In aWord ... Assumption

Mary was assumed into heaven, whereas Jesus ascended under his own steam

Flake, from Old English flakka, for ‘flat, level, particle’

Flake, from Old English flakka, for ‘flat, level, particle’

 

Welcome to the feast of the Assumption, a dogma of the Catholic Church since 1950. It is a binding teaching on Catholics that Mary, mother of Jesus, was assumed to heaven. It is also believed to be the most recent occasion on which a pope spoke “infallibly”, in this case Pope Pius XII.

There is a popular misconception that whenever a pope speaks he does so infallibly. Not so. A pope speaks infallibly only when he asserts he is doing so and then on matters of faith and morals. (My apologies to people up the page for encroaching on their territory. It won’t become a habit!)

The dogma of papal infallibility is also recent, extant only since 1870, when it was opposed by some Irish bishops including then Archbishop of Tuam John McHale. The GAA pitch in Castlebar is named after him.

Mary was assumed into heaven, Jesus ascended. This was not for gender reasons so much as he, being divine, operated under his own steam.

Many Catholic teachings surrounding Mary are of comparatively recent vintage. Another Pope Pius (IX) promulgated the dogma that Mary was conceived without original sin. Better known as the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, it is only a teaching of the Catholic Church since 1854.

It was brought about in part by a theological conundrum: how could a divine being – Jesus – be born of a woman with original sin on her soul? It was decided this could not be the case.

Some may feel such teachings are remote from day-to-day living where other than the most devout are concerned. Again, not so, particularly for women.

In promulgating the dogma that Mary had been free – immaculate – from original sin at conception, it indicated her soul existed at conception, thus overturning almost 2,000 years of Christian belief.

It had previously been taught that the soul did not exist before “quickening” – when a child began to kick in the womb – as expressed by one of the greatest theologians, St Thomas Aquinas. Quickening was set at about 24 weeks, prior to which it was taught “no homicide” took place if there was an abortion.

In 1869 Pope Pius IX outlawed abortion from the moment of conception, under penalty of excommunication.

Assumption, from Latin assumere “to take up”.

inaword@irishtimes.com

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.