Skip to comments.Why do we believe in the Assumption? (Ecumenical)
Posted on 08/13/2010 2:55:22 PM PDT by NYer
Mary is shown being taken up to heaven in a painting inside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore (CNS file photo/Nancy Wiechec)
The definition of the Assumption in 1950 caused some dismay. As I recall, Protestants were angry because it wasn’t in Scripture. The Archbishop of York, standing beneath his cathedral’s 600 year old Assumption roof-boss, deplored it as an innovation. The position of the Orthodox was more nuanced: they believed it, of course, but were furious that the Pope had defined it.
Decades later, earnest Catholics were wont to lament it as the regrettable climax of a sad period of outdated and retrograde Mariology (they didn’t know JPII was coming soon).
So what do we believe? “The Immaculate Mother of God, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul to heavenly glory.”
Why do we believe it? Briefly, because the Church tells us, and what the Church teaches from revelation. God teaches. (“O my God I believe in you and all your Church teaches, because you have said it and your word is true”.) What the Church teaches, notice; not the best guess of every theologian. If you have a New Testament handy, look up Mt 16:17-19 and Mt 28:18-20.
But what about Scripture? Briefly, the Church thinks that Scripture, rightly understood, teaches that Mary was immaculately conceived, and that the Assumption would follow. That totally sinless body would not be allowed by her Son to be undeservedly disfigured by decay or any touch of Satan’s work.
Notice in passing that the only reason we believe Scripture tells the truth is because the Church says so. It is the Church which is the “pillar and foundation upon which the truth rests” (1 Tim 3 15); it is the Church which wrote the New Testament, selected the contents, edited it and tells us how to handle it.
Problems from science? We say a “body” (matter) is “in” (a place) “heaven”. Are we not involved in insoluble mysteries? Well, yes, we are. These are the same puzzles we have about the Resurrection – and still more about the Blessed Sacrament. But the puzzles are because we do not understand matter, not because we believe in fairy stories.
Finally, what does the Assumption mean? It means joy, beauty, reward, bounty, the masterpiece of creation… For Jesus, it means that His human love is able to be given totally; for Our Lady, that she can humanly and totally respond to Him. (In heaven there is adoration for our Lord not just by spirits – angels and the saints – but by a real human being with a body). Mary has the reward so richly deserved by her total love. We’re glad for Jesus’s sake, for Mary’s, for the angels and saints who rejoice in their good. And we’re glad for our sake, too: what she has we will have one day – she is our Mother.
Jesus is in town one day teaching some of the local folks, when a rabid crowd of religious professionals push their way toward him. They thrust a woman clad only in a bed sheet before him and say
We caught this woman in the act of adultery! Should we stone her?
Jesus looks off into the distance for a moment, then stoops down and begins scratching something in the sand. Eventually he stands up and says, Let the person here without sin cast the first stone. All is silent, and then a rock flies in from the edge of the crowd, smacking the woman in the cheek. Jesus looks over the crowd in the direction of the rock-thrower, then cries out, Come on, mom! Stop that!
So why believe the Church in the first place?
Remember, you can't FIRST come to the Church through studying scripture - the Church says IT brings YOU scripture. So before you believe in the Church, there can be no valid scriptural influence on you - because that has to come from the Church.
So what's left, without scripture? An inner spiritual experience from God directing you to the Church?
Interesting that the Church would then deny the legitimacy of such an experience once you join it - or teach you to deny it in others. Apparently, the only legitimate inner experience God gives people is to obey the Church. Apparently, God can't, or won't, tell anyone anything else through personal inner experience. Because even if He does, it doesn't stand on it's own - it can only happen to someone already in the Church, and then the Church has to validate what God told them.
According to the Church.
Dear Sister, please consider opening this thread to our Orthodox brothers and sisters since the article mentions them
You may wish to ask for the thread to be made [ecumenical]. As it discusses reactions from both Protestant and Orthodox.
The key to understanding the Marian texts is her identification with the Ark of the Covenant.
Christians are always looking for things in the OT that foreshadowed things that were made manifest in the NT:
Colossians 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
Hebrews 8:4 For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: 5 Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things . . . "
For example, Jesus is the new Adam and the Paschal Lamb. In other words, God caused the OT things to foreshadow key things about the NT. The list could go on and on.
For purposes of Marian exigesis, let's focus on three of these things - Jesus is Manna, High Priest, and the Law. That is, the spiritual significance of the earthly Manna, the OT Priesthood and the Law were made manifest in Jesus. Or perhaps better to say, Manna, the Priesthood and the Law were earthly manifestations of the eternals spiritual reality of Jesus Christ, Son of God.
These three things are found in the Ark of the Covenant:
Hebrews 9:4 Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant . . .
Now, since Manna, the Priesthood (symbolized by Aaron's rod) and the Law (as symbolized the the tablets of Moses) foreshadow the spiritual reality of the Christ, and inasmuch as these were contained in the Ark, the question naturally arises "what or whom, if anyone, did the Ark foreshadow?"
Well, we know from Luke that Christ was contained in Mary's womb (LK 1:31). It seems reasonable to surmise, then, that Mary is the NT's spiritual manifestation of the OT Ark of the Covenant, just as Christ is the spiritual Manifestation of Manna, the Law, the Aaronic Priesthood, Adam, the Paschal Lamb and so forth.
This is identification of Mary with the Ark is made explicit in Revelation 11-12:
11:19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.
12:1And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
2And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
3And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.
4And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
5And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
More can be said about this identification of Mary with the Ark, such as an intertextual comparison between Luke's telling of Mary's trip to see Elizabeth (LK 1:39 et seq) and the OT's account of King David dancing before the Ark on its way home (2 Samuel 6:15 et seq) that clearly evinces St. Luke's intention to compare the two, but I think it clear enough in view of the above that Scripture clearly associates Mary with the Ark without going into all of that.
As to the Assumption of the BVM, Scripture prophesied this event in Psalms in the exact place that the Assumption of Christ was prophesied:
Psalm 132:8 Arise, O LORD, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength.
Once it is understood that Mary is the manifestion of the spiritual promise of the Ark the prophesy becomes clear.
I say again that these things are veiled in Scripture, as is becoming of the dignity of woman in general and Mary in particular. But as the Ethopian in Acts understood, there are many subtle meanings in Scripture, and to open them requires an Apostle, or in this case the Tradition of the Apostolic Church, which has always held this doctrine, in both the East and the West (our Orthodox brothers prefer not to make them so explicit, perhaps in keeping with a godly desire to maintain the private dignity of Mary).
I know that this exigesis will not convince my Protestant brothers and sisters in Christ, but I would ask them to consider whether there is enough Scriptural basis here to recognize the Catholic Marian doctrine as "Christian" in terms of the Protestant understanding of "Christian Freedom." There seems to be a common misperception that the Catholic Church has no scriptural basis for its Marian doctrines, but this simply isn't true. You might not agree with it, and that's fine. I ask only that my Protestant brothers and sisters recognize that there is a scriptural basis for Catholic doctrine in regard to Mary - at least enough that you can accept them as within the broad bounds of acceptably Christian teachings in the spirit of Christian Freedom.
What do you think of the basic argument?
You have no idea what you are talking about. The Church doesn’t deny personal experiences we may have with God, nor teach us to deny them in others.
Ignorant and opinionated is no way to go through life.
Enoch was taken bodily into heaven. “He walked with God.” — Genesis
Elijah was taken bodily into heaven. Flaming horses and chariot witnessed by Elisha. 2 Kings.
At the moment of Christ’s death as the temple veil was torn in half, bodies arose from their graves and went throughout Jerusalem and were visible to “many”. Matthew
The Blessed Virgin Mary was without sin so that she could be the Ark of the New Covenant — carrying Christ in her womb. So why should she not also be taken to heaven bodily?
BTW, did those bodies that rose from their graves go back into their graves?? Or did they follow Christ into Paradise/Heaven??
I think they followed Christ into heaven.
This is a Catholic Caucus thread. Are you a Catholic?
Are you Catholics? This is a Catholic Caucus thread.
I’m a Catholic.
What can be posted? Anything but the beliefs of those who are not members of the caucus
What will be pulled? Reply posts mentioning the beliefs of those who are not members of the caucus. If the article is inappropriate for a caucus, the tag will be changed to open.
Who will be booted? Repeat offenders.
The article speaks in behalf of both Orthodox and Protestant and therefore the Catholic Caucus label must be removed. I will replace it with ecumenical for now. If you’d rather it be locked or opened, let me know.
I think this makes a lot more sense than “because the church says so.” At least there is a search of the scriptures for symbols to explain the doctrines regarding Mary. As an ex-Catholic, I can at least understand this interpretation, even though I don’t think it supports the conclusion that Mary is sinless or that all graces go through her. A simple reading of the New Testament does not elevate Mary to the degree that the Catholic Church does. But, at least this interpretation is understandable based on a link between Mary and the Ark of the Covenant.
You are always a Catholic once you are baptized a Catholic. You can come back to the church. We welcome you.
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