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The death and Assumption of Mary

23 Nov 2015, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Mater Dei

Many things that have to do with the Blessed Virgin Mary are controversial to many of our none Catholic brothers and sisters; even some very few Catholics get confused some times. The Catholic Church is not guided by the spirit of confusion but by the Spirit of truth, that was the promise Christ made, and he fulfilled it:Assumption But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning (Jn. 15:26-27).

Upon whose faith the Church is built, the apostles were taught and guided by this Counselor, the Holy Spirit. Standing on this teaching authority, therefore, the Church in her first Council at Jerusalem authoritatively wrote a letter to the Gentile believers, informing them what the Church and the Holy Spirit have decided: For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from unchastely. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell (Acts 15:28-29). This was not the spirit of confusion, and the Church can never be guided by the spirit of confusion; the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church (Mt. 16:18).

It is the same Holy Spirit that has been with the Church that is still with the Church. The same Holy Spirit working in the Church inspired the proclamation of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary as a dogma of faith. It was on November 1, 1950, when Pope Pius XII defined the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in these words: Wherefore, after we have poured forth prayers of supplication again and again to God, and have invoked the light of the Spirit of Truth, for the glory of Almighty God Who has lavished His special affection upon the Virgin Mary, for the honor of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages and the Victor over sin and death, for the increase of that same august Mother, and for the joy and exultation of the entire Church; by the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by Our own authority, 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 earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.

The Blessed Virgin Mary’s Assumption may not be biblical, but it is an inspired truth just as the same Holy Spirit inspires the whole bible. The same Holy Spirit that inspired the first Council of the Church at Jerusalem to decide what to tell the Gentiles also inspired the same Church on the Blessed Virgin Mary dogma. The Holy Spirit is still with the Church despite our human weaknesses, and he will continue to glorify His name in the Church.

The none Catholics and even a few Catholics raise questions about this dogma. One of the major questions they raise is, did Mary die before the Assumption? This is a very important question that must not be ignored, did Mary die before the Assumption?

assumption-of-the-blessed-virgin-marySome people try to answer this question by saying that the Pope left that aspect open in his proclamation that he was silent about Mary’s death. But in his pronouncement, the Pope said that Mary, after completing her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heaven. I ask, what does it mean to complete once earthly course? To die. The Pope may not have used the word death, but completing the earthly course implies death. Mary died.

Mary’s death is not recorded in the bible, but its truthfulness was preserved in the feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God. The Dormition is a feast celebrated since the 4th century by the Eastern Orthodox Christians and Catholics; Dormition simply means to “fall asleep” in death. It was a feast that celebrates the death and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Church today may not use the word Dormition, but the feast of the Assumption also celebrates the Dormition, Mary’s death.

Her death does not in any way change anything at all. The dogma of the Assumption remains what the Church says it is, just as the death of Jesus did not make him less God. Even if you argue that she did not die, it does not change the Church’s teaching on the Assumption, neither can your rejection of the Assumption change the teaching. We are very proud of the Catholic Church’s teachings, and we thank God for the continuous revelation of the truth.

  • Madonna Reply

    Fr I quite appreciate your effort to explain on the Assumption I strongly believe in the teachings of the church, but I will love it more if you can throw more light on the Assumption as per what really happened after Her death. My reason is that I can really said the source but somehow I learnt that after her death the apostle were on able to see her face as the light coming from her was like sun and later the body disappear but truly I have been longing to hear the true version of it. Please don’t misunderstand me I really believe in our Catholic doctrine but only want to know more.

    And another topic I will like you to treat on is how our Chaplet / Rosary came into existence. Remember I am a pure catholic and I will understand.

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      There are some fanatical insinuations that are not the official teachings of the Church. The Church may not have some documented details about the assumption, but the faith of our fathers teaches the assumption even before it was proclaimed dogma in the Church. So, the Catholic Church continues to hold on to the faith of our fathers (The secrete Tradition).