

(Cross-posted from Cahiers Peguy)

The universal calendar of Holy Mother Church deems August 15 the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the day when we remember Our Lady's rocket-firing up to the dizzying heights of ontological exaltation. But few outside of my native land will ever know that it is also the anniversary of the founding of the city of Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay, the first major Spanish post in the Rio de la Plata region in the southern cone of South America.

Notice that Asuncion was founded by the Spanish in 1537, four hundred and thirteen years before Pope Pius XII infallibly proclaimed the dogma of the Assumption in 1950. Not only does this corroborate the claim that belief in the dogma of the Assumption was already present in the deposit of faith way before Pius spoke ex cathedra (and some years before the Reformation, too), but it goes to show that Paraguayans are always on the cutting edge of doctrinal development.

I recall visiting the Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago last summer with this guy and witnessing a medieval design featuring the Assumption that dated back to 1396. So perhaps Paraguay wasn't first. But close.

To celebrate today, here's a few lines from Robert Lowell's poem, "Beyond the Alps," written to commemorate Pius' ex cathedra exclamation:

"When the Vatican made Mary's Assumption dogma,
the crowds at San Pietro screamed Papa.
The Holy Father dropped his shaving glass,
and listened. His electric razor purred,
his pet canary chirped on his left hand.
The lights of science couldn't hold a candle
to Mary risen--at one miraculous stroke,
angel-wing'd, gorgeous as a jungle bird!
but who believed this? Who could understand?
Pilgrims still kissed Saint Peter's brazen sandal.
The Duce's lynched, bare, booted skull still spoke.
God herded his people to the coup de grĂ¢ce--
the costumed Switzers sloped their pikes to push,
O Pius, through the monstrous human crush. . . . "



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The intimations of a mild-mannered Paraguayan undergraduate, studying Eng. Lit. and philosophy in a small, midwestern Jesuit college.

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