Mama mysterioso

The following is a reply I got from Mark in my combox to the post The Myth of Mary’s Assumption. His words will appear in blue.

Why non Catholics spend inordinate time picking apart our Catholic faith is beyond me!”

If your ‘faith’ is a distortion of the “original gospel that was once for all handed down to the saints,” then every Christian has a spiritual and moral obligation to contend for that undefiled good news (Jude 1:3).

If you are convinced that your hallowed beliefs are being ripped apart, perhaps you might want to place them under the scrutiny of Scripture and history to see where the truth lies. This is about the eternal fate of souls not emotions.

Billions of Catholics over the world venerate Mother Mary Our Divine Mother who was ever-present at her Son’s side at his most uplifting and darkest moments.”

That billions of people subscribe to a myth doesn’t make it true. God is not a respecter of numbers. If Mary is your ‘divine mother’ and God is your divine father, what are you insinuating?

Go to the Old or New Testament, where in either covenants do you find any arrangement for a ‘divine motherhood’ much less a hint that Mary – a mere mortal – contributed anything to the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross?

The only places you’d find such patterns of beliefs and rites are ancient paganism and modern witchcraft. It’s time you admitted that at some point, pagan horses had been switched mid-stream within Catholicism.

“We wouldn’t care either if anyone quote “that is why I will never be Catholic”. Instead of analyzing and over analyzing we in the Christian community would be better off putting the Word into action.”

Speaking of your definition of “the Word,” why not break it down? You believe the Bible, plus Traditions and the Church Magisterium make up the “Word.”

By elevating the words of uninspired men to the level of inspired Scripture (and as we know, even denying the plenary inspiration of Scripture), the Catholic religion has trapped many sincere souls in a tunnel of spiritual darkness in which they are bound to follow rules and beliefs that oppose the Bible and are void of human conscience.

Instead of passing judgement – on a religion thousands of years old built on authentic discourse. “

If a religion’s validity lies on being thousands of years old, then why not embrace Hinduism or Buddhism? Not to mention, the discourses on which Rome’s power sprang up are outright forgeries and layers of fiction. The Donation of Constantine and Isidorean Decretals are some examples.

Religion is not going to get us into heaven. Catholics are mature enough to know that saying 100 Hail Mary’s will not get us into heaven. However as we build to eternal glory with the Father in Heaven we continue to ask our Most Divine Mother to intercede for us – and send our innermost prayers to the Father.”

This is what I call forked tongue rhetoric – denying a belief in three sentences and expressing it in the last one. That’s a symptom of years of systematic mental conditioning; it runs so deep that you’ve found a way to reconcile the inherent contradictions packed into the teachings you’ve embraced. So you say more about what you believe by not actually saying it. Nice job.

Furthermore, by asking this ‘divine mother’ to intercede for you to qualify for heaven, you explicitly admit that the intercession and mediatorship role of Jesus Christ is lacking and there is another you’re trusting in. Thanks for reinforcing our convictions of Rome grafting goddess worship onto Christianity.

The problem critics of the faith people will have with people like us, who are born Catholics and revere our faith is that we do not have to explain and analyze why we celebrate this GREAT feast of the ASSUMPTION, furthermore why we VENERATE Mary! That is why we call it a MYSTERY. Mystery of our faith. It is beautiful as it is a treasure only we as Catholics can hold dear to our hearts. So I as a Catholic won’t explain this mystery and analyze it – I don’t have to.”

This is cultic language politics with which religious groups repeatedly hide their lack of answers by bleating the word “mystery.” But wielding the word “mystery” like a magic wand can’t cover up the egregious falsehood of your Mariolatry.

The Greek word for mystery in the NT is musetrion and it was never used to denote a secret that shouldn’t be revealed. Instead, it was always used to refer to knowledge that is being revealed. For example (all quotes are taken from the Catholic New American Bible):

“I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers, so that you will not become wise [in] your own estimation…” (Romans 11:25)

“Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51)

“…you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for your benefit, [namely, that] the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly earlier.” (Eph. 3:2-3).


“the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past. But now it has been manifested to his holy ones” (Col. 1:26).


“…I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, the beast with the seven heads and the ten horns.” (Rev. 17:7).

God who wants us to “always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope” would certainly not exalt ignorance by obscuring a core doctrine of the faith behind a complicated maze of “mystery” (1 Pet. 3:15).

As many many other Catholics around the world do. So people like you who find time to criticise will be even more frustrated. You deny Mary you deny Christ. Let’s find time reflecting on the Word instead of bashing other faiths.”

Your final line is a display of relativism. That logical fallacy torpedoes the pillars of the faith you’re alluding to, unless, of course, you’re a syncretist.

I think those who presume that God had glorified a human being and made her the central focus of a faith will come up frustrated whenever they try to read their dogmas into the revealed Word of God.

Your second sentence is quite revealing, perhaps not in a way you intended. To you, Jesus, the Eternal Word who called all men to Himself and even forgave the repentant sinner on the cross without any intermediary cannot be seen without Mary – a mere servant of God who had no redemptive powers whatsoever. This is a diabolic deception. Call that whatever you like, but it’s not true Christianity.

The Perpetual Virginity: Facts To Consider

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The dogma of Mary’s perpetual virginity says that she remained a virgin till the end of her life. The Catholic Catechism explains:

The deepening of faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Mary’s real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man. In fact, Christ’s birth ‘did not diminish his mother’s virginal integrity but sanctified it.’ And so the liturgy of the Church celebrates Mary as Aeiparthenos, the “Ever virgin” (1: 499).

Many Catholics ask why we do not hold to this dogma. The reason is simple: it lacks a justifiable evidence, so it would be irrational and irresponsible to believe it.

It’s just like someone asking me if I believe in the tooth fairies and I answer “No,” and I’m being told to “prove it.” Prove what? The burden of proof is not on me to disprove the existence of tooth fairies.

I don’t believe in them for the simple reason that there is no credible evidence to support their existence. I don’t have to produce an evidence against their existence.

The same applies to the perpetual virginity dogma. It’s the Catholics making the claim who need to prove it. Evangelicals are not under any obligation to disprove a dogma for which there’s no evidence in the first place.

However, we can point to several facts that invalidate this belief showing that it can only be believed by those deeply committed to Rome’s fiction.

1. God had predicted that Mary would have other children and the Messiah would have brothers:

I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children” (Psa. 69:8-9).

The perpetual virginity dogma can only be sustained by ignoring this Bible prophecy.

2. If the birth of Jesus didn’t “diminish his mother’s virginal integrity” as the above quote says, then what does this denote?

Does it mean that Jesus passed through the birth canal without rupturing the hymen? Did He temporarily dematerialize or was it the hymen that momentarily dematerialized for this to be possible?

Let’s suppose that Jesus was born without passing through the birth canal, how then was He born?  Was it through a miraculous C-section or teleportation?

To suggest that Jesus circumvented the normal birthing process is Biblically objectionable.

3. Jesus is called Mary’s “firstborn son” (Matt. 1:25) and the natural conclusion is that she had other children.

The Greek word for firstborn (prototokos) is used in that text. If Jesus had been the only son Mary had, the Greek word used would have been monogenes which means “only.” It occurs as “only son” (Lk. 7:12) “only daughter” (Lk. 8:42) or “only child” (Lk. 9:38) in the NT.

4. The Gospels plainly state that Jesus had four brothers (mentioned by name) and at least 3 sisters (Mt. 13:55,56; Mk. 6:3).

Catholic apologists usually quote Jerome, who claimed that these were actually Christ’s cousins.

It is argued that Matthew and Mark had to use the Greek word for brother/sister (adelphos/adelphai) because neither Hebrew nor Aramaic had a word for “cousin” and the Jews had the custom of referring to all relatives as brothers/sisters.

They cite examples from the Septuagint, but none from the New Testament, because there are none.

There are two Greek words used for cousins in the NT: anepsios and sungenis. Neither of them were used in Matthew 13:22-56.

The New Catholic Encyclopedia admits that the Greek words adelphos and adelphai “have the full meaning of full brother and sister in the Greek-speaking world of the Evangelist’s time and would naturally be taken by his Greek reader in this sense. Towards the end of the 4th century (c. 380), Helvidius in a work now lost, pressed this fact in order to attribute to Mary other children besides Jesus so as to make her a model for mothers of large families. St Jerome, motivated by the Church’s traditional faith in Mary’s perpetual virginity wrote a tract against Helvidius (A.D. 383)…” (Vol. IX, 337)

5. If the Bible writers used the words for relatives and brothers interchangeably, the Greek word syggenon would have been used in Luke 21:16, not adelphoi.

In Colossians 4:10, anepsios was rightly used for Barnabas’ cousin, so the Catholic argument doesn’t stand. The facts show that “cousins” and “brothers” were not used interchangeably.

If the word “mother” is taken literally in Matthew 13:55-56, why not the word “brethren?” Catholics can only resort to such semantic acrobatics because of their commitment to perpetual virginity in spite of contrary evidence.

6. Mary and her other children are introduced as “His mother and His brethren” (Mt. 12:46-50, Mk. 3:31, Jn. 2:12), indicating that they were her children in her care, or if grown, travelling with her as part of the immediate family.

There is no way that the children of some other woman would be following Mary as “His brethren.”

7. If Mary and Joseph never consummated their marriage, then it wasn’t really a marriage after all, but an extended betrothal.

Some Catholic scholars claim that Mary’s perpetual virginity is the hallmark of celibacy. How did this happen? If she took a vow of virginity and then married Joseph, this would have amounted to treachery and contempt on the marriage covenant.

Even Catholicism does not allow a wife to take a vow of continence at her own pleasure. This would also have contradicted the Bible that state that marital conjugal duties are God-ordained (1 Cor. 7:21-24, Heb. 13:4).

When Mary said to the angel “How can this be since I know not a man,” she was only referring to her condition at that time (Lk. 1:34).

8. Perhaps the most outstanding proof against Mary’s perpetual virginity is the “until” clause in Matthew 1:25. Joseph “knew her not until” Christ was born.

The Greek word here is eos ou and it’s used also in Matt. 17:3, Luke 24:4a. It refers to a point in time when the action of the main verb comes to an end.

For instance, the appearance of Moses and Elijah and the angels at the tomb was only for a limited situation. The event later reversed itself.

In the same vein, Joseph didn’t know Mary until after she had given birth to Jesus, then they had sexual relations. To suggest he kept her a virgin all through her life is illogical.

9. Some Catholic apologists quote the apocryphal Apocalypse of James to support this dogma. Of course James wasn’t the author of that legend, it’s just a desperate tool Rome is forced to utilize.

James is called “the Lord’s brother” (Gal. 1:19) and the Bible says “His brethren” didn’t believe in Him until after His resurrection (Jn. 7:3-10, Acts 1:14). Certainly, these “brethren” were the other children Mary had.

Even Josephus the historian, affirms that Jesus had at least one brother:

“He (Ananus) converted the council of judges and brought it before the brother of Jesus – the one called ‘Christ’ – whose name was James, and certain others. Accusing them of transgressing the Law, he delivered them up for stoning” (Antiquities 20.9-1, 200-201).

Quoting the opinions of some church fathers as support proves nothing. They didn’t conduct a pelvic examination for Mary. Some of them, like Origen, Tertullian and Victorinus even rejected the perpetual virginity belief.

Yes, some of the Reformers held to this heresy, but Protestants don’t base their beliefs “on the consent of the Reformers” neither do we hold them as infallible.

The perpetual virginity doctrine wasn’t taught until about 5 centuries after Christ and it was not until the Lateran Council (649 A.D.) that it became an official belief.

10. The legend that Joseph had other children from a previous marriage is self-refuting. If Jesus wasn’t the firstborn of Joseph, he would never had been the legal stepfather of Jesus, and Jesus’ human ancestry would not have been traced through Joseph (Mt. 1:16).

If Joseph had children before Jesus was born, then He couldn’t be the legal heir to David’s throne, which went by law to the firstborn.

The reason Rome persists in this doctrine is because it’s too deeply rooted to be weeded out.

It was a doctrine aimed at modelling the Catholic Mary after old pagan virgin goddesses like the Egyptian Isis, the Greek Artemis, the German Hertha, the Etruscan Nutria and the Druid Virgo Partitura (also called the “Mother of God“).

One common thread running through these goddess figures was their designation as the virgin queen of heaven who bore fruit although they never conceived. This pagan corruption was assimilated into the church of Rome gradually.

According to a writer, “the ancient portrait of Isis and child Horus was ultimately accepted not only in popular opinion, but by formal episcopal sanction, as the portrait of the Virgin and her child” (Homer Smith, Man and His Gods, Brown & Co, 1952, 216).

Neopagans and Wiccans today often signify the virgin phase of their goddess as the crescent moon.

The crescent moon symbol was also associated with Astarte, an ancient Phoenician fertility goddess.

The Egyptian Isis was also represented as standing on a crescent moon with stars surrounding her head. This very representation is seen today in Catholic art, showing “Mary” standing on a crescent moon.

Of course, that is not the Mary of the Bible, but the old pagan goddess in a new garb.

The Myth of Mary’s Assumption

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Every August 15, many Catholics celebrate the feast of the Assumption of Mary. It’s a time Mary’s ascension to Heaven – body, soul and spirit – is observed.

I saw one of such celebrations years ago. The statue of Mary in the church was dressed up for the occasion and surrounded by an arch of beautiful flowers. After the procession, a crowd of Catholics gathered before it, holding their candles and sang.

The scenario was similar to Hindus carrying lamps before goddess Lakshmi during Diwali or devout crowds singing to the sea goddess in Brazil. “Our mother Mary has been assumed and glorified,” said a man “and we know that one day we are going to be glorified as she is now.”

The belief that Mary was taken up to heaven is not in the Bible, since little is said about Mary in it anyways. Even Apostle John, the longest lived apostle, didn’t write about this.

Catholics have attempted to “find” this belief in Psalm 132:6-7 predicated on a false assumption that Mary is the ark of God. This is an attempt to graft an error onto another error.

Others point to Revelation 12:11-12. Of course, no one is denying that God is able to take people to heaven bodily (like He did for Enoch and Elijah), but since this didn’t happen to everyone in Scripture, it can’t be applied to Mary.

It’s just like saying everyone who mocks us must die because bears killed some youths who mocked Elisha. That would be irrational.

Catholics believe Mary died of a broken heart and on the third day, the apostles couldn’t find her body; she had been taken to the Celestial paradise where she was to have a throne by Jesus’ right hand as the “Queen of heaven.”

These beliefs were obviously contrived to exalt Mary to the divine plane which Jesus Christ is, and replace Him. But as far as the Bible is concerned, it is Jesus who is at God’s right hand, He alone is the Mediator and the King of kings, not Mary.

The New Catholic Encyclopedia admits: “There is no explicit reference to the Assumption in the Bible, yet the Pope insists in the decree of promulgation that the Scriptures are the ultimate foundation of this truth” (Vol. 1, 972).

If this belief lacks Biblical support, what about support from tradition? David Farmer stated:

“[I]n the early church, as in Christ’s ministry, she [Mary] remained so much in the background that it is difficult to know where she lived or even where she died. Both Ephesus and Jerusalem claimed to be the place of her death, with the Eastern Fathers generally supporting Jerusalem” [1]

Catholic scholars say: “Furthermore, the notion of Mary’s assumption into heaven has left no trace in the literature of the third much less of the 2nd cent. M. Jurgie, 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.” [2]

Early church fathers like Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Tertullian, Melito, Cyprian, Irenaeus, Theodoriet, Cyril of Jerusalem all lived and died, wrote volumes of theology and wrote thousands of works on diverse topics without uttering a single word about the Assumption of Mary.

Catholics argue that the grave of Mary was unknown therefore, she must have been taken to heaven bodily. But early church writings show that the burial sites of many other early Christians were also unknown. For example, John Chrysostom wrote:

“And as to those of the Apostles we do not know where those of most of them are laid. For of Peter indeed, and Paul, and John, and Thomas, the sepulchres are well known, but those of the rest, being so many have nowhere become known. Let us not therefore lament at all about this, nor be so little minded. For where-ever we may be buried, ‘the earth is the Lord’s and all that therein is’ [Psalm 24:1]” [3]

Eusebius also made reference to Dionysius of Alexandria (a 3rd century bishop) who fled with his wife to the Arabian mountain and did not return, neither were their bodies found (Church History 6: 42: 3).

Now, if Eusebius considered the disappearance of a common bishop so important, wouldn’t he have recorded the bodily assumption of Mary if it was true? At least one church father would have mentioned such a key event.

This raises another point, the fact that someone’s body wasn’t found doesn’t mean that a bodily assumption has occurred. That Mary’s tomb wasn’t known or her remains weren’t found doesn’t imply that she was bodily assumed into heaven.

If you examined the writings of the church fathers, you would realize that they were silent about the Assumption. Why? Because it never happened!

Tertullian, for example, cited Enoch and Elijah (in Treatise on the Soul, 50) without including Mary.

Irenaeus in Against Heresies (5:5), wrote about the power of God to deliver people from death and used Enoch, Elijah and Paul as illustrations of those “assumed” or “translated” but says nothing of Mary.

An opponent of Augustine also wrote to him saying:

Besides that, it is not only Elias, but Moses and Enoch you believe to be immortal, and to have been taken with their bodies to heaven.” [4]

Why would Christians for hundreds of years have known about a bodily assumption of Mary and yet say nothing about it? Isn’t that strange?

It’s often argued that Epiphanus wrote about the assumption of Mary, but such deductions are faulty. A Catholic scholar said:

“In a later message, he [Epiphanus] says that she [Mary] may have died and been burned, or been killed- as a martyr. Or she remained alive, since nothing is impossible with God and he can do whatever he desires; for her end, no one knows … Epiphanus does not speak of a bodily resurrection and remains noncommittal on the way Mary’s life ended … He suggests several different hypotheses and draws no firm conclusion” [5]

If the Assumption of Mary lacks historical support, where did it originate? A respected patrologist explains:

“The entire silence of the apostles and the primitive church teachers respecting the departure of Mary stirred idle curiosity to all sorts of inventions, until a translation like Enoch’s and Elijah’s was attributed to her … Two apocryphal Greek writings, de transitu Mariae of the end of the fourth or beginning of the fifth century, and afterward pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite and Gregory of Tours (+ 595), for the first time contain the legend that the soul of the mother of God was transported to the heavenly paradise by Christ and His angels in presence of all the apostles, and on the following morning her body was also translated thither on a cloud and there united with the soul” [6]

Another Catholic scholar admits that:

“The idea of the bodily assumption of Mary is first expressed in transitus- narratives of the 5-6th centuries. Even though these are apocryphal they bear witness to the Faith of the generation in which they were written despite their legendary clothing.” [7]

What this scholar doesn’t admit however, is that these transitus writings were condemned as heretical by Gelasus, the bishop of Rome.

In the 6th century, Hermisdas, another bishop of Rome, called anyone subscribing to the assumption belief a heretic. It wasn’t until 1950 that this myth became a dogma.

“Pope Pius XII … defined it as a divinely revealed dogma making claims that have little historical support: What is clearly true is the recognition that it is ‘deeply embedded in the minds of the faithful’ (or at least many of them), and on this basis it was declared and defined as a dogma revealed by God.” [8]

This brings us back to the issue of Roman Catholic authority. Their final authority is their “Church” leadership (sola ecclesia) not the Bible or even their traditions.

This is why they dismissed the church fathers and endorsed spurious apocryphal legends on this issue. They just wanted their “Mary” exalted, no matter what the Bible or history says.

From pagan times, the month of August had been a period of feasts for pagan goddess Diana and Isis, thus the smooth transference to the Catholic Mary.

In Astrology, Virgo (the queen of heaven) is believed to rule over the period between August and September.

Today, forms of idolatrous devotions – image processions, bonfires and offerings – are still being observed to pay homage to Rome’s “virgin” goddess.

Notes

  1. Oxford Dictionary of Saints, New York: Oxford University Press, 1997, 336.
  2. Raymond Brown, Joseph Fitzmyer, Donfried K., Mary in the New Testament, Paulist Press, 1978, 266.
  3. Homily on Hebrews 26:2:22.
  4. Reply to Faustus the Manichean, 26:1.
  5. Theotokos: Theological Encyclopedia of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Michael Wilmington, 1988, 135.
  6. Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, sec. 83.
  7. Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Herder Books, 1955, 209.
  8. John Bowler, The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, 1999, 101.