So wie Abraham zum Vater aller Glaubenden wurde, (siehe auch Röm 4), können wir zu Maria als die Mutter aller Glaubenden sehen. Sie, die sich Gott bedingungslos hingegeben und die Ihm voll vertraut hat, ist das Vorbild - und das Urbild! - aller Gläubigen. So wie Christus der "Ursprung der Kirche" ist, ist Maria, indem sie voll Vertrauen geglaubt hat, "Kirche im Ursprung".
Maria, die "voll der Gnade" und "Mutter der Gnaden" ist, vermittelt aber nicht ihre eigene Gnade, sondern die Gnade Jesu. Auf welche Weise wird uns diese Gnade geschenkt? Durch den Heiligen Geist! Und warum rufen wir Maria um ihre Fürsprache an? Weil sich an und in ihr alle Verheißungen erfüllt haben - etwa die von Paulus: "...so werden erst recht alle, denen die Gnade und die Gabe der Gerechtigkeit reichlich zuteil wurde, leben und herrschen durch den einen, Jesus Christus" (Röm 5,17)
Maria, die Mutter Jesu, steht in einer seltsamen Spannung: Während sie in der Bibel nur eine untergeordnete Rolle zu spielen scheint, steht sie in der Gunst der katholischen Kirche in hohem Ansehen (noch höhere Wertschätzung findet sie in den orthodoxen Kirchen). Nicht nur für viele Evangelische, sondern auch für Außenstehende oder Neu-Bekehrte ist diese Spannung einfach zu lösen: Sie reduzieren Maria in der Verehrung und Theologie auf die Größe eines normalen biblischen Menschen. Das heißt, Maria ist zwar eine vorbildhafte Person (wie zum Beispiel auch die Apostel oder Johannes der Täufer), aber ihre Rolle in der Heilsgeschichte ist mit ihrem Tod beendet.
King James Version (KJV)
1And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
2And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
3And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.
4And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
5And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
6And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.
7And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
10And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
11And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
12Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
13And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
14And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
15And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
16And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
17And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
"All" Have Sinned ?
Romans 3:2 3 - "...since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..."
Katholiken beten doch Maria an!
Lesen wir Lukas 1,47-48: "und mein Geist jubelt über Gott, meinen Retter. Denn auf die Niedrigkeit seiner Magd hat er geschaut. Siehe, von nun an preisen mich selig alle Geschlechter." (Einheitsübersetzung).
Katholiken beten keinewsegs Maria an! In diesen Versen sagt Maria selbst, dass sie alle Geschlechter selig preisen werden. Katholiken tun also nur das, was auch in der Bibel steht: sie preisen Maria selig und geben ihr so die Ehre, die ihr als Mutter Gottes auch zusteht. Und wie sieht es mit Christen anderer Kongregationen aus? Was ist z.B. mit evangelikalen Christen? Warum tut ihr nicht dasselbe? Maria hat sich ganz Gott hingegeben. Wo wären wir heute, wenn sie sich geweigert hätte? Ihr war durchaus auch bewusst, dass sie eines Erlösers bedurfte. Während wir aber bei der Taufe von der Erbsünde rein gewaschen werden, wurde Maria bereits von Geburt an davor bewahrt.
Warum nennen Katholiken Maria "Mutter Gottes"?
Lesen wir Gal 4,4: "Als aber die Zeit erfüllt war, sandte Gott seinen Sohn, geboren von einer Frau und dem Gesetz unterstellt." (Einheitsübersetzung).
Paulus verweist also darauf, dass Jesus von einer Frau geboren wurde. Jesus ist der Sohn des Vaters und gleichzeitig Gott der Sohn. Deshalb ist Maria die Mutter Gottes (des Sohnes)! Manche missverstehen dies und denken, mit dem Titel "Mutter Gottes" meinen wir die Mutter des Schöpfers des Unviersums (dann hätte ja Maria schon vor Ihm existieren müssen!). Das ist aber nicht das, was Katholiken glauben.
Sehen wir uns nun Lk 1,43 an: "Wer bin ich, dass die Mutter meines Herrn zu mir kommt?" (Einheitsübersetzung).
Elisabet nennt Maria also "die Mutter meines Herrn". "Herr" bezieht sich aber sowohl bei den Juden wie im Neuen Testament nur auf Gott. Das heißt wie gesagt keineswegs, dass Maria die Mutter Gottes des Vaters war - sondern vielmehr die Mutter Jesu. Jesus Christus - der sowohl Gott als auch Mensch war. Wer also leugnet, dass Maria die Mutter Gottes ist, leugnet auch, dass Jesus Gott ist.
Nun zu Mt 1,23: "Seht, die Jungfrau wird ein Kind empfangen, einen Sohn wird sie gebären, und man wird ihm den Namen Immanuel geben, das heißt übersetzt: Gott ist mit uns." (Einheitsübersetzung).
Matthäus zitiert hier Jes 7,14, wo die Geburt Jesu vorher gesagt wird. In Mt 1,23 lesen wir nun, dass der Name des Kindes "Gott ist mit uns" bedeutet. Die Mutter dieses Kindes muss also die Mutter des Gottes sein, der mit uns ist - Jesus. Maria ist die Mutter Jesu und damit die Mutter Gottes. Katholiken ehren deshalb Maria genauso, wie Jesus sie geehrt hat. Er hat damit das vierte Gebot gehalten - und als Glieder Seines Leibes - der Kirche - ahmen wir Jesus nach, indem wir Seine Mutter - Maria - ehren.
Warum nennen Katholiken Maria denn überhaupt ihre "Mutter"?
In dem wir Gottes Gebote halten und Zeugnis für Jesus geben, gehören wir bestimmt zu den hier genannten "Nachkommen". Die in Offb 12,1 genannte Frau ("Dann erschien ein großes Zeichen am Himmel: eine Frau, mit der Sonne bekleidet; der Mond war unter ihren Füßen und ein Kranz von zwölf Sternen auf ihrem Haupt." Einheitsübersetzung) ist die Frau, die einen Sohn gebar, der über alle Völker herrschen wird. Diese Frau kann logischerweise nur Maria sein, unsere Mutter.Wir sind ebenso ihre Nachkommen, da wir Gottes Kinder sind - und Brüder und Schwestern in Christus.
Warum ist Maria überhaupt so wichtig für euch Katholiken?
Lesen wir hierzu Lk 1,41-42: "Als Elisabet den Gruß Marias hörte, hüpfte das Kind in ihrem Leib. Da wurde Elisabet vom Heiligen Geist erfüllt und rief mit lauter Stimme: Gesegnet bist du mehr als alle anderen Frauen und gesegnet ist die Frucht deines Leibes." (Einheitsübersetzung).
Unter dem Einfluss des Heiligen Geistes hatte Elisabet Maria als eine Frau erkannt, die mehr als alle anderen Frauen gesegnet war und sich somit von allen anderen hervor hob. In Vers 48 sagt Maria schließlich: "Siehe, von nun an preisen mich selig alle Geschlechter." (Einheitsübersetzung). Warum tun das eigentlich nicht alle Christinnen und Christen? Sogar Martin Luther hatte tiefsten Respekt vor Maria. Erst im Laufe der letzten Jahrhunderte hat sich eine Verachtung oder zumindest Geringschätzung von Maria breit gemacht. Dies war aber keineswegs die Einstellung der ersten Christen oder der Christen vor der Reformation!
Warum lehrt die Katholische Kirche eigentlich, dass Maria immer eine Jungfrau war?
Lesen wir hierfür Lk 1,34: "Maria sagte zu dem Engel: Wie soll das geschehen, da ich keinen Mann erkenne?" (Einheitsübersetzung)
Hier zeigt sich also, dass Maria eine Jungfrau war, als ihr der Engel erschien. Es wird sogar darauf verwiesen, dass sie ihr Leben in einem Gelübde der Jungfräulichkeit verbringen will. In unserer heutigen Gesellschaft sieht das natürlich etwas seltsam und komisch, ja sogar unwahrscheinlich aus- eine derartige Beziehung zwischen Maria und Josef, ohne jeglichen Sex! Ebenso seltsam und unwahrscheinlich aber wäre es doch heute, den Sohn Gottes im eigenen Haushalt zu haben! Zu Zeiten Jesu waren solche Gelübde der Jungfäulichkeit aber keineswegs so selten und unüblich. Es war damals, was es auch heute noch ist: ein Gelübde, das dazu dient, Gott zu ehren.
Katholiken beten zu Maria und den Heiligen. Damit beten sie zu Verstorbenen und das wird in Dt 18,10-11 verboten!
Ok, lesen wir hierfür Mt 22,31-32: "Habt ihr im übrigen nicht gelesen, was Gott euch über die Auferstehung der Toten mit den Worten gesagt hat: Ich bin der Gott Abrahams, der Gott Isaaks und der Gott Jakobs? Er ist doch nicht der Gott der Toten, sondern der Gott der Lebenden." (Einheitsübersetzung).
Die Heiligen, die vor uns gegangen sind, sind lebendiger, als wir das heute sind. Wie wir in diesem Vers lesen, ist Gott der Gott der Lebenden und nicht der Toten. Damit werden Abraham, Isaak und Jakob aber zu den Lebenden gerechnet! Dt 18,10-11 verbietet es, Geister aus der Unterwelt (dem Sheol) heraufzubeschwören, um mit ihnen zu sprechen. Das ist aber nicht das, was die Katholische Kirche lehrt oder praktiziert. Was wir tun, ist, Brüder und Schwestern aus der Kirchengemeinschaft - dem Leib Christi -, die das himmlische Ziel schon erreicht haben, zu bitten, für uns zu beten.
Wie konnte Maria direkt in den Himmel aufgenommen werden?
Lesen wir 2 Kön 2,11: "Während sie miteinander gingen und redeten, erschien ein feuriger Wagen mit feurigen Pferden und trennte beide voneinander. Elija fuhr im Wirbelsturm zum Himmel empor." (Einheitsübersetzung)
Wie Henoch (Gen 5,24) wurde Elija direkt in den Himmel aufgenommen. Die Katholische Kirche lehrt nun, dass Maria ebenso direkt in den Himmel aufgenommen wurde. "Aufgenommen" bedeutet hierbei, dass Gott dies getan hat - also Maria nicht von sich aus in den Himmel aufgefahren ist (im Gegensatz zu Jesus etwa). Diese Glaubenswahrheit kommt von der Urkirche, also aus der Tradition. Dies erklärt auch, warum niemand je behauptet hat, es würde irgendwo das Grab von Maria geben oder irgendwelche Reliquien wie sonst eigentlich bei den Heiligen üblich.
Gibt es eigentlich einen biblischen Beleg dafür, dass Marias Körper im Himmel ist?
Sehen wir uns Offb 12,1-2 an: "Dann erschien ein großes Zeichen am Himmel: eine Frau, mit der Sonne bekleidet; der Mond war unter ihren Füßen und ein Kranz von zwölf Sternen auf ihrem Haupt. Sie war schwanger und schrie vor Schmerz in ihren Geburtswehen." und weiter in Vers 5: "Sie gebar ein Kind, einen Sohn, der über alle Völker mit eisernem Zepter herrschen wird. Und ihr Kind wurde zu Gott und zu seinem Thron entrückt." (Einheitsübersetzung).
Eine Frau im Himmel ist hier also in den Geburtswehen - sie bekommt einen Sohn, der über alle Völker herrschen wird. Im Vers 6 lesen wir dann, dass sie nach der Geburt in die Wüste floh - wie Joseph, Maria und Jesus, als sie nach Ägypten flohen, um Herodes zu entkommen. Offenbarung 12 zeigt zweifelsfrei Maria im Himmel. Denke auch daran, dass Gott nicht durch die Zeit begrenzt wird! Diese Dinge geschahen vor 2.000 Jahren, aber Gott sieht alles in einem Augenblick (und enthüllte einiges davon Johannes). Im Himmel gibt es so etwas wie Zeit nicht.
Warum glauben Katholiken eigentlich, dass Maria ohne Sünde geboren wurde (Unbefleckte Empfängnis)?
Sehen wir uns Lk 1,28 an: "Der Engel trat bei ihr ein und sagte: Sei gegrüßt, du Begnadete, der Herr ist mit dir." (Einheitsübersetzung)
Der Engel Gabriel stellt also fest, dass Maria "begnadet" ist (kecharitomene auf Griechisch, was so ungefähr heißt: "perfekt gemacht in Gnade"). "Begnadet" aber bedeutet nichts anderes, als dass hier kein Platz mehr für Sünde ist. Maria war also etwas ganz Besonderes. "Denn für Gott ist nichts unmöglich" lesen wir etwas weiter in Lk 1,37 (Einheitsübersetzung). "Alle haben gesündigt und die Herrlichkeit Gottes verloren" heißt es zwar in Röm 3,23 (Einheitsübersetzung) - was aber keineswegs Maria mit beinhaltet. Ebensowenig, wie es Jesus beinhaltet, oder Babys oder Adam und Eva vor dem Sündenfall. "Alle" ist hier in einem allgemeinen Sinn gemeint.
Maria wurde nicht ohne Sünden geboren - in der Bibel steht doch, dass alle gesündigt haben!
Lesen wir Genesis 3,15: "Feindschaft setze ich zwischen dich und die Frau, zwischen deinen Nachwuchs und ihren Nachwuchs. Er trifft dich am Kopf und du triffst ihn an der Ferse." (Einheitsübersetzung).
Wenn die Frau, die den Nachwuchs (Jesus) haben würde, der den Kopf Satans zerschmettern würde, mit Sünde geboren werden würde, wäre sie die Saat des Teufels. Die Frau steht aber nicht in Verbindung mit der Saat des Teufels. Es gibt außerdem Ausnahmen von "allen", die gesündigt haben: Jesus etwa, Babys, geistig Kranke usw. Wenn man aber zugibt, dass es Ausnahmen gibt, dass der Vers also nicht so zu verstehen ist, dass absolut jeder gesündigt hat, sondern als allgemeines Statement - warum sollte dann nicht die Mutter Jesu davon ausgenommen sein?
Mariä Aufnahme in den Himmel
Das Hochfest Mariä Aufnahme in den Himmel (Maria Himmelfahrt) ist eines der ältesten Marienfeste der Kirche. Das Hochfest wird in der katholischen und orthodoxen Kirche der Tradition nach am 15. August gefeiert. Die ersten Zeugen für das Fest der Muttergottes gehen auf die Mitte des 5. Jahrhunderts zurück.
Dogma der leiblichen Aufnahme Mariens in den Himmel
Am 1. November 1950 formulierte Papst Pius XII. in der Apostolischen Konstitution "Munificentissimus Deus" das Dogma der leiblichen Aufnahme in den Himmel und bestätigte damit das, was bereits seit langer Zeit gefeiert wurde:
"In der Autorität unseres Herrn Jesus Christus, der seligen Apostel Petrus und Paulus und auch kraft Unserer eigenen verkündigen, erklären und definieren Wir: Es ist ein von Gott geoffenbartes Dogma, dass die immerwährende Jungfrau Maria, die makellose Gottesgebärerin, als sie den Lauf des irdischen Lebens vollendete, mit Leib und Seele zur himmlischen Glorie aufgenommen wurde."
Indirekte Stellen der Heiligen Schrift zum Dogma
Psalm 131,8: Erhebe dich, Jahwe, zu deiner Ruhestätte, du und deine machtvolle Lade (die aus unverweslichem Holz gefertigte Bundeslade ist ein Typus des unverweslichen Leibes Mariens).
Hld 8,5: Wer ist die, die heraufsteigt aus der Wüste, auf ihren Geliebten gestützt?
Auch die sonnenumkleidete Frau aus der Apokalypse (Offb 12,1), das Protoevangelium (Gen 3,15) und die in Lk 1,28 bezeugte Gnadenfülle Mariens sind ein Hinweis auf die leibliche Aufnahme und Verherrlichung Mariens.
Apk 11,19: Der Tempel Gottes im Himmel wurde geöffnet, und die Lade seines Bundes wurde in seinem Tempel sichtbar.
Vernunftschlüsse zur Begründung des Dogmas
Da Maria frei von der Sünde war und der Zerfall des Leibes eine Folge der Sünde ist, lässt sich schließen, dass ihr Leib vom allgemeinen Los der Auflösung ausgenommen war. Auch aus der Gottesmutterschaft Mariens und der immerwährenden Jungfräulichkeit kann gefolgert werden, dass der Leib Mariens nicht der Zerstörung anheim fiel.
Zeugnisse aus Schrift und Tradition
Weder Todestag noch Todesjahr der Gottesmutter Maria sind bekannt. Es dürfte zwischen dreizehn und fünfzehn Jahren nach der Himmelfahrt Christi gewesen sein. Zwei Städte beanspruchen das Ereignis: Jerusalem und Ephesus. Jerusalem, wo seit dem 5. Jh. das Grab Mariens gezeigt wird, wird meist der Vorzug gegeben; aber einige argumentieren für Ephesus.
Für die Aufnahme Mariens in den Himmel liegen keine direkten und ausdrücklichen Aussagen der Heiligen Schrift vor. Eine Stelle im Matthäus-Evangelium legt diese Tatsache aber nahe:
"Die Gräber öffneten sich und die Leiber vieler Heiligen, die entschlafen waren, wurden auferweckt. Nach der Auferstehung Jesu verließen sie ihre Gräber, kamen in die Heilige Stadt und erschienen vielen." (Mt 27, 52-53)
Schon in der Frühzeit wurde diese Stelle dahin ausgelegt, dass unter der Auferweckung der "Heiligen" eine endgültige Auferstehung und Verklärung zu verstehen sei - denn dies ist ein Zeichen für die Wirksamkeit des Werkes Christi. Da aber die Gerechten des Alten Bundes unmittelbar nach Abschluss des Erlösungswerkes Christi das vollendete Heil erlangten, ist es möglich und wahrscheinlich, dass dieses auch der Mutter des Herrn verliehen wurde. In Maria hat Gott den Menschen das Urbild des erlösten Menschen vor Augen gestellt. Sie hat schon am Anfang des Weges der Kirche durch die Zeiten vollendet empfangen, was die übrige Kirche erst am Ende empfangen wird.
Die leibliche Aufnahme Mariens ist zuerst durch apokryphe Transitus-Berichte des 5. und 6. Jh. bezeugt, welche zwar von geringem geschichtlichen Wert sind, aber eine theologische Idee ausdrücken, welche damals schon verbreitet war.
Gregor von Tours ( 594) spricht schon von der leiblichen Himmelfahrt Mariens. Predigten auf das Fest des Heimgangs Mariens sind überliefert von Theoteknos von Livias (550/650), Pseudo-Modestus von Jerusalem (um 700), Germanus von Konstantinopel ( 733) u.a.
Der hl. Johannes von Damaskus ( 749) formuliert die Tradition der Kirche von Jerusalem:
"Der hl. Juvenal, Bischof von Jerusalem, machte auf dem Konzil von Chalcedon dem Kaiserpaar Markian und Pulcheria, die den Leib der Muttergottes besitzen wollten, bekannt, Maria sei in der Gegenwart aller Apostel gestorben, aber ihr Grab sei leer gewesen, als es auf Anfrage des hl. Thomas geöffnet wurde. Daraus hätten die Apostel geschlossen, ihr Leib sei in den Himmel aufgenommen worden."
Viele Theologen vertreten die Ansicht, dass mit "Leib" nicht der physische Leichnam gemeint ist, sondern ein philosophischer Begriff, genausowenig wie der Leib Christi in der Eucharistie tatsächlich äußerlich aus Fleisch besteht. Die thelogische Aussage (nur Glaubenswahrheiten, nicht historische Begebenheiten, können Inhalt eines Dogmas sein) besteht in der für alle Menschen angenommenen Auferweckung der Toten, die im Himmel nach kirchlicher Lehre keine reinen Seelenwesen sind, sondern einen Leib besitzen, womit nicht der verweste (oder verbrannte) irdische Leichnam gemeint ist. Das leere Grab Mariens kann daher auch, ohne das Dogma in Frage zu stellen, als Metapher verstanden werden.
Die Präfation des Hochfestes fasst das Festgeheimnis folgendermassen zusammen:
In Wahrheit ist es würdig und recht, dir, allmächtiger Vater, zu danken und das Werk deiner Gnade zu rühmen. Denn heute hast du die jungfräuliche Gottesmutter in den Himmel erhoben, als Erste empfing sie von Christus die Herrlichkeit, die uns allen verheissen ist, und wurde zum Urbild der Kirche in ihrer ewigen Vollendung. Dem pilgernden Volk ist sie ein untrügliches Zeichen der Hoffnung und eine Quelle des Trostes. Denn ihr Leib, der den Urheber des Lebens geboren hat, sollte die Verwesung nicht schauen. Darum preisen wir jetzt und in Ewigkeit dein Erbarmen und singen mit den Chören der Engel das Lob deiner Herrlichkeit: Heilig, Heilig, Heilig ...
Geschichte des Festes
Die frühesten Ursprünge des Festes sind ungewiss. Wahrscheinlich war es zuerst eher ein Kirchweihfest als ein Gedenktag des Todes der Gottesmutter. Dass es zur Zeit des Konzils von Ephesus entstanden sei oder dass der hl. Damasus es in Rom eingeführt habe, sind lediglich Hypothesen.
Im Heiligen Land wurde das Fest gemäss dem Leben des hl. Theodosius schon vor dem Jahr 500 gefeiert, vermutlich im August. In Ägypten und Arabien wurde es im Januar gehalten. Und weil die Mönche Galliens viele Bräuche von den ägyptischen Mönchen übernahmen, wurde dieses Fest ab dem 6. Jh. in Gallien im Januar gefeiert [mediante mense undecimo (Greg. Turon., De gloria mart., I, ix)]. So blieb es in der Gallikanischen Liturgie bist zur Einführung des Römischen Ritus.
In der Griechischen Kirche scheint es, dass das Fest teilweise nach Sitte der ägyptischen Mönche im Januar gefeiert wurde, teilweise gemäss der Sitte des Heiligen Landes im August. Daher legte der Kaiser Mauritius ( 603) den Termin, falls der Bericht des "Liber Pontificalis" verlässlich ist, für Ostrom auf den 15. August fest.
Die Kirche feierte das Fest Mariä Heimgang (lat. Dormitio = Entschlafung) im Osten wenigstens seit dem 6. Jh. und in Rom sicherlich seit Ende des 7. Jh. Schon bald wurde neben dem Tod auch die Unverweslichkeit des Leibes und seine Aufnahme in den Himmel betont und das Fest wurde umbenannt in "Assumptio". Diese Aufnahme (Assumptio) Mariens ist ein Abbild, welches auf ihr Vorbild, die Himmelfahrt (Ascensio) Christi verweist. In den liturgischen Texten des 8./9. Jh. ist die Idee der leiblichen Aufnahme klar bezeugt.
Es wird jedoch besonderen Wert darauf gelegt, dass Maria nicht aus eigener Kraft vom Tod erstehen und in den Himmel auffahren konnte. Christus hat sie in den Himmel aufgenommen! Daher ist die Bezeichnung der Aufnahme Mariens in den Himmel als Mariae Himmelfahrt durch die Volksfrömmigkeit missverständlich.
In einigen Gegenden Bayerns und Österreichs wird heute noch die Zeit ab dem Hochfest Mariae Himmelfahrt als marianischer Monat des sogenannten Frauendreißigers begangen. In einem römischen Ablaßdokument neueren Datums (vom 28. Oktober 2003 für den oberbayerischen Wallfahrtsort Buchenhüll in D-85072 Eichstätt) wird diese besondere Gnadenzeit der Verehrung Mariens datiert von der ersten Vesper des Hochfestes Mariae Himmelfahrt bis zum Untergang der Sonne des Gedächtnisses der Schmerzhaften Mutter Gottes am 15. September.
In der katholischen Kirche findet traditionell am Tage der Verherrlichung Mariens und an manchen Orten während des gesamten Frauendreißigers Kräuterweihen mit Kräuterprozession statt. Dieser Brauch geht auf eine Legende zurück, die besagt, dass die Apostel in Marias Grab ausschließlich Blumen fanden, als sie dieses öffneten. Blumen symbolisieren somit Maria, in den Präfationen der Marienfeste kommt dieses häufig zum Ausdruck, aber auch in zahlreichen Marienliedern und Gebeten, in denen der Blume des Feldes und der Lilie der Täler in besonderer Weise gedacht wird.
In der Regel werden sieben verschiedene Kräuter zu einem Strauß zusammengebunden, sie verdeutlichen zum einen die sieben Sakramente und zum anderen die sieben Schmerzen Mariens. Zusätzlich zu den Kräutern werden Getreidehalme verwendet. Dadurch kommt einerseits das Bild der Vergänglichkeit alles Irdischen zum Ausdruck ( Das Weizenkorn muss sterben... ), anderseits unsere Bitte um das tägliche Brot.
Wahrscheinlich entstand der Brauch der Kräuterweihe im 10. Jahrhundert, um heidnische Bräuche abzuwehren oder zu verchristlichen. Grundsätzlich sollen sie jedoch vor Gefahren, wie zum Beispiel Feuer, Gewitter und anderen Naturereignissen sowie jeglichen Krankheiten schützen.
Es heißt, dass Kräuter ihr volles Aroma und ihre höchste Blüte ab Mitte August bis Mitte September haben. So bedeutet die besonders große Heilkraft der Kräuter und der Segen der in den Himmel aufgenommenen Muttergottes einen doppelten Schutz.
"Voll der Gnade"?
Was die wenigsten wissen, ist, dass der griechische Asudruck, der mit "voll der Gnade" übersetzt wurde, weitaus mehr bedeutet als einfach nur "besonders gesegnet" oder ähnliches. Er bringt etwas lebenslanges, einzigartiges zum Ausdruck. "Voll der Gnade" heißt auch, dass hier kein Platz mehr für Sünde ist.
Dies sollte man im Hinterkopf behalten, wenn es um die unbefleckte Empfängis bzw. die bleibende Sündenlosigkeit geht!
Ebenso sollte man, wenn es um Maria geht, um die jüdische Vorstellung von Königinmutter Bescheid wissen (etwa bei David/Solomon zu finden).
Nur so bekommt man ein Bild dessen, was Maria eigentlich für uns bedeutet!
Warum können "bibeltreue" Christen Maria nicht akzeptieren?
- Weil sie ihren christlichen Glauben vor allem individualistisch sehen (es geht um "mich und Jesus" oder "mich und mein persönlicher Herr und Erretter") und nicht im Zusammenhang einer Familie, so wie es die Bibel selbst und die Kirche 2.000 Jahre lang gesehen hat.
- Welche Familie aber hat einen Vater, aber keine Mutter?
- Wie können wir Jesus Bruder nennen, aber Seine - und unsere! - Mutter nicht ehren, wie Er dies getan hat?
- Jesus hat seine leibliche Eltern - Vater und Mutter - geehrt wie kein anderer vor und nach Ihm. Wir sind gerufen, Ihn zum Vorbild zu nehmen und Ihm nachzuahmen. Mutterschaft ist außerdem nicht nur biologisch zu sehen, sondern auch spirituell (gerade die Mutterschaft Mariens!).
- Wenn du eine Mutter hättest und du könntest sie vom Makel der Sünde bewahren, sürdest du es nicht tun?
(Frei nach Prof. Dr. Scott Hahn - "Evangelizing the Baptized". Erhältlich bei www.saintjoe.com)
Franziskus: Gruß an Maria
Gruß an die
selige Jungfrau Maria 76
Zusammen mit der Antiphon "Heilige Jungfrau Maria" im "Offizium vom Leiden des Herrn" ist dieses Marienlob eines der wichtigsten Zeugnisse für die Marienfrömmigkeit des hl. Franziskus. Es bringt in poetischer Form die tiefsten Aussagen über die Gottesmutterschaft Mariens klar und leicht verstehbar zum Ausdruck.
1 Sei gegrüßt, Herrin, heilige Königin, heilige Gottesmutter Maria, du bist Jungfrau, zur Kirche gemacht und erwählt vom heiligsten Vater im Himmel,
2 die er geweiht hat mit seinem heiligsten geliebten
3 Sohn und dem Heiligen Geiste, dem Tröster; in der war und ist alle Fülle der Gnade und jegliches Gute.
4 Sei gegrüßt, du sein Palast.
Sei gegrüßt, du sein Gezelt.
Sei gegrüßt, du seine Wohnung.
5 Sei gegrüßt, du sein Gewand.
Sei gegrüßt, du seine Magd.
Sei gegrüßt, du seine Mutter.
6 Und [seid gegrüßt,] ihr heiligen Tugenden alle, die durch die Gnade und die Erleuchtung des Heiligen Geistes in die Herzen der Gläubigen eingegossen werden, um sie aus Ungläubigen zu Gott getreuen Menschen zu machen.
Mary: An Introduction
The teachings of Roman Catholic Christianity about the role of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, are some of the most misunderstood and exaggerated beliefs dividing the Body of Christ. Before presenting the teaching of the Church about Mary, there are some important givens or assumptions to be stated about the Church, Mary and the Bible.
The official teaching of the Church has never considered beliefs about Mary to be in any way equal in importance to truths about God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit. Vatican Council II expressed it best when the Council Fathers wrote:
- On Ecumenism, No. 11
- ... in Catholic doctrine there exists an order or "hierarchy" of truths, since they vary in their relation to the foundation of the Christian faith.
The truths about Mary are important because they are still truth, since they are based in the Bible. But they are not central to the primary gospel message of our salvation through Jesus Christ. As an example of the basic gospel message without Mary, we have only to look at the writings of Paul. In Pauline theology, Mary is mentioned only once, and not even by name.
- Gal 4:4
- But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, ...
Roman Catholics believe that the understanding of the Church about Mary, as about all Christian truth (e.g., the understanding of the Trinity) deepens and becomes more accurate over the centuries under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
- Jn 15:26
- "When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me."
- Jn 16:12-13
- "I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth."
When the Catholic Church appears to teach "new doctrines" about Mary, it is often a statement of truth against some current errors or a clarification of truths that have always been taught and believed by Christians through the centuries. The Church believes that handing on these truths participates in the admonition of Paul.
- 2 Thess 2:15
- Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement (our word) or by a letter (written tradition) of ours.
- On the Church, No. 67, Vatican Council II
- The sacred synod ... strongly urges theologians and preachers of the word of God to be careful to refrain as much from all false exaggeration as from too summary an attitude in considering the special dignity of the Mother of God. Following the study of Sacred Scripture, the Fathers, the doctors and liturgy of the Church, and under the guidance of the Church's magisterium, let them rightly illustrate the duties and privileges of the Blessed Virgin which always refer to Christ, the source of all truth, sanctity, and devotion.
Consequently, two fundamental criteria guide the teaching authority of the Catholic Church as it seeks to discern what are the authentic beliefs about Mary which Jesus through His Holy Spirit would have us know:
- No belief can contradict anything faithfully handed down from the Apostles either in the written tradition, the Bible, or in the oral tradition of the Church;
- Any truth which develops under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and reflection upon the deposit of revelation must be demonstrated to have been accepted over a long period of time by the People of God.
(Quelle: http://romanticcatholic.com/apologetics.html - used with permission)
Das Fest wurde seit dem 6. Jh. in der Ostkirche gefeiert und im 7. Jh. auch im Westen bekannt. Papst Sergius I. (687-701) nannte es als eines der vier Marienfeste, die damals in Rom gefeiert werden: Verkündigung, Aufnahme in den Himmel, Geburt und Begegnung (Mariä Lichtmess). Allgemeine Verbreitung fand das Fest dann im 11. Jh.
Das Datum dieses Festes (das kein historisches Datum ist) bestimmte auch den Termin des jüngeren Festes Mariä Empfängnis, das 9 Monate früher gefeiert wird, am 8. Dezember.
Der Legende nach konnten die Eltern Marias, Anna und Joachim, keine Kinder bekommen (vgl. Proto-Evangelium des Jakobus). Dies stellte in der damaligen jüdischen Gesellschaft eine so große Schande dar, dass Joachim im Tempel zurückgewiesen wurde, als er dem Herrn ein Opfer darbringen wollte. Zutiefst traurig und verzweifelt zog er sich zurück. Im Gespräch mit Gott erschien ihm und seiner Frau Anna, die ebenfalls zur selben Zeit dem Herrn ihr Schicksal klagte, ein Engel. Eine Tochter "voll der Gnade" wurde dem bereits sehr alten Ehepaar versprochen.
Anna empfing Maria, die ohne Sünde war und Magd des Herrn, Braut des Heiligen Geistes und Mutter Gottes werden sollte. Im strengen jüdischen Glauben erzogen wurde sie mit dem um vieles älteren Josef aus dem Geschlecht David verlobt.
Über ihr weiteres Leben wissen wir hauptsächlich durch den Evangelisten Lukas, der uns im Magnificat, dem Lobgesang Marias vor allem eines vor Augen stellt: Die Demut der Mutter der Christenheit, die als Unbefleckte Vorbild aller Menschen sein will.
Maria im Alten Testament
Der Herr hat mich schon gehabt im Anfang seiner Wege, ehe er etwas schuf, von Anbeginn her. Ich bin eingesetzt von Ewigkeit her, im Anfang, ehe die Erde war. Als die Meere noch nicht waren, ward ich geboren, als die Quellen noch nicht waren, die von Wasser fließen. Ehe denn die Berge eingesenkt waren, vor den Hügeln ward ich geboren, als er die Erde noch nicht gemacht hatte noch die Fluren darauf noch die Schollen des Erdbodens. Als er die Himmel bereitete, war ich da, als er den Kreis zog über den Fluten der Tiefe, als er die Wolken droben mächtig machte, als er stark machte die Quellen der Tiefe, als er dem Meer seine Grenze setzte und den Wassern, dass sie nicht überschreiten seinen Befehl; als er die Grundfesten der Erde legte, da war ich als sein Liebling bei ihm; ich war seine Lust täglich und spielte vor ihm allezeit; ich spielte auf seinem Erdkreis und hatte meine Freude an den Menschenkindern.
Dieser Text aus dem Kapitel "Die Weisheit als Gabe Gottes" aus dem Buch der Sprichwörter (8, 22-31) wird für Marienmessen im Lektionar verwendet. Die Tradition bezieht den Text auf Maria von Nazareth, die durch das Freibleiben jedes Makels der Sünde eine einzigartige und geheimnisvolle Schöpfung ist. Der Text gehört zur Gattung der Weisheitsliteratur.
Gibt es einen Beleg in der Heiligen Schrift, den ich verwenden kann als Rechtfertigung für Maria als die "Lade des Neuen Bundes"?
Der Tempel Gottes im Himmel wurde geöffnet und in seinem Tempel wurde die Lade seines Bundes sichtbar: Da begann es zu blitzen, zu dröhnen und zu donnern, es gab ein Beben und schweren Hagel. (Einheitsübersetzung)
Vergessen wir auch nicht, dass es ursprünglich keine Kapitel und Verse in der Bibel gab, sodass wir also gleich mit Offb 12,1 weitermachen können:
Dann erschien ein großes Zeichen am Himmel: eine Frau, mit der Sonne bekleidet; der Mond war unter ihren Füßen und ein Kranz von zwölf Sternen auf ihrem Haupt. (Einheitsübersetzung)
In Vers 5 heißt es dann:
Und sie gebar ein Kind, einen Sohn, der über alle Völker mit eisernem Zepter herrschen wird. Und ihr Kind wurde zu Gott und zu seinem Thron entrückt. (Einheitsübersetzung)
Diese Frau ist Maria. Maria, die Lade des Neuen Bundes. Und so wie die Lade des Alten Bundes das Wort Gottes in Stein gemeißelt trug, so trägt die Lade des Neuen Bundes das Wort Gottes in Fleisch und Blut.
Es gibt eine faszinierende Parallele zwischen Kapitel 1 von Lukas und 2 Samuel, Kapitel 6:
2 Sam 6,2: [David] brach auf und zog mit seinem ganzen Heer nach Baala in Juda, um von dort die Lade Gottes heraufzuholen, über der der Name des Herrn der Heere, der über den Kerubim thront, ausgerufen worden ist. Lk 1,39: Nach einigen Tagen machte sich Maria auf den Weg und eilte in eine Stadt im Bergland von Judaeäa.
2 Sam 6,9: An jenem Tag bekam David Angst vor dem Herrn und er sagte: Wie soll die Lade des Herrn jemals zu mir kommen? Lk 1,43: Wer bin ich, dass die Mutter meines Herrn zu mir kommt?
2 Sam 6,10: Darum wollte David die Lade des Herrn nicht zu sich in die Davidstadt bringen lassen, sondern stellte sie in das Haus des Obed-Edom aus Gat. Lk 1,40: Sie ging in das Haus des Zacharias und begrüßte Elisabet.
2 Sam 6,11: Drei Monate lang blieb die Lade des Herrn im Haus Obed-Edoms aus Gat, und der Herr segnete Obed-Edom und sein ganzes Haus. Lk 1,56: Und Maria blieb etwa drei Monate bei ihr; dann kehrte sie nach Hause zurück.
2 Sam 6,12: Als man Koenig David berichtete: Der Herr hat das Haus Obed-Edoms und alles, was ihm gehört, um der Lade Gottes willen gesegnet, da ging David hin und brachte die Lade Gottes voll Freude aus dem Haus Obed-Edoms in die Davidstadt hinauf. Lk 1,47: und mein Geist jubelt über Gott, meinen Retter.
2 Sam 6,15: So brachten David und das ganze Haus Israel die Lade des Herrn unter Jubelgeschrei und unter dem Klang des Widderhorns hinauf. Lk 1,42: und rief mit lauter Stimme: Gesegnet bist du mehr als alle anderen Frauen und gesegnet ist die Frucht deines Leibes.
2 Sam 6,16: Als die Lade des Herrn in die Davidstadt kam, schaute Michael, Sauls Tochter, aus dem Fenster, und als sie sah, wie der Koenig David vor dem Herrn hüpfte und tanzte, verachtete sie ihn in ihrem Herzen. Lk 1,41: Als Elisabet den Gruß Marias hörte, hüpfte das Kind in ihrem Leib.
Maria, die Lade des Neuen Bundes. Maria, die Trägerin Gottes.
Lk 1,35: Der Engel antwortete ihr: Der Heilige Geist wird über dich kommen, und die Kraft des Höchsten wird dich überschatten. Deshalb wird auch das Kind heilig und Sohn Gottes genannt werden. Ex 40,34: Dann verhüllte die Wolke das Offenbarungszelt und die Herrlichkeit des Herrn erfüllte die Wohnstätte. Diese Wohnstätte enthielt die Bundeslade!
(Alles Einheitsübersetzung). 1 Koen 8,10-11: Als dann die Priester aus dem Heiligtum traten, erfüllte die Wolke das Haus des Herrn. Sie konnten wegen der Wolke ihren Dienst nicht verrichten; denn die Herrlichkeit des Herrn erfüllte das Haus des Herrn. Immer wieder werden Wörter wie überschatten oder erfüllen verwendet (wie auch in Lk 1,35). Dieses Mal ist es aber nicht das Zelt, das Moses in der Wüste aufgebaut hat, sondern der fast fertige Tempel in Jerusalem, den Solomon gebaut hatte. Und was war das Heiligtum im Tempel? Die Bundeslade!
(Quelle: Dr. John Martignoni www.biblechristiansociety.com)
Maria ist die "Mutter unseres HERRN" - und deshalb "Gottesmutter"
A Biblical Portrait of Mary
Mary is prefigured immediately after the Fall of Man; her divine motherhood is prophesied.
- Gen 3:14-15
- Then the Lord God said to the serpent: "... I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel."
Mary and her role in the history of our salvation is foretold by the prophet Isaiah; her virginity and divine motherhood is confirmed.
- Is 7:14
- Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.
Matthew begins his genealogy with Abraham and ends with Mary.
- Mt 1:16
- Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah.
Luke narrates the angel Gabriel's announcement to Mary that she is to conceive a son and remain a virgin.
- Lk 1: 26-38
- ...(The angel Gabriel said) "Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you ... The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God." ... Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."
Luke also narrates Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth (pregnant with John the Baptist). It is Elizabeth who first calls Mary "the mother of God (Lord)".
- Lk 1:39-45
- ... When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? ... Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."
- Lk 1:46-49
- And Mary said: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name."
Matthew records Mary's engagement to Joseph.
- Mt. 1:18-25
- ... When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit. ... the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." He (Joseph) had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.
Luke narrates the birth events of Jesus.
- Lk 2:1-19
- ... Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger ... (Shepherds) went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant ... Mary kept all these things (that the shepherds told her), reflecting on them in her heart.
Luke includes the circumcision and presentation of Jesus.
- Lk 2:33-35
- The child's father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."
Luke narrates the loss and finding of Jesus in the temple in Jerusalem by Mary and Joseph.
- Lk 2:48-51
- When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, "Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety." And he said to them, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand what he said to them. He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.
John records the wedding feast at Cana where Mary prompts Jesus' first miracle.
- Jn 2:1-12
- On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." (And) Jesus said to her, "Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servers, "Do whatever he tells you." ... Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him. After this, he and his mother, (his) brothers, and his disciples went down to Capernaum and stayed there only a few days.
Matthew writes of Jesus' own words that compare his relationship with his followers to his relationship with his mother.
- Mt 12:46-50 (Mk 3:31-35)
- While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers appeared outside, wishing to speak with him. ... And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother."
It is John (an eye witness) who recalls his personal experience at the foot of the cross on Calvary.
- Jn 19:25-27
- Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
Luke, in his Acts of the Apostles, records the presence of Mary with the Apostles in the community in Jerusalem between the Ascension of Jesus and Pentecost.
- Acts 1:12-14
- Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day's journey away. When they entered the city they went to the upper room where they were staying. ... All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
A final reference to Mary is found in John's Book of Revelation.
- Rev 12:1-5
- A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. ... She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne.
(Quelle: http://romanticcatholic.com/apologetics.html - used with permission)
Mary: Virgin and Ever Virgin
All Christians believe that Mary was a virgin before and at the time of the birth of her son Jesus.
- Is 7:14
- The virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.
- Mt 1:18-25
- Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means "God is with us." When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.
- Lk 1:26-27
- In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary.
- Nicene Creed (325), Constantinopolitan Creed (381)
- ... Who for us men and because of our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became human.
Roman Catholic Christians and many other Christians also believe that Mary remained a virgin for the rest of her life.
Constant faith of the Church
Great teachers of the Church from at least the fourth century spoke of Mary as having remained a virgin throughout her life:
- Athanasius (Alexandria, 293 - 373)
- Epiphanius (Palestine, 315? - 403)
- Jerome (Stridon, present day Slovenia, 345? - 419)
- Augustine (Numidia, now Algeria, 354 - 430)
- Cyril (Alexandria, 376 - 444)
- and others.
Magisterium of the Church
Council of Constantinople II (553 - 554) twice referred to Mary as "ever-virgin."
The great protestant reformers affirmed their belief in Mary's perpetual virginity:
- German reformer Martin Luther's (1483-1546) writings often address the subject of Mary: On the Divine Motherhood of Mary, he wrote
- In this work whereby she was made the Mother of God, so many and such great good things were given her that no one can grasp them. ... Not only was Mary the mother of him who is born [in Bethlehem], but of him who, before the world, was eternally born of the Father, from a Mother in time and at the same time man and God. (Weimer's The Works of Luther, English translation by Pelikan, Concordia, St. Louis, v. 7, p. 572.)
- Luther, true to Catholic tradition, wrote on the Virginity of Mary:
- It is an article of faith that Mary is Mother of the Lord and still a virgin. ... Christ, we believe, came forth from a womb left perfectly intact. (Weimer's The Works of Luther, English translation by Pelikan, Concordia, St. Louis, v.11, pp. 319-320; v. 6. p. 510.)
- The French reformer John Calvin (1509-1564) also held that Mary was the Mother of God
- It cannot be denied that God in choosing and destining Mary to be the Mother of his Son, granted her the highest honor. ... Elizabeth called Mary Mother of the Lord, because the unity of the person in the two natures of Christ was such that she could have said that the mortal man engendered in the womb of Mary was at the same time the eternal God. (Calvini Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, Braunschweig-Berlin, 1863-1900, v. 45, p. 348, 35.)
- On the perpetual virginity of Mary, "Calvin routinely brushes aside the difficulties sometimes raised from "first born" and "brothers of the Lord."" (O'Carroll, M., 1983, Theotokos, M Glazier, Inc.: Wilmington, DE, p. 94.)
- The Swiss reformer, Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531), wrote, on the divine motherhood of Mary:
- It was given to her what belongs to no creature, that in the flesh she should bring forth the Son of God. (Zwingli Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, Berlin, 1905, v. 6, I, p. 639.)
- On the perpetual virginity of Mary, Zwingli wrote,
- I firmly believe that Mary, according to the words of the gospel as a pure Virgin brought forth for us the Son of God and in childbirth and after childbirth forever remained a pure, intact Virgin. (Zwingli Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, Berlin, 1905, v. 1, p. 424.)
- In another place Zwingli professed
- I esteem immensely the Mother of God, the ever chaste, immaculate Virgin Mary ...; Christ ... was born of a most undefiled Virgin. (Stakemeier, E. in De Mariologia et Oecumenismo, Balic, K., ed., Rome, 1962, p. 456.)
- The more the honor and love for Christ grows among men, the more esteem and honor for Mary grows, for she brought forth for us so great, but so compassionate a Lord and Redeemer. (Zwingli Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, Berlin, 1905, v. 1, pp. 427-428.)
Objections to Continued Virginity
There are some very common objections to the belief that Mary remained a virgin after the birth of Jesus. The first considers the "brothers" of Jesus from the Gospels.
- Mt 12:46-50; Mk 3:31; Lk 8:19
- While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers (adelphoi) appeared outside, wishing to speak with him. (Someone told him, "Your mother and your brothers (adelphoi) are standing outside, asking to speak with you.") But he said in reply to the one who told him, "Who is my mother? Who are my brothers (adelphoi)?" And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers (adelphoi). For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother (adelphos), and sister (adelpha), and mother."
- Mk 6:3
- Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother (adelphos) of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters (adelphai) here with us?
First it is important to note that the Bible does not say that these "brothers and sisters" of Jesus were children of Mary.
Second, the word for brother (or sister), adelphos (adelpha) in Greek, denotes a brother or sister, or near kinsman. Aramaic and other Semitic languages could not distinguish between a blood brother or sister and a cousin, for example. Hence, John the Baptist, a cousin of Jesus (the son of Elizabeth, cousin of Mary) would be called "a brother (adelphos) of Jesus." In the plural, the word means a community based on identity of origin or life. Additionally, the word adelphos is used for (1) male children of the same parents (Mt 1:2); (2) male descendants of the same parents (Acts 7:23); (3) male children of the same mother (Gal 1:19); (4) people of the same nationality (Acts 3:17); (5) any man, a neighbor (Lk 10:29); (6) persons united by a common interest (Mt 5:47); (7) persons united by a common calling (Rev 22:9); (8) mankind (Mt 25:40); (9) the disciples (Mt 23:8); and (10) believers (Mt 23:8). (From Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Thomas Nelson, Publisher.)
A second objection to Mary's virginity arises from the use of the word, heos, in Matthew's gospel.
- Mt 1:25
- He (Joseph) had no relations with her until (heos) she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.
The Greek and the Semitic use of the word heos (until or before) does not imply anything about what happens after the time indicated. In this case, there is no necessary implication that Joseph and Mary had sexual contact or other children after Jesus.
A third objection to the perpetual virginity of Mary arises from the use of the word, prototokos, translated "first-born" in Luke's gospel.
- Lk 2:7
- (Mary) gave birth to her firstborn son (prototokos). She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger ...
The Greek word prototokos is used of Christ as born of Mary and of Christ's relationship to His Father (Col 1:25). As the word does not imply other children of God the Father, neither does it imply other children of Mary. The term "first-born" was a legal term under the Mosaic Law (Ex 6:14) referring to the first male child born to Jewish parents regardless of any other children following or not. Hence when Jesus is called the "first-born" of Mary it does not mean that there were second or third-born children.
(Quelle: http://romanticcatholic.com/apologetics.html - used with permission)
The Immaculate Conception of Mary
The Immaculate Conception of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is the belief that God preserved Mary from any inclination to sin, the inheritance of original sin passed on to all mankind from our first parents, Adam and Eve. The belief of the Immaculate Conception of Mary says nothing about Mary and personal sin (Rom 3:23).
Christian belief holds that every human being through faith and through baptism is freed from sin - original sin and personal sin - through the grace of Jesus Christ. Roman Catholic Christians simply claim that Mary was the first one to whom this was done.
The basis for the belief in the Immaculate Conception of Mary can be found in the Biblical revelation of holiness and the opposite of that state, sinfulness.
God is revealed as perfect interior holiness.
- Is 6:3
- "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts!" they (the Seraphim) cried one to the other.
No sin or anything tainted with sin can stand in the face of the holiness of God. "Enmity" is that mutual hatred between Mary and sin, between Christ and sin.
- Gen 3:15
- I will put enmity between you (the serpent, Satan) and the woman (Mary), and between your offspring (minions of Satan) and hers (Jesus); He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.
For the birth of God as a human being, God was interested in the condition of the mother's womb. For even a great, but imperfect, judge of Israel, Samson, God was directive about the state of the mother during the pregnancy. The request for the mother to be pure is repeated for emphasis.
- Judges 13:3-4
- An angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, "Though you are barren and have had no children, yet you will conceive and bear a son. Now, then, be careful to take no wine or strong drink and to eat nothing unclean."
- Judges 13:7
- "But he (the angel) said to me, 'You will be with child and will bear a son. So take neither wine nor strong drink, and eat nothing unclean. For the boy shall be consecrated to God from the womb, until the day of his death.' "
- Judges 13:13-14
- The angel of the LORD answered Manoah, "Your wife is to abstain from all the things of which I spoke to her. She must not eat anything that comes from the vine, nor take wine or strong drink, nor eat anything unclean. Let her observe all that I have commanded her."
How much more would God be interested in the state of His own mother's womb!
The salutation of the Angel Gabriel is different from the usual angelic greeting. It indicates that Mary was exceptionally "highly favored with grace" (Greek: charitoo, used twice in the New Testament, in Lk 1:28 for Mary - before Christ's redemption; and Eph 1:6 for Christ's grace to us - after Christ's redemption).
- Lk 1:28
- And coming to her (Mary), he (the angel Gabriel) said, "Hail, favored one (kecharitomene)"
- Eph 1:4-6
- (God) chose us in him (Jesus), before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace (echaritosen) that he granted us in the beloved.
Note that the angel's salutation preceded Mary's acquiescence. Mary was already highly favored. God's grace was not given in time after Mary accepted the angel's word. The Church believes that this grace was given from the very beginning of Mary's life. It is clearly grace because at the time of Mary's conception she could have done nothing to earn it.
The constant faith (paradosis) of the Church attests to the belief in the special preparation of the holiness of the person of Mary to bear in her body the most holy person of the Son of God.
- Implicitly found in the Fathers of the Church in the parallelism between Eve and Mary (Irenaeus, Lyons, 140? - 202?); Found in the more general terms about Mary: "holy", "innocent", "most pure", "intact", "immaculate" (Irenaeus, Lyons, 140?-202?; Ephraem, Syria, 306-373; Ambrose, Milan, 373-397); Explicit language: Mary - free from original sin (Augustine, Hippo, 395-430 to Anselm, Normandy, 1033-1109).
- Eastern Church: celebrated a Feast of the Conception of Mary in the 8th to the 9th Century; Western Church: celebrated a Feast of the Conception of Mary in the 12th Century; A record of the feast in the 11th Century in Great Britain; in the 12th Century in Normandy; Record in many churches of a Feast of the Conception of Mary in France, Germany, Italy and Spain in the 12th Century (Bernard, Clairvaux, 1090-1153).
- 14th Century:
- Was noted for the opposition to the Immaculate Conception from some of the great doctors of scholasticism. The celebration of the feast was not denied though. The difficulty arose from the meaning of the universal redemption through Christ.
- 15th Century:
- Franciscan theologians solved the difficulty. Christ, the most perfect mediator, preserved Mary from original sin by an equally perfect act of healing. Duns Scotus (Scotland, 1266-1308) explained that the Immaculate Conception came through God's application of the grace of Christ beforehand.
- From 15th Century:
- The Feast was universally celebrated; and christian piety introduced an oath to defend the belief in the Immaculate Conception to be taken not only by Religious, but also by non-Religious and at the Universities (e.g., Paris, 1497; Cologne, 1499; Vienna, 1501)
- From the 17th Century:
- The clause "to the shedding of blood" was added to the oath taken to defend the belief in the Immaculate Conception.
- Pope Pius IX, infallibly defined, ex cathedra: "The Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, and in view of the foreseen merits of Jesus Christ, the savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin."
Nonbelievers and enemies of Roman Catholic Christianity often accuse the Church of creating the belief in Mary's freedom from original sin "the Immaculate Conception" in 1854 (as the Church named the belief of Mary's immediate entry, body and soul, into Heaven, "the Assumption" in 1950) when the truths were defined. Such an error is equivalent to saying that before Adam named the animals and birds of creation in Gen 2:19-20 they did not exist. Or that before the early Church in her Ecumenical Councils named the belief of three persons in one God "the Trinity" and the belief that there are two natures, human and divine in the person of Jesus Christ "the Incarnation," the truths did not exist.
In naming the content of Divine Revelation after God has revealed it to us, the Church reflects a long Biblical tradition and practice.
(Quelle: http://romanticcatholic.com/apologetics.html - used with permission)
The Assumption of Mary
For Roman Catholic Christians, the belief in the Assumption of Mary flows immediately from the belief in her Immaculate Conception. Catholic Christians 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--death--in the same way we do. Mary's assumption shows the result of this freedom from sin--the immediate union of her whole being with her Son Jesus Christ with God at the end of her life.
Catholic Christians believe that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the end of her earthly life, was assumed both body and soul into heavenly glory.
- Rom 5:12
- Therefore, just as through one person sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all, inasmuch as all sinned ...
- Rom 6:23
- 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.
- Gen 3:15
- 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 constant faith (paradosis) of the Church affirms the belief in the Assumption of Mary.
- 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.
- 6th Century:
- The Feast of the Assumption was celebrated in Jerusalem (and perhaps even in Alexandria).
- From the 7th Century:
- 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).
- 9th Century:
- 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.
- 12th Century:
- 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." (The Magisterium has stayed cospicuously silent regarding whether this process entailed Mary's physical death. The teaching merely states that Mary's body and soul were assumed at the completion of the course of Mary's life.)
(Quelle: http://romanticcatholic.com/apologetics.html - used with permission)
Apparitions of Mary
Roman Catholic Christians are also attracted to the reported appearance of Mary, throughout history, but especially in the past century or more. One often hears of the appearance of Mary at Lourdes, France (in 1858), in Fatima, Portugal (in 1917), in Guadulupe, Mexico (in 1530), in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina (today).
It must first be recalled that the Catholic Church does not teach that these visits of Mary are a matter of either faith or morals for Catholics. These fall in the class of private devotion. The Church does permit these devotions when it is sure nothing said or believed about the visits of Mary is contrary to Divine Revelation--the Bible or the constant faith of the Church.
The Catholic Church also teaches that there is no new public revelation possible after the death of the Evangelist John. Any thing else approximating new messages would be private revelation only.
The Catholic Church applies the teaching of the Bible to her judgment of such private devotions.
- 1 Jn 4:1
- Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
- Mt 7:17-18, 20
- Every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. ... So by their fruits you will know them.
- Ja 3:12
- Can a fig tree, my brothers, produce olives, or a grapevine figs? Neither can salt water yield fresh.
The tests of such apparitions of Mary have shown that nothing in her messages and consequent devotion contradicts the word of God and the constant teaching of the Church.
The fruit of the shrines of Mary speak for themselves: repentance, revival, healings, renewed faith, return to the church, Bible reading, fruits of the Spirit, etc. The Church has made and continues to follow the Biblical tests of the spirits and approves some such apparitions as of the Spirit.
It remains for all Christians of a renewed mind and of the Spirit of the Lord to follow the Biblical mandates of testing spirits and the fruit of the tree as the Catholic Church has done.
(Quelle: http://romanticcatholic.com/apologetics.html - used with permission)
In 1 Timothy it says that Jesus is our sole mediator, yet we pray to Mary and the Saints. Is that going against the Bible?
The Bible clearly says that Jesus had brothers and sisters, but the Catholic Church teaches that Mary was a perpetual virgin...how can you reconcile those seemingly different positions?
Praying to Mary?
Q: In 1 Timothy it says that Jesus is our sole mediator, yet
we pray to Mary and the Saints. Is that going against the Bible?
A: 1 Tim 2:5 says, For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus By praying to the saints, you Catholics are going against the Bible because you are making them mediators between God and man, and Jesus is our sole mediator
Well, lets look and see why that interpretation doesnt hold scriptural water. In the O.T. we see that Moses, Abraham, and Job interceded on behalf of others thats mediating between God and man. Plus, we know that it is okay to ask others here on earth to pray and intercede for us thats mediating between God and man. Once again, we have a si tuation where a passage of the Bible is being misinterpreted and misunderstood.
There is indeed only one mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ, but as members of the Body of Christ, He allows us to share in His mediation.
Scripture says that we have only one foundation, Jesus Christ (1 Cor 3:11); but, Scripture says that there is more than one foundation (Eph 2:1920). Scripture says that we have only one Judge, Jesus Christ (James 4:12); but, Scripture tells us there is more than one judge (1 Cor 6:2).
Contradictions in Scripture? No Not when these passages are read in context. Jesus is the only foundation and Jesus is the only judge. But, we are members of Jesus Body. Therefore, we are able, according to the graces given by Christ, to share in Jesus role as foundation and as judge, and in other aspects of Christ, as well. Another example, as a father, I share in Gods role as Father, by His grace. And, so also, the saints in Heaven can and do share in Christs role as Mediator.
So, yes, Jesus is our sole mediator, but anyone who is a member of Jesus body, shares in His role as mediator and this is especially true of the saints in Heaven who are perfectly united to Christ.
(Source: Dr. John Martignoni, http://www.biblechristiansociety.com/. Used with permission)
John Martingoni on Mary
In this issue Im going to wrap up the section on Mary being without sin and start talking about the perpetual virginity of Mary.
The arguments against Marys sinlessness lack any foundation whatsoever. I have already shown that the one passage from Scripture Romans: 3:23 which is used over and over and over again by Protestants to prove Mary could not have been without sin, actually proves no such thing. If it proves that Mary did indeed sin, then it also proves that no Protestant is seeking God and that no Protestant ever does good and that no Protestant fears God (see Romans 3:1012, and 18). If the word all is an absolute in verse 23, then it is also an absolute in verses 1018. Would anyone who believes Romans 3:23 proves Mary sinned also then admit that they do not seek God, that they never do good, and that they have no fear of God? I doubt it.
And, whether Rom 3:23 is referring to personal sin or to Original Sin or both, it makes no difference. If it is ref erring to Original Sin, then all still isnt an absolute. Adam and Eve were created without the stain of Original Sin. Jesus Christ was conceived without the stain of Original Sin. Is it not possible for God to have Mary conceived without the stain of Original Sin? Of course it is. All things are possible with God.
Now, some people will say, Well, if Mary was conceived without Original Sin, and if she never sinned her entire life, then she has no need of Jesus Christ as her Savior. Yet, Mary herself says in Luke 1:47 that God is her Savior; therefore, Mary had to have sinned! The problem with this line of thinking, though, is that it flows from a limited view of the power of God. These folks seem to think that God can only save someone after that person has sinned, and not before.
I am not an alcoholic. Why? By the grace of God. God saved me from being an alc oholic before I ever became one. In that same vein, if I am walking along and fall into a big hole in the ground, and someone comes by and pulls me out of that hole, then they have indeed saved me from that hole. However, if I am walking along and just before I reach the hole, someone comes by and prevents me from falling into it, did they not also save me from that hole? Of course they did. Which means, someone can be saved from something either after they have fallen into it, or before they ever fall into it. So, Mary rightly claims God as her Savior because He saved her, before the fact, from Original Sin, and because He saved her, by His grace, from ever committing an actual sin.
There are also those who say that by claiming Mary was free from the taint of sin, we Catholics are making Mary equal to God. Where is the logic in that? Does that mean Adam and Eve, before they sinned, were equal to God? Of course not! So, Mary being sinless in no way makes her equal to God, just as Adam and Eve being sinless in no way made them equal to God. That argument is based on faulty logic. Besides, how could Mary be equal to God, when it was only by the grace of God that she was immaculately conceived and was able to avoid sin her entire life?
Perpetual Virginity of Mary
The Church teaches that Mary was a perpetual virgin. She was not only a virgin before Jesus was born, but remained so after Jesus was born. Yet, as many Protestants point out, the Bible does indeed mention the brothers of Jesus. For example, Mark 6:3, Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon
The brothers of Jesus are clearly mentioned, and even named, in the Bible. So, Mary did indeed have other children and, therefore, the Catholic Church is wrong when it dogmatically teaches that she was a perpetual virgin, right? Well, not so fast.
First of all, one needs to realize that there was no word for cousin, or for nephew or niece, or for aunt or uncle in ancient Hebrew or Aramaic the words that the Jews used in all those instances were brother or sister. An example of this can be seen in Gen 14:14, where Lot, who was Abrahams nephew, is called his brother. Some Bible translations might say kinsman because the translator knows that Lot was not Abrams brother, but the actual word used in the Hebrew is brother. Lot, however, is clearly identified as Abrams nephew in Gen 11:27, Terah was the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran was the father of Lot. So, Lot was Abrams, or Abrahams, nephew. Yet, Scripture refers to him as Abraha ms brother.
Second, lets get the big picture regarding Jesus brothers by looking at some verses that describe the scene at the Crucifixion:
1) Matthew 27:5556, There were also many women there, looking on from afar among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.
2) Mark 15:40, There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome
3) John 19:25, But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mothers sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
What do we see in these three passages that pertains to the perpetual virginity of Mary? Well, we see that Mary, the mother of James and Joseph (or Joses), is specifically mentioned in the passages from Matthe w and Mark. Isnt that interesting? Where else do we see James and Joses mentioned? In Mark 6:3, which is the verse mentioned above that contains the reference to Jesus brothers. And who are two of those brothers? James and Joses. But wait a minute, I thought James and Joses were sons of Mary the mother of Jesus? Not according to Scripture. Plus, when we look at the passage from John, it seems that Mary the mother of James and Joses is further identified as Mary the wife of Clopas, and she is also further identified as the sister of Jesus mother. Which means, that James and Joses, the brothers of Jesus, would actually have been the cousins of Jesus. Which makes perfect sense because the Jews referred to all close male relatives as their brothers.
In other words, it seems that the James and Joses identified in Mark 6:3 as th e brothers of Jesus, indeed had a mother named Mary, but it was not the same Mary who was the mother of Jesus. This scriptural fact would tend to negate Mark 6:3 as proof that Mary, the mother of Jesus, had other children. It would, in fact, add to the argument for her perpetual virginity.
There are only two possible arguments someone could make to counter this line of reasoning: 1) The James and Joses mentioned in Matthew 27 and Mark 15 are not the same James and Joses mentioned in Mark 6:3; or 2) To concede that James and Joses were not the brothers of Christ, they were instead close relatives, but to still argue that the other brothers named in Mark 6:3 Judas and Simon and the sisters mentioned there, really were the sons and daughters of Mary the mother of Jesus really!
The problem with the former argument is that there is absolutely nothi ng in the Bible that would suggest the James and Joses mentioned in Matthew 27 and Mark 15 are not the same ones mentioned in Mark 6:3. People who have the same name are clearly distinguished in the New Testament. For example, we see that there were several women named Mary amongst Jesus followers. We also see that they are clearly identified as separate individuals when they are mentioned in the Scriptures so that there is no confusion as to which Mary is being talked about. In Matt 27:61, it even mentions the other Mary to distinguish Mary, the mother of James and Joses, from Mary Magdalen. It didnt just say, Mary and Mary, or, The two Marys.
So why would anyone think that the James and Joses in Matt 27 and Mark 15 are anyone other than the James and Joses of Mark 6:3? In none of the verses that mention these two names does it have any other identifier that would distinguish one pair of James and Joses from another pair of James and Joses. It seems that there was but one pair of brothers named James and Joses who were apparently well known by the early Christian community.
In the latter argument above, to concede James and Joses as being close relatives, and not brothers, of Jesus, yet to try and still argue that Judas and Simon were indeed Jesus brothers sons of Mary is a very weak argument. If two of the four brothers of Jesus listed in that verse are actually cousins of Jesus, then doesnt it make perfect sense that the other brothers listed there are cousins as well, and that the sisters are also cousins? Think about it. First of all, if Judas and Simon were also sons of Mary, wouldnt they have been listed first instead of James and Joses? After all, wouldnt you list the actual brothers of Jesus ahead of the cousins of Jesus in a list of brothers of Jesus? Secondly, the fact that it has been shown the word brothers is referring to at least two cousins, not blood brothers, proves that you cannot automatically assume the word brothers, as used in Mark 6:3, absolutely refers to sons of the same mother. The word brothers in Mark 6:3 has lost its clout in trying to prove that Mary was not a perpetual virgin.
Furthermore, lets look at Galatians 1:19. Paul is talking about when he went to Jerusalem to consult with the chief of the Apostles, Peter, and while there, I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lords brother. So, we have James, the brother of Jesus as mentioned in Mark 6:3, and James, the Lords brother, as mentioned in Gal 1:19. And this time James, the Lords brother, is identified a s an apostle. So, if Im a Bibleonly believer in other words, if the Bible is my sole rule of faith when it comes to all things related to the Christian Faith then I have to admit that the James in Mark 6:3 and the James in Gal 1:19 are the same James. There is nothing in Scripture to tell me otherwise.
But theres a problem for those who would say this James is the son of Mary, the mother of Jesus. You see, this James is clearly identified as an apostle. Yet, of the two apostles named James that we find in the list of the twelve apostles (e.g., Matthew 10:14), one of them had a father named Zebedee and the other had a father named Alphaeus neither one of them had a father named Joseph! So, the Apostle James, who is one of the brothers of the Lord from Mark 6:3, cannot actually be a blood brother of Jesus, because he is either the son of Alphaeus or the son of Zebedee, not the son of Joseph. He has to be a cousin or some similar relation to Jesus, not his brother.
Now, there is one line of Catholic tradition (small t tradition), that identifies the James in Galatians 1:19 as not being one of the original twelve apostles. However, someone who goes by the Bible alone and who does not put any stock in tradition cannot use the argument from tradition, because they only accept the Bible as the authority in matters Christian. So, using the Bible alone, one cannot argue that the James in Gal 1:19 is a third James who had at some point been named an apostle, because the Bible nowhere mentions such a thing.
So, when we look at the brothers of Jesus in the broader context of Scripture, rather than just focusing on Mark 6:3, we see that the argument against the perpetual virginity of Mary has no foundation in the Bible. We also see that Mark 6:3, when taken in a broader scriptural context, tends to actually strengthen the argument for Mary as having been a perpetual virgin.
Another point to consider: If Jesus had had any brothers, if Mary had had any other sons, would the last thing that Jesus did on earth be to grievously offend his surviving brothers? In Jn 19:2627, right before Jesus dies, it says that Jesus entrusted the care of His mother to the beloved disciple, John. If Mary had had any other sons, it would have been an incredible slap in the face to them that the Apostle John was entrusted with the care of their mother! In Jewish society, when the father died, the care of the mother would pass to the eldest son. If he died, then the care of the mother would pass to the next eldest son, and so on. The fact that Jesus gave the care of His mother over to the Apostle John provides strong evidence that there were no other brothers of Jesus. If there had been, then one of them w ould have naturally assumed care for their mother at Jesus death.
One other passage to consider is Acts 1:1415, [The Apostles] with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus and with His brothers the company of persons was in all about a hundred and twenty. A company of 120 persons composed of the Apostles, Mary, the women, and the brothers of Jesus. Lets see there were 11 Apostles at the time. Jesus mother makes 12. The women, probably the same three women mentioned in Matthew 27, but lets say it was several dozen or so, just for arguments sake. So that puts us up to 80 or 90 or so. Which leaves the number of Jesus brothers at about 30 or 40! Do you think Mary had 30 or 40 children? We would have to have a dogma that proclaimed the perpetual labor of Mary! No, Scripture does not contradic t the teaching of the Catholic Church about the brothers of Jesus, not when Scripture is properly interpreted in context.
In this issue I am going to continue with, and hopefully finish up, the topic of the perpetual virginity of Mary.
I have two more Bible passages to present that support the Catholic teaching on this subject, and then I want to answer one of the main objections I have heard to this particular teaching on Mary.
Perpetual Virginity of Mary (contd)
There are two other passages from Scripture that I wish to mention to support the biblical argument for the perpetual virginity of Mary Ezek 44:12 and Luke 1:34.
Then he brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces east; and it was shut. And he said to me, This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it; for the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered by it; therefore it shall remain shut.
If a gate of the temple which has been used by the Lord is so holy that no one else shall enter through that gate, then how much moreso the gate by which the Lord entered into this life to bring salvation to all mankind? Mary is the gate through which the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered, and therefore it (her womb) shall remain shut and no one else will enter by it. p>
Luke 1:34, Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? Mary, after being told by an angel she was going to conceive a child in her womb, asks the angel, How shall this be? If Mary was planning on having normal marital relations with Joseph, then this has to be one of the dumbest questions of all time. Think of a woman, any woman, who is engaged to a man. This woman is hoping to have many children with her soontobe husband. An angel appears to her and says, You shall conceive a child in your womb. What would the woman say? She would say, Great! Wonderful! Awesome! She would not say, How can this be? She would know that once she got married, and she and her husband engaged in the marital act, that the natural result would be a child. So, again, if Mary was planning on having normal marital relations with Joseph, then this was a really dumb question.
But, if Mary had taken a vow of perpetual virginity, if she had made a vow to God to remain a virgin for her entire lifetime, then this question makes perfect sense. Why else ask that question? Now, someone might say, Well, Mary simply had never had the birds and the bees talk with her mom, so she simply didnt understand the physical process involved. Sorry, by her own words, we see that Mary clearly knows that one has a child by knowing a man. This was a Jewish euphemism for engaging in the marital act. So, if it is not out of ignorance that Mary asks that question, what then? Mary asks that question because she knew that she and Joseph were not going to have physical relations. That is the only thing that makes this question make sense. Ask someone who does not believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary the question of why Mary asked this question, and see what they say. Ill bet it doesnt make a whole lotta sense.
So, we see that the Bible actually presents some pretty strong evidence Old Testament and New for Mary being a perpetual virgin. There is no direct proof of that from the Bible, but there is a strong case to be made using the Bible. What objections are raised then, by those who say the Bible proves Mary was not a perpetual virgin? Outside of the passages like Mark 6:3 which refer to Jesus brothers and sisters, which I have already shown are not referring to other children of Mary, there is one Bible passage that is usually laid down as the trump card by folks who object to the Churchs teaching on this matter. That passage is Matthew 1:2425, which says, When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, but knew her not until she had borne a son
See, they say, It says Joseph knew her not UNTIL she had borne a son. Which means that he did know her after she had borne a son. Therefore, Mary was not a perpetual virgin.
Does the use of the word until automatically mean that something was true up to a certain point of time and then it was no longer true? Absolutely not. Lets look at 1 Tim 4:13. Paul writes to Timothy and says, Until I come, attend to the public reading of scripture, to preaching, to teaching. Does that mean that Timothy, after Paul visited him, never again publicly read the scripture or preached or taught? It does if until automatically means things change after the until condition is met. So, ask those who throw Matthew 1:25 at you if Timothy stopped the public reading of scripture, stopped preaching, and stopped teaching after Paul arrived.
Also, ask them if Jesus is to reign forever or not. They will undoubtedly say, Yes, Jesus will reign forever. Then simply take them to 1 Cor 15:25 which says, For He [Christ] must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. Which means, using the same interpretative model they used for Matt 1:2425, that Jesus is not going to reign forever. He only reigns until He puts all His enemies under His feet, then He no longer reigns. After all, the word until means that things change after the until condition is fulfilled.
Yet, Scripture tells us very plainly that Jesus will reign forever: Luke 1:33, and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there w ill be no end. Rev 22:5, And night shall be no more; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they [Father and Son] shall reign for ever and ever.
So, it seems that Jesus does reign forever, even though Scripture says He will reign until all of His enemies have been defeated. Which means the word until does not absolutely denote a change of condition. One more example that proves this is from Acts 8:40. In Acts 8:40, it tells us that Philip preached the gospels all over the place until he came to Caesarea. So that means he stopped preaching the gospel after getting to Caesarea, right? I dont think so.
Does the word until ever signify a change of condition? Absolutely. In fact, that is the most common usage of the word. However, as I have clearly shown, it is also used to simply show the way things are up to a certain point in time, without necessarily indicating a change of condition after that certain point in time.
So, Matthew 1:2425 is simply letting you know that Jesus birth was a virgin birth. That Joseph had no relations with Mary before Jesus birth, thus fulfilling the prophecy of a virgin giving birth. There is no intent here to imply that Joseph did then have relations with Mary after the birth of Jesus.(Source: http://www.biblechristiansociety.com/ - Used with permission)
More of John Martignoni
Why do Catholics call Mary the Queen of Heaven? Doesn't God rebuke the Israelites in the O.T. for worshipping a false goddess called the Queen of Heaven? Should we not refer to Mary with that title, therefore, since it is the title of a false goddess
In Romans, chapter 3, it says that none is righteous and that all have sinned, but the Catholic Church teaches that Mary is without sin...could you explain that in light of Romans chapter 3?
Is there a scriptural reference that I can point to as justification for Catholics referring to Mary as the "Ark of the New Covenant?"
APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTION OF
POPE PIUS XII
DEFINING THE DOGMA OF THE ASSUMPTION
November 1, 1950
1. The most bountiful God, who is almighty, the plan of whose providence rests upon wisdom and love, tempers, in the secret purpose of his own mind, the sorrows of peoples and of individual men by means of joys that he interposes in their lives from time to time, in such a way that, under different conditions and in different ways, all things may work together unto good for those who love him.(1)
2. Now, just like the present age, our pontificate is weighed down by ever so many cares, anxieties, and troubles, by reason of very severe calamities that have taken place and by reason of the fact that many have strayed away from truth and virtue. Nevertheless, we are greatly consoled to see that, while the Catholic faith is being professed publicly and vigorously, piety toward the Virgin Mother of God is flourishing and daily growing more fervent, and that almost everywhere on earth it is showing indications of a better and holier life. Thus, while the Blessed Virgin is fulfilling in the most affectionate manner her maternal duties on behalf of those redeemed by the blood of Christ, the minds and the hearts of her children are being vigorously aroused to a more assiduous consideration of her prerogatives.
3. Actually God, who from all eternity regards Mary with a most favorable and unique affection, has "when the fullness of time came"(2) put the plan of his providence into effect in such a way that all the privileges and prerogatives he had granted to her in his sovereign generosity were to shine forth in her in a kind of perfect harmony. And, although the Church has always recognized this supreme generosity and the perfect harmony of graces and has daily studied them more and more throughout the course of the centuries, still it is in our own age that the privilege of the bodily Assumption into heaven of Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, has certainly shone forth more clearly.
4. That privilege has shone forth in new radiance since our predecessor of immortal memory, Pius IX, solemnly proclaimed the dogma of the loving Mother of God's Immaculate Conception. These two privileges are most closely bound to one another. Christ overcame sin and death by his own death, and one who through Baptism has been born again in a supernatural way has conquered sin and death through the same Christ. Yet, according to the general rule, God does not will to grant to the just the full effect of the victory over death until the end of time has come. And so it is that the bodies of even the just are corrupted after death, and only on the last day will they be joined, each to its own glorious soul.
5. Now God has willed that the Blessed Virgin Mary should be exempted from this general rule. She, by an entirely unique privilege, completely overcame sin by her Immaculate Conception, and as a result she was not subject to the law of remaining in the corruption of the grave, and she did not have to wait until the end of time for the redemption of her body.
6. Thus, when it was solemnly proclaimed that Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, was from the very beginning free from the taint of original sin, the minds of the faithful were filled with a stronger hope that the day might soon come when the dogma of the Virgin Mary's bodily Assumption into heaven would also be defined by the Church's supreme teaching authority.
7. Actually it was seen that not only individual Catholics, but also those who could speak for nations or ecclesiastical provinces, and even a considerable number of the Fathers of the Vatican Council, urgently petitioned the Apostolic See to this effect.
8. During the course of time such postulations and petitions did not decrease but rather grew continually in number and in urgency. In this cause there were pious crusades of prayer. Many outstanding theologians eagerly and zealously carried out investigations on this subject either privately or in public ecclesiastical institutions and in other schools where the sacred disciplines are taught. Marian Congresses, both national and international in scope, have been held in many parts of the Catholic world. These studies and investigations have brought out into even clearer light the fact that the dogma of the Virgin Mary's Assumption into heaven is contained in the deposit of Christian faith entrusted to the Church. They have resulted in many more petitions, begging and urging the Apostolic See that this truth be solemnly defined.
9. In this pious striving, the faithful have been associated in a wonderful way with their own holy bishops, who have sent petitions of this kind, truly remarkable in number, to this See of the Blessed Peter. Consequently, when we were elevated to the throne of the supreme pontificate, petitions of this sort had already been addressed by the thousands from every part of the world and from every class of people, from our beloved sons the Cardinals of the Sacred College, from our venerable brethren, archbishops and bishops, from dioceses and from parishes.
10. Consequently, while we sent up earnest prayers to God that he might grant to our mind the light of the Holy Spirit, to enable us to make a decision on this most serious subject, we issued special orders in which we commanded that, by corporate effort, more advanced inquiries into this matter should be begun and that, in the meantime, all the petitions about the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven which had been sent to this Apostolic See from the time of Pius IX, our predecessor of happy memory, down to our own days should be gathered together and carefully evaluated.(3)
11. And, since we were dealing with a matter of such great moment and of such importance, we considered it opportune to ask all our venerable brethren in the episcopate directly and authoritatively that each of them should make known to us his mind in a formal statement. Hence, on May 1, 1946, we gave them our letter "Deiparae Virginis Mariae," a letter in which these words are contained: "Do you, venerable brethren, in your outstanding wisdom and prudence, judge that the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin can be proposed and defined as a dogma of faith? Do you, with your clergy and people, desire it?"
12. But those whom "the Holy Spirit has placed as bishops to rule the Church of God"(4) gave an almost unanimous affirmative response to both these questions. This "outstanding agreement of the Catholic prelates and the faithful,"(5) affirming that the bodily Assumption of God's Mother into heaven can be defined as a dogma of faith, since it shows us the concordant teaching of the Church's ordinary doctrinal authority and the concordant faith of the Christian people which the same doctrinal authority sustains and directs, thus by itself and in an entirely certain and infallible way, manifests this privilege as a truth revealed by God and contained in that divine deposit which Christ has delivered to his Spouse to be guarded faithfully and to be taught infallibly.(6) Certainly this teaching authority of the Church, not by any merely human effort but under the protection of the Spirit of Truth,(7) and therefore absolutely without error, carries out the commission entrusted to it, that of preserving the revealed truths pure and entire throughout every age, in such a way that it presents them undefiled, adding nothing to them and taking nothing away from them. For, as the Vatican Council teaches, "the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter in such a way that, by his revelation, they might manifest new doctrine, but so that, by his assistance, they might guard as sacred and might faithfully propose the revelation delivered through the apostles, or the deposit of faith."(8) Thus, from the universal agreement of the Church's ordinary teaching authority we have a certain and firm proof, demonstrating that the Blessed Virgin Mary's bodily Assumption into heaven- which surely no faculty of the human mind could know by its own natural powers, as far as the heavenly glorification of the virginal body of the loving Mother of God is concerned-is a truth that has been revealed by God and consequently something that must be firmly and faithfully believed by all children of the Church. For, as the Vatican Council asserts, "all those things are to be believed by divine and Catholic faith which are contained in the written Word of God or in Tradition, and which are proposed by the Church, either in solemn judgment or in its ordinary and universal teaching office, as divinely revealed truths which must be believed."(9)
13. Various testimonies, indications and signs of this common belief of the Church are evident from remote times down through the course of the centuries; and this same belief becomes more clearly manifest from day to day.
14. Christ's faithful, through the teaching and the leadership of their pastors, have learned from the sacred books that the Virgin Mary, throughout the course of her earthly pilgrimage, led a life troubled by cares, hardships, and sorrows, and that, moreover, what the holy old man Simeon had foretold actually came to pass, that is, that a terribly sharp sword pierced her heart as she stood under the cross of her divine Son, our Redeemer. In the same way, it was not difficult for them to admit that the great Mother of God, like her only begotten Son, had actually passed from this life. But this in no way prevented them from believing and from professing openly that her sacred body had never been subject to the corruption of the tomb, and that the august tabernacle of the Divine Word had never been reduced to dust and ashes. Actually, enlightened by divine grace and moved by affection for her, God's Mother and our own dearest Mother, they have contemplated in an ever clearer light the wonderful harmony and order of those privileges which the most provident God has lavished upon this loving associate of our Redeemer, privileges which reach such an exalted plane that, except for her, nothing created by God other than the human nature of Jesus Christ has ever reached this level.
15. The innumerable temples which have been dedicated to the Virgin Mary assumed into heaven clearly attest this faith. So do those sacred images, exposed therein for the veneration of the faithful, which bring this unique triumph of the Blessed Virgin before the eyes of all men. Moreover, cities, dioceses, and individual regions have been placed under the special patronage and guardianship of the Virgin Mother of God assumed into heaven. In the same way, religious institutes, with the approval of the Church, have been founded and have taken their name from this privilege. Nor can we pass over in silence the fact that in the Rosary of Mary, the recitation of which this Apostolic See so urgently recommends, there is one mystery proposed for pious meditation which, as all know, deals with the Blessed Virgin's Assumption into heaven.
16. This belief of the sacred pastors and of Christ's faithful is universally manifested still more splendidly by the fact that, since ancient times, there have been both in the East and in the West solemn liturgical offices commemorating this privilege. The holy Fathers and Doctors of the Church have never failed to draw enlightenment from this fact since, as everyone knows, the sacred liturgy, "because it is the profession, subject to the supreme teaching authority within the Church, of heavenly truths, can supply proofs and testimonies of no small value for deciding a particular point of Christian doctrine."(10)
17. In the liturgical books which deal with the feast either of the dormition or of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin there are expressions that agree in testifying that, when the Virgin Mother of God passed from this earthly exile to heaven, what happened to her sacred body was, by the decree of divine Providence, in keeping with the dignity of the Mother of the Word Incarnate, and with the other privileges she had been accorded. Thus, to cite an illustrious example, this is set forth in that sacramentary which Adrian I, our predecessor of immortal memory, sent to the Emperor Charlemagne. These words are found in this volume: "Venerable to us, O Lord, is the festivity of this day on which the holy Mother of God suffered temporal death, but still could not be kept down by the bonds of death, who has begotten your Son our Lord incarnate from herself."(11)
18. What is here indicated in that sobriety characteristic of the Roman liturgy is presented more clearly and completely in other ancient liturgical books. To take one as an example, the Gallican sacramentary designates this privilege of Mary's as "an ineffable mystery all the more worthy of praise as the Virgin's Assumption is something unique among men." And, in the Byzantine liturgy, not only is the Virgin Mary's bodily Assumption connected time and time again with the dignity of the Mother of God, but also with the other privileges, and in particular with the virginal motherhood granted her by a singular decree of God's Providence. "God, the King of the universe, has granted you favors that surpass nature. As he kept you a virgin in childbirth, thus he has kept your body incorrupt in the tomb and has glorified it by his divine act of transferring it from the tomb."(12)
19. The fact that the Apostolic See, which has inherited the function entrusted to the Prince of the Apostles, the function of confirming the brethren in the faith,(13) has by its own authority, made the celebration of this feast ever more solemn, has certainly and effectively moved the attentive minds of the faithful to appreciate always more completely the magnitude of the mystery it commemorates. So it was that the Feast of the Assumption was elevated from the rank which it had occupied from the beginning among the other Marian feasts to be classed among the more solemn celebrations of the entire liturgical cycle. And, when our predecessor St. Sergius I prescribed what is known as the litany, or the stational procession, to be held on four Marian feasts, he specified together the Feasts of the Nativity, the Annunciation, the Purification, and the Dormition of the Virgin Mary.(14) Again, St. Leo IV saw to it that the feast, which was already being celebrated under the title of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother of God, should be observed in even a more solemn way when he ordered a vigil to be held on the day before it and prescribed prayers to be recited after it until the octave day. When this had been done, he decided to take part himself in the celebration, in the midst of a great multitude of the faithful.(15) Moreover, the fact that a holy fast had been ordered from ancient times for the day prior to the feast is made very evident by what our predecessor St. Nicholas I testifies in treating of the principal fasts which "the Holy Roman Church has observed for a long time, and still observes."(16)
20. However, since the liturgy of the Church does not engender the Catholic faith, but rather springs from it, in such a way that the practices of the sacred worship proceed from the faith as the fruit comes from the tree, it follows that the holy Fathers and the great Doctors, in the homilies and sermons they gave the people on this feast day, did not draw their teaching from the feast itself as from a primary source, but rather they spoke of this doctrine as something already known and accepted by Christ's faithful. They presented it more clearly. They offered more profound explanations of its meaning and nature, bringing out into sharper light the fact that this feast shows, not only that the dead body of the Blessed Virgin Mary remained incorrupt, but that she gained a triumph out of death, her heavenly glorification after the example of her only begotten Son, Jesus Christ-truths that the liturgical books had frequently touched upon concisely and briefly.
21. Thus St. John Damascene, an outstanding herald of this traditional truth, spoke out with powerful eloquence when he compared the bodily Assumption of the loving Mother of God with her other prerogatives and privileges. "It was fitting that she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles. It was fitting that the spouse, whom the Father had taken to himself, should live in the divine mansions. It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross and who had thereby received into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had escaped in the act of giving birth to him, should look upon him as he sits with the Father. It was fitting that God's Mother should possess what belongs to her Son, and that she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and as the handmaid of God."(17)
22. These words of St. John Damascene agree perfectly with what others have taught on this same subject. Statements no less clear and accurate are to be found in sermons delivered by Fathers of an earlier time or of the same period, particularly on the occasion of this feast. And so, to cite some other examples, St. Germanus of Constantinople considered the fact that the body of Mary, the virgin Mother of God, was incorrupt and had been taken up into heaven to be in keeping, not only with her divine motherhood, but also with the special holiness of her virginal body. "You are she who, as it is written, appears in beauty, and your virginal body is all holy, all chaste, entirely the dwelling place of God, so that it is henceforth completely exempt from dissolution into dust. Though still human, it is changed into the heavenly life of incorruptibility, truly living and glorious, undamaged and sharing in perfect life."(18) And another very ancient writer asserts: "As the most glorious Mother of Christ, our Savior and God and the giver of life and immortality, has been endowed with life by him, she has received an eternal incorruptibility of the body together with him who has raised her up from the tomb and has taken her up to himself in a way known only to him."(19)
23. When this liturgical feast was being celebrated ever more widely and with ever increasing devotion and piety, the bishops of the Church and its preachers in continually greater numbers considered it their duty openly and clearly to explain the mystery that the feast commemorates, and to explain how it is intimately connected with the other revealed truths.
24. Among the scholastic theologians there have not been lacking those who, wishing to inquire more profoundly into divinely revealed truths and desirous of showing the harmony that exists between what is termed the theological demonstration and the Catholic faith, have always considered it worthy of note that this privilege of the Virgin Mary's Assumption is in wonderful accord with those divine truths given us in Holy Scripture.
25. When they go on to explain this point, they adduce various proofs to throw light on this privilege of Mary. As the first element of these demonstrations, they insist upon the fact that, out of filial love for his mother, Jesus Christ has willed that she be assumed into heaven. They base the strength of their proofs on the incomparable dignity of her divine motherhood and of all those prerogatives which follow from it. These include her exalted holiness, entirely surpassing the sanctity of all men and of the angels, the intimate union of Mary with her Son, and the affection of preeminent love which the Son has for his most worthy Mother.
26. Often there are theologians and preachers who, following in the footsteps of the holy Fathers,(20) have been rather free in their use of events and expressions taken from Sacred Scripture to explain their belief in the Assumption. Thus, to mention only a few of the texts rather frequently cited in this fashion, some have employed the words of the psalmist: "Arise, O Lord, into your resting place: you and the ark, which you have sanctified"(21); and have looked upon the Ark of the Covenant, built of incorruptible wood and placed in the Lord's temple, as a type of the most pure body of the Virgin Mary, preserved and exempt from all the corruption of the tomb and raised up to such glory in heaven. Treating of this subject, they also describe her as the Queen entering triumphantly into the royal halls of heaven and sitting at the right hand of the divine Redeemer.(22) Likewise they mention the Spouse of the Canticles "that goes up by the desert, as a pillar of smoke of aromatical spices, of myrrh and frankincense" to be crowned.(23) These are proposed as depicting that heavenly Queen and heavenly Spouse who has been lifted up to the courts of heaven with the divine Bridegroom.
27. Moreover, the scholastic Doctors have recognized the Assumption of the Virgin Mother of God as something signified, not only in various figures of the Old Testament, but also in that woman clothed with the sun whom John the Apostle contemplated on the Island of Patmos.(24) Similarly they have given special attention to these words of the New Testament: "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women,"(25) since they saw, in the mystery of the Assumption, the fulfillment of that most perfect grace granted to the Blessed Virgin and the special blessing that countered the curse of Eve.
28. Thus, during the earliest period of scholastic theology, that most pious man, Amadeus, Bishop of Lausarme, held that the Virgin Mary's flesh had remained incorrupt-for it is wrong to believe that her body has seen corruption-because it was really united again to her soul and, together with it, crowned with great glory in the heavenly courts. "For she was full of grace and blessed among women. She alone merited to conceive the true God of true God, whom as a virgin, she brought forth, to whom as a virgin she gave milk, fondling him in her lap, and in all things she waited upon him with loving care."(26)
29. Among the holy writers who at that time employed statements and various images and analogies of Sacred Scripture to Illustrate and to confirm the doctrine of the Assumption, which was piously believed, the Evangelical Doctor, St. Anthony of Padua, holds a special place. On the feast day of the Assumption, while explaining the prophet's words: "I will glorify the place of my feet,"(27) he stated it as certain that the divine Redeemer had bedecked with supreme glory his most beloved Mother from whom he had received human flesh. He asserts that "you have here a clear statement that the Blessed Virgin has been assumed in her body, where was the place of the Lord's feet. Hence it is that the holy Psalmist writes: 'Arise, O Lord, into your resting place: you and the ark which you have sanctified."' And he asserts that, just as Jesus Christ has risen from the death over which he triumphed and has ascended to the right hand of the Father, so likewise the ark of his sanctification "has risen up, since on this day the Virgin Mother has been taken up to her heavenly dwelling."(28)
30. When, during the Middle Ages, scholastic theology was especially flourishing, St. Albert the Great who, to establish this teaching, had gathered together many proofs from Sacred Scripture, from the statements of older writers, and finally from the liturgy and from what is known as theological reasoning, concluded in this way: "From these proofs and authorities and from many others, it is manifest that the most blessed Mother of God has been assumed above the choirs of angels. And this we believe in every way to be true."(29) And, in a sermon which he delivered on the sacred day of the Blessed Virgin Mary's annunciation, explained the words "Hail, full of grace"-words used by the angel who addressed her-the Universal Doctor, comparing the Blessed Virgin with Eve, stated clearly and incisively that she was exempted from the fourfold curse that had been laid upon Eve.(30)
31. Following the footsteps of his distinguished teacher, the Angelic Doctor, despite the fact that he never dealt directly with this question, nevertheless, whenever he touched upon it, always held together with the Catholic Church, that Mary's body had been assumed into heaven along with her soul.(31)
32. Along with many others, the Seraphic Doctor held the same views. He considered it as entirely certain that, as God had preserved the most holy Virgin Mary from the violation of her virginal purity and integrity in conceiving and in childbirth, he would never have permitted her body to have been resolved into dust and ashes.(32) Explaining these words of Sacred Scripture: "Who is this that comes up from the desert, flowing with delights, leaning upon her beloved?"(33) and applying them in a kind of accommodated sense to the Blessed Virgin, he reasons thus: "From this we can see that she is there bodily...her blessedness would not have been complete unless she were there as a person. The soul is not a person, but the soul, joined to the body, is a person. It is manifest that she is there in soul and in body. Otherwise she would not possess her complete beatitude.(34)
33. In the fifteenth century, during a later period of scholastic theology, St. Bernardine of Siena collected and diligently evaluated all that the medieval theologians had said and taught on this question. He was not content with setting down the principal considerations which these writers of an earlier day had already expressed, but he added others of his own. The likeness between God's Mother and her divine Son, in the way of the nobility and dignity of body and of soul - a likeness that forbids us to think of the heavenly Queen as being separated from the heavenly King - makes it entirely imperative that Mary "should be only where Christ is."(35) Moreover, it is reasonable and fitting that not only the soul and body of a man, but also the soul and body of a woman should have obtained heavenly glory. Finally, since the Church has never looked for the bodily relics of the Blessed Virgin nor proposed them for the veneration of the people, we have a proof on the order of a sensible experience.(36)
34. The above-mentioned teachings of the holy Fathers and of the Doctors have been in common use during more recent times. Gathering together the testimonies of the Christians of earlier days, St. Robert Bellarmine exclaimed: "And who, I ask, could believe that the ark of holiness, the dwelling place of the Word of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit, could be reduced to ruin? My soul is filled with horror at the thought that this virginal flesh which had begotten God, had brought him into the world, had nourished and carried him, could have been turned into ashes or given over to be food for worms."(37)
35. In like manner St. Francis de Sales, after asserting that it is wrong to doubt that Jesus Christ has himself observed, in the most perfect way, the divine commandment by which children are ordered to honor their parents, asks this question: "What son would not bring his mother back to life and would not bring her into paradise after her death if he could?"(38) And St. Alphonsus writes that "Jesus did not wish to have the body of Mary corrupted after death, since it would have redounded to his own dishonor to have her virginal flesh, from which he himself had assumed flesh, reduced to dust."(39)
36. Once the mystery which is commemorated in this feast had been placed in its proper light, there were not lacking teachers who, instead of dealing with the theological reasonings that show why it is fitting and right to believe the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven, chose to focus their mind and attention on the faith of the Church itself, which is the Mystical Body of Christ without stain or wrinkle(40) and is called by the Apostle "the pillar and ground of truth."(41) Relying on this common faith, they considered the teaching opposed to the doctrine of our Lady's Assumption as temerarious, if not heretical. Thus, like not a few others, St. Peter Canisius, after he had declared that the very word "assumption" signifies the glorification, not only of the soul but also of the body, and that the Church has venerated and has solemnly celebrated this mystery of Mary's Assumption for many centuries, adds these words of warning: "This teaching has already been accepted for some centuries, it has been held as certain in the minds of the pious people, and it has been taught to the entire Church in such a way that those who deny that Mary's body has been assumed into heaven are not to be listened to patiently but are everywhere to be denounced as over-contentious or rash men, and as imbued with a spirit that is heretical rather than Catholic."(42)
37. At the same time the great Suarez was professing in the field of mariology the norm that "keeping in mind the standards of propriety, and when there is no contradiction or repugnance on the part of Scripture, the mysteries of grace which God has wrought in the Virgin must be measured, not by the ordinary laws, but by the divine omnipotence."(43) Supported by the common faith of the entire Church on the subject of the mystery of the Assumption, he could conclude that this mystery was to be believed with the same firmness of assent as that given to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin. Thus he already held that such truths could be defined.
38. All these proofs and considerations of the holy Fathers and the theologians are based upon the Sacred Writings as their ultimate foundation. These set the loving Mother of God as it were before our very eyes as most intimately joined to her divine Son and as always sharing his lot. Consequently it seems impossible to think of her, the one who conceived Christ, brought him forth, nursed him with her milk, held him in her arms, and clasped him to her breast, as being apart from him in body, even though not in soul, after this earthly life. Since our Redeemer is the Son of Mary, he could not do otherwise, as the perfect observer of God's law, than to honor, not only his eternal Father, but also his most beloved Mother. And, since it was within his power to grant her this great honor, to preserve her from the corruption of the tomb, we must believe that he really acted in this way.
39. We must remember especially that, since the second century, the Virgin Mary has been designated by the holy Fathers as the new Eve, who, although subject to the new Adam, is most intimately associated with him in that struggle against the infernal foe which, as foretold in the protoevangelium,(44) would finally result in that most complete victory over the sin and death which are always mentioned together in the writings of the Apostle of the Gentiles.(45) Consequently, just as the glorious resurrection of Christ was an essential part and the final sign of this victory, so that struggle which was common to the Blessed Virgin and her divine Son should be brought to a close by the glorification of her virginal body, for the same Apostle says: "When this mortal thing hath put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory."(46)
40. Hence the revered Mother of God, from all eternity joined in a hidden way with Jesus Christ in one and the same decree of predestination,(47) immaculate in her conception, a most perfect virgin in her divine motherhood, the noble associate of the divine Redeemer who has won a complete triumph over sin and its consequences, finally obtained, as the supreme culmination of her privileges, that she should be preserved free from the corruption of the tomb and that, like her own Son, having overcome death, she might be taken up body and soul to the glory of heaven where, as Queen, she sits in splendor at the right hand of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages.(48)
41. Since the universal Church, within which dwells the Spirit of Truth who infallibly directs it toward an ever more perfect knowledge of the revealed truths, has expressed its own belief many times over the course of the centuries, and since the bishops of the entire world are almost unanimously petitioning that the truth of the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven should be defined as a dogma of divine and Catholic faith--this truth which is based on the Sacred Writings, which is thoroughly rooted in the minds of the faithful, which has been approved in ecclesiastical worship from the most remote times, which is completely in harmony with the other revealed truths, and which has been expounded and explained magnificently in the work, the science, and the wisdom of the theologians - we believe that the moment appointed in the plan of divine providence for the solemn proclamation of this outstanding privilege of the Virgin Mary has already arrived.
42. We, who have placed our pontificate under the special patronage of the most holy Virgin, to whom we have had recourse so often in times of grave trouble, we who have consecrated the entire human race to her Immaculate Heart in public ceremonies, and who have time and time again experienced her powerful protection, are confident that this solemn proclamation and definition of the Assumption will contribute in no small way to the advantage of human society, since it redounds to the glory of the Most Blessed Trinity, to which the Blessed Mother of God is bound by such singular bonds. It is to be hoped that all the faithful will be stirred up to a stronger piety toward their heavenly Mother, and that the souls of all those who glory in the Christian name may be moved by the desire of sharing in the unity of Jesus Christ's Mystical Body and of increasing their love for her who shows her motherly heart to all the members of this august body. And so we may hope that those who meditate upon the glorious example Mary offers us may be more and more convinced of the value of a human life entirely devoted to carrying out the heavenly Father's will and to bringing good to others. Thus, while the illusory teachings of materialism and the corruption of morals that follows from these teachings threaten to extinguish the light of virtue and to ruin the lives of men by exciting discord among them, in this magnificent way all may see clearly to what a lofty goal our bodies and souls are destined. Finally it is our hope that belief in Mary's bodily Assumption into heaven will make our belief in our own resurrection stronger and render it more effective.
43. We rejoice greatly that this solemn event falls, according to the design of God's providence, during this Holy Year, so that we are able, while the great Jubilee is being observed, to adorn the brow of God's Virgin Mother with this brilliant gem, and to leave a monument more enduring than bronze of our own most fervent love for the Mother of God.
44. For which reason, 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 the glory of that same august Mother, and for the joy and exultation of the entire Church; by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, 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.
45. Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith.
46. In order that this, our definition of the bodily Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven may be brought to the attention of the universal Church, we desire that this, our Apostolic Letter, should stand for perpetual remembrance, commanding that written copies of it, or even printed copies, signed by the hand of any public notary and bearing the seal of a person constituted in ecclesiastical dignity, should be accorded by all men the same reception they would give to this present letter, were it tendered or shown.
47. It is forbidden to any man to change this, our declaration, pronouncement, and definition or, by rash attempt, to oppose and counter it. If any man should presume to make such an attempt, let him know that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.
48. Given at Rome, at St. Peter's, in the year of the great Jubilee, 1950, on the first day of the month of November, on the Feast of All Saints, in the twelfth year of our pontificate.
1. Rom 8:28.
2. Gal 4:4.
3. Cf. Hentrich-Von Moos, Petitiones de Assumptione Corporea B. Virginis Mariae in Caelum Definienda ad S. Sedem Delatae, 2 volumes (Vatican Polyglot Press, 1942).
4. Acts 20:28.
5. The Bull Ineffabilis Deus, in the Acta Pii IX, pars 1, Vol. 1, p. 615.
6. The Vatican Council, Constitution Dei filius, c. 4.
7. Jn 14:26.
8. Vatican Council, Constitution Pastor Aeternus, c. 4.
9. Ibid., Dei Filius, c. 3.
10. The encyclical Mediator Dei (Acta Apostolicae Sedis, XXXIX, 541).
11. Sacramentarium Gregorianum.
12. Menaei Totius Anni.
13. Lk 22:32.
14. Liber Pontificalis.
16. Responsa Nicolai Papae I ad Consulta Bulgarorum.
17. St. John Damascene, Encomium in Dormitionem Dei Genetricis Semperque Virginis Mariae, Hom. II, n. 14; cf. also ibid, n. 3.
18. St. Germanus of Constantinople, In Sanctae Dei Genetricis Dormitionem, Sermo I.
19. The Encomium in Dormitionem Sanctissimae Dominae Nostrate Deiparae Semperque Virginis Mariae, attributed to St. Modestus of Jerusalem, n. 14.
20. Cf. St. John Damascene, op. cit., Hom. II, n. 11; and also the Encomium attributed to St. Modestus.
21. Ps 131:8.
22. Ps 44:10-14ff.
23. Song 3:6; cf. also 4:8; 6:9.
24. Rv 12:1ff.
25. Lk 1:28.
26. Amadeus of Lausanne, De Beatae Virginis Obitu, Assumptione in Caelum Exaltatione ad Filii Dexteram.
27. Is 61:13.
28. St. Anthony of Padua, Sermones Dominicales et in Solemnitatibus, In Assumptione S. Mariae Virginis Sermo.
29. St. Albert the Great, Mariale, q. 132.
30. St. Albert the Great, Sermones de Sanctis, Sermo XV in Annuntiatione B. Mariae; cf. also Mariale, q. 132.
31. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theol., I, lla; q. 27, a. 1; q. 83, a. 5, ad 8; Expositio Salutationis Angelicae; In Symb. Apostolorum Expositio, a. S; In IV Sent., d. 12, q. 1, a. 3, sol. 3; d. 43, q. 1, a. 3, sol. 1, 2.
32. St. Bonaventure, De Nativitate B. Mariae Virginis, Sermo V.
33. Song 8:5.
34. St. Bonaventure, De Assumptione B. Mariae Virginis, Sermo 1.
35. St. Bernardine of Siena, In Assumptione B. Mariae Virginis, Sermo 11.
37. St. Robert Bellarmine, Conciones Habitae Lovanii, n. 40, De Assumption B. Mariae Virginis.
38. Oeuvres de St. Francois De Sales, sermon for the Feast of the Assumption.
39. St. Alphonsus Liguori, The Glories of Mary, Part 2, d. 1.
40. Eph 5:27.
41. I Tim 3:15.
42. St. Peter Canisius, De Maria Virgine.
43. Suarez, In Tertiam Partem D. Thomae, q. 27, a. 2, disp. 3, sec. 5, n. 31.
44. Gen 3:15.
45. Rom 5-6; I Cor. 15:21-26, 54-57.
46. I Cor 15:54.
47. The Bull Ineffabilis Deus, loc. cit., p. 599.
48. I Tim 1:17.
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Prof. Dr. Scott Hahn: Mary, Holy Mother
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Tim Staples: The Gospel Truth About Mary - II (CDs)
Tim Staples: All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed (DVD)
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Fr. Benedict Groeschel: Our Lady & This Present Darkness (CD)
Fr. Benedict Groeschel: Our Lady of Lourdes & St. Bernadette (DVD)
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