The Meaning of the Doctrine of the Glorious Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
You will find no better example in modern times of the Roman Catholic Church at work: The laity and priesthood evincing the power of this doctrine and Pius XII, declaring it infallible in response to that clamour.
1. The Doctrine Itself
It was promulgated by Pope Pius XII in the 1950’s – he being the great Pastor wartime Holy Father, who was elected when Pius XI died in the late 1930’s before war broke out between Nazi Germany and the Anglo-French alliance. The facts enunciated in this doctrine are that Mary died in the usual way of natural causes. She died and was buried – we believe in Ephessos, modern Turkey. Within a short matter of days before her body had been corrupted, the place of resting revealed no sign of her body. Traditionally, Catholics believe she was not an older woman when she died remaining relatively young to her death. The explanation of the disappearance of her mortal body so shortly after her burial, is that she was taken up to Heaven bodily. Thus reunited to her beloved Son, she is Queen of Heaven, truly.
a) Where lies the proof evidential for this doctrine?
This exists in the universal acclamation of the Church Catholic since Mary dies, and her body vanished that the only reasonable explanation of this phenomenon is she was assumed bodily in to Heaven. This was by the very power of God the Father Himself in acknowledgement of her being the Mother of His most precious Son, and her exceptionally virtuous obedience to that Mother of God role in her Earthly life. Everything points to this explanation of the end of her life temporal, if you believe in the Blessed Virgin Mary and her very significant contribution to Christianity, second only to Her Son in the Holy Trinity: God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
The Catholic Church has believed in this Assumption into Heaven doctrine and interpretation from time immemorial, and such is the driven direction of these Roman Catholics infused by the Mass and Holy Communion, they do not err.
b) The Nature of her Assumption to Heaven.
After the birth of the Christian Church with the Coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and Mary in the upper room in Jerusalem. She was assumed in to Heaven by the traditional belief of Catholics. The exact date is not known. The Coming of the Holy Spirit was nearly months after the crucifixion of Jesus. Thus, after His Resurrection from the dead He ascended bodily into Heaven before the very eyes of His Apostles, unlike Mary’s invisible Assumption some time later. Jesus’ Ascension came before the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and Mary. Those were miraculous times all connected to the life and death of Jesus. Mary’s Assumption was no less extraordinary and supernatural in grace than her Son’s Ascension. Jesus was never seen again bodily after His Ascension. Likewise, Mary did not return physically after her Glorious Assumption – Mother like Son. She did reappear in Apparitions e.g. La Salette, Lourdes and Fatima. The Holy Spirit inspired the beginning of the Catholic Church and these Apparitions, and it does not mislead. The same prompting of the Third Person of the Holy Trinity caused Pius XII in the 1950’s to declare this doctrine of the Glorious Assumption of the Virgin Mary and that Holy Spirit had equally given the faithful of our Church the longstanding belief in this mystery since it happened 2000 years ago. The faithful do not make such mistakes, nor does the Holy Father himself. The Holy Spirit is adored and glorified with the Father and the Son – (The Nicene Creed).
c) Can we find proof in 21st Century terms of this Papally pronounced doctrine of faith?
You will never get it. It is too long ago and was not referred to in Holy Scripture. Pius XII was bound to make this declaration and promulgation, but he also knew he was putting his personal position, not at risk, but subject to vocal criticism by ardent Protestants and non-Catholics. The Catholic Church was behind him, but as the supreme Pastor he had a duty to mankind as he discovered in WWII. He wished to appeal to humanity in the interests of everyone on Earth. His charity was exemplary and drove him onward. The proof of this Papal teaching lies in the charity at its essence still resounding today. This teaching has great benefit for us all.
Pius XII did not mince his words – he spoke ex-Cathedra namely with the full authority of the Papal infallibility Rule laid down in the first Vatican Council 1870-71. He was teaching the Christian World that they, as Catholics, should not resile from his teaching on the Glorious Assumption of Mary. He was speaking from the Chair of St Peter. I submit he was a good teacher of men and women and chose his moment with excellent judgement for this declaration: infallible. The opportunity would not have come again with the rise of libertarian ideas and practices in Catholicism and generally in later years and decades.
3. Mary herself and these doctrines.
Mary did not instigate or create her own Immaculate Conception and Glorious Assumption. This was the province of God the Father in the Holy Trinity. She was the lowly handmaid as she said herself. These two characteristics of her conception and death are not “hers” yet the Church adores Mary through these teachings. They belong to God the Father and His relationship to the Mother of His Son is unseen. The unseen here is sacred beyond our imaginings. Why did it take so long to pronounce these two teachings? Her Holy and Immaculate Conception by her mother Anna and her father Joachim was declared infallibly by Pius IX in the 1850’s.
Mary did not demand these articles of our faith to be proclaimed by these Popes. She will wait and wait for Christian unity and devotion universally to her Son. What matters to Catholicism is the teaching of the successors to St Peter who have been commanded each one to be God’s Representative on Earth. With respect to Mary and her devotees the Roman Catholic Church does not primarily represent her. She did not found our Church. Her Son commanded;
“Thou art Peter and upon this rock I found my Church.”
Mary’s role is of the most powerful feminine kind but supportive. She puts Christ first. Her essence is to be very much behind the scenes – we would do well to follow her example – all of us. Obedience demands humility and meekness. It came easily to Mary – may we all have the grace to let it come easily to us. We do not lack the opportunity to do so – not one of us.
4. Conclusion and the Teachings of the Glorious Assumption and Immaculate Conception.
I argue what the Popes have taught then and now we should contemplate in the present – the 21st Century. Catholics now have the confirmation they have yearned for since Biblical days thanks to Pius IX in the 1850’s and Pius XII in the 1950’s. The Popes open themselves up for all Christians and non-Christians to scrutinize their thinking. That is their method of working. This is evident in these two infallible Papal teachings. Even Paul VI came close to infallible teaching in his encyclical on Contraception, (against artificial intervention in birth control), this was in the 1960’s. Thus the most powerful Popes put themselves, and the Papacy, on the line for the sake of teaching the faithful and all humanity. They do not stand by when their action is required – they are the Bishops of Rome and the Vicars of Christ. Of course you must obey the dictates of your own conscience, but do yourself the service of educating and informing it by speaking to Catholics who believe in the modern day Popes, and who are prepared to put that belief into writing. I applaud these supreme Pontiffs and above all I go down on bended knee to the one Almighty ever living Father God Himself, who is the ultimate creator of goodness and life.
5. Postscript – The Blessed Virgin Mary’s role.
She will be the help of Christians and our neighbours the inhabitants of our World without fail. She promotes unity, not dissension. The Assumption is the fourth Glorious Mystery of our Rosary. Yes, we are devoted to Mary because the Assumption teaches her meek approach – she makes no overriding requests and that mystery came to her without being asked for by her. Have no doubt that miraculous event occurred. What is her last word? Pray to me, you sinners, and you will learn my Son’s teaching from Rome herself, the historic Basilica of St. Peter, the eternal City and above all the line of Petrine Bishops themselves. We hail Mary for her meekness and mildness.
Ave Maria! Gratia plena!