What does it mean that Mary was “assumed into heaven”? Is there any proof of this in Scripture?
What this means is that Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed (or “taken up”) body and soul into heavenly glory. When you or I die, our soul goes to heaven (or hell), but our body remains in the dirt. Mary was different. God raised her body and soul into heaven. Just imagine watching someone float up into the sky and out of sight. It was sort of like that.
Regarding the proof from Scripture, first note that the concept of someone being assumed into heaven is not a new one. Enoch (cf. Gen 5:24; Heb 11:5) and Elijah (cf. 2 Ki 2:11-12; 1 Mac 2:58; Sir 48:4,9) were assumed into heaven. Paul says that a third man may have been as well (cf. 2 Cor 12:2-3). So, the principle is scripturally sound. We are left only to wonder, “Did this happen to Mary?”
There are several verses that seem to indicate that it did. Space prohibits me from providing the actual passages, so you’ll have to look up the references yourself. See Psa 45:9; 132:8; So 8:5; Rev 11:19-12:1; 12:13-14.
Now, I realize that most non-Catholics are skeptical of these passages. “What does that verse have to do with Mary?!?!” they say. But, we have to keep in mind that, by the light of Christ and the teaching of the Church, we can often find meanings in Scripture that were intended by God but not necessarily intended by the human author. For example, when Isaiah said, “A virgin shall conceive and bear a son,” he was literally referring to the birth of King Hezekiah. But, St. Matthew, inspired by the Holy Spirit, saw in Isaiah’s words the intention of God to prophecy the coming of the Messiah. In a similar way, there’s no reason to believe that behind the literal meaning of the passages listed above, we do not find the mind of the Lord regarding His mother. There is certainly nothing in Scripture that contradicts the Church’s teaching about the Assumption of Mary.
That said, I grant that the primary basis for the teaching of the Assumption is in the tradition of the Church, but as Catholics we should not apologize for that. After all, Scripture itself commands us to follow such tradition (cf. 1 Cor 11:2; 2 Thes 2:15; 3:6), and the Church has always believed that Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven.
Peace of Christ to you,
Nicholas Hardesty, WIMM Board Member
Director of Religious Education, Blessed Mother Catholic Church
Feel free to email your questions to email@example.com