The Dogma of Glorious Assumption of Maria, Body and Soul into Heaven

Faith Issues by Rev. Fr. Oliver Onah

That every creation has its final end, and that it must embrace its end according to the Creator's design is a truth that needs no further qualification.

The history of the Blessed Virgin Maria does not present any exception to this law. While her privilege and title as the Virgin Mother of God is the foundation of all other privileges and titles she had, the mystery of her glorious Assumption into heaven is a coronation of all other privileges she had.

Like every other privilege of Maria, there is need to consider the intelligibility of this mystery in relation to her function as Mother and cooperatrice of her Incarnate Son of God for our salvation.

What is this dogma of glorious Assumption all about? On March 1, 1946, Pope Pius XII consulted the Bishops of the world on the definability of the dogma.

On this point, there was a singular consensus of the Catholic episcopacy and of the faithful in holding definable, as dogma of faith, a revealed truth of God, the corporeal Assumption into heaven of the Blessed Virgin Maria.

Thus, on November 1, 1950, Pope Pius XII in his Apostolic Constitution "Munificentissimus Deus" announced: "We pronounce, we declare and we define to be dogma by God revealed that: The Immaculate Mother of God always Virgin Maria, terminated the course of the earthly life was assumed to the celestial glory in soul and body".

This is the fourth and the last of all Marian dogmas and the fifth glorious mystery in the rosary of the Blessed Virgin Maria. This dogma presents a lot of difficulties.

Firstly, the fact that it is a mystery (unintelligible) directly omitted in the Scripture, offers an opportunity of debate on the truth content of the dogma.

Secondly, the analysis of the content statement of the dogma with the use of the expression, "terminated the course of the earthly life" presents yet another problem that needed some decongestion.

This is because the expression is chosen "appositively" to avoid making a pronouncement on the death of Maria. It affirms only that Maria has terminated the course of her earthly life.

Thirdly, we notice yet the problem of immediate glorification before the second coming of Christ (parousia) at the general resurrection of the dead and the universal judgment (cf 1 Cor 15), and the manner of this glorification.

Hence, since the statement of this dogma is not explicit on the death of Maria, how did Maria pass to the state of being glorious both in body and soul? Was She dead or not?

If she did not die, was her earthly body worthy of entering into heaven? The response is still "Questiones Disputate", an open question. Those who said yes that she died are classified as "mortalists" while those who said no are referred to as "immortalists".

Fourthly, another look at the expression of the dogma, "Assumed to the Celestial Glory in soul and body" needs further clarification. This is because, in Acts 1:2; 1:11, it reads that Jesus Christ "was assumed into heaven".

It tries to insinuate a parallelism between the glorification of Jesus Christ and that of his Mother Maria. But on the other hand, we usually say: ascension of Jesus Christ and the Assumption of Maria.

The difference here is that with the term "assumption", it wills to indicate that the attitude of Maria in her glorification is all passivity. She was not in absolute control.

She was elevated by an 'Other', by a divine attraction. The term ascension used in the case of Christ wills to indicate that only Christ is ascended into heaven by his proper virtue.

It is the thrust of this work to throw more light on this controverted dogma of the Church and see what lessons it has for me and you on our pilgrimage to heaven.


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