Monday, August 16, 2010

My Issue with the Assumption of Mary

Yesterday (or today for those who prefer to transfer it), many Christians celebrated the Feast of the Assumption of Mary.

I did not. Moreover, I find it a sad day.

I find it sad not because I have anything against the doctrine and those who hold it. Quite the contrary, I highly respect many of those who affirm the doctrine and cherish my communion with them. Moreover, I think a case can be made for the Assumption of Mary.

Nevertheless, I do find it a secondary and speculative doctrine not at all central to the faith. And, though my opinion about its veracity is not strong, I do not hold to it.

But that is not my main issue with the doctrine. Really, my issue is with the dogma as proclaimed by Pope Pius XII on November 1st, 1950. That he chose All Saints’ Day to issue his decree is the saddest of ironies. For on October 31st, 1950, one’s communion with Rome was unaffected by one’s opinion on the Assumption. But afterward?

. . . by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma:

that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.

45. Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith.

So on November 1st, 1950 and afterward, if you do not hold to the Assumption, you better keep it to yourself or you are on the outs with Rome. For according to Rome, you have fallen away completely from the Faith.

It is tempting to have fun with such a brazen decree, but I will refrain.

For I find November 1st, 1950 and every August 15th an occasion for grief. For in 1950, the Roman Catholic Church became that much more sectarian, divisive, and uncatholic.

This is a vital difference between Roman Catholicism and orthodox Anglicanism. Many Anglicans hold to the Assumption of Mary. But I do not know of any which require assent to it for communion. And I have joyfully taken the sacrament with them on numerous occasions.

But to enter communion with Rome, I would have to confess that all that the Roman Catholic Church teaches is true, including the Assumption, thanks to the presumption of Pope Pius XII.

For any who pray for the unity of Christ’s church as I do, that is sad indeed.


Anonymous said...

The Dormition/Assumption doctrine is held by all the apostolic churches. The same churches that bar the door to the Arianism, Unitarianism and even Atheism expressed by Anglican bishops.

I'm working through my difficulties with Rome -- mostly 400+ years of prejudice and hatred -- and I pray you and other Anglicans will, too.

Best wishes,

Fr. Bill in California

Mark said...

Thanks, Fr. Bill. But teaching it is one thing. Again, many orthodox Anglicans teach it.

Making it dogma virtually required for full communion is quite another.


Anonymous said...

It is a major feast of the Orthodox Church, but as a catechumen, I've yet to be told that if I don't totally accept it, I can't be Orthodox. Perhaps I'm wrong. The dogmatism of requiring belief in the Immaculate Conception for Catholic converts was a major issue in my conversion to Orthodoxy rather than to Catholicism. This seems more of the same.

Homunculus said...

Boy, am I tired of the "hatred" card being played for every disagreement. Has there been terrible Catholic bashing? Of course. Are Wannabe Anglican and others, including myself, hateful for disagreeing? How about calling us KKK-ers? I praise God for the witness of the RC church, but the RC church has been wrong about things in the past and is wrong about Mariolatry. (If you don't think Mary has become an idol, go to Mexico during the time of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.)

He bashes "Anglican bishops" and blames them for Unitarian Universalism, Arianism, etc. I seem to recall that some RC bishops have preached heresy, too. In fact, Arius was a RC bishop.