The Assumption of The Blessed Virgin Mary

athanasiusathanasius Shipmate Posts: 1
What is everyone's opinion about this dogma of the Assumption of The Blessed Virgin Mary?
I know it has been defined by The Church, but do most Christians really believe it occurred after the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ?

athanasius
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  • Why didn't the Roman Catholic Church call the Assumption of Mary, the Resurrection of Mary?

    Assuming she died, then she was raised to life three days later, I like the title "The Second Resurrection".
  • Roman Catholics are less likely to believe she died before being assumed than are Orthodox. Which is why we call the same holiday "The Dormition" (falling asleep). But I believe for RC, the dogma does not say one way or the other.
  • RicardusRicardus Shipmate
    I've never heard it claimed that Mary came back to life. Wouldn't 'Ascension of Mary' be closer to the Catholic doctrine?
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    I think I read somewhere that there is some debate among legitimate Catholic theologians over whether or not Mary died, IOW no official teaching on the matter.
  • ForthviewForthview Shipmate
    ,I look forward to the Resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come' For those Christians who accept the beliefs expressed in the traditional creeds of the Church, all of us will one day be resurrected. In the belief of the Assumption of Mary the emphasis is more on the taking up to Heaven. Latin - and English distinguishes between the Ascension of Christ and the Assumption of Mary - the first 'going up' and the second 'taking up.
    However Spanish uses indifferently la Asunción de la Virgen (Ascension) and German uses in popular speech Maria Himmelfahrt (Mary's heavenly journey),although in more ecclesiastical language the festival is Maria Aufnahme in den Himmel (Mary's reception in Heaven).
    The exact physical details are left to our imagination,just as they are with the Ascension of Christ.Just like the story of Enoch in the Old Testament,who was taken bodily upwards, we are asked to believe that Christ's mother represents the first fruits of the Redemption when one day we will all be called to Heaven.
  • I gather the RC version is that she was "bodily assumed into Heaven". (See also relevant art.) Not quite sure re "death" as we usually understand it.

    Why not "resurrection"? Probably considered to be different from Jesus' resurrection. Of course, there's a folk belief or strain of thought that Mary is co-redemptrix with her son. I gather that's not officially accepted.

    But people wanted the sacred feminine. I think you can tell how much a belief means to a person/culture if they bring it forward into their new religion, however cloaked. In this case, I realized "Mary => theotokos ("God-bearer") => declared by the Council of Ephesus -> "Great is Diana of the Ephesians" -> Oh, my Goddess!" (That's no reflection on who Mary was/is, but on what people need and how they go about keeping/getting it.)

    Another example: the Virgin of Guadalupe has been the RC patroness of the Americas for hundreds of years. When she appeared to local man Juan Diego, it was at the traditional site for the worship of the goddess Tonantzin. Some people think Our Lady Of Guadalupe was actually Tonantzin, changing clothes in order to continue taking care of her people. (Again, "That's no reflection..." from the previous paragraph.)

    **mt**, thx re dormition. I knew some denom had that, but didn't remember which.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate

    Forthview wrote: »
    Just like the story of Enoch in the Old Testament, who was taken bodily upwards, we are asked to believe that Christ's mother represents the first fruits of the Redemption when one day we will all be called to Heaven.

    Some years ago, I had a discussion on the Assumption with the minister of the local continuing Presbyterian Church. He was presenting the standard Calvinist line, but I floored him with the question: If God took Elijah straight to heaven in a chariot of fire, would not the Son of God assume His mother, the means of the Incarnation, straight into heaven without her suffering death?
  • Hehe...well, one answer might be that the stories of Enoch and Elijah are In The Bible, and therefore must be True™.

    OTOH, there's no mention in Scripture of the Assumption/Dormition of Mary, although obviously her earthly life must have ended at some point.

    AIUI, the tradition of Mary's Assumption/Dormition is a very old-established one, but the RCC dogma of the Assumption is comparatively recent (RC Shipmates will correct me if I'm wrong).

    Whilst I'm happy, as a Good Little Anglican, to give Mary the prominence she most certainly deserves in the story of our redemption, I don't quite see that it is necessary to believe that she is/has been treated any differently to the rest of us.

    I don't know if there's any significance in the fact that the booklet of readings, propers etc. for the use of Walsingham Cells in England at their Cell Masses includes only those references to Mary found in the Bible (apart from a couple of extras to commemorate the Shrine in Norfolk itself).
  • mousethief wrote: »
    Roman Catholics are less likely to believe she died before being assumed than are Orthodox. Which is why we call the same holiday "The Dormition" (falling asleep). But I believe for RC, the dogma does not say one way or the other.
    The bolded is my understanding as well, and I think @stetson is right that there is legitimate debate on the topic among Catholic theologians.

    Pope John Paul II, however, did state in a General Audience that Mary died prior to her Assumption:
    Concerning the end of Mary’s earthly life, the Council uses the terms of the Bull defining the dogma of the Assumption and states: “The Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, when her earthly life was over” (Lumen gentium, n. 59). With this formula, the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, following my Venerable Predecessor Pius XII, made no pronouncement on the question of Mary’s death. Nevertheless, Pius XII did not intend to deny the fact of her death, but merely did not judge it opportune to affirm solemnly the death of the Mother of God as a truth to be accepted by all believers.

    Some theologians have in fact maintained that the Blessed Virgin did not die and and was immediately raised from earthly life to heavenly glory. However, this opinion was unknown until the 17th century, whereas a common tradition actually exists which sees Mary's death as her entry into heavenly glory. . . .

    It is true that in Revelation death is presented as a punishment for sin. However, the fact that the Church proclaims Mary free from original sin by a unique divine privilege does not lead to the conclusion that she also received physical immortality. The Mother is not superior to the Son who underwent death, giving it a new meaning and changing it into a means of salvation.

    Involved in Christ’s redemptive work and associated in his saving sacrifice, Mary was able to share in his suffering and death for the sake of humanity’s Redemption. What Severus of Antioch says about Christ also applies to her: “Without a preliminary death, how could the Resurrection have taken place?” (Antijulianistica, Beirut 1931, 194f.). To share in Christ’s Resurrection, Mary had first to share in his death.

    The full General Audience here.

  • Thanks @Nick Tamen for those useful quotes.
  • EutychusEutychus Shipmate
    edited August 10
    This thread has brought to mind the House of the Virgin Mary near Selçuk, Turkey, near ancient Ephesus. It has an intriguing story.

    (I wish I'd visited this when nearby now. I did see John's (alleged) tomb in Selçuk, which seems to be about as forgotten by contemporary religious tourism as St Paul's Bay in Malta and Fair Havens in Crete (which is a complete dump, having also rented a 4WD to get to it I can understand why the captain didn't want to winter there!) - and therefore quite wonderful in all senses of the term).
  • Quite. Mary's life post-Jesus' Resurrection, in the care of St John, is a fascinating subject for thought and speculation!

    What really is intriguing to me, though, is the fact that many Muslims give honour to Mary, as the mother of the prophet Isa (Jesus). The link that @Eutychus has provided gives more information on this...
  • EutychusEutychus Shipmate
    There is a longstanding tradition on this in the area of Ephesus, and it seems remarkably devoid of all the kinds of thing that trigger my BS-ometer with regard to other longstanding traditions. The story of how the site came to be "discovered" is intriguing too.
  • ForthviewForthview Shipmate
    Many of the stories which are told to Muslim devotees are the same (though sometimes slightly different) as those taken from both the Old and the New Testament. The story of the miraculous birth of Jesus ,born of the Virgin Mother, preserved from sin since the earliest days is a common story in Muslim tradition. In Muslim tradition the mother of Mary is given the name of Anna whereas her father has traditionally the name of Imran,rather than the modern Catholic form in English ,Joachim. I have mentioned several times the mosque in honour of Mary, Mother of Jesus, which stands right beside the Catholic cathedral of St Joseph in Abu Dhabi.

    Just as in the Anglican tradition all the readings used at Mass on the 15th August are those which come from Scripture.

    It is, of course, true that the dogma of the Assumption was formally promulgated by Pius XII on 1st Nov.1950 but the tradition dates back to early times. I think that there are still some pre-Reformation Anglican churches dedicated to the Assumption of our Lady.
    There are still celebrations which take place in Irvine, Scotland in August called the Marymas festival.
    Although most people nowadays connect this with Mary Queen of Scots it is clear that it goes back to the celebration of the Assumption on 15th August.

    Vatican 2 in the dogmatic Constitution on the Church states :
    In the bodily and spiritual glory which she possesses in Heaven, the mother of Jesus continues... as the image and the first flowering of the Church,as she is to be perfected in the world to come.
    Likewise Mary shines forth on earth,until the day of the Lord's coming, as a sign of sure hope and solace for the Pilgrim People of God.
  • Well, well. When (or if) we get to Heaven (should such a state, or place, exist), no doubt we'll find out what happened...
    :wink:
  • MargaretMargaret Shipmate
    I visited the House of the Virgin Mary a few years ago when we were staying in Selçuk, and it's the kind of place, peaceful, high in the hills, surrounded by trees, where you'd really like to imagine her living in her last years. Anne Catherine Emmerich's visions may have been mostly pious fantasy, but I'd love to think that this one thing she got right. It's very much a place of peace, shared by Christians and Muslims, which seems exactly right for her.
  • Have there ever been any reports of apparitions of Mary in that area?
  • TelfordTelford Shipmate
    Mary gave birth to Jesus and raised him to be a good adult. No different to the majority of mothers throughout history. What did she do what was special ?
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    I suggest that if you want to pursue that rather different question @Telford you start a separate thread for it.

    BroJames, Purgatory Host
  • Gee D wrote: »
    Forthview wrote: »
    Just like the story of Enoch in the Old Testament, who was taken bodily upwards, we are asked to believe that Christ's mother represents the first fruits of the Redemption when one day we will all be called to Heaven.

    Some years ago, I had a discussion on the Assumption with the minister of the local continuing Presbyterian Church. He was presenting the standard Calvinist line, but I floored him with the question: If God took Elijah straight to heaven in a chariot of fire, would not the Son of God assume His mother, the means of the Incarnation, straight into heaven without her suffering death?

    The thing is, he generally doesn't show favoritism. Look what happened to Cousin John!

    Which is why I have my doubts about this teaching. It seems to me that Elijah or any guy off the street might have a better chance at such a spectacular gift than one of Jesus' own family (and perhaps especially the one most closely linked with him in the Incarnation). Miracles seem to happen to those who deserve them least--perhaps to point up the fact that they come by grace and not merit.
  • Which raises wider issues of course. Look at the story of the Annunciation. Why was Mary chosen? Grace or merit?

    Did Mary 'deserve' to be the Mother of our Lord? Did she 'earn' the right or was it all by grace?

    Trying to work all that out can tie people up in knots - hence the Immaculate Conception.

    However we cut it, there seems to be some kind of divine / human synergy thing going on as the Orthodox would have it.

    'Be it done to me according to your word.'

    Otherwise, it seems to me, we end up championing one side or another of some kind of dichotomy that appeals to opposing factions in the Western Christian mind ... says he who is a Western Christian himself.

    Why not believe it's both and have done with it?

    If Christ Jesus can be both God and Man at one and the same time, 100% God, 100% Man, then why should we ration bodily assumption (whether alive or dead) to Enoch and not anyone else?

    Just sayin'.
  • Besides, are we told that Elijah, or Enoch, did or didn't 'deserve' to be whisked up to heaven in a fiery chariot or - depending on interpretation - to mysteriously be assumed into heaven as Enoch is traditionally seen to have done?

    I'm not even sure it's the right question to ask.

    Whatever else we may or may not say about the Assumption or Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, then surely, as with any Marian belief or emphasis, it's ultimately about Christology.

    'Unless you are a good Marian, you are a good Arian,' as I read once in an article by a Welsh Anglo-Catholic priest. I not sure whether he coined the phrase, and it is certainly binary, but I can see what he was driving at.

    I have no idea whether the Assumption / Dormition is a pious fiction or some kind of historical fact, but surely the point of it is to tell us something about Christ and that if human beings can enter into God's eternal presence - whether at death or in some mysterious way whilst alive - then, by grace, there is hope for us.
  • TelfordTelford Shipmate
    BroJames wrote: »
    I suggest that if you want to pursue that rather different question @Telford you start a separate thread for it.

    BroJames, Purgatory Host

    I agree. You need to point this out to other posters

  • I have no idea whether the Assumption / Dormition is a pious fiction or some kind of historical fact, but surely the point of it is to tell us something about Christ and that if human beings can enter into God's eternal presence - whether at death or in some mysterious way whilst alive - then, by grace, there is hope for us.

    This.

    In fairness to most of the Anglican priests I've heard preaching/teaching about Mary, they do try to emphasise her as 'pointing people to her Son', and this seems to be the case at (for example) Walsingham.

    Our Place will be celebrating The Assumption this Thursday (a couple of days early, but we can't have a Saturday Mass at the moment), so I'll be interested to see what tack FatherInCharge takes.

  • The Orthodox of course believe that she definitely died. I the story we tell, they opened her tomb so Thomas (who caught a late flight) could venerate her body, and found it empty. From this they surmised that she was taken into heaven. As such she is the first "resurrection of the faithful." Why the holiday is not of her resurrection but of her falling asleep, I do not know. Lost in the mists of time, although any time you get something lost in the mists of time, people will make pious traditions to fill in the missing pieces. But I know of no traditions that answer that question. Perhaps they jotted down the day she died, but since they may have opened the tomb several days later, the date of her actual assumption into heaven is unknown. This is a hypothesis and not a teaching of the church so far as I know. I'm not even sold on it myself. Just an example.
  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    The tradition of the Church, in the West and as the West understands it, holds that Mary entered heaven alive. I think calling it the Assumption, as opposed to the Resurrection or the Ascension, is a way of clarifying the centrality of both of those events to the life and career of Jesus Christ. It may be noteworthy or not, but in my travels through Anglo-Catholicism, whether it is referred to as the Dormition of Mary or the Assumption of Mary tends to reflect whether or not the speaker leans more Roman Catholic in their theology, or Eastern Orthodox. (There's an interesting phenomenon of many self-professed Anglo-Catholics believing and thinking more like Anglo-Orthodox with Catholic Liturgy, rather than Anglo-Roman Catholics.)

    My Marian theology runs particularly high, so I celebrate it and encourage my faith community to do so, as well as any others to whom it wouldn't be abhorrent.
  • Does anybody who enters heaven enter not-alive?
  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    mousethief wrote: »
    Does anybody who enters heaven enter not-alive?

    Wow, what a good question.

    We wait for the resurrection of the dead, but presumably people enter heaven who are not yet resurrected? That's how I've believed the line, but I'm happy to be corrected.

  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Nick Tamen,. Thanks for that long quotation. I liked the passage merely did not judge it opportune which I assume means we've not got round to working this out yet.
  • EutychusEutychus Shipmate
    mousethief wrote: »
    The Orthodox of course believe that she definitely died. I the story we tell, they opened her tomb so Thomas (who caught a late flight) could venerate her body, and found it empty.

    Do the Orthodox have any consensus on where he flew to? (i.e. Izmir, or Tel Aviv?)
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    ECraigR wrote: »
    mousethief wrote: »
    Does anybody who enters heaven enter not-alive?

    Wow, what a good question.

    We wait for the resurrection of the dead, but presumably people enter heaven who are not yet resurrected? That's how I've believed the line, but I'm happy to be corrected.

    I tend to think that if there's any hope of existence beyond the grave it is in resurrection. I don't really hold with the idea of a non-corporeal soul that can exist without a body. A soul, as it exists at all, seems to be an emergent property of a complex brain.
  • Eutychus wrote: »
    mousethief wrote: »
    The Orthodox of course believe that she definitely died. I the story we tell, they opened her tomb so Thomas (who caught a late flight) could venerate her body, and found it empty.

    Do the Orthodox have any consensus on where he flew to? (i.e. Izmir, or Tel Aviv?)

    I imagine it would depend on which airport flights from Kerala or Mumbai went to back then. I imagine he may have been able to hitch a ride on a cruise ship to Ephesus.

    On the thing about people going alive into heaven, it was generally understood in the circles I moved in that Enoch went there that way - and even though we weren't pre-millenialists some saw it as a prefiguring of the Rapture.

    There's the scary bit during the Exodus where the rebels are swallowed up alive into Sheol.

    We have to unpack some of the cosmology I think, but I'm happy to go with the Mystery as it were - that's a very useful and convenient fall back position I find. ;)
  • What value does this belief have if it's true? (Bear in mind that a significant proportion of Christians either don't believe it's true or are not concerned either way).
  • I suppose the flippant answer to that is that to those who believe it the story is of value. To those who don't, it isn't.

    The same could be said of any belief system. The doctrine of the Trinity is of no value to Unitarians. Monotheism is of no value to a Polytheist and vice versa. Theism is of no value to an Atheist ...

    Now, there are less flippant answers of course.

    On the side of those who believe these things the 'value' - if we have to put it in such utilitarian terms - could range from the reinforcement of a high Christology to the hope of resurrection for all believers to the aesthetic value of the story or to the reinforcement of Tradition - 'this is what the Church has believed for many centuries' - to other aspects I've not considered upthread.

    Conversely, for those who don't believe these things they would say that they aren't necessary to reinforce a high Christology or the hope of resurrection because we already have that in the NT and don't need these pesky additional stories which lead to folk superstition yada yadda yadda ...

    The mileage will vary.

    We pays our money, we make our choice.
  • ForthviewForthview Shipmate
    Exclamation Mark is right however to put the question but when one puts that question one has to ask also what does the Ascension of Christ mean to many people, even to some who claim to be Christians.

    On the positive side we can only say that the idea of the Assumption is part of the story of Christ and His Church down the ages. As is said of questions about the story of Lourdes - to those without faith no answer can be given, to those with faith no answer is necessary
  • cgichardcgichard Shipmate
    Eutychus wrote: »
    Do the Orthodox have any consensus on where he flew to? (i.e. Izmir, or Tel Aviv?)

    India, according to this account by St Maximos the Confessor.

  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    cgichard wrote: »
    Eutychus wrote: »
    Do the Orthodox have any consensus on where he flew to? (i.e. Izmir, or Tel Aviv?)

    India, according to this account by St Maximos the Confessor.
    @cgichard I think you may be answering the wrong question. I think @Eutychus was asking where St Thomas flew to, i.e. where the Most Blessed and All Holy Theotokos died, not where St Thomas flew from. 'India' would have been the answer to that second question if that had been the one being asked.

  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    edited August 11
    Im a RC who doesnt "get" the Mary stuff at all. I just shrug my shoulders and move on. It helps or bothers some folk, not me. However I did spend a morning in Lourdes and loathed it with a passion!
    However the I do see the assumption in the context of the general resurrection of the dead which is promised to all believers. A promise of what we can all look forward to. I'm cool with that.
  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    edited August 11
    Deleted
  • Alan29 wrote: »
    Im a RC who doesnt "get" the Mary stuff at all. I just shrug my shoulders and move on. It helps or bothers some folk, not me. However I did spend a morning in Lourdes and loathed it with a passion!
    However the I do see the assumption in the context of the general resurrection of the dead which is promised to all believers. A promise of what we can all look forward to. I'm cool with that.

    Yes.

    Or, perhaps rather simplistically answering the question in the OP, 'sort of'...

  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    Alan29 wrote: »
    Im a RC who doesnt "get" the Mary stuff at all. I just shrug my shoulders and move on. It helps or bothers some folk, not me. However I did spend a morning in Lourdes and loathed it with a passion!
    However the I do see the assumption in the context of the general resurrection of the dead which is promised to all believers. A promise of what we can all look forward to. I'm cool with that.

    Yes.

    Or, perhaps rather simplistically answering the question in the OP, 'sort of'...

    Not sure I understand that. For RC theologians its an open question. The definition in the proclamation just says "Mary ever virgin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven" and doesnt touch on the death.
  • Well, I did say 'rather simplistically'...

    The fact that it's an open question for RC theologians surely indicates a 'sort of' answer? Depends on what is meant by 'resurrection', I suppose.
  • BTW - like @Alan29, I don't really 'get' a lot of the Marian stuff. The references to her in Scripture, yes, and IMHO they tell us pretty well all we need to know...but...

    ...I can readily appreciate that others may differ, and that the various traditions which have grown up (over many centuries) have done so in attempts to explore more fully who Mary is, and what is her place in the story of our redemption.
  • Sure, and we all do it, of course. I'd suggest that Lamb Chopped's assumption (ha ha, see what I did there?) that the Almighty is more likely to 'assume' someone like Elijah bodily into heaven rather than one of his own family members, is simply that - an assumption, and one based on the ethos of a particular tradition - in this case the Lutheran tradition which as we know places a strong emphasis on grace.

    Ok, Lamb Chopped isn't elevating her assumption to the level of dogma of course, unlike the RCC.

    I'm not saying it's wrong to ask the question as to what 'good' any of this does, but any of this stuff can lead to imbalances. Lourdes isn't on my bucket list of places to visit, but then neither is the US Bible Belt.
  • ForthviewForthview Shipmate
    I think that most of us who claim to be Christian are 'sort of' Christians who 'sort of ' believe. Few Christians and even fewer of our non-Christian fellow human beings will bother about the nitty-gritty theological explanations of some of the intricacies of Christianity..

    As my favourite Catholic author once said a long time ago :'Mrs McGinty and Mrs Murphy will cheerfully have answered the searching questions of George Bernard Shaw by the simple process of not reading him.

    GG I think you ought to try to go to Lourdes as soon as possible. A French government minister visited today in the run up to the 15th August, not to visit the grotto obviously, but to commiserate with the shopkeepers and hoteliers who have seen their income drop up to 85% due to the pandemic.
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited August 11
    Forthview wrote: »
    I think that most of us who claim to be Christian are 'sort of' Christians who 'sort of ' believe. Few Christians and even fewer of our non-Christian fellow human beings will bother about the nitty-gritty theological explanations of some of the intricacies of Christianity..

    Very true!

    (I hope my use of the rather dismissive expression 'sort of' didn't cause offence. It certainly wasn't meant that way.)

  • And the US Bible Belt, Forthview?

    Should I go there also?
  • ForthviewForthview Shipmate
    BF I certainly would not take offence at what you describe as a rather dismissive expression. To my mind the only time that the generality of religious 'sort of' believers can really come to life is when there is some issue which is taken as some 'sort of' dividing line between Catholics and Protestant Christians, between Sunni and Shia Muslims, between Hindus and Sikhs. People can then be ready to die to defend some issue or another which they would otherwise rarely bother about.
    p.s. I count myself as a 'sort of' believer.
  • Just wondering,

    What do Protestants make of Revelation 12 in reference to the Assumption?
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited August 11
    :lol:

    I take it you're referring to this bit...
    https://biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation%2012&version=KJV

    I have no idea! It would make a wonderful animated fillum, wot with computer graphix and all...

    Maybe the Evangelist was on some form of strong medication...
    :naughty:
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