UNDERSTANDING YOUR FAITH:
ASSUMPTION OF MARY
By Vic Scaravilli
We celebrated the Assumption of Mary on August 15. Have you ever wondered or have been asked by a non-Catholic how do you know this teaching of the Church is true? The issue of Mary is a controversial topic because there is little Scriptural support of our beliefs. So how do we know these beliefs are valid and how can we justify them?
Our belief was formally defined on November 1, 1950 when Pope Pius XII exercised papal infallibility and defined the doctrine of the Assumption in thee words: “We pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthy life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.” Assumed means Mary was taken into heaven by the power of God and not of her own power.
Catholics accept the teachings of the Magisterium because we believe in Jesus and the promises He made to us about the work and guidance the Holy Spirit does in His Church: “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, that the Father will send in my name, He will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” (John 14:26); “When He comes, the Spirit of truth, He will guide you to all truth” (John 16:13); He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me” (Luke 10:16).
Without qualification, Jesus promised that the gates of hell would never prevail against His Church (Mat. 16:18), a promise that would not be kept if the Church has ever fallen or could fall into error in Christian doctrine. To think Jesus could not, did not, or never intend to make good on these promises, that He left His Church to fall into error on doctrine or morality would question His power, goodness, truthfulness, and Divinity.
Paul teaches the Church of the living God is the pillar and foundation of truth (1Tim: 3:15).
Although this reason is enough to believe in its truth, there are also other indications this event happened. First is the fact no city or Christian center has ever claimed the mortal remains of Mary. The apostles and other Saints remains were all venerated by early Christians who gathered, preserved, and guarded them. Mary would be regarded more valuable than any Saint or Apostle because she was actually related to Christ. There are gravesites and relics of the bodies of all of the important Saints and Apostles but there is none for Mary.
Just because Scripture omits to record this fact is no argument against it. Omission is not a denial. The New Testament was written after the death of Mary and often did not include details that were understood at the time. The teaching of the Assumption can be found in writings at least fourteen hundred years ago indicating its acceptance by early Christians. There have been assumptions recorded in the Bible such as Enoch and Elijah who were taken into heaven by God (Gen. 5:24 and 2Kings 2:11) showing God can and has done it in the past.
There is no problem with the church officially defining a doctrine that is not explicitly in Scripture as long as it is not in contradiction to Scripture. Both Scripture and Oral Traditions were and still are sources of God’s revelation.
Another fact is the Church has officially declared Mary has appeared on earth several times in recent years. Fatima, Lourdes, and Guadalupe are places where Mary has been seen and has spoken to people.
We trust the authoritative Church on this doctrine as well as the other ones on Mary.