Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Assumption of Mary

To many people, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin looks like a case of the Catholic Church indulging it's fondness for odd Marian doctrines. But is that interpretation correct?

Well, let's start with a simple question. To what doctrines might the Assumption be related? The one to which its resemblance is most striking is obviously the Ascension of Christ. But there is an important difference. The Ascension was an action of Christ's own divine power, whereas in the Assumption, it is not an internal power of Mary but the external power of God which acts upon her.

What, then, is the connection between the two? I submit that it is a question of bodies. We profess not just that Christ was incarnate once, but that He remains incarnate. He did not become bodiless to ascend to the Father, but carried His bodily humanity with Him. And we, as members of the Body of Christ, will share in that glorification.

Why the unique privilege of Mary in sharing that glorification? Because she is the one who is most intimately connected with Christ in both body and spirit. In the Body of Christ she is the only one who was privileged to be the earthly origin of His humanity (including His body) by the overshadowing of the Spirit. Where others are related to the Body of Christ sacramentally, she is related both sacramentally and maternally.


Renee said...

I am surprised that I had never encountered it before, but I until about a week ago, I was completely unaware that the Roman Catholic Church celebrates an Ascension of Mary. But after all, I am not a Roman Catholic so it would be easy to miss such a teaching. What's the history of it? Was this declared sometime in the 19th century?

But, on another note, I love that the scriptures describe Christ ascending bodily. This tells us that God does not cancel out our identity or for that matter, our humanity.

PresterJosh said...

Teaching regarding the Assumption of Mary dates back to the Patristic Age. Over the course of the centuries, with further theological reflection, the Church came to affirm it more and more firmly. This came to it's climax in 1950 when Pope Pius XII declared it a dogma to be adhered to by all members of the Catholic Church.

A brief overview can be found at Assumption of Mary on Wikipedia.

PresterJosh said...

And, yes, I also love Christ's bodily Ascension to the Father.