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Know Your Faith
In times today, when knowledge about our Catholic faith is very shallow, we at Divine would like you to rediscover its depth. Through this page we intend to give you a better understanding of the Catholic faith through a series of tiny capsules on various aspects of the church. Read the archived articles by clicking here
THE ASSUMPTION OF MARY
The “Assumption of Mary” is one of Catholicism’s newest dogmas, proclaimed by Pope Pius XII in 1950. Over the centuries, the Doctors of the Church spoke often about Mary’s Assumption. This doctrine teaches that - at the end of her life on earth, Mary was assumed, body and soul, into heaven (Bible is very clear about those who left behind their earthly existence without experiencing death. Enoch “was taken away so that he did not see death” (Hebrews 11:5, Genesis 5:24) The Bible says that a “chariot of fire” took Elijah without him seeing death (2 Kings 2:11) For Roman Catholic Christians, the belief in the Assumption of Mary flows immediately from the belief in her Immaculate Conception. Catholics believe that if Mary was preserved from sin by the free gift of God, she would not be bound to experience the consequences of sin - which is death.
It’s also necessary to keep in mind what the Assumption is NOT. Some people think Catholics believe Mary "ascended" into heaven. That’s NOT correct. Christ, by his own power, ascended into heaven. Mary was ‘assumed or taken up’ into heaven by God. She didn’t do it through her OWN POWER.
The Church has never formally defined whether she died or not, but the almost universal consensus is that she did die. Pope Pius XII, in the papal bull Munificentissimus Deus (1950), defined that Mary, "after the completion of her earthly life" (note there is no mention of her death), "was assumed body and soul into the glory of heaven."
It is one of the most ambiguous teachings of Catholicism. Soon after the introduction of this new doctrine, serious disagreement arose between Mariologists and Pius XII over whether or not Mary died, was resurrected, and then ascended to heaven, or simply ascended to heaven without dying.
One common idea, supported by Catholic tradition, is represented thus:
One day, when Mary, according to her custom, had gone to “the holy tomb of our Lord” to burn incense and pray, the archangel Gabriel announces her approaching death, and informs her that, in answer to her request, she shall “go to the heavenly places to her Son, into the true and everlasting life.” On her return home she prays, and all the Apostles—those who are already dead and those still alive—are gathered to her bedside at Bethlehem.... [T]he Apostles, carrying the couch on which “the Lady, the mother of God,” lay, are borne on a cloud to Jerusalem. Here Christ appears to her, and in answer to her request, declares: “Rejoice and be glad, for all grace is given to thee by My Father in heaven, and by Me, and by the Holy Ghost....” Then, while the Apostles sing a hymn, Mary falls asleep. She is laid in a tomb in Gethsemane; for three days an angel-choir is heard glorifying God, and when they are silent, all know that “her spotless and precious body has been transferred to Paradise” (Hastings, 1906, 1:683).
The possibility of a bodily assumption before the Second Coming is suggested by Matthew 27:52–53: "The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many." There is no record that all these Old Testament saints died, but it is recorded by early Church writers that they were assumed into heaven, or at least into that temporary state of rest and happiness often called "paradise," where the righteous people from the Old Testament era waited until Christ’s resurrection (Luke 16:22, 23:43; Heb. 11:1–40; 1 Pet. 4:6), after which they were brought into the eternal bliss of heaven.
No remains to venerate
There is negative historical proof for Mary’s Assumption. Believers from the time of Jesus always paid homage to saints. In the early Christian centuries relics of saints were zealously guarded and highly prized and cities vied for the title of the last resting place of the most famous saints. Rome, for example, houses the tombs of Peter and Paul. If Mary ended her life in Jerusalem, or perhaps in Ephesus, neither those cities nor any other claimed her remains (though there are claims about possessing her ‘temporary’ tomb) Why did no city claim the bones of Mary? Apparently because there weren’t any bones to claim.
From the 5th Century:
The Feast of the Assumption of Mary was celebrated in Syria
5th and 6th Century:
The Apocryphal Books were testimony of a certain Christian sense of the abhorrence felt that the body of the Mother of God should lie in a sepulcher
The Feast of the Assumption was celebrated in Jerusalem (and perhaps even in Alexandria)
Clear and explicit testimony was given on the Assumption of Mary in the Eastern Church; the same testimony is clear also in the Western Church (Gregory, Tours, 538-594)
The Feast of the Assumption was celebrated in Spain
From the 10th - 12th Century:
No dispute whatsoever in the Western Church; there was dispute over the false epistles of Jerome on the subject
The Feast of the Assumption was celebrated in the city of Rome, and in France
13th Century to the present:
Certain and undisputed faith in the Assumption of Mary in the universal Church.
Pope Pius XII, declared infallibly, ex cathedra: "Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul to heavenly glory."
Complement to the Immaculate Conception
Over the centuries, the Fathers and the Doctors of the Church spoke often about the fittingness of the privilege of Mary’s Assumption. The speculative grounds considered include Mary’s freedom from sin, her Motherhood of God, her perpetual virginity, and—the key — her submission to the salvific work of Christ.
To understand the dogma, one should think of the honor that was given to the Ark of the Covenant. It contained the manna (bread from heaven), stone tablets of the ten commandments (the word of God), and the staff of Aaron (a symbol of Israel’s high priesthood). Because of its contents, it was made of incorruptible wood. If this vessel was given such honor, how much more should Mary be kept from corruption, since she is the new ark — who carried the real bread from heaven, the Word of God, and the high priest of the New Covenant, Jesus Christ. After all, if Mary is immaculately conceived, then it would follow that she would not suffer the corruption in the grave, which is a consequence of sin [Gen. 3:17, 19].
Therefore, just as through one person sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all, in as much as all sinned ...
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
1 Cor 15:21-26
For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came also through a human being. For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order: Christ the first fruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ; then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
Since sin and death are the fruits of Satan, the freedom of Mary from the original sin of Adam also frees her from the consequences of sin also. Then Mary best fulfills the scripture of Genesis.
I will put enmity between you (the serpent, Satan) and the woman (Mary), and between your offspring (the minions of Satan) and hers (Christ); He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.
The Catholic Church was commissioned by Christ to teach all nations and to teach them infallibly—guided, as he promised, by the Holy Spirit until the end of the world (John 14:26, 16:13). The mere fact that the Church teaches that something is definitely true is a guarantee that it is true (cf. Matt. 28:18-20, Luke 10:16, 1 Tim. 3:15)
The constant faith (paradosis) of the Church hence affirms the belief in the Assumption of Mary.
37th National Youth Retreat
Our annual National Youth Retreat will be held at the Divine Retreat Centre. Come and let the word of God refresh you. Simultaneous retreats for couples, children and Bible nursery to be held. Contact Divine Youth for more details.
Date: May 14 - 19, 2017
Kannada Convention 2017
Divine Retreat Centre will conduct our annual Kannada convention next week. The convention will be blessed by the vibrant preaching of Fr. Mathew Naickomparambil, Fr. Augustine Vallooran and Fr Mathew Elavunkal, among many other servants of God. Please come.
Date: May 7 - May 12, 2017
Konkani Convention - Kuttumbutsov 2017
Divine Retreat Centre's annual Konkani Convention will be held at the centre. The convention will be led by Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC, Director. Talks to focus mainly on the renewal of the family. All are welcome.
Date: April 23 - April 28, 2017
Retreats at the Divine Retreat Centre, Somersby, Sydney
Divine Retreat Centre, Somersby to hold retreats throughout 2017. For bookings, email Fr Roni George, Director - firstname.lastname@example.org. Hurry, as admission is limited.
Date: January 2017 - December, 2017
Retreats in Divine Retreat Centre, UK
Divine Retreat Centre, Ramsgate UK, has announced several English and Malayalam language retreats to be led by Fr. George Panackal VC and Fr. Joseph Edattu VC. All are welcome.
Dates: Jan - Dec, 2017
POWER 2017 at Divine Retreat Centre
DRC is back with the highlight of the year: the 11th International Youth Conference - POWER 2017. The very best international preachers and gospel bands will be here to lead us into worship. Be there to experience a totally different atmosphere of prayer. Couples' retreat and children's retreat will be held simultaneously. Don't miss it.
Date: July 23 - July 28, 2017
Hindi Convention Ojas 2017
The Divine Retreat Centre will conduct our seventh Hindi convention in 2017. Two retreats will be held simultaneously on the campus; one for adults/couples and another for youth. All are welcome.
Date: May 28 - June 2, 2017
Divine Retreat in California
Answer God's call and experience His burning love for you. A two-day retreat to be led by Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC, in California. All are welcome.
Dates: March 28 & 29, 2017
Divine Lenten Retreats in New York and Texas
Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC, along with Glen and Teresa La'Rive, will lead several Lenten retreats in the US. Please bring your family and friends.
Date: March 24 - 2 April, 2017
Lenten Retreat in Goa
Answer God's call and experience His burning love for you. A retreat to be led by Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC at the St. Francis Xavier Church, Duler, Mapusa, Goa.
Dates: March 17, 18 & 19, 2017