Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Assumption Dispute

This past Monday, August 15, Catholics celebrated the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into  heaven as we do each year on August 15.  This celebration recalls the Catholic belief that Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was assumed into heaven, body and soul, following her death back in the first century.  Non-Catholics, who rely solely on Sacred Scripture as their authority in such matters, dispute this.  They say that since the Assumption is not recorded anywhere in Scripture, it did not happen.  We Catholics, who derive our beliefs from both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, say that our belief was handed down through Sacred Tradition.  Some non-Catholics also say that the Catholic belief in the Assumption was dreamed up in 1950 and was not handed down through the ages as claimed. 

What happened in 1950 was that the Assumption was declared a dogma to be believed by all Catholics.  The actual celebration of the event as a feast dates back to the fourth century.  But even prior to that, it is evident from early Church historians that the young Church community believed in it.  The early Church had a robust tradition of revering relics from the saints that lived at that time.  The complete lack of relics from the Mother of Jesus was seen as evidence of her body being assumed into heaven after her death.    

For me, personally, this lack of belief on the part of non-Catholics is a sad thing.  I have made a formal covenant of love with the Blessed Mother through my involvement in the Schoenstatt Movement and I feel a special bond with her through my prayer regimen.  It lifts my spirits to see, in almost every room of my home, a picture of her holding the baby Jesus in her arms.  It baffles me that non-Catholics can ignore the beautiful recordings that do appear in Scripture and not have any declaration of any sort of her involvement in salvation history.  She is the Immaculate Conception.  She is the Mother of God.  She is the Queen of Heaven and Earth.  And by the way, if you see or hear of someone "worshiping" Mary, that is a mistake.  Worship is reserved for God alone.  We honor Mary.  We do not worship her.

I invite my readers to go to your Bible and read Luke 1:46-55 and then tell me that you are not moved in some way by the delightful words of our Blessed Mother found there.  She prophesied that all generation will call her blessed.  This prophecy has been fulfilled in the Catholic Church and I am proud of our Church for the honor shown to her, especially through the dogma of the Assumption.

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