Friday, September 2, 2016

Papal Presumption:  The Assumption of Mary
In 1950 pope Pius XII (in Munificentissimus Deus) presumed to declare as a divinely revealed dogma, and require belief, in the Assumption of Mary,  that  the perpetual 'Virgin Mary,  was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory." And equally audacious, he even claimed that such was "based upon the Sacred Writings as their ultimate foundation," and forbade any to  counter his declaration.
However, it is not simply the absence in Scripture of any record or prophesy for this alleged particular event, but also from early history, which is where it belongs, versus being a fable that developed into doctrine latter.  Instead of such needed testimony, we have the popes reasoning that "it seems impossible to think of her [Mary]... being apart from Him in body...after this earthly life. (Munificentissimus Deus)
Yet the Lord has no problem with the rest of the deceased believers for whom He died, being absent in body but present with the Lord, as Mary is  as well. And such await the Lord's return for their resurrected glorified bodies. (Mt. 24:31;   1Co. 15:52; 1Thes. 4:16,17) But the popes presumption is that of reading into Scripture and history  the reasoning of men, and is part of the hyper exaltation of the fabricated  Mary of Catholicism,  thinking of mortals "above that which is written," contra 1Co. 4:6).
Examining the evidence, let us first read what assumption supporter RC Lawrence P. Everett, C.Ss.R., S.T.D. confessed:

In the first three centuries there are absolutely no references in the authentic works of the Fathers or ecclesiastical writers to the death or bodily immortality of Mary. Nor is there any mention of a tomb of Mary in the first centuries of Christianity. The veneration of the tomb of the Blessed Virgin at Jerusalem began about the middle of the fifth century; and even here there is no agreement as to whether its locality was in the Garden of Olives or in the Valley of Josaphat. Nor is any mention made in the Acts of the Council of Ephesus (431) of the fact that the Council, convened to defend the Divine Maternity of the Mother of God, is being held in the very city selected by God for her final resting place. Only after the Council did the tradition begin which placed her tomb in that city.

The earliest known (non-Apocryphal) mention concerning the end of Mary's life appears in the writings of St. Epiphanius, Bishop of Constantia,.. in his Panarion or Medicine Chest (of remedies for all heresies), written in c. 377: "Whether she died or was buried we know not."

...And with the exception of a so-called contemporary of Epiphanius, Timothy of Jerusalem, who said: "Wherefore the Virgin is immortal up to now, because He who dwelt in her took her to the regions of the Ascension,"9(After a very thorough and scholarly investigation the author concludes that Timothy is an unknown author who lived between the sixth and seventh centuries (p. 23). no early writer ever doubted the fact of her death....

In the Munificentissimus Deus Pope Pius XII quotes but three Fathers of the Church, all Orientals. St. John Damascene (d. 749)...St. Germanus of Constantinople (d. 733) ...St. Modestus of Jerusalem (d. 634)...

Apart from the Apocrypha, there is no authentic witness to the Assumption among the Fathers of either the East or the West prior to the end of the fifth century.

The first remote testimony to which Pope Pius XII turns in order to indicate the fact that our present belief in the Assumption of the Blessed Mother was likewise the belief of the Church from the earliest times is the Sacred Liturgy...

...The feast of the Assumption began in the East as did many of the older Marian feasts... However, due to the fact that neither Sacred Scripture nor early Tradition speaks explicitly of the last days of our Blessed Mother on earth and of her Assumption into heaven, the liturgy of this feast did not mention them either. Later, when the apocryphal Transitus Mariae ” in which the death and Assumption of Mary are described in detail ” became popular among the faithful, the facts of her death and Assumption were inserted into the feast... -

And William Webster documents,
...the Roman Catholic writer Eamon Duffy concedes that, ˜there is, clearly, no historical evidence whatever for it ...' (Eamon Duffy, What Catholics Believe About Mary (London: Catholic Truth Society, 1989), p. 17).

How then did this teaching come to have such prominence in the Church that eventually led it to be declared an issue of dogma in 1950? The first Church father to affirm explicitly the assumption of Mary in the West was Gregory of Tours in 590 A.D. But the basis for his teaching was not the tradition of the Church but his acceptance of an apocryphal Gospel known as the Transitus Beatae Mariae which we first hear of at the end of the fifth century and which was spuriously attributed to Melito of Sardis. There were many versions of this literature which developed over time and which were found throughout the East and West but they all originated from one source.

[The eminent Mariologist, Juniper Carol, O.F.M.] gives the following historical summary of the Transitus literature:

An intriguing corpus of literature on the final lot of Mary is formed by the apocryphal Transitus Mariae. The genesis of these accounts is shrouded in history's mist. They apparently originated before the close of the fifth century, perhaps in Egypt, perhaps in Syria, in consequence of the stimulus given Marian devotion by the definition of the divine Maternity at Ephesus. The period of proliferation is the sixth century. At least a score of Transitus accounts are extant, in Coptic, Greek, Latin, Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopic, and Armenian. Not all are prototypes, for many are simply variations on more ancient models (Juniper Carol, O.F.M. ed., Mariology, Vol. II (Milwaukee: Bruce, 1957), p. 144).

The first express witness in the West to a genuine assumption comes to us in an apocryphal Gospel, the Transitus Beatae Mariae of Pseudo –Melito' (Juniper Carol, O.F.M. ed., Mariology, Vol. l (Milwaukee: Bruce, 1957), p. 149).

The account of Pseudo-Melito, like the rest of the Transitus literature, is admittedly valueless as history, as an historical report of Mary's death and corporeal assumption; under that aspect the historian is justified in dismissing it with a critical distaste (Juniper Carol, O.F.M. ed., Mariology, Vol. l (Milwaukee: Bruce, 1957), p. 150).
Also, Roman Catholic theologian, Ludwig Ott, states:

The idea of the bodily assumption of Mary is first expressed in certain transitus–narratives of the fifth and sixth centuries. Even though these are apocryphal they bear witness to the faith of the generation in which they were written despite their legendary clothing. The first Church author to speak of the bodily ascension of Mary, in association with an apocryphal transitus B.M.V., is St. Gregory of Tours’ (Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (Rockford: Tan, 1974), pp. 209–210).

William Webster further states,

Prior to the seventh and eighth centuries there is complete patristic silence on the doctrine of the Assumption. But gradually, through the influence of numerous forgeries which were believed to be genuine, coupled with the misguided enthusiasm of popular devotion, the doctrine gained a foothold in the Church. The Dictionary of Christian Antiquities gives the following history of the doctrine:...

1)The Liber de Transitu, though classed by Gelasius with the known productions of heretics came to be attributed by Melito, an orthodox bishop of Sardis, in the 2nd century, and by another to St. John the Apostle.

2) A letter suggesting the possibility of the Assumption was written and attributed to St. Jerome (
ad Paulam et Eustochium de Assumptione B. Virginis, Op. tom. v. p. 82, Paris, 1706).

3) A treatise to prove it not impossible was composed and attributed to St. Augustine (
Op. tom. vi. p. 1142, ed. Migne).

4) Two sermons supporting the belief were written and attributed to St. Athanasius (
Op. tom. ii. pp. 393, 416, ed., Ben. Paris, 1698).

5) An insertion was made in Eusebius's Chronicle that ˜in the year 48 Mary the Virgin was taken up into heaven, as some wrote that they had had it revealed to them.' -

The church fathers of the earliest centuries repeatedly cite Enoch and Elijah as examples of people who didn't die, were translated to Heaven, etc. (Clement of Rome, First Clement, 9; Tertullian, A Treatise On The Soul, 50; Tertullian, On The Resurrection Of The Flesh, 58; Tertullian, Against Marcion, 5:12; Methodius, From The Discourse On The Resurrection, 14), yet they never say any such thing about Mary or include her as an example. Irenaeus, for instance, writes about the power of God to deliver people from death, and he cites Enoch, Elijah, and Paul (2 Corinthians 12:2) as illustrations of people who were "assumed" and "translated", but he says nothing of Mary (Against Heresies, 5:5). A group of some of the leading Roman Catholic and Lutheran scholars in the world concluded:

"Furthermore, the notion of Mary's assumption into heaven has left no trace in the literature of the third, much less of the second century. M. Jugie, the foremost authority on this question, concluded in his monumental study: 'The patristic tradition prior to the Council of Nicaea does not furnish us with any witness about the Assumption.'" (Raymond Brown, et al., Mary In The New Testament [Mahwah: Paulist Press, 1978], p. 266)

 Finally from Ratzinger we see the solution to such lack of evidential warrant for making belief in an event over 17000 years after it allegedly occurred. Which is that Rome can claim to "remember" what she wants.
Before Mary's bodily Assumption into heaven was defined, all theological faculties in the world were consulted for their opinion. Our teachers' answer was emphatically negative... Altaner, the patrologist from Wurzburg¦had proven in a scientifically persuasive manner that the doctrine of Mary's bodily Assumption into heaven was unknown before the 5C; this doctrine, therefore, he argued, could not belong to the "apostolic tradition. And this was his conclusion, which my teachers at Munich shared.

But...subsequent "remembering" (cf. Jn 16:4, for instance) can come to recognize what it has not caught sight of previously ["caught sight of?" Because there was nothing to see in the earliest period where it should have been, before a fable developed] .." (Joseph Ratzinger, Milestones (Ignatius, n.d.), pp. 58-59; emp. mine).
For history, tradition and Scripture is only what Rome says it is in any conflict, which reasoning no less than Manning resorted to:
It was the charge of the Reformers that the Catholic doctrines were not primitive, and their pretension was to revert to antiquity. But the appeal to antiquity is both a treason and a heresy. It is a treason because it rejects the Divine voice of the Church at this hour, and a heresy because it denies that voice to be Divine... I may say in strict truth that the Church has no antiquity....Primitive and modern are predicates, not of truth, but of ourselves...The only Divine evidence to us of what was primitive is the witness and voice of the Church at this hour. . — Dr. Henry Edward Cardinal Manning, Archbishop of Westminster, The Temporal Mission of the Holy Ghost: Or Reason and Revelation, , pp. 227-228.