Catholic Teaching

Assumption of Mary

We always tell our Protestant friends that the rosary is based upon scripture, and the prayers and mysteries within the rosary can be easily found in the Bible with the exception of a direct quote for two of the mysteries.  These are the fourth and fifth Glorious Mysteries of the rosary, the Assumption of Mary and the Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven.  This article will explain some of the reasons why we can make a very good case for the Assumption.
First, assumption into heaven is not a unique event that happened only to Mary. Two other biblical figures were assumed into heaven by God. The first was Enoch who "was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found, because God had taken him" (Hebrews 11:5, cf. Genesis 5:24, Sirach 44:16). The second was Elijah when he "went up by a whirlwind into heaven" by "a chariot of fire and horses of fire" (2 Kings 2:11, cf. 1 Maccabees 2:58).

Not only has God assumed others into heaven in the past, but it will happen again, to righteous people at the Second Coming. When Christ comes again, those who have died in Christ will rise first, "then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

This does not prove Mary was assumed into heaven, but the teaching of the Assumption of Mary does not violate Scripture.  Even though the assumption may have been witnessed as an historical event, there are many reasons why it might not have been included in the Bible.

Secondly, although we are well aware of the location of the remains of Peter, James and other saints, there is no evidence whatsoever of a single place claiming to possess the bones of Mary or the tomb which holds her body. Christians gave, and still give, much respect and honor to the remains of our holy saints. We can easily state that historical evidence does not contradict our claim that Mary was assumed by God into heaven.

Next, we make the case of why Mary was assumed into heaven. We Catholics believe that Mary, who was preserved from original sin, was exalted by God by being taken up to heaven at the end of her earthly life. God granted this so she might be more fully conformed to her Son and participate in His resurrection. Due to her holiness, purity, and participation in the life and death of Christ, she is the first of all Christians to participate in His Resurrection.

Finally, we have Tradition. The belief in the assumption of Mary is founded on the apocryphal treatise De Obitu S. Dominae, bearing the name of St. John. It is also found in the book De Transitu Virginis and in a letter attributed to St. Denis the Areopagite. It is mentioned in the sermons of St. Andrew of Crete, St. John Damascene, St. Modestus of Jerusalem, St. Gregory of Tours and others.  St. Juvenal, Bishop of Jerusalem, at the Council of Chalcedon (451), made known to the Emperor Marcian and Pulcheria, who wished to possess the body of the Mother of God, that Mary died in the presence of all the Apostles but that her tomb, when opened upon the request of St. Thomas, was found empty; wherefrom the Apostles concluded that the body was taken up to heaven.

Jim Fritz

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