Father said something in his homily for the Assumption that got me sifting through the various scripture readings from Mass for this feast. I have put together the readings from the 1924 Missale Romanum, the 1962 and the Novus Ordo. I have used Dr Challoner's English throughout to make comparisons fairer and I am not going to give much comment as I think there is a thesis in this and my Mariology is not up to scratch. I'll just say what strikes me most about each version and leave you, dear reader, to your own thoughts.
Firstly from my grandfather's 1924 Missal. The first reading is beautiful. I like the emphasis on Our Lady's power. It links to the protoevangelium where God promises that through one of His creatures, a daughter of Eve, the serpent will be vanquished: I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head Gen 3:15. The Gospel reading came as a bit of a shock. I wasn't expecting to read about Our Lord in the house of Mary and Martha. It is not a reading that has (at first glance) anything to do with Our Lady. However it is nice to have a Gospel reading that contains the spoken words of Our Lord (this has subsequently been lost). And the words are full of promise. If the Word indwells in us, then then this cannot be taken from us. What is promised to the Mary Magdalene (and therefore to us) is fulfilled TOTALLY in the Immaculate Conception and reaches its earthly climax in her Assumption.
The readings are gentle and intimate.
Pre Pius XII
Eccli 24, 11-13, 15-20
And by my power I have trodden under my feet the hearts of all the
high and low: and in all these I sought rest, and I shall abide in the
inheritance of the Lord. Then the creator of all things commanded, and said to me: and he that made me, rested in my tabernacle, And he said to me: Let thy dwelling be in Jacob, and thy inheritance in Israel, and take root in my elect. And so was I established in Sion, and in the holy city likewise I rested, and my power was in Jerusalem.
And I took root in an honourable people, and in the portion of my God
his inheritance, and my abode is in the full assembly of saints. I was exalted like a cedar in Libanus, and as a cypress tree on mount Sion. I was exalted like a palm tree in Cades, and as a rose plant in Jericho: As a fair olive tree in the plains, and as a plane tree by the water in the streets, was I exalted. I gave a sweet smell like cinnamon. and aromatical balm: I yielded a sweet odour like the best myrrh:
Now it came to pass as they went, that he entered into a certain
town: and a certain woman named Martha, received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sitting also at the Lord' s feet, heard his word. But Martha was busy about much serving. Who stood and said: Lord, hast
thou no care that my sister hath left me alone to serve? speak to her
therefore, that she help me.
And the Lord answering, said to her: Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about many things: But one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her.
Secondly, here is the pre VII text dating from after the proclamation of the Dogma of the Assumption.
I do like hearing Judith's story. She is a type of Our Lady and again this links beautifully to the protoevangelium. The feast of the Assumption should be a day of great rejoicing and perhaps the full triumphant nature of the feast could not have been brought out till after the proclamation of the dogma. The Gospel reading comes as no surprise, though there is no real link to the Assumption. The link that was so subtly there in the Martha and Mary narrative. There is much in both readings about the humble submission of the creature to the direction and desire of the Creator. And there is much in that to make us all leap for joy.
Jud 13:22-25, 15:10
And they all adored the Lord, and said to her: The Lord hath blessed
thee by his power, because by thee he hath brought our enemies to
nought. And Ozias the prince of the people of Israel, said to her: Blessed art
thou, O daughter, by the Lord the most high God, above all women upon
the earth. Blessed be the Lord who made heaven and earth, who hath directed thee to the cutting off the head of the prince of our enemies. Because he hath so magnified thy name this day, that thy praise shall
not depart out of the mouth of men who shall be mindful of the power of
the Lord for ever, for that thou hast not spared thy life, by reason of
the distress and tribulation of thy people, but hast prevented our ruin
in the presence of our God. Thou art the glory of Jerusalem, thou art the joy of Israel, thou art the honour of our people:
Luke 1: 41-50
And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of
Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the
Holy Ghost: And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord.
And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because he that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is his name. And his mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him.
And lastly here is the Novus Ordo. There is so much text! And I'm afraid, I'll start with a criticism: why does the reading from the Apocalypse not finish at the end of verse 10 of chapter 6? I have included it in square brackets. It would have been nice if these words had been included as they would have linked nicely to the protoevangelium. The participation of His creature in the desires of God is more passive here. Though she is at her most glorious (clothed with the sun), things are happening to the Woman and she reacts: she is crying, she is in pain, she flees into the wilderness. The Apocalypse reading is not essentially about the "fiat" or Our Lady's victory, it is about the effects of sin on the sinless, it is either the most appropriate reading for the Assumption or the least, I can't quite decide. The second reading from 1 Corinthians continues with this new theme. It is about Christ's victory over death and God's covenant to all who remain faithful. This is a fine reading, but it does not cover the creature's participation in the work of salvation that is so significantly Our Lady's work. Her work in crushing the serpent that lead to His victory. It is probably there to down play the protoevangelium and be in tune with modern biblical scholarship which says "it shall crush" the serpent's head rather than "she". There is nothing explicitly female in the role of vanquishing the serpent in the modern translations.
The Gospel reading is as the 1962 (only longer......).
Rev 11:19, 12:1-6.10
And the temple of God was opened in heaven: and the ark of his testament was seen in his temple.
And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars: And being with child, she cried travailing in birth, and was in pain to be delivered. And there was seen another sign in heaven: and behold a great red
dragon, having seven heads, and ten horns: and on his head seven
And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them
to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to be
delivered; that, when she should be delivered, he might devour her son. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with an
iron rod: and her son was taken up to God, and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared by God.And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying: Now is come salvation, and
strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: [because the accuser of our brethren is cast forth, who accused them
before our God day and night.]
1 Cor 15:20-26
But now Christ is risen from the dead, the firstfruits of them that sleep:
For by a man came death, and by a man the resurrection of the dead. And as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. But every one in his own order: the firstfruits Christ, then they that are of Christ, who have believed in his coming. Afterwards the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God
and the Father, when he shall have brought to nought all principality,
and power, and virtue. For he must reign, until he hath put all his enemies under his feet.
And the enemy death shall be destroyed last: For he hath put all things under his feet.
And Mary rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda. And she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth.
And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary,
the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy
Ghost: And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord.
And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because he that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is his name. And his mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him. He hath shewed might in his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy: As he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever. And Mary abode with her about three months; and she returned to her own house.