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Monday, July 20, 2015

"The Assumption of Mary" Really? It's not in the Bible

Today’s Divine Office Highlights
Sparked a writing from my heart.

And to be honest with you, if it had not been for two pilgrimages we took with "The Footprints of God" with Steve and Janet Ray (and other sources) this writing from the heart would have never happened. Through "Footprints of God" we have fallen in love with the history of the Catholic Church and it's founder Jesus Christ. When one begins a journey in history and tradition, that's when the Holy Scriptures comes to life. 

Kings 2:1-15: “The assumption of Elijah”
 "The Assumption of Mary" Really? It's not in the Bible.

When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, he and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal.

Traveling into some ancient churches on our pilgrimages to Italy, Greece and Turkey {with Steve and Janet Ray) we experienced the beauty of Sacred Art. Our tour guides told us theses works of art tell the story of “Salvation History” to a world that could not read and to a world that had not "yet" developed a cheap way to print. Sacred Art is called the poor mans Bible. We have to remember it was almost 400 years before the New Testament was finally decided on at the councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397,419).

"Parchment," was the new ancient invention to write on around the time the New Testament was finally canonized. Herodotus {ancient greek historian) mentions writing on skins as common in his time, the 5th century. While visiting Pergamum, Turkey three years ago (Footprints of St Paul), we discovered; the discovery, development and invention of using this material to write on, was developed in Pergamum. In time the use of parchment to write on, was spread to other parts of the ancient world.  Parchment is made from animal skins, either sheep or even calf (hence vellum); it could take as much as 425 sheepskins to create one Bible.

So, when Gutenberg produced his first Bible around 1456, with his new invention the printing press, Europe was still predominantly using parchment and vellum for printing, rather than paper.
Gutenberg printed several copies of his Bible on parchment; to print just one, he had to use the skins of 300 sheep. With that kind of resource demand, there weren't enough goats and sheep and calves in Europe to allow the mass production of one "book" and “one” book we call “The Bible.”  RIGHT? How much do you think 300 sheepskins cost? So, hope this helps you understand how important Sacred Art was to a society that could not read and even if they could, it was impossible to “mass” produce the Bible. The art told the story to the ancients who could not read or write in these ancient churches with paintings and statues, art carvings and etc....
 And did you know the original writings from the Apostles themselves (the autographs) no longer exist?

This is due partly to the perishable material (papyrus) used by the writers, (ancients used papyrus; reeds, plants that grew in rivers, before parchment was invented) and partly to the fact that the Roman emperors decreed the destruction of the sacred books of the Christians (Edict of Diocletian, A.D. 303).
Before translating the Bible into Latin, St. Jerome had already translated into more common languages.
And in the year 383, he revised the Latin New Testament text in accordance with some Greek manuscripts. Between the years 390 and 406 he translated the Old Testament directly from the Hebrew, and this completed work is known today as the "Old Latin Vulgate". The work had been requested by Pope Damasus.

The Council of Carthage (397) was the first Council to publish a list of all the inspired books of the Bible. The Council of Florence repeated the canon of the Bible, and it was restated at the Council of Trent, chapter and verse divisions are not found in our oldest manuscripts of the Bible, and there is evidence that the early Hebrew writers did not even separate the words of the text, following a Hebrew tradition that Moses wrote the Law as one continuous word. The division into chapters was a gradual process that began in the Middle Ages. The divisions now used were introduced by Stephen Langton (d. 1228), later archbishop of Canterbury, and are found in the Biblia Parisiensis, used at the University of Paris as early as the 13th century.

The division of Bible chapters into numbered smaller sections was introduced to facilitate scholarly reference to the individual passages. In 1528, Santes Pagnino, a Dominican, published a Bible where each chapter was divided into verses usually consisting of single sentences.

Robert Estienne, a French printer, less than thirty years later, introduced the figures that divide or "chop up" verses of the Bible. His verse divisions became standard because he also printed a Concordance based on these editions.

So, it was not until 1,456 –1,560 years after the birth of Christ, the world finally has a way to mass-produce the Bible and also say; “What Chapter and verse?” For 1,456-1.560 years "Joe and Jane common folks" who most of the populist was, could not say; "If its not in the Bible and how I interrupt it, it's not TRUTH." But, now because of the printing press and paper, the Bible was now finally mass- produced and Martin Luther and the Reformers taught, if it not in the Bible it's not TRUTH. What happened to history and Tradition?

In our travels with "Footprints of God" to; Italy, Greece and Turkey with Steve and Janet Ray, we discovered where many of the Apostles are buried. 

We stood on St John the Apostle tomb in an ancient Basilica in Ephesus, Turkey; the ancient Basilica Of St John.

We saw from a distance in Amalfi, Italy the Cathedral of St. Andrew, where the bones of St Andrew the Apostle are buried.    

We saw the tomb of St Paul the Apostles; where his bones are under the altar at the "Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls" Rome, Italy.     

Above: Basilica of St Paul Outside the Wall, above St Paul's tomb are the chains that held his hands while in prison in Rome.    

 Above: We stood at St Peter Basilica in Rome where the bones of St Peter the Apostle are under the altar.
We took an adventure with "Footprints of God" in the catacombs of St Sebastian where ancient early Church Christians were laid to rest and many were martyred by Nero and other Emperors that followed his same destructive path, until Emperor Constantine changed the path to finally legalize Christianity, 313 years after the birth of Christ.

We learned the Apostle St John was Bishop of the seven churches of Asia Minor and his headquarters were in Ephesus, Turkey and as I shared above, where he is buried. 

We learned St John took the Virgin Mary with him to Ephesus and we saw the house she lived in while there.

We learned 313 years after Christ birth, and the legalization of Christianity, the Christians were finally able to build houses of worship. Every ancient Church we have witnessed up close and personal has an altar….not a railing where you come forward and accept Jesus as your Savior, but an altar where the Mass is performed.

We saw up close and personal an altar at every ancient church, where the Priest performs the Mass, the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. And under every altar in every ancient church are the bones of some saint. And under every altar of every Catholic Church through out the world, even if it was built in the ancient times, today, or tomorrow there will be under its altar “relics” of a Saint.

We learned from our tour guide at the catacombs of St Sebastian that once Christianity was legalized the bones of the Early Christians were brought up from the catacombs and placed somewhere under an altar of a Church. Built above the Catacombs of St Sebastian, is an ancient Basilica where St Sebastian’s (died a martyr 268) bones are buried under the altar.

The ancient Church of Santo Stefano Rotondo we visited in Rome we discovered the first Christian martyr recorded in Acts: St Stephens is buried under the altar. His bones were brought from Jerusalem. We witnessed in this ancient church through Sacred Art the stories of the early church martyrs and our minds could not believe what they went through. These Saint martyrs once laid to rest in the Christian Catacombs, in time after Christianity was legalized their bones brought up and placed in Churches throughout the world.

We discovered on our pilgrimage with "Footprints of God" that Ignatius of Antioch, the Emperor Trajan decided Ignatius should die. He was bound and conveyed to Rome, and was to be devoured by wild beasts in the Coliseum..
And we saw the Coliseum in Rome where Ignatius was thrown to the wild beast and the Basilica di San Clemente
(Basilica of Saint Clement) in Rome, Italy where, this church is east of the Coliseum.
And remains (bones) of St Ignatius of Antioch and of St Clement I (d. 97) rest below the Altar... We love church history.

The above pictures are "San Clemente Basilica" where the bones of St Ignatius of Antioch and St Clement are under the altar.
Below is the Roman Coliseum where St Ignatius of Antioch was thrown to the wild beast because of his love and faith in Jesus Christ. 

We traveled the "Footprints of God" into the Basilica of Sant' Agostion (St Augustine) Church in Rome, built in honor of Saint Augustine. And guess what? His mother Saint Monica's bones are there. She is my patron Saint. An ancient Christian mother who never stopped praying for her playboy son. St Augustine is my favorite ancient ex-playboy and was baptized with his son by St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, Italy at the Duomo "Cathedral of Milan. We got to see up close and personal three very important things close to my heart. The "Duomo" in Milan where he was baptized and what an honor to be so close to the bones of my patron Saint Monica. It was much like going to my parents graves and knowing their bones are there and the beauty of the "Communion of Saints" touches ones heart. You sense and know they are interceding for you in prayer.

The third thing we saw up close and personal was St Ambrose, Bishop of Milan also built the Basilica of Sant' Ambrogio in 387AD; the church was built on a grand scale over an existing Christian cemetery (many martyrs) next to the maryruim of St. Victor, two local martyrs provided the necessary relics (bones) for the altar and Ambrose was buried next to them after his death on April 4, 397. The Basilica was originally named by Saint Ambrose; Basilica Martyrum,   

Below the "Basilica of St Ambrose in Milan" where St Ambrose bones are and a very ancient Basilica that was built by St Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, Italy built in 385AD

Picture below; Duomo "Cathedral of Milan, Italy where St Ambrose baptized my favorite ancient ex-playboy; St Augustine and his son. We even got to climb on the roof..amazing sacred art inside and out and what a view of Milan!

Pictures below; Agostion (St Augustine) Church in Rome, built in honor of Saint Augustine. And guess what? His mother Saint Monica's bones are there. She is my patron Saint.

Right in there are the bones of Saint Monica!

In our travels in Italy, Greece and Turkey we have seen some of the most amazing and beautiful sacred artwork in these ancient churches. These ancient paintings throughout the centuries have told the stories of God and His love, for us, and how He redeemed the world back to Himself. 

One piece of sacred artwork that caught my attention on our first pilgrimage with "Footprints of God" and it was the first time I ever saw a painting like it, was at the "Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls." I soon discovered in our travels that different artist have painted this scene over the centuries, and it is the scene of “Mary the Mother of God in the Flesh” being assumed into heaven. 
I know Protestant’s don’t believe this, and to be honest I never knew this was a Catholic Church teaching until I started studying Catholicism, that tradition and history claims she was assumed into heaven. Protestants do not believe this today, mainly because it’s not recorded in the Bible. Martin Luther and many leaders of the Reformation did believe this doctrine, but in time as the Protestant churches split and split and split, this scared tradition was questioned because it was not recorded in the Bible.

"It is a sweet and pious belief that the infusion of Mary's soul was effected without original sin, so that in the very infusion of her soul she was purified from original sin and adorned with God's gifts, receiving a pure soul infused by God, thus from the first moment she began to live she was free from all sin." Martin Luther
Sacred Tradition and ancient writings by the Church Fathers and the Doctors of the Church for 2,000 years and the imagery of sacred art have claimed Mary was assumed into heaven. And the fact we have no bones of Mary, not even a gravesite, would you not think the Early Church would not have kept her bones? The Church has Mary Magdalene’s bones and they know where they are. If you were a detective and the facts I’ve presented to you today, would you not agree it’s worth investigating?

Also, if God performed the miracle of assuming Elijah into heaven, after being a prophet of God and followed God’s heart all his days… Why would God not assume Mary into heaven after she had finished her calling from above? The Mother of “God in the flesh” who carried Him in her womb, changed His diaper, breast fed Him, taught Him to walk and talk, was with Him for 30 years, before He started revealing to the world that He was the promised Messiah. God in the flesh became a helpless baby, and all His needs and His security and protection from the bad elements of the world, were given to her, from above. Not only was she given the responsibility to protect and care for Him, as only a mother can do, she was given the path of suffering as she walked with Him all the way to the Cross. Never saying a word…she knew and understood the Will of God and she knew that her heart would be pierced for many as Simeon prophesied, as the book of Luke records; chapter 2: verse 35.

Why would God not assume Mary into heaven, if she was actually without original sin as Martin Luther taught? A teaching of the Catholic Church from the early beginnings. 

Our God has performed so many miracles throughout history, and many of these miracles are recorded in Holy Scripture, but not all of them. Tradition and history testifies that St John the Apostle was brought to Rome, and was, by order of Emperor Dometian, cast into a cauldron of boiling oil but came forth unhurt and was banished to the island of Patmos for a year. He lived to an extreme old age, surviving all his fellow apostles, and died at Ephesus about the year 100. Where is that in the Bible?

 Above pictures: the island of Patmos, Greece where we walked the "Footprints of St John" with Steve and Janet Ray. Traveling from the ship to the heights of where St John the Apostle wrote the book of Revelation.

 Do you see and understand the miracles performed by God in St John the Apostle's life? He was boiled in oil and survived. 

Today God still performs miracles, “where is that” in the Bible when God today continues to work in His children lives. Why was this not recorded?

And as I pondered these things today about Elijah and Mother Mary in the Divine Office readings, I have one more reading to ponder.

From the treatise; On the Mysteries by Saint Ambrose, bishop.
 “The sacrament that you receive is effected by the words of Christ.” 

Wow! Talk about miracles that keep coming from above..
Ambrose a Christian that lived 300+ years after Christ birth helps us 1700 years later understand the miracle of the Eucharist. Though this is not in the Bible, can we trust an ancient Christian that did not fall that far from the tree of Christ and the branches of His Apostles.. Do we hear this same message being preached in Christian circles today? Should we? Something to ponder…. 

From the treatise; On the Mysteries by Saint Ambrose, bishop.
“The sacrament that you receive is effected by the words of Christ.” 

Wow! Talk about miracles that keep coming from above..
And did you know we visited an extraordinary miracle that has lasted for over twelve centuries now (1,200 years), and is still taking place today, before our eyes: the Flesh and Blood of Christ is still miraculously preserved today in a monstrance that all can see and venerate, at Lanciano, Italy.  This wondrous Event took place in the 8th century A.D. in the little Church of St. Legontian, as a divine response to a Basilian monk's doubt about Jesus' Real Presence in the Eucharist.

Yep, we saw it up close and personal as we "Walked the Footprints of God" with Steve and Janet Ray.

Behold, I am sending to you Elijah the prophet
before the day of the Lord’s coming,
that great and terrible day.
— He will turn the hearts of fathers to their children
and the hearts of children to their fathers.
John will be great in the sight of the Lord,
and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah.
— He will turn the hearts of fathers to their children
and the hearts of children to their fathers.

Matthew 26:26; Job 31:31
While they were at table, Jesus took bread,

said the blessing, broke the bread,
and gave it to his disciples saying:
— Take this, all of you, and eat it;
this is my body.
Those who dwell with me said:
Who will give us flesh to eat?
— Take this, all of you, and eat it;
this is my body.

From the treatise On the Mysteries by Saint Ambrose, bishop

"The sacrament that you receive is effected by the words of Christ"

We see that grace can accomplish more than nature, yet so far we have been considering instances of what grace can do through a prophet’s blessing. If the blessing of a human being had power even to change nature, what do we say of God’s action in the consecration itself, in which the very words of the Lord and Savior are effective? If the words of Elijah had power even to bring down fire from heaven, will not the words of Christ have power to change the natures of the elements? You have read that in the creation of the whole world he spoke and they came to be; he commanded and they were created. If Christ could by speaking create out of nothing what did not yet exist, can we say that his words are unable to change existing things into something they previously were not? It is no lesser feat to create new natures for things than to change their existing natures.

What need is there for argumentation? Let us take what happened in the case of Christ himself and construct the truth of this mystery from the mystery of the incarnation. Did the birth of the Lord Jesus from Mary come about in the course of nature? If we look at nature we regularly find that conception results from the union of man and women. It is clear then that the conception by the Virgin was above and beyond the course of nature. And this body that we make present is the body born of the Virgin. Why do you expect to find in this case that nature takes its ordinary course in regard to the body of Christ when the Lord himself was born of the Virgin in a manner above and beyond the order of nature? This is indeed the true flesh of Christ, which was crucified and buried. This is then in truth the sacrament of his flesh.

The Lord Jesus himself declares: This is my body. Before the blessing contained in these words a different thing is named; after the consecration a body is indicated. He himself speaks of his blood. Before the consecration something else is spoken of; after the consecration blood is designated. And you say: “Amen,” that is: “It is true.” What the mouth utters, let the mind within acknowledge; what the word says, let the heart ratify.

So the Church, in response to grace so great, exhorts her children, exhorts her neighbors, to hasten to these mysteries: Neighbors, she says, come and eat; brethren, drink and be filled. In another passage the Holy Spirit has made clear to you what you are to eat, what you are to drink. Taste, the prophet says, and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who puts his trust in him. Christ is in that sacrament, for it is the body of Christ. It is therefore not bodily food but spiritual. Thus the Apostle too says, speaking of its symbol: Our fathers ate spiritual food and drank spiritual drink. For the body of God is spiritual; the body of Christ is that of a divine spirit, for Christ is a spirit. We read: The spirit before our face is Christ the Lord. And in the letter of Saint Peter we have this: Christ died for you. Finally, it is this food that gives strength to our hearts, this drink which gives joy to the heart of man, as the prophet has written.

The following sacred art painting through the centuries tell a story in which the early church witnessed. Mary Mother of God assumed into heaven.. The Church has no bones...

And when she "Mary" made it into heaven she was crowned Queen.. Now that is in the Bible
Revelation 12:1
Song of Solomon 6:10
Psalms 45:14
Psalms 45:15
Psalms 45:16
Revelation 11:19
Isaiah 61:10

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