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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Assumption

- The Assumption by Charles Le Brun

Coming up is the day when the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated (Saturday). I don't really know a lot about it, so looked it up - lots of interesting stuff, like ....

- The House of the Virgin Mary near Ephesus, in modern-day Turkey, where some believe Mary lived with the apostle John until her Assumption if you're Catholic or her Dormition if you're Orthodox ...

- and Mary's Tomb near Gethsemane garden, where many Eastern Christians believe Mary was buried after her death (Dormition of the Theotokos).

Here's a bit on the difference between the Assumption and the Dormition of Mary from Wikipedia ....

The Orthodox Church teaches that Mary died a natural death, like any human being; that her soul was received by Christ upon death; and that her body was resurrected on the third day after her repose, at which time she was taken up, bodily only, into heaven. Her tomb was found empty on the third day.

Roman Catholic teaching holds that Mary was "assumed" into heaven in bodily form. Some Catholics agree with the Orthodox that this happened after Mary's death, while some hold that she did not experience death. Pope Pius XII, in his Apostolic constitution, Munificentissimus Deus (1950), which dogmatically defined the Assumption, appears to have left open the question of whether or not Mary actually underwent death in connection with her departure, but alludes to the fact of her death at least five times.

Apparently it's against the law to not believe in the Assumption :) but I don't really find the idea convincing, still, whether her assumption happened or not, devotion to Mary has produced some beautiful art, architecture, and music ......

- Salve Regina by Gen Verde of the Focolare Movement

- Santa Maria della Salute, Venice


Blogger PrickliestPear said...

The Assumption is one idea I never struggled with, because even though I went to Catholic schools from the first day of kindergarten to the last day of high school -- and attended Mass every Sunday during that time -- I don't remember ever hearing about it.

The first time I ever heard about it was in a Church history course when I was an undergrad. I was quite shocked to discover that it was one of only two "infallibly proclaimed" dogmas, and was equally shocked to discover that it was "infallibly proclaimed" as recently as 1950, by which time, frankly, the pope really should have known better.

I agree with you about the art, though.

6:46 AM  
Blogger Liam said...

I don't have a huge problem with the Assumption per se, though I do with the doctrine of infallibility.

Mary's cool, though. And yes, beautiful art.

9:12 AM  
Blogger crystal said...


Mary's assumption was one of the first things I noticed in RCIA class, not because they mentioned it, but because my church is Our Lady of the Assumption :)

It does seem odd that the only two infallibly proclaimed doctrines aren't about God or Jesus but Mary.

11:22 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Liam,

Yes, great art.

Assumption is such an interesting idea .... the floating up into the sky like a helium balloon, as James Alison once wrote about Jesus' assumption :)

11:27 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

I always heard the word Assumption (in a religious context) but didn't know what it meant. Thanks, Crystal. Those two buildings (connected to Mary) are beautiful.

How long did Joseph live, BTW?

11:48 AM  
Blogger Liam said...

I think there are two reasons that the two infallibly proclaimed dogmas are about Mary. One is that many of the questions about the nature of God,Jesus, and the Trinity were fought about and decided on a long time ago, at the first great ecumenical councils. The other is that the infallibility doctrine (imho) and the council it was promulgated (Vatican I) were product of a defensive attitude concerning the church's position in the modern world. Since Marian devotion is particularly Catholic (and regularly criticized by Protestants), proclaiming Marian dogmas is a way to assert a particularly Catholic identity.

11:56 AM  
Blogger Liam said...

Susan -- since Joseph's last appearance in the Bible is at the finding of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the temple, it is usually assumed he died before the time Jesus began his ministry. That's why he's often portrayed as an older man in paintings of the nativity and the Holy Family.

11:58 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Susan,

See what Liam wrote about Jospeh.

Liam - thanks for the info about the infallibility and Joseph :)

12:48 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

Thanks, Liam. I didn't know that. And thank you, too, for commenting on my sky picture.

2:13 PM  
Blogger victor said...

crystal, I must confess my ignorance by saying that I still have never memorized when "The Assumption of Our Lady" is celebrated. If you had not mentioned "IT" in this post that "IT" is celebrated on Saturday, I would only remember that "IT" is a Summer celebration.

Having said that! Did I ever tell you about the day that my wife and I were going to church on a beautiful morning from camp and we started to see a bunch of birds in farmers fields for miles. To make a long story short, my wife and I agreed that there must have been over five thousand of them.

To make another long story short, we learned at mass that "IT" was "The Day of Our Ladies Assuption".

Although I must honestly say that "IT" still did not faze me to remember this day, I have asked "MY LORD JESUS" in prayer what "IT" all meant and in thought, He seems to have told me that "IT" was a gift given to help out my future and pass as a spiritual present given for my cells who will need to take their journey for Eternity. Go Figure!

God Bless,


8:18 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

That sounds like a beautiful spiritual present.

9:07 PM  

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