“Why do you Catholics believe Mary ascended into heaven?”

by Steve Ray on August 15, 2013

Nice article from LifeTeen:

About twelve years ago a teen named Billy asked me this question, “Why do you Catholics believe that Mary ascended into heaven, when it’s not even in the Bible?”

He said “you Catholics” because he went to a local Bible Church but had been coming to a Life Teen Summer Bible Study with some of his Catholic friends.

“Well, first . . . ” I replied, “Mary did not ascend into heaven; the Blessed Virgin Mary was assumed into heaven. Jesus ascended by His own power. Mary was taken up into heaven by God.” That little difference is a big difference, so I wanted to be sure he understood it.

Billy then replied, “Okay, fine . . . but it’s still not in the Bible. The Church made it up.”

This is where the conversation got really interesting.

DID MARY DIE?
Maybe Mary didn’t die. Maybe she’s living in Brazil . . . next door to Elvis. Some people point to the fact that only Elijah and Enoch are mentioned as being carried off to heaven in Scripture, and since Mary is not, then “it must not be true.”

Have you ever noticed that although the Acts of the Apostles is an incredibly detailed accurate account of Sts. Peter and Paul, we do not read of their deaths on the pages of Scripture? Everything we know of their deaths comes from early oral tradition. In fact, the Bible doesn’t say what happened to most of the disciples. The Bible is silent in this area. Many Evangelicals accept the witness of Church history that Saint Peter was crucified upside-down in Rome, that Paul was beheaded, etc. — even though Scripture does not record these events.

We know, from oral tradition, that Mary was taken into the care of St. John (the writer of the fourth gospel and the Book of Revelation) and went to live with him in Ephesus (where he was a Bishop). We know that she was sought out for her counsel and wisdom and that she was exalted and honored throughout the community. Early Church Tradition upholds these facts as true, as do historic and non-canonical writings.

What is different, though, is that we know where the bones of Sts. Peter and Paul and other disciples like Mary Magdalene are because the early Christians took care of them. There is no record of where the bones of Mary are. It seems a little odd that if there had been a body no one would have given her a proper burial or that her tomb would not have become a landmark, does it not?

HOW DO WE KNOW MARY IS IN HEAVEN?
Well, if the woman who God specifically chose to bring His Son into the world and raise Him is not in heaven . . . none of us have a shot.

Seriously, though, is there Scriptural backing for this teaching about the Assumption? Absolutely!

While it does not explicitly state, “Mary assumed into heaven” in the Bible, stop and take a look at the verses from Revelation, written by John, of visions that were seen:

“Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder, an earthquake, and a violent hailstorm. 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… Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed . . .” – Revelation 11:19, 12:1-6, 10

This revelation is referring to Mary in heaven. Mary is often referred to as the new “Ark of the Covenant.”

Indiana Jones went searching for the Ark of the Old Covenant which contained the Ten Commandments (Law), a pot of manna (heavenly bread) and the staff of Aaron (symbol of Priesthood). You can read about the Ark – but not Indiana Jones – in Hebrews 9:4. The Ark was kept free from all defect and corruption, made from the finest most pure materials to God’s exact specifications.

As the Ark of the New Covenant, Mary carried Christ who is the Law, the Bread of Life, and the Royal High Priest. Her Immaculate Conception and her state as ever-Virgin kept her free from defect and sin, preserving her throughout her life, until her death where she was immediately assumed to preserve her from any bodily corruption on earth. Notice, too, in this passage from Revelation that we see the Ark (which is missing on earth) in heaven immediately preceding our vision of this woman crowned in stars and holding a baby.

Don’t forget – to whom did God give this vision (Revelation)? He imparted it to St. John, the one who was entrusted with caring for Our Mother, Mary (John 19:25-27) for the remainder of her days on earth prior to her assumption.

In 1950, Pope Pius XII defined the doctrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the universal Church. The teaching was not new – only now formally clarified. He affirmed that at the end of her time on earth, Mary experienced immediately the resurrection of the body that is promised to all faithful followers of Jesus.

Basically, since Mary was preserved from original sin by the unique gift of Christ’s grace, she was able to experience the immediate perfect union with her Son in heaven, never knowing, tasting or suffering from bodily corruption or decay (due to death) in any way.

Remember, as Christians we believe in the Resurrection of the Body. As the Papal encyclical Lumen Gentium (68) asserts, Mary’s assumption and heavenly presence preceded and foreshadows our own future glory (1 Corinthians 15). You might want to check out how the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains it, too (CCC 966).

One of the things that sets us apart as Catholics from other Christian denominations is that we have a rich understanding of Mary and a tradition of giving her the honor she deserves. She can teach us a lot through her example of virtue and her special role within the Church. Pray with Mary and she will lead you into a far deeper relationship with Her Son than you could ever achieve by your own direction.

I’m reminded of that conversation with the teen every year around this Feast Day, only I no longer call that teen, Billy, my friend . . . now I also call him, Father Bill. He went looking for Mary and found her . . . in the Catholic Church.

Hail Mary!

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Erick Ybarra August 16, 2013 at 10:22 PM

But was the assumption of Mary part of sacred tradition? If so, why is it that early Christians did not know about it? The Emperor at the Council of Chalcedon requested the relics of Mary. Why would he request them if it was widely known that she was assumed into heaven?

Loren T. August 16, 2013 at 11:18 PM

Thank you Steve. Your answer to Fr. Bill got my eyes watery. Loving Mary humbly and obediently shall be my penance now. God bless your apostolate.

TheresaEH August 17, 2013 at 3:18 AM

I LUV stories with happy ending!

Andy P. August 17, 2013 at 12:21 PM

Erick Ybarra

A relics doesn’t have to a part of the persons body. There are different classes of relics. 1st class relics would mean a body part for example a bone or even say hair found in a favorite brush that the saint used. 2nd class relic could be owned by a saint clothing or an object closely related to the saint.

Hill Torres August 19, 2013 at 8:08 AM

Erick Ybarra

Regarding the Council of Chalcedon. Please read the following:

St. John Damascene, a Church Father, relates an interesting historical fact in this regard:
St. Juvenal, Bishop of Jerusalem, at the Council of Chalcedon (451), made known to the Emperor Marcian and Pulcheria, who wished to possess the body of the Mother of God, that Mary died in the presence of all the Apostles, but that her tomb, when opened upon the request of St. Thomas, was found empty; wherefrom the Apostles concluded that the body was taken up to heaven.

I hope this helps!

Loren Uthoff August 30, 2013 at 5:09 PM

If Mary, the mother of Jesus, was such an important part of Christ’s ministry, why isn’t more written about her life and testimony in the Holy Bible?

STEVE RAY HERE: THERE IS A LOT WRITTEN ABOUT MARY! HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF TYPOLOGY? PEOPLE MISS IT BECAUSE YOU READ THE BIBLE WITH BLIND EYES AND THRU THE LENS OF PROTESTANTISM. READ MY ARTICLES ABOUT MARY, ESPECIALLY THE ONE ON MARY, ARK OF THE NEW COVENANT.

I October 3, 2013 at 3:25 PM

This teaching/believe didn’t come about until pope Pius xII made it up.

STEVE RAY: Prove it if you can! You can’t! Stop being fooled by Protestant propogandists.

Michelle Garcia December 14, 2013 at 1:23 AM

Hi,
I’m still having trouble understanding some of this. So I just wanted to ask…
So basically we Catholics believe that Mary is assumed into heaven by God because we did not find her bones, thus indicating she did not die.

MY RESPONSE IS IN CAPITAL LETTER TO DISTINGUISH MY COMMENTS FROM YOUR QUESTIONS.

NO, WE BELIEVE IT BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT THE CHURCH INFALLIBLY TEACHES – THE SAME CHURCH THAT INFALLIBLY TAUGHT WHICH BOOKS BELONGED IN THE BIBLE AND THAT GOD IS A TRINITY.

And we believe this, because this information has been handed down through oral traditions.

NO, BECAUSE IT WAS TAUGHT FROM THE EARLIEST TIMES AND AUTHORITATIVELY TAUGHT BY THE CHURCH.

But how do we know that these oral traditions are inspired by the Holy Spirit? I believe in what is written in the bible because it was inspired by the Holy Spirit.

AND WHERE DID WE GET THE BIBLE? IT CAME FROM THE CHURCH. HOW DO WE KNOW IT IS INSPIRED SINCE THE NEW TESTAMENT MAKES NO SUCH CLAIMS FOR ITSELF? WE KNOW THE BIBLE IS INSPIRED BECAUSE THAT WAS AN INFALLIBLE DECLARATION OF THE CHURCH. WHAT CAME FIRST: THE BIBLE OR THE CHURCH? JESUS DID NOT LEAVE US A BOOK; RATHER, HE LEFT US 12 MEN, THE FIRST MAGISTERIUM AND THE HOLY SPIRIT GAVE US THE BOOK THROUGH THE CHURCH.

Also growing into a busy family, we didn’t have enough to go to Church as often as we used, since my parents work and by the time they get home, Church’s finished. So I don’t really have much of an understanding towards this.

IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO BEGIN LEARNING YOUR FAITH. I DID NOT BECOME A CATHOLIC UNTIL I WAS 39 AND I AM LEARNING AND LOVING MORE ALL THE TIME.

However I do keep asking my mom “Why do Catholics pray to Mary?”. All she answered was that she lets us become closer to God through her, and it’ll help us get our prayers answered. But then I thought “Didn’t the bible say that there is only 1 mediator between us and the Father? And that is Jesus?”

THIS IS A TYPICAL MISUNDERSTANDING OF “MEDIATOR.” I SUSPECT YOU ARE BEING INFLUENCED BY FUNDAMENTALISTS WHO ARE OPPOSED TO THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. IT IS ONLY THEM THAT PARROT SUCH TEACHINGS WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING. JESUS IS THE MEDIATOR OF A NEW COVENANT BETWEEN A HOLY GOD AND SINFUL MEN. ONLY CHRIST COULD DO THIS. BUT EVERY TIME WE PRAY FOR SOMEONE ELSE WE BECOME “MEDIATORS” – WE ARE IN THE MIDDLE. IF JESUS IS THE ONLY MEDIATOR IN THIS SENSE THEN WE SHOULD NEVER ASSUME TO PRAY FOR EACH OTHER.

MARY IS A MEDIATOR, THE SAINTS ARE MEDIATORS AND WE ARE MEDIATORS EVERY TIME WE PRAY FOR SOMEONE ELSE.

Also this has been pondering in my mind where you said “Pray with Mary and she will lead you into a far deeper relationship with Her Son than you could ever achieve by your own direction.”.
I’m just curious, if I wanted to have a deeper relationship with Jesus shouldn’t I go straight towards him?

IF YOU LOVE SOMEONE, YOU LOVE WHAT THEY LOVE. IF YOU WANT TO KNOW ME BETTER, THEN COME TO ME BUT ALSO GET O KNOW AND APPRECIATE MY WIFE AND FAMILY. IT IS NOT JESUS “OR” MARY AND THE SAINTS – RATHER IT IS “BOTH” JESUS AND MARY AND THE SAINTS. THIS IS A FAMILY. WHY MAKE UNNECESSARY DIVISIONS WHEN THEY ARE UNBIBLICAL AND UNWISE.

Instead of going through Mary to do so? After didn’t Jesus say ‘let the children come to me?”
I hope you find time to answer my questions :)

WE DON’T GO THROUGH MARY (AT LEAST EXCLUSIVELY). WE GO DIRECTLY TO THE LORD, BUT IN A FAMILY WE ALL LOVE AND GO TO ONE ANOTHER. WHEN WE PRAY FOR EACH OTHER WE DISPLAY THE FAMILY. IF WE ASK MARY (WHO IS ALIVE IN HEAVEN) TO PRAY WITH US OR FOR US WE ARE ONLY DOING WHAT WE DO IF YOU ASK ME TO PRAY FOR YOU.

I SUGGEST YOU READ THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON THESE MATTERS. ALSO CHECK OUT http://www.catholic.com/tracts/browse/Mary

GOD BLESS AND MERRY CHRISTMAS!

arieh solomon January 13, 2014 at 5:08 AM

Protestants and Jew don’t need Mary and saints to be sure that salvation and eternal bliss come G at catholics need to bow your heads to handcrafts, may God forgive you for know nothing about salvation.

STEVE RAY HERE.
Here’s another example of blatant ignorance about what the Catholic Church actually teaches. People like this parrot the things that they’ve heard from others and have no idea what the Catholic Church actually teaches. I allowed this comment so that people could see how foolish some people really are in their understanding of the Catholic faith.

Julie LaBrecque April 6, 2014 at 4:09 PM

Arieh: with all due respect, if the Jews would have recognized who Mary was, they would have known that Jesus was their Messiah. God promised the House of David that he would give them a sign: Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a SIGN: the young virgin, pregnant and about to bear a son, shall name him Emmaneul.” This sign, is also mentioned in Revelation 12:1 “A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun with the moon at 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”……

Marius May 23, 2014 at 3:20 AM

I am from what Catholics would term a Protestant type of Church, as we do hold the view that Jesus had brothers and we do not pay much attention to Mary (mother of Jesus) and the saints. Neither do we believe in purgatory. Even so we must guard against fighting amongst each other. These stated differences I submit is in the end irrelevant to our salvation, as we will be saved beacuase of our believe in Jesus – Joh 1:12. We should therefore not attach to much weight to these differences, because whether you believe Jesus had brothers or not is not relevant to us being safed. They are interesting to debate and we learn much from these debates. Let us not elevate these differences to the basis of our faith, beacuase they are not. Brothers and sisters in Christ please remember whether you are Catholic or Protestant, we Christians are part of the same body in Jesus – Eph 4:25. Lets live in the Love Jesus requires from us. Lets work for Christ’s kingdom by bearing fruits, and not fight about these and similar diffrences. In the end the essence of our faith is the same: Jesus son of God – Joh 3:16.

STEVE RAY HERE:
I have to disagree with you. The truth is the truth and error is error. The things that you now believe we’re not believed for the first 1500 years of the church. You are in error and that it’s not a good thing. Because of your mentality that you can create your own church with your own little theologies and that you do not will have to follow the Church Jesus founded, but you can create your own churches your own reality, that is why we have so much conflict and division within Christianity. Breaking away into your own little sects with your own little ideas is a scandal for Christianity. The world looks at us and says they don’t even know what to believe. These issues that you mentioned are important issues because they are sectarian and divisive. Of course Jesus is the central issue but what’s important to Jesus should be important to us.

Marius May 23, 2014 at 8:57 AM

Hi Steve thank you for your reply, and thank you for explaining your view points. As a Christian I want to learn as much of our Christ and his words as I can. I want to have a relationship with Jesus. I long to know his will for me and want to fulfill my roll in this world. I love Jesus with all my heart and my mind. I learn much debating these issues. I agree with you; there are too may denominations and churches, especialy as they essentially believe the same thing. We should not let secondary issues create division within Christianity. Hence my suggestion that it is time that Catholic Christians and Protestant Christians, in fact all Christian believers, irrespective of the name of their church, to start working together. After all we believe in the same God. There is no need to fight because we are in agreement on the main issues. Lets put the differences aside lead by example, bear fruits and minister to the world about the mesage of Jesus. Lets pray for the Holy spirit to lead us and do God’s will.

STEVE RAY HERE AGAIN:
Marius, you sound like a very good person. You have a good heart, a great love for God, and the desire to be in unity with all other Christians so that we can have a united front and give a good testimony to the world.

However, I think you’re also a little naïve (don’t mean that in an insulting way) about the state of Christianity and the history. There was only one church for the first thousand years. Nobody held to the ideas you hold too now. Catholics are not the ones who attack – they are usually sedate and reserved. I don’t think they are as aggressive as they should be sometimes to proclaim the truth. On the other hand, there are many in the Protestant sects who are very aggressive against Catholics. I know this because I’ve been in the Philippines, in India, and many other places where Protestants are attacking Catholics, discrediting them, and trying to get the Catholics to leave the Catholic Church.

I know this because I have spent a lot of time not only in United States but also in the Philippines, India, and other places in the world where this proselytizing is taking place.

The best solution of course, is for everybody to be back in one, holy, Catholic and apostolic church like they were for the first thousand years. That church happens to be the Catholic Church led by the shepherd that Jesus appointed and it was that church that determined the books that belonged in the Bible, the definition of the Trinity and the whole host of other matters that Protestants just take for granted.

I would invite you and all your friends to come back to the Catholic Church so that we can again start working towards a real unity and not just one of words.

In the meantime God bless you, I love you in the Lord Jesus, and I think you’re a great person.

gel-1@excite.com June 12, 2014 at 6:51 PM

there’s only one true church and it’s the Greek Orthodox Church.

STEVE RAY HERE: Oh my, and I thought it was the Bulgarian Orthodox Church :-)

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