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« SpiralFrog | Main | The Martyr's Dilemma »

August 31, 2006

Comments

Shane

I see a slight problem with number 4 insofar as that Mary does appear in Revelation 12, an interpretation going at least as far bakck as Epiphanius' Panarion. That being said, I do agree with this reason, albeit in a different way.

If Mary wasn't dead yet, writing about her would be very problematic if you intended anyone else to read you work. She was the mother of Jesus. She was most likely already popular enough as it was. If the gospels or the other New Testament writings included more advanced details about Mary, such as her Immaculate Conception, the prediction of her Assumption, etc., this could have caused incredible trouble for her. It would have led to her being flocked to by hundreds if not thousands, and worst of all could have endangered her life. Imagine how the Jewish authorities would have responded to the claim that the mother of Jesus, whom had already caused them such trouble, was without sin! Somebody would have tried to kill her, perhaps even legally according to the Mosaic law. This seems to me to be the primary reason that Mary is not mentioned much in the New Testament.

The mention in Revelation 12 is not necessarily problematic because of the various other polyvalent interpretations which it warrants.

tim

I don't think we can conclusively state that Mary died at all. This point has been debated by better minds than mine and the Church has not spoken definitively.

Barbara

I would agree with Shane. She was mentioned in Revelation, but not until chapter 12.

John saw what was most relevant first. His first task was to receive the messages for the 7 churches. Then he saw the throne of God, the book with the 7 seals, etc.

St. Gimp

I don't think we can conclusively state that Mary died at all.

Doesn't Munificentissimus Deus talk at length about Mary's death? For instance, "[The holy Fathers and Doctors of the Church] offered more profound explanations of its meaning and nature, bringing out into sharper light the fact that this feast shows, not only that the dead body of the Blessed Virgin Mary remained incorrupt, but that she gained a triumph out of death, her heavenly glorification after the example of her only begotten Son, Jesus Christ." It also quotes St. Francis de Sales, "What son would not bring his mother back to life and would not bring her into paradise after her death if he could?" It seems pretty definite to me, even if it was not included in the infallible section of the encyclical.

Ryan Sager

Maybe someone can help me with this question then - if Revelations Chapter 12 refers to Mary, than why does it talk about the pains of childbirth? I thought Mary would not suffer the pains of childbirth because it was a consequence of original sin?

Brother Cadfael

St. Gimp,

Pope John Paul II discussed the relatively recent speculation among theologians that Mary did not die (he notes that the thought was first raised in the 17th century) in this General Audience.

Barbara

In regards to Mary's suffering, she did suffer by way of a sword piercing her soul. The events in Rev. 12 don't have to be taken as a chronological sequence.

Brian John Schuettler

The understanding that Mary did not die is actually an ancient thought of the Eastern Church where the it is referred to as the Dormition. Also, the doctrinal assertion that Mary was conceived without original sin and "full of Grace" (kecharitomene) would also lead to the logical conclusion that Mary cannot have died because death is the "sting of sin."
Ergo, no sin...no death.

Brother Cadfael

Brian,

Actually, the doctrine of dormition does not exclude death, as the Byzantine Catholic Church in America makes clear inthis reflection on the Feast of the Dormition.

Brother Cadfael

Brian,

Also, in the above General Audience, Pope John Paul II disagreed with your "logical conclusion":

"It is true that in Revelation death is presented as a punishment for sin. However, the fact that the Church proclaims Mary free from original sin by a unique divine privilege does not lead to the conclusion that she also received physical immortality. The Mother is not superior to the Son who underwent death, giving it a new meaning and changing it into a means of salvation.

Brian John Schuettler

Yes, I understand that we are free to believe that Mary died or didn't die and I did not imply that the Church teaches definitively either one or the other. Also, I have great respect for JP2 and also respect his opinion in this regard. However, he was not speaking ex cathedra and so I am free to hold my own opinion in this matter, as do all Catholics. As far as I am concerned, it is more logically, in light of the Genesis account of the meaning of physical death being a direct result of original sin, to believe that Mary did not die in that sense. I am just one of a vast number of Christians who have accepted this down through the centuries.

Brian John Schuettler

As far as what JP2 has said in his audiences, he also said in one of his audiences that the proper translation of kecharitomene is "full of grace", not "highly favored" and yet there are Catholic versions of the New Testament that translate Luke's account of the Visitation as Mary being "highly favored". Papal audiences cannot or at least should not be used as primary sources to support doctrinal teaching.

Brother Cadfael

Brian,

It is the "down through the centuries" comment I take issue with. I have not studied the matter, but when John Paul II says, "this opinion was unknown until the 17th century, whereas a common tradition actually exists which sees Mary's death as her entry into heavenly glory," I tend to believe him. Think whatever you may of him, but he did not generally throw comments around like that lightly.

In contrast to that you have stated that Mary's death is an "ancient thought" based on the Eastern Church's teaching about the dormition.

I provided you evidence that the dormition does not exclude death (the Byzantine Catholic liturgy for the Feast of the Dormition states that Mary died in Jerusalem), and your response is that you are free to believe what "Christians have accepted down through the centuries."

Since you apparently disagree with the Holy Father on what Christians have accepted down through the centuries, it would be helpful if you back up your claim with some references.

Brother Cadfael

Brian,

As far as what JP2 has said in his audiences, he also said in one of his audiences that the proper translation of kecharitomene is "full of grace", not "highly favored" and yet there are Catholic versions of the New Testament that translate Luke's account of the Visitation as Mary being "highly favored". Papal audiences cannot or at least should not be used as primary sources to support doctrinal teaching.

Since we apparently cross-posted, it should be clear that my cite to Pope John Paul II's general audience was not primarily to support doctrinal teaching (even though I do not necessarily agree with your premise; papal audiences can be excellent primary sources of what the Vicar of Christ understands doctrinal teaching to be, and there is nothing about such audiences that precludes definitive teaching.)

I am not sure I understand your point with respect to "highly favored" and "full of grace." Are you concluding that one is opposed to the other, and that because he used one in a general audience he has somehow rejected the other? Bit of a stretch, it would seem to me, but perhaps you had another purpose in mind.


Brian John Schuettler

Brother Dadfael:
I wrote:
"I am just one of A VAST NUMBER OF Christians who have accepted this down through the centuries." I did not say ALL Christians, as you imply.
As far as His Holiness' comments there is no disagreement. I am one of the the vast number of Christians who accept a very old "tradition" of the Church.

Brother Cadfael

Brian,

What part of "unknown" is it that you are having trouble understanding?

Brian John Schuettler

No, I was not drawing a distinction, per se, between the translations. I was providing an example of JP2 using an audience to assert his preference for a particular translation over another without giving an offical teaching. The audiences are instructive but not authoritative. That is what I meant by not intended as a "primary" source...in the sense that you would then go to the Magisterial documents of the Church for authority. Papal audiences are not, as you know, Magisterial documents.

Brother Cadfael

Brian,

You said, I am just one of A VAST NUMBER OF Christians who have accepted this down through the centuries." I did not say ALL Christians, as you imply.

I hvae re-read your post and my post. I fail to see where mine implies all Christians, as you state, but that is really beside the point.

Just to be clear, my question is, what evidence do you have that a "vast number of Christians" have accepted "down through the centuries" the notion that Mary did not die"?

You can say that you don't disagree with the Holy Father's comments all you want, but you clearly disagree with him on this point. I am not saying you can't, but I would like to see the evidence, any evidence, that backs up your claim that this is an "ancient thought."

erick aguilar

if the virgin had not died(or taken up to heaven)yet- why would it matter?.
was not john's vision in the future?
i am curious to know this part of eschatology of the roman catholic church !.

Brother Cadfael

Brian,

Papal audiences are not, as you know, Magisterial documents.

The question is not so much what document a particular teaching is in, but to what extent the Pope is intending to engage his authority.

Brian John Schuettler

We are, as I realize by now, really arguing semantics. I am emphasizing the ancient tradition of the Dormition of Mary (The Falling Asleep) and by doing so I have not articulated the subtlity of this as being not a true physical death. But the word death is definitely used by most of the Church Fathers who wrote of the Dormition. My artless use of language obviously caused confusion and for this I apologize.

Brian John Schuettler

"The question is not so much what document a particular teaching is in, but to what extent the Pope is intending to engage his authority."

Could you please give me examples of where a pope chose an audience to be the first place to engage his authority...Not a Council, not an Encyclical but a papal audience.

Brother Cadfael

Brian,

What do you mean by "first place to engage his authority"?

Even where you have the Magisterium infallibly teaching something, it is rarely (if ever) done in the first exercise of their authority on a particular topic.

Brother Cadfael

Erick,

was not john's vision in the future?
i am curious to know this part of eschatology of the roman catholic church !.

I am not an expert on the Book of Revelation, so forgive my ignorance, but what makes you state that John's vision was in the future?

John Henry

if Revelations Chapter 12 refers to Mary, than why does it talk about the pains of childbirth?

Assuming, for the sake of this reply, that Mary did not experience the pains of childbirth, this fact is nevertheless easily reconcilable with the text of Revelation 12. Specifically, the vision works on multiple levels, including at least Mary and the Church. Pope Bebedict makes reference to this in his recent homliy on the Feast of the Assumption:

"Of course, in comparison with the dragon, so heavily armed, this woman who is Mary, who is the Church, seems vulnerable or defenseless."

Given this, it is possible that the pains described in Revelation 12 refer not to Mary, but to the Church, in birth pains from giving birth to new sons of God (i.e., Christians).

St. Gimp

I am emphasizing the ancient tradition of the Dormition of Mary (The Falling Asleep) and by doing so I have not articulated the subtlity of this as being not a true physical death.

You realize that the phrase "fallen asleep" is just a metaphor for physical death, right? It's used this way multiple times in Scripture. I'm confused as to what else it could mean in regards to the Dormition ("Falling Asleep") of Mary. How do you interpret it?

Brian John Schuettler

Hi St. Gimp,
I interpret it in a literal sense as a deep coma-like trance immediately prior to the Assumption. I realize that it is commonly used metaphorically.

erick aguilar

..." i will shew thee things which MUST BE HEREAFTER..."4:1
"...for the great day of his wrath IS COME..."6:17
these as well as others i take to mean it's future..."the great day of his wrath " has definately not come yet( i don't think )- yet john saw it as already here.
by the way this is non- essential doctrine so i know views on this abound-i just never thought to ask what the roman catholic position is on eschatology....so GREAT POSTING !.

Cory

DISCLAIMER: I am a Protestant who doesn't believe in the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption, the perpetual virginity of Mary, nor do I believe she remained sinless.

That said, Revelation 12:2 specifically says "She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth." Labor pain is a punishment of those who have sinned (Gen 3:16). If your claim is that Mary was born free of sin and did not sin during her life, then saying Mary is the woman of Revelation 12 opens a serious hole in this argument.

The fact that the woman wears a crown of 12 stars (verse 1) seems to indicate that she represents Israel (12 tribes). This isn't only a Protestant viewpoint; I'm using a Catholic Bible right now and the footnote to Rev 12:1-6 says just that.

One last thing: Shane said that the New Testament writers didn't include Mary's Immaculate Conception, Assumption, etc. because they didn't want to endanger her life. Since Scripture preserves the deposit of faith most important to God, isn't a more logical explanation behind Mary's absense simply that God DOESN'T want her venerated?

While Jesus was still talking to the crowds, his mother and brothers were standing outside. They wanted to talk to him. Someone told him, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside. They want to talk to you."
He replied to the man speaking to him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?"
Pointing with his hand at his disciples, he said, "Look, here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does what my Father in heaven wants is my brother and sister and mother." (Mat 12:46-50)

Just some thoughts.

Jordan Potter

"Jerusalem (the Whore--'the great city, where also their Lord was crucified')."

This is an amalgamation of Rev. 11 with Rev. 17-18. In Rev. 11, the city of Jerusalem is named "Sodom" and "Egypt." But according to the Fathers of the Church, in Rev. 11-18, the pagan city of Rome, by extension the Roman Empire, is named "Babylon," the "Whore." But Revelation never identifies "the Whore" as "the great city, where also our Lord was crucified." The prophets often compared the unfaithful people of Israel or the sinful city of Jerusalem to a sexually-immoral, adulterous bride of God, so one could argue that Rev. 17-18 is about Jerusalem rather than Rome. However, the Great Whore exercises dominion over the peoples of the earth, something Jerusalem never did. There is also no indication in Revelation that "Babylon" had ever been God's spouse. So it seems like a real stretch to identify "Babylon" in Revelation as Jerusalem.

As for the question of whether or not the Temple was still standing at the time that Revelation was written, there is in fact statement in Revelation that the Temple was still standing. There is in Rev. 11 a vision in which St. John is told to measure the Holy City but to leave out the Temple court. Contrast "the Holy City" with the way Jerusalem is described later in Rev. 11 -- it could be that "the Holy City" of Rev. 11 is not Jerusalem, but the Church, the heavenly Jerusalem, the Mother of us all. The Temple in St. John's vision in Rev. 11 could be an allegory or a symbol of the Church rather than the physical structure that was destroyed in A.D. 70. If so, we couldn't affirm that the Book of Revelation refers to the Temple as still standing. It would be more accurate to say that the Book of Revelation does not mention or describe the destruction of the Temple. All in all, the case that Revelation predates A.D. 70 is not as strong as it may appear to be.

Jordan Potter

"there is in fact statement in Revelation that the Temple was still standing."

I left out a word. Make that, "there is in fact no statement in Revelation that the Temple was still standing."

Cory

I forgot to mention one thing...

The very notion that Mary's special place was left out of the Bible for safety reasons is at odds with passages such as Rom 10:14, 2Cor 3:12, and 4:3. In these passages, Paul talks about preaching the gospel boldly, and about only hiding it from people who are lost. If the Marian dogmas were intended to be part of our faith, it seems to me that the apostles would have written it and taught it as boldly as the rest of the gospel.

Further, since sin = death (Rom 6:23) and your claim is that Mary never sinned, then it seems to me that she would have no reason to fear becoming a martyr since she couldn't die.

Brother Cadfael

Cory,

I know this isn't a direct answer to your posts, but since you seem to be curious about Mary's special place in the Bible, I thought it was worth a mention.

The mysteries of the Trinity and the Incarnation are the central mysteries of our Christian faith. Now we all know that the Trinity is not mentioned as such in Scripture (an interesting point, given your insistence that the Bible clearly articulate Church teaching on Mary), but let's look at Mary's relationship with the Trinity in Scripture. She was chosen by the Father to give birth to the Son through the overpowering of the Holy Spirit. An absolutely unique, special place, in Scripture.

But let's move on to the Incarnation and Christ's Passion, Death and Resurrection. What in all of Scripture is more awesome than God becoming man? Where is Mary, in Scripture, when God first makes it known to Man? Where is Mary, in Scripture, when Christ was born? What mystery of our faith is there to compare to the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ? Where is Mary, , when Christ was crucified?

Mary's "special place" in the Bible was with Christ, as it should be.

bill912

Let's see:

Sin=Death

Jesus died

Ergo, Jesus must have been...

You really want to go there?

erick aguilar

jordan-"...so one could argue that rev 17-18 is about jerusalem rather than rome..."- actually no. your statement that " the great city, where also our lord was cricified" is an interpolation of two different passages and two different cities.
rev 11:8..." where our lord was crucified " was called sodom and egypt in perfect accord to jerusalem and what scripture has called it before.
but on the "...the great city..." that's from rev 12:18...another city altogether. this one is called a whore.
this one is also known as the city that sits on seven hills ! rev18:9 google it and you will find out which one is refering to. rome!.

Brian John Schuettler

Jesus is the second person of the Trinity come to Earth as a man. When Paul spoke of death being the sting of death he was referring to God's creatures, not God Himself who offered Himself as a Ransom for death.

Tim J.

"Look, here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does what my Father in heaven wants is my brother and sister and mother." (Mat 12:46-50)

Cory -

Are you really of the opinion that by that statement Jesus meant to disown or dishonor his mother? He was making a different point... that doing the will of God is more important even than family ties. He made this same point other places, as well.

"The very notion that Mary's special place was left out of the Bible for safety reasons is at odds with passages such as Rom 10:14, 2Cor 3:12"

I don't find the "safety" argument very compelling, either. I would think that the main reasons the Immaculate Conception isn't explicitly mentioned in the Bible are that

1)It wasn't known

2) It wasn't considered necessary to the preaching of the gospel. The gospels are very brief sketches, after all, and not theological treatises.

The only way to KNOW the state of a person's soul is by revelation. It's not like there is some external mark of sinlessness. She didn't have a sign arpound her neck. She likely would have been considered simply a pious woman by most who knew her. It was some time later, when the full implications of Christology began to be pondered by the whole Church, that her role was more clearly understood.

The Bible gives us "2+2" and the Magisterium works out "4". Of course, if one believes that all doctrines must be spelled out explicitly in scripture, then one may not accept the testimony of the Church, but in that case, why accept the testimony of the Church that the scriptures are the Word of God?

If you believe in the canon of scripture, you have already submitted the authoritative teaching of the Church on that issue.

St. Gimp

I interpret it in a literal sense as a deep coma-like trance immediately prior to the Assumption. I realize that it is commonly used metaphorically.

I think you're stretching the meaning of the word "literal." If I say it's raining cats and dogs outside, a literal interpretation is going to take into account that this is a figure of speech, and not assume that cats and dogs are actually falling from the sky (thus, literary forms). What other theologians propose this interpretation of the Dormition? I would honestly love to read a defense of this belief.

Cory

Brother Cadfael:

That is very interesting. Jesus' Incarnation IS spelled out in Scripture, Jesus' Asscention IS spelled out in Scripture, and Jesus' sinlessness IS spelled out in Scripture. I just figured that Mary's might be, too.

Tim:

No, that is not my position at all. I'm trying illustrate the Jesus didn't esteem his mother and brothers above anyone else in the crowd, not that He intended to dishonor them. He did not say, "Oh, My Mother is here, everyone clear the way for the Queen of Heaven!" He placed her on the same level as anyone in the crowd who submitted to the will of His Father.

I agree Mary would have been considered pious in her day, and should be followed as an example of submission to God's will. But that's it. I don't see that it is necessary to accord her a sinless nature, an exalted place in heaven, or teach that she was assumed body and soul into heaven.

Jesus Christ is our salvation. Adding dogmas like this dilute that message and create a temptation to worship Mary. I'm not saying that this is what takes place, just that the temptation is there. And this, we all can agree, would be a grave sin.

bill912

"...create a temptation to worship Mary"? Gee, I've never had that temptation, nor do I know of anyone who has. If you know "that the temptation is there", I'd like to see the evidence.

Ryan C

Hi Cory,

I think you're asking some good questions, but I also think there's a disconnect between what you think Queen of Heaven means and what it means for the Catholic. For the Catholic, Mary is Queen precisely because she was so humble in her life, and obedient to Jesus's calling - thus her statement at the Wedding at Cana: "do whatever she tells you."

When Christ says "blessed are they who hear God's word and do it" Mary is the exemplary case of this - Mary, who gave her fiat to Gabriel and "pondered these things in her heart." Thus any exaltation of Mary by Jesus in the way you suggest would have gone against who SHE is - and more importantly, who HE is. In sum, He who emptied himself for us had a mother who did the same for Him (thus why Catholics see in her the model for being a follower of Christ).

Fr. Neuhaus's book on the Last Seven Words of Christ discusses the issue of Mary's presence in Scripture in depth and might be worth looking at, as at looks at some of your questions.

You say adding dogmas takes away from the Gospel message. But I could easily argue that taking away the Marian dogmas does the same. As a converted Catholic I can say with all honesty that the Marian teachings have deepened my understanding of God and his call to holiness for us all.

Furthermore, you raise the issue of temptation to Mariolatry. But theological temptations in the early Church were mainly ones of denying some truth about the Incarnation. A correct understanding of Mariology (such as the Theotokos) shielded the radical Truth of the God becoming man through the centuries. In splitting apart truths the truths themselves become more open to misunderstanding.

Just some things to think about.

God bless.

Brother Cadfael

Cory,

Jesus' Incarnation IS spelled out in Scripture, Jesus' Asscention IS spelled out in Scripture, and Jesus' sinlessness IS spelled out in Scripture. I just figured that Mary's might be, too.

I would have figured that the Trinity would be spelled out clearer, and that Jesus would have spoken more clearly, rather than in those darn parables all the time. And that darn teaching on the bread of life, couldn't he have spelled that out more clearly, too?

I don't know why God chose to reveal things the way that He did. I know it's not the way I would have done it, and that's probably a good thing.

But to only look at Mary as an example of submissiveness is to deny the special place that God has given her in the central mysteries of our faith. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in what might happen if we do this or that that we fail to see what's been right in front of us the whole time. That was my experience when I finally began to understand what the Scripture says about Mary, what the first Christians said about her, what the earliest Church Fathers said about her, and what the Church has been teaching about her for 2000 years.

And not a single bit of it takes even the least iota from Christ. She wouldn't allow it.


Tim J.

"I don't see that it is necessary to accord her a sinless nature"

It isn't logically necessary, but a lot of things are not logically necessary that are none the less TRUE. Is it theologically necessary that Elijah be taken up to heaven in a flaming chariot? Or that John the Baptist be filled with the Holy Spirit from birth? Neither is necessary for the plan of salvation, yet there they are.

Mary's sinlessness is a gift to the whole Church. Thanks be to God, He does a LOT of things that are not necessary, like send His Son to die for the sins of the whole world.

Now, you may argue that people just ARE NOT sinless, and you would be right, except that God doesn't play by our rules. For that matter, people just ARE NOT whisked to heaven in flaming chariots or filled with the Holy Spirit from birth, either.

Lily

I'm scarcely a theologian, & I'm Methodist to boot, but I have always understood that Mary never died; she fell asleep, not in death, but in what must have appeared to be either (a) death, or (b) a coma. And that she was taken to Heaven after lapsing into this state, seems to be a logical conclusion (to ;-) me).

As far as anyone not being able to see her as the Queen of Heaven, this seems to me to involve an enormous disconnect between the understanding of the Queen Mother of the OLd Testamnet, & Mary as the mother of the King of kings & Lord of lords.
In other words, on this, the Catholic Church seems to me to be holding a Royal Flush, while those who would deny her said title, are left with a pair of deuces...
But hey, as usual, that's just me....

Brother Cadfael

Lily,

on this, the Catholic Church seems to me to be holding a Royal Flush, while those who would deny her said title, are left with a pair of deuces

I may have to use that one sometime, if you don't mind!

Ryan C

That's a good point Lily. Like with all Christian teachings, we need to look back to the OT to see how to understand them. And the role of the Queen Mother in the OT is a foreshadowing of Mary (for example, her role as intercessor at the Wedding of Cana). Edward Sri's book "Queen Mother: A Biblical Theology of Mary's Queenship," recommended to me by a friend, might be good here.

erick aguilar

tim j- "...the gospels are very brief sketches after all, and not theological treatises". are you sure about that?- they may be brief ( who knows?)- but not theological treatises?-
your quote above "...is it THEOLOGICALLY necessary that...john the baptist be filled with the holy spirit from birth?" - maybe you failed to notice you just used a gospel to make a theological statement which you obviously are not able to do!- so which is it?.
of course you may have been "speaking" feseciously, in which case then never mind.

Cory

I would LOVE to be whisked to heaven in a flaming chariot... that sounds really cool. :)

Now, I'm not backing down from my position that Mary was NOT sinless, NOT born free of original sin, and NOT assumed into heaven, but I do believe that these views deserve fair consideration. I plan to read the book mentioned "The Last Seven Words of Christ." I hope I haven't given everyone the impression that I don't faily consider every viewpoint. Thank you, Brother Cadfael, for giving me some very intersting points to ponder and pray over.

Bill912: You're very sarcastic and I like that. ;) I'm not responding to your answer to my sin = death line of thought, since you've realized exactly what I wanted you to realize (but treated it very differently). It is my humble opinion that the Marian dogmas may create the temptation to worship her--I never said I knew for a fact that people are tempted in this fashion. But, I would direct you the book "Fast Facts on False Teaching" by Ron Carlson and Ed Decker. On page 225, the claim is made that in the largest cathedral in Quito, Ecuador a crucifix with Mary hanging on it is over the altar, "shedding her blood for your sins. Mary, not Jesus!" If this claim is true (and I'm not saying that it is--lack of citations are always very suspicious to me), then some folks within the Church have submitted to this temptation you say isn't there.

Brother Cadfael

Erick,

Just a suggestion. This has nothing to do with substance, but sometimes your comments are very difficult to understand simply because of your random punctuation and grammar. Please don't take this the wrong way, but if you would make a little effort to clean that up, I think others would be more eager to step up and address the points you're trying to make.

I, for one, do not really understand the point you're making in your last comment addressed to Tim J.

Thanks

Brother Cadfael

Cory,

I would not expect you to back down from your positions that easily. Fair consideration is all that one can ask for.

As for the Quito Crucifix you referenced, this post from Catholic Answers addresses that false claim, towards the bottom.

Cory

Thank you for that link, by the way... It confirmed what I had suspected. It's very difficult to "consider the source" when none is given. :)

By chance, is that book you referred to earlier "Death on a Friday Afternoon" by Richard J. Neuhaus?

Brother Cadfael

Cory,

One more question. I assume that you would certainly agree that God could have, if He had wanted to, created Mary free of original sin, gratuitously given her (who is called "full of grace" by the angel) the grace necessary to remain sinless, and gratuitously assumed her bodily into heaven, correct?

Your position, I'm guessing, would not be that God couldn't do these things, but that you don't believe the evidence sufficiently demonstrates that He did do these things. Would that be right?

erick aguilar

very easy bro cadfael:
in an above posting, tim makes the assertion that the gospels are not theological treatises,(which i don't agree)-.
ok- now, on the posting below from that one from tim again, he makes a theological statement about john the baptist- using a gospel.
my question-....which is it?
are they theological treatises or not?.
that's all.

Brother Cadfael

Erick,

A treatise is, by definition, a systematic exposition. The Gospels are not systematic expositions. Logically, then, they are not treatises. Since they are not treatises, they cannot be theological treatises. But that does not mean that they are not theological. Or authoritative.

Cory

Correct, Brother Cadfael: "With God, all things are possible" (Mat 19:26).

If God chose to do things exactly as Rome teaches, then He certainly could have. I don't feel that Scripture teaches it that way.

I try, as much as possible, to fairly consider the views of others in light of Romans 14 (especially verse 4).

Lily

Brother Cadfael: Please use the comparison freely, with my blessing; it popped into my head as I was writing, & would consider it a compliment if someone were to use it!!

Ryan: Yes, I have found out in my own life, that years of neglect of the Old Testament left me with a considerable bewilderment as to what wa going on in the New; it was when I began to look at the Bible as a whole, instead of a lot of little disparate parts, that I began to find out how many riches I had missed. This was, of course, one of them....

Ryan C

Cory:

Yes, that's the book. Check out chapter 3, which looks at the words: "Woman, behold your son! Behold your mother!". Neuhaus addresses the concern about Mary's role in Scripture you bring up, even treating the most controversial passages.

Lily: I don't think you're alone in this. And historically how to view the OT has been a crux of theology. Incidentally, it wasn't till I became Catholic that I began to see certain connections that were always there (Moses crossing the Red Sea~baptism, Issac~Jesus) primarily through the Church's liturgy (specifically the lectionary readings).

Maureen

If people are interested on the early Church's take on Mary, I'm in the process of webbing an 1893 compilation of quotes from the Fathers on her. I'm done with the chapter on Jesus as the Second Adam and Mary as the Second Eve. I think it shows where the Church is coming from on a lot of Mary ideas. I've only just started the huge scriptural exegesis chapter after that, but it's all pretty amazing.

http://www.suburbanbanshee.net/MaryFathers/

Some Day

Perhaps it is because even though that Mary's glories are inumerable, so that even the Angels can count it, God's Glory is Infinite, and Infinity is well, Infinite. Nothing can shine brighter.
But I doubt that is the reason.
I can't think about it now. The newer posts have me super enthused.

Tim J.

"maybe you failed to notice you just used a gospel to make a theological statement"

No, I used information from the gospel to make a theological argument.

Mary

Labor pain is a punishment of those who have sinned (Gen 3:16). If your claim is that Mary was born free of sin and did not sin during her life, then saying Mary is the woman of Revelation 12 opens a serious hole in this argument.

Death is the punishment of those who have sinned. (Also from Genesis) Do you nevertheless claim that Jesus was born free of sin and did not sin during His life?

Some Day

Yup.
See Our Lord was free of the Original and particular sin. Yet He choose a sufferable body.( i dunno how to say in english, in spanish padeciente( I study theology more in Spanish and Portugese))
Therefore could die.

Ryan C

The image of the Woman in Revelation is not simply that of Mary bearing Jesus (an acceptable interpretation) but more so Mary being the mother of the Church. The Church was born at the cross - when the blood and water poured from Christ's side - and Mary was there, having a sword piece her heart as Simeon foretold. That's how she suffered.

Ryan C

Basically what I'm saying is that the Christmas and Passion stories are conflated in that one vision (in the reading I'm adopting).

Cory

Death is the punishment of those who have sinned. (Also from Genesis) Do you nevertheless claim that Jesus was born free of sin and did not sin during His life?

Straw man argument. The point of contention is not about the nature of Jesus, but the nature of Mary. Jesus' nature is well documented throughout the Bible. I don't have to prove anything about Jesus, nor is it relevant to the argument.

Show me the evidence as it pertains to Mary.

JohnHarold

It is not a straw-man argument. The issue is whether you're willing to apply the logic of your argument consistently, and it seems, you are not.

In any event, the issue in Revelation 12 is not death, but birth pangs. And we see elsewhere in the NT that the idea of "birth pangs" is used as a metaphor for forming disciples in Christ:

"My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you." Galatians 4:19 (NIV)

One might compare this usage with a similar, but somewhat different twist on the metaphor at Romans 8:22.

Now, returning to the woman of Revelation 12:1, we see that particularly in light of Revelation 12:17 - where the woman is described as the spiritual mother to those who follow the testimony of Jesus - the metaphorical, Galatians 4:19 understanding of "birth pangs" as arising from forming disciples in Christ makes perfect sense.

In turn, this metaphorical understanding of "birth pangs" harmonizes with the "sword" that would pierce Mary's soul "also," as prophesied by Simeon in Luke 2:35 -- this "sword" being understood as the spiritual suffering Mary underwent while at the foot of the Cross, and in particular, at the moment Christ's side was pierced.

Thus, contrary to your argument, the "birth pangs" of Revelation 12:2 pose no conflict with the Catholic understanding of a sinless Mary.

erick aguilar

sorry for the grammar!- but how can mary be the mother of both jesus and the church, while jesus is spoken of as the "husband" to the church?-(2cor11:2, eph5:24).

Brian John Schuettler

Sorry, St. Gimp, for the stretch of time for a response.....when I say I interpret it literally...I mean literally Dormition means to fall asleep. A literal interpretation of one word. That St. Paul and others used "falling asleep" as a metaphor for death is irrelevant for me. When the Church Fathers wrote of the death and martyrdom of saints they did not use the word dormition...but for they did for one person..Mary, the Theotokos.

Brother Cadfael

Cory,

The evidence for Mary's sinlessness will not be found in Scriptural prooftexts, although it will be found in a careful study of Scripture. In this regard, consider how doctrine develops in the first place. If one does not approach Scripture, and particularly the New Testament, with a somewhat mature concept of the Trinity, one might be surprised, at least initially, at the concept of Three Persons in One God. Most people, if left merely to their own reading of Scripture, would not develop the concept of the Trinity that we understand today. Doctrine develops throughout history from a considered study of the Word of God, as the Church strives to learn a little more about God and our relationship to, with, and in Him. As time goes on, we understand the Word of God more fully. I can now read Scripture with an understanding of the Trinity that first and second century Christians would not have had, even though they were hearing the same Scripture read at Mass every Sunday.

In the words of Hawking quoting Newton quoting someone else (or at least to paraphrase): "If we see a little further today it is because we stand on the shoulders of giants."

The doctrine about Mary is no different. The doctrine of Mary as Theotokos -- the Mother of God -- was meant in the first instance to tell us something about Christ, namely, that He is one Person with two Natures, one divine and one human. Affirmations of doctrine about Mary "help define the identity of Christ." (Pope John Paul II, General Audience, Sept 13, 1995).

That said, there are several jumping off points in Scripture if you want to understand Mary's sinlessness. Consider, for example, the angel's greetig to her, "kecharitomene," which means "full of grace" or "highly favored one." It has been suggested that even these interpretations do not pick up the nuance in Greek that would indicate that this "fullness" of grace is a unique gift from God that is perfect and lasting. Consider that the angel literally names her "full of grace" with all the implications that Semitic usage of names express.

If you are really interested in learning about this, I would highly recommend John Paul II's catechesis on Mary, Theotokos: Woman, Mother, Disciple. It is a series of 70 "general audiences" that John Paul II gave on Mary from September 1995 to November 1997. You can get any of the individual talks on line here at the Vatican website by clicking on the appropriate date.

From the Foreword to Theotokos: "His series of instructions about our Blessed Lady form an easy-to-follow course in Marian doctrine and devotion -- the theology of the holy Mother of God, what the Church believes about her, and how we are to respond to her as our spiritual Mother. Pope John Paul is a master teacher. Reaching back into Scriptures and early Christian authors, the Holy Father also reports on subsequent developments in teaching and practice about the Blessed Virgin."

If you just want to dig right in and see some of what he had to say about Mary's sinlessness, you might click on the above link and go to the audiences from May 8, 1996 through June 19, 1996 (realizing that you may have skipped some foundational materials in the earlier audiences).

Brother Cadfael

Regarding the link to Pope John Paul II's general audiences in my preceding post, I was not aware that some of the earlier ones in his reflections on Mary (some in 1995 and some in 1996) have not yet been translated on the website into English. Unfortunate. But the book is in English, and well worth the $12.95 price!

Brother Cadfael

Brian,

when I say I interpret it literally...I mean literally Dormition means to fall asleep. A literal interpretation of one word.

The dictionary I checked the other day contained two definitions for dormition: falling asleep; death.

I don't know what dictionary the Church Fathers were working from, but for the most part there seems to be little doubt that they thought Mary had died when they referred to her dormition.

I am not an expert on hermeneutics (I don't even know if I spelled it correctly), but if a word has more than one meaning, or variations on the same meaning, it seems to me you have to figure out which one the author intended in order to authentically get the "literal sense." Where a Church Father says "dormition," and also talk's about Mary's "death," it seems sloppy to pretend you are reading "dormition" in the "literal sense" to mean "not-death."

Ryan C

"but how can mary be the mother of both jesus and the church, while jesus is spoken of as the "husband" to the church?-(2cor11:2, eph5:24)."

Eric,

I don't see how this follows. If Mary is Jesus's mother, than when we are united to Jesus she becomes our mother (adoption is a theme of Scripture, and this is what happens at the Cross between Mary, Jesus, and John).

But there's a deeper problem with your analysis. Jesus is also called our Brother in the NT (Hebrews 2). We are adopted into his family, and have God the Father as Our Father. But how can Jesus both our Brother and our Spouse? The way to look at these things is to see them as metaphors pointing towards a deeper spiritual reality.

Maureen

Folks who believe in the Dormition (Mary dying, then being Assumed into heaven on the third day) believe she did so because she was so closely united to her Son in her discipleship and love that she imitated Him in death also.

Folks who think that Mary suffered birth pangs think much the same thing. Of course, if she didn't suffer birthpangs, I'm okay with that, too. Especially since Jesus may well have been Mary's Physician, as well as her Redeemer from the moment of her own conception.

Anyway... the point is that Mary, as the Proto-Christian, easily represents the Church and/or Zion. The Church, as Mary's daughter-in-law and adopted daughter in one, and bearer of God, equally easily represents Mary. And so on, and so forth. When you get into typology and mystical texts, meaning gets very slippery -- and the very fuzziness of the categories seems to be a lot of the point of mystical texts like Revelation.

St. Gimp

When the Church Fathers wrote of the death and martyrdom of saints they did not use the word dormition...

Maybe because the martyrs died violent deaths? It would be hard to apply the metaphor of "falling asleep" to one who was torn to shreds by lions. Not so of one who died in relative peace, like Mary. Eastern artwork has long depicted the Dormition with the figure of Christ holding Mary's soul outside her body, graphically showing her death.

I'm still interested in reading why you think that a coma or a trance is a better interpretation of this event than actual death. Are there any early sources for this opinion?

Brian John Schuettler

Maybe because the martyrs died violent deaths?

Where did you get the idea that the metaphor "falling asleep" was used exclusively for "peaceful death"? I thought it just meant death. Where did Jesus or Paul say it is limited to a type of death?

As far as sources, St. Gimp, I don't have any. My thoughts actually come from a meditation given by a French Jesuit priest named Joseph Ledit who was an authority on Mariology in the Eastern Church.

Brian John Schuettler

If a dictionary gives two meanings for a word that are not synonymous i.e. death/falling asleep, how do you reconcile the two? What dictionary did you use?

Brian John Schuettler

Actually, Br. Cadfael, I was using the official Church Fathers Dictionary. :)

Thank you for referring to my sloppy thinking. That helps to keep me humble.

Brother Cadfael

Brian,

If a dictionary gives two meanings for a word that are not synonymous i.e. death/falling asleep, how do you reconcile the two? What dictionary did you use?

One thing to do would be to look at the context. If the context excludes one, the other is probably the better one to use.

Consider the liturgy for the Byzantine Catholic Church of America for the Mass on the Feast of the Dormition. Since the liturgical prayers for that Mass expressly refer to Mary's death, it is a pretty safe bet that they are not using "Dormition" as "falling asleep" (or trance-like coma, which I've not seen in any dictionary).

I do not recall the dictionary I used, the Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary currently in front of me does not have an entry for dormition, so I had borrowed someone else's. The one online, as I recall, also had falling asleep, sleeping and figuratively, death.

Brother Cadfael

Brian,

Thank you for referring to my sloppy thinking. That helps to keep me humble.

Sloppy was a bit crass perhaps. Sorry.

Brian John Schuettler

No apologies necessary...I was sincere.

Anyway, the bottom line is that the Church does not require anyone to believe that Mary died and I choose not to believe that Mary died. You are free to believe what you wish in this matter.
Thanks,
Brian

J.R. Stoodley

I just read through most of this and decided to hone in on this issue: "Why isn't Mary more prominant in the gospels."

My first thought is that she is rather prominant. She is there at the beginning, betrothed to the heir of King David, when the angel greets her with an exalted title and proclames that she would concieve the Messiah, God with us. She humbly accepts this even though she does not fully understand it. The incarnation then happens within her very body, God taking a human body from her own flesh.

Mary then visits Elizabeth, the mother of the precursor of Christ, and is greated by "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me." and then Mary gives her wonderful Magnificat, one of the most popular prayers in Christendom, including her prophesy that all generations would call her blessed.

Mary then gives birth to Jesus in the City of David, and is there with Jesus when the shepards and Magi come, and bring their homage and gifts.

She presents Jesus in the temple and is told by Simeon that "and you yourself a sword shall pierce, so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."

She flees to Egypt with Jesus and comes back to Nazareth with him. In the only story from Jesus' later childhood she is also there, finding, with Joseph, Jesus in the temple.

And she pondered all these things in her heart.

Further, she is not only there for Jesus' first miracle, but that miracle is performed through her intercession, together with her exortation to "do whatever he [Jesus] tells you."

She is not prominant in Jesus' public life because it was not her place to be such. Her mission was one of contemplation not apostolic preaching.

However she was there at the foot of the Cross when almost everyone else has abandoned Christ and is made the mother of the "beloved disciple" by Christ.

She is there also in the early Church including during Pentacost.

Finally, any honest reading must connect Mary in some way to the glorious woman clothed with the sun in Revelation, who gives birth to Christ. It also seems likely that she is also that Tabernacle in the Temple mentioned immediately before.

I am of the opinion that it is not the quantity of references to Mary in the bible that is so important but the "quality" or importance and content of those passages.

Lily

Mary is indeed very much present at the key moments in the New Testament...Yet, I have to say again, that what is truly amazing to me, is how much she is present in the Old!!
When you see this, you realize that the times when she is silent in the New, do not indicate her absence; only that she is modelling for us, the need to be silent before our Lord & God.....(Like, you see, a good mother).

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