Thursday, August 14, 2008

Mary had a little Lamb...


And wherever that little Lamb went, Mary was sure to go.

Or so it is in the faith of all Catholic and Orthodox Christians. We disagree on what to call tomorrow's feast - Dormition ("Falling Asleep") or Assumption ("the Taking Up") - and the rather precise (or imprecise, depending on how you look at it) Catholic formulation of the doctrine (see here) allows for the possibility that Mary didn't actually experience death as such - but we do agree that Mary's body did not experience the corruption of the grave, and that she is now body and soul in heaven with the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, her Son. (See this good Wikipedia article for more info).

In other words, she has followed where he has gone. As indeed we all shall at the resurrection on the last day.

Now, Pastor Weedon has a beautiful meditation for the "Dormition" on his blog, well worth reading and meditating upon.

But his meditation ends with the words:
My Son, I am not afraid. I go to you, to you who have conquered death, to you who are the Forgiveness of all sins. Receive me, child. Receive me.
My question to Pastor Weedon is: In what sense has Mary "gone" to her Son?

25 Comments:

At Thursday, August 14, 2008 12:15:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...

David,

Thank you for the kind words and mention. For me it suffices that she is with her Son. I do not deny He may have raised her bodily; He certainly could have. But as Scripture is silent on this, I think it behooves us to be also. In the old Lutheran calendar, though, the 15th was called Himmelfahrts Maria.

 
At Thursday, August 14, 2008 1:46:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Yes, indeed, I know that the first Lutherans did not reject this festival. Which makes me wonder if this "its not in Scripture" thing can be taken too far. I mean, can we expect to find in Scripture mentions of events that happened after the scriptural books were written? Or in which scripture would we expect to find such a mention? Paul's letters were (I think) all written before the end of Mary's life (and he says hardly anything about her anyway - and is never included among the list of those who were present at the end of her life). Strangely, I think we do find a reference to Mary being body and soul in heaven in the one place in Scripture in which we could expect it: a late book, written by the apostle John. Of course, I am referring to Revelation 12.

I personally have always been compelled to accept the historical truth of this ancient and universally held tradition on the same basic basis that I accept the historicity of the resurrection: there is "no body" in the tomb.

But of course, the bigger question is what we actually mean when we say "with the Lord". And that is too big a question to discuss at this point!

 
At Thursday, August 14, 2008 1:54:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...

The point that there are no relics of the Theotokos is certainly most weighty. But the difficulties of the two traditions being reconciled (death at Jerusalem; death at Ephesus) is also problematic. We can rejoice that she is "with the Lord" and maybe more so than all the saints. And we can rejoice in her intercessions for the Church. So much is "catholic" heritage that Lutherans and Roman Christians joyfully share together. If we can't say together Ora pro nobis, we CAN affirm together orat pro nobis.

 
At Thursday, August 14, 2008 4:44:00 pm , Anonymous Clara said...

A friend of mine who is an orthodox priest, pointed out the theological questions raised (unintended pun) if the Theotokos did not experience death and her Son DID undergo the experience. What does this say about their relationship? My orthodox friend has no problem with Mary being 'raised' immediately - hence no relics, but argues that death must have taken place otherwise Mary becomes superior to the second person of the Blessed Trinity. Worth pondering . . .

 
At Thursday, August 14, 2008 9:29:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Yes, I must say that as a Catholic I rejoice in the freedom to weigh the various traditions for myself - with the firm assurance that Mary is now risen body and soul in heaven with her risen Son - a sign of our hope to come.

Something just occured to me this afternoon though, which ought to be a challenge to Pastor Weedon. He is confident that Our Lady is "with the Lord" and that she does pray for us. Yet neither of these things are affirmed or even mentioned in Scripture. On what grounds does he have such confidence?

I would say that his confidence is on exactly the same grounds as our confidence that Mary is body and soul in heaven. The theological problems that would be raised by the non-assumption of Mary are trifling compared to those that would be raised if Mary in fact were not among the redeemed! In other words, the conclusion that Mary is among the saints in blessedness is a theological conclusion - it is not based upon scripture in any sense whatsoever. I challenge Pastor Weedon and all protestants who hesitate to affirm the solid tradition of Mary's bodily Assumption on the basis of lack of scriptural proof, how it is that they can still affirm that her soul (at least) is among the saints in heaven when there is no explicit scriptural proof for this either.

Stands to reason, it seems, that if one can affirm that her soul is in heaven without explicity scriptural evidence, the lack of scriptural evidence should not, in itself, be an impediment to affirming that her body is there also.

The only difference therefore is that Catholic tradition, reflecting more deeply upon the implications of Mary's part in the incarnation and redemption of the world, has concluded that the ancient tradition of her assumption is not only fitting and right, but true in both theological and historical senses.

 
At Thursday, August 14, 2008 10:48:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

David,

Our Lady could never have prophesied "all generations shall call me blessed" if she were not to be saved - for even if she had been Mother of God, yet not at life's end found numbered among the redeemed, then it would be untrue to call her blessed.

We have, in the Magnificat, the witness of the Holy Spirit that she was predestined to glory.

 
At Thursday, August 14, 2008 10:52:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...

Joshua,

That's exactly what I wrote to David on MY blog! Spooky. :)

 
At Thursday, August 14, 2008 11:06:00 pm , Anonymous Christine said...

Indeed Pastor Weedon's meditation is very, very beautiful.

David's comments on Scripture and Tradition are well stated.

To take it one point further, I have always pondered whether our Lord, after His Resurrection, appeared first to His blessed Mother. True, Scripture makes no mention of it -- but perhaps the joy of that reunion was simply so great and tender that a veil has been drawn over it. Yes, Mary had a little Lamb --

Thanks also to Pastor Weedon for mentioning the Feast of Maria Himmelfahrt, so dear to Bavarian Catholics (and Old Lutherans!).

Blessed Feast of the Dormition to our Lutheran and Orthodox brothers and sisters.

 
At Thursday, August 14, 2008 11:10:00 pm , Anonymous Christine said...

It is also noteworthy to consider that Christ ascended into heaven while Mary was assumed, i.e., not by her own power but by His.

And then there's that little matter of the assumption of Elijah --

 
At Friday, August 15, 2008 12:58:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...

Ah, but Elijah and Enoch are both in the terrestrial paradise, not in heaven, having been translated from this earth in the days before Christ opened the gates of heaven; and they await their summons to come forth as the two witnesses who shall preach Christ unto the scoffing multitudes in the last days, as the Apocalypse of St John reveals.

 
At Friday, August 15, 2008 1:52:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

Joshua, good clarification!!

 
At Friday, August 15, 2008 2:05:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...

David - and PW - you've together inspired me to say a little on this great feast:

http://psallitesapienter.blogspot.com/2008/08/who-is-she-ascends-so-high.html

I note that the Orthodox very nicely call this great solemnity the Pascha of the Theotokos: for indeed it is her passing over, in Christ the true Passover, from death to life in Him.

Let me know if you know and like the hymns I link to!

 
At Friday, August 15, 2008 2:14:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...

Oh, and as to the theologoumenon as to whether Our Risen Lord appeared first to His Mother: since the angels said, "He is not here, He is Risen," where then was He? Pious belief holds that He went first upon arising to joy and comfort His Sorrowful Mother, that from the Mater Dolorosa she might be transformed, by this confirmation of her unwavering faith, into the Virgin joy-filled at Easter. This seems to me eminently reasonable: she alone had not fled like the Apostles, but, unlike the women, she went not to the tomb bearing spices, for she knew her Son would soon rise from the dead. It would seem churlish if Our Lord did not magnificently confirm her faith in Him at his Resurrection.

 
At Friday, August 15, 2008 2:20:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joshua, that's beautiful! I had heard similar views when I first became Catholic (and also discovered my birthday falls on the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows).

 
At Friday, August 15, 2008 2:35:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

Anonymous was me.

 
At Friday, August 15, 2008 10:13:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

Re the scriptural basis for Mary being among the saved, I must clarify that this is not something I doubt in any sense, I was just doing a little "thought game". The "prophecy" in the Magnificat ("all generations shall call me blessed") is, strictly speaking (taking the words very literally), only a prophecy of what people will say of Mary, not of her actual eternal destiny. Now, I am arguing like a fool here (as St Paul says), but I do it to make the point that to use the Magnificat as proof that Mary is among the saved IS legitimate, but we have to recognise that what we are doing is making a theological conclusion on the basis of scripture. AND, my point is, that that is exactly what we do with regard to the doctrine of the Assumption. I agree that it is not LITERALLY in the Scriptures, but there is enough scripture (including the Magnificat "prophecy" and the Revelation passages about the Ark and the Woman in heaven) to make a theological conclusion. The question is what counts as "scriptural" basis or proof. My point is that the protestants accept many truths that are not explicitly in scripture through theological extrapolations from scripture. The doctrine of the Assumption is just such a doctrine - with the distinction that it is also backed up by ancient tradition which preserves what historically happened.

 
At Friday, August 15, 2008 7:44:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

David,

Since I'm still off-colour, I won't be at the Missa Cantata at the Pro. tonight, but I did have the chance to get to a large ordinary-form Mass earlier today, and was favourably impressed by the *lack* of singing - don't get me wrong, I love singing, but, given Australian Catholics and their resistance to singing, the decision that had been made (to have a soloist sing a Marian hymn at the start, have instrumental music at Offertory and Communion, and otherwise to speak all the parts, allowing time for silent pauses as well) worked, so to speak, very well, and the congregation was notably recollected. (The Mass was done with some solemnity, with incense and candles, with a deacon as well as a priest, etc., and with a good sermon.)

So, what did you encounter at Mass today? And what hymns did you sing, and what would you have chosen if you had been able?

 
At Saturday, August 16, 2008 7:14:00 am , Anonymous Lucian the trouble-maker said...

Herr Schuetz,

I thought You knew us dirty little good for nothin' lo life stubborn hard necked dastardly evil Eastern Schismatics better than to simply ``assume`` (no pun intended) that we'll NOT kick Your sorry lil' S. just 'cuz You happen to be 99.99% right. Heck, We'll be breathin' down Your neck so fast for every single little jot and tittle You miss, and make You pay so hard for it You won't even know what it was that hit'ya: You can bet & stake Your life on that!

>:) Nya-ha-ha!

 
At Saturday, August 16, 2008 11:32:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...

Yes, the Orthodox [and the Trad. Catholic too, I may add] do sometimes seem uncomfortably like the Pharisee praying in the Temple, looking down his long nose at the Publican...

"O Lord, Thou knowest I adhere to the pure doctrine of the Seven Œcumenical Councils; I fast in Great Lent and all the other lents; I sing three Akathists every day; and most of all I am glad I am not a Roman Catholic..."

Prelest.

 
At Saturday, August 16, 2008 6:48:00 pm , Anonymous Lucian said...

Josh,

I'm disgusted by the way Roman Catholics handle Tradition. The fact that they "feel free" to say whatever the heck they so desire about things which Tradition has sanctioned for 2,000 yrs is simply debilitating.

[Possible Protestant Pastors reading the above should be careful not to feel *too* good over the above statement; otheriwse they'll be merely fulfilling the prophetical proverb which says that "a sherd laughs at a broken pot"]. >:)

If Rome were to believe the Sixth Ecumenical Council, it will not permit Augustinian belief in Predestination, which it very much does, since it's integral part of Thomistic Scholasticsm.

But why do I argue about the Sixth, since its inherent Monism (whether extant in the concept of Pope or in the doctrine of the Filioque) contradicts even Niceea. (Not to mention the historically-continuous and internally-consistent teachings of all the greatest Eastern Fathers that ever lived).

They did like however the Eastern idea of Monarchism (though they aren't quite found of applying it to the Father Himself) ... which Papal Monarchism (Pope as single-source) makes them ordain their bishops in a rather non-Apostolic fashion. (They seemingly don't quite understand that neither the Eleven, nor the Seventy, nor the Presbyters and Bishops, ever got their ordination from Peter, but from the same Christ that blew the Holy Spirit upon them and said "take the Holy Ghost").

[The reason that I gave You the above paragraph is to show You how exactly a sqewed theology becomes in its turn a new practice]. ("antiquity", was it?). >:)

Not to mention their censorship(?) of ancient-old Church Feasts, such as the Conception of St. John the Baptist [September 24 in ancient Brittish calendars, for instance] (one of the reasons they think Mary had an Immaculate Conception is because *hers* is celebrated liturgically, which in their mind would've been impossbile since people are born with original sin).

The problem lies not with Orthodox since they do not "pretend" to do as such: they truly do it. And neither are we trying to immitate Rome. (What exactly gave You THAT idea?). :-\

Rather the problem is with the likes of Lutheran Pastors (which shan't be named) who write entire kilometrical posts regarding how the [probably proto-Protestant] Fathers lived by and believed in Sola Scriptura; and with Catholic apologists trying to show us how much the same Fathers were either proto-Papists or first-Filioquists (AND confessed to the Immaculate Conception as well). :-)

"See, we *CAN* believe in the *Dormition* also? We *MAY* fast on *Wednesdays* [and not Saturdays] also". We *MIGHT* sometimes say the Creed *without* the Filioque also. And some of us even *USE* the *Eastern* rite!" :-)

Wow! Simply wow! :-\ (Sheesh!).

 
At Saturday, August 16, 2008 10:49:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

What on earth are you going on about?

 
At Saturday, August 16, 2008 11:51:00 pm , Anonymous Lucian said...

About Roman-Catholic & Protestant self-deception.

 
At Sunday, August 17, 2008 10:18:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...

Thanks, it helps confirm my view of apt-to-disparage-others Orthodox as lacking in charity and smug with pride. Was this your objective?

And you would have to explain yourself at far greater length for your criticisms to be understandable: I simply don't get it, and for that matter don't like the tone.

I had assumed you were making some sort of joke in some obscure dialect, and when I shared mine, you seemed to have taken offence - ah, but how typical, for the absurdly prickly Orthodox, who love nothing better than to demonstrate how rabidly anti-Roman they are.

It is not pleasant.

 
At Sunday, August 17, 2008 10:20:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...

On second thoughts, forgive any harshness: I must be more polite myself. Of your charity, pray for me, a sinner.

 
At Monday, August 18, 2008 3:25:00 am , Anonymous Lucian said...

Josh,

lighten up! :-) My comment is indeed true, but it is meant to be read humorously, not humorlessly.

>;)

 

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