Assumption Dogma of our blessed Virgin Mary – Munificentissimus deus
The word ‘assumption’ derives from the Latin word ‘assumptio’ meaning ‘’taking up’’. The assumption of The Blessed Virgin Mary is one of the four Marian dogmas of the Catholic Church. Pope Pius XII expounded it in his apostolic constitution in 1950 known by definition as ‘Munificentissimus Deus’ as follows:- ‘We proclaim and define it to be a dogma revealed by God that the immaculate mother of God, Mary ever virgin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven’. This declaration was built upon the 1854 dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, which declared that Mary was conceived free from original sin. A DOGMA is an authoritative principle, belief or statement of opinion, especially one considered to be absolutely true regardless of evidence, or without evidence to support it. In other words, a dogma is a doctrine relating to matters such as morality and faith set forth authoritatively, by a religious organization or leader.
The four Marian dogmas are:-
- Immaculate Conception of Mary
- Mary Mother of God
- The Assumption of Mary
- The Perpetual Virginity of Mary
The assumption of Mary is also called ‘Falling Asleep of the Blessed Virgin Mary’. It is observed by the Roman Catholic Church, Oriental Orthodox churches, Lutheran Churches, part of the Anglican Communities, Eastern Orthodox Church, Church of the East and Reformed Orthodox Churches. The significance of assumption is the bodily taking up of Mary, the mother of Jesus into Heaven. The Feast Day is August 15 every year.
The controversy surrounding the assumption of Mary is that it leaves open the question of whether Mary died or whether she was raised to eternal life without bodily death. A popular narrative by the early 8th century and the belief was well established that John of Damascus could set out what became the standard Eastern tradition that ‘’Mary died in the presence of the Apostles, but her tomb, when opened, upon the request of Thomas who was always absent, as his custom was, at crucial moments, was found empty; whereupon the Apostles concluded that the body was taken up to heaven’’. Be that as it may, the bible clearly points out the possibility of going up to Heaven either in glorified or earthly body.
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS AS REGARDS BODILY ASCENDANCE INTO HEAVEN
Reference can be made to what happened at the transfiguration of Jesus Christ. The three synoptic gospels of the evangelists Mathew, Mark and Luke recorded the spectacular event in Mathew 17: 1-8, Mark 9: 2-13 and Luke 9: 28-36. For this purpose, Luke’s account gives a detailed description of what took place. At the other side of the lake from Galilee, Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and went up a hill to pray. While he was praying, his face changed its appearance, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly two men were talking with him. They were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in heavenly glory and talked with Jesus about the way in which he would soon fulfil God’s purpose by dying in Jerusalem…….[Luke 9: 28-36].
It has to be remembered that Moses, a great prophet of God, displeased the Lord by rebuking the Israelites for demanding for food and water in the wilderness and striking the rock twice out of anger instead of once as commanded at the waters of Meribah and Massah [Numbers 20: 1-8]. On account of this, God ruled that he would see the Promised Land but not enter it. Eventually, he died and was buried by the Almighty and to this day no one knows the exact place of his burial [Deuteronomy 34: 5-6]. Probably, God took his body to Heaven and that is the reason why he is seen in body form with Jesus at the transfiguration. Again, Elijah was the prophet of God who always carried out his precepts. He was taken up to Heaven alive by a fiery chariot pulled by horses of fire by a whirlwind [2 Kings 2: 11-12]. He is now seen in his glorified body with Jesus during the transfiguration. Moses and Elijah represented the law and prophets respectively which Jesus came not to abolish but to fulfil them. They appeared with Jesus as exactly as they were when alive though in transformed bodies.
With the foregoing in mind, it is possible for God to take up the body of His beloved to Heaven because with Him everything is possible [Luke 1: 37]. Furthermore, The Most High will not allow the body of some of His saints to decay in the grave for ‘my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption [Psalm 16; 9-10]. Many saints whose bodies never decayed abound all over the world in various churches. It requires no special insight to acknowledge that the Mother God’s cadaver or corpse didn’t decompose to be ingested by worms. Jesus Christ resurrected after three days in the grave. Of course, he would not allow his mother’s dead body to see corruption. So the Blessed Virgin Mary’s body after death was assumed by God up to Heaven.
Many apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in different parts of the world were reported and the Christian faithful visited the scenes with their chaplets. The most celebrated was the Marian apparition at Fatima in 1917 during the First World War. She among others requested for special prayers for Russia to convert her from spreading her errors across the globe. We are living witnesses to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the attendant cruelty and atrocities committed there. Mary appeared in body form and the visionaries pointed out her extreme beauty donning her immaculate white and blue robes. She never appeared as a spirit but bodily just like Moses and Elijah. The apparition at Kibeho in an African country known as Rwanda in 1980s is the most recent recognized by the Vatican. All she requested is the continuous recitation of the Holy Rosary without ceasing in order to obtain God’s divine mercy. She is the mother of all irrespective of denomination or creed, prays constantly for us, her children. The feast of assumption comes up as mentioned earlier on the 15th of August annually.
In Revelation 12: 1-6, John recalled an incident that took place in heaven; ‘’Then a great and mysterious sign appeared in the sky. There was a woman, whose dress was the sun and who had the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was soon to give birth, and the pains and suffering of childbirth made her cry out. There was a huge red dragon………..He stood in front of the woman in order to eat her child as soon as he was born. Then she gave birth to a son, who will rule over all nations with an iron rod. But the child was snatched away and taken to God and his throne. The woman fled to the desert, to a place God had prepared for her……’’. Obviously, the woman was Mary and her son was Jesus. No further proof is needed for the veracity of the Assumption of The Blessed Virgin Mary.