Exploring Our Faith Volume II: Mary The First Disciple Part IV

As we conclude our crash course in Mariology, I want to focus on two Marian dogmas that for some reason seem to give all Catholics trouble despite the fact that we celebrate them as Holy Days of Obligation.

The first one is the Marian dogma of the Immaculate Conception.  If you would ask 100 Catholics what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was, I would bet that 90% or higher would say that it was the moment that Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit conceived Jesus in her womb and they would be wrong.  The Immaculate Conception states that Mary herself was conceived without original sin. 

First and foremost, let me state that Mary, was human like all of us, and was in need of redemption just like you and me.  The dogma of the Immaculate Conception in no way declares that Mary was in no need of a redeemer.  What the doctrine teaches us was that Jesus took the grace of redemption – the grace of the paschal mystery, and applied it to Mary at the moment of her conception and not at the moment of Jesus’ resurrection.  I hope this image helps.  A few years ago my brothers and sisters wanted to get my mom an oven for Christmas but we did not know how to gift wrap it.  Honestly, we wanted her to pick it out so instead we bought my mom gift cards.  My mom therefore received the gift of the oven before it was paid for.  Mary received the gift of salvation before Christ paid the price for it on the cross.  How could He do it?  He could because He is God and time has no value or constraint on Him.  We believe that Mary was kept clean of original sin so that she could be the proper home for the Lord.  This should inspire us to keep our souls clean as we receive the Lord each week in the Eucharist. 

The second teaching is that Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven.  I want to make it clear that the Church does not say one way or the other as to whether this happened before or after a physical death.  One theologian said in a pod cast that the early Church referred to Mary as simply falling asleep and awakening to new life.  Since there was no sin in her, there was no separation for her from God and so she simple moved past this world into the next.  Physical proof for this early doctrine of the Church is that no one ever claimed to have a relic of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  We can’t go to Rome and see her finger; we can’t go to the holy land and see her body.  For a culture that was as excited over relics as people are over artifacts from celebrities it is amazing that if Mary had not been assumed into heaven body and soul that not one church claimed to have Mary’s body. Mary’s assumption reminds each of us that we believe in the resurrection of the body and so we have an obligation to take care of our body just as much as our soul. The Assumption also reminds us that we are all called to something higher.