Belief in some Marian doctrines

Could someone please explain why the doctrines of Immaculate Conception, Perpetual Virginity, and Assumption of Mary are expected to be believed by Catholics?
I don’t see an issue if someone chooses to believe it as a pious opinion, but if they are expected to be believed, then I would prefer a clear scriptural case for them.

They are expected to be believed by Catholics because they are the truth, and that truth is proclaimed by the Church, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth.

Remember this, the entire Christian faith is not contained in the Bible. The Bible explicitly says this, we have to have some outside entity that even tells us what books actually belong IN the Bible.

For the Immaculate Conception, some Scripture which gives implicit evidence for it are the angel’s greeting to Mary as “full of grace”. The word used indicates a reality that has existed in the past and continues to exist in the present. Before the angel appeared, Mary was full of grace.

I would also look to the OT, where the prefigurement of Mary was given in the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark was holy, without blemish, and pure. It contained the manna from heaven, the 10 Commandments, and Aaron’s staff. Mary contained Jesus, who was the Bread from Heaven, the Word of God, and the High Priest. The Ark stayed 3 months in the hill country, and Mary stayed 3 months with Elizabeth. The Ark was given honor, just as Mary was given honor. King David leapt in front of the Ark, while John the Baptist leapt in front of Mary.

These correlations between the Ark and Mary, especially in Luke’s Gospel, are not coincidence.

As to the Perpetual Virginity, again, look to the Ark of the Covenant. It was holy, pure and could never be touched. Mary is holy, pure and St. Joseph would never have considered to “touch” Mary. Additionally, we have to look to Mary’s response to the angel when he declares she will give birth. At that moment, Mary was a married woman, who would soon be moving in with her husband Joseph (that is why Joseph considered granting her a divorce, you can’t divorce someone you’re not married to). She knew full well how babies were made, she wasn’t dumb. But her response is informative. She asks the angel HOW she will become pregnant, even though she is married. The reason is that she was a consecrated virgin and she and Joseph were never going to consummate the marriage. They were to have a celibate marriage, as he was her protector and would provide for her (and protect her perpetual vow of virginity), and she would assist in keeping his home.

Also look to the OT, especially the passages where the Lord declares that the gate which He passes through, NONE shall pass through it. Mary was consecrated to God, and once someone/something is consecrated to God, they may never be used for secular purposes again. That is why, among all the sins that Belshazzar committed, notice in Daniel 5 what happens when he uses the Temple vessels to drink from, immediately God reacts.

As for the Assumption of Mary, there are a couple different items to note. First, there are NO Catholic nor Orthodox Churches which claim to have the relics or bones of Mary. They have all the Apostles and many others, but NONE claim Mary’s bones. Why?

Also, look to Revelation 11 & 12. The ark of the covenant is seen in Heaven, and the Queen of Heaven is described. Not a coincidence. The Queen of Heaven, is the Mother of the one who is to rule (Jesus). She appears in Heaven, and not on earth.

zz912 gave you some good references and explanations for these Marian doctrines/dogmas, and they are important for your consideration. But, they don’t explain why the Church insists on them being true, which is equally important for you consideration. :slight_smile:

The Church doesn’t teach these things about Mary primarily to honor her, although these teachings do that. Rather, all the Marian teachings have been defined to help us understand aspects of Christ’s life, who he was/is, and his mission. So, really, these teachings are about Christ more than about Mary.

In perserving Mary free from original sin in her Immaculate Conception, God gave us a Second Eve to mend the disobedience of the First Eve. God desired that Mary be completely free of sin since she was to be the new Eve giving birth to the new Adam (Christ) who is now the new head/patriach of the human family. So Eve’s fault was corrected in Mary due to the redemption of Christ her Son. By his redemption that he was to bring about in the flesh, Mary was preserved free from all stain of sin. We have to remember that Christ’s redemption saved the faithful of the OT, not animal sacrifices. The prophets, patriachs, and righteous of the OT were looking forward to Christ’s redemption, although they little understood that in their day. So, God preserved Mary through Christ’s redemption offered in eternity to God the Father once for all.

Mary’s Perpetual Virginity safeguards Jesus as the only Son of Mary and therefore the only begotten Son of God and son of Man. Whenever Mary is mentioned she is referred to as Jesus’ mother. Nowhere in the NT is she referred to as anyone else’s mother. The brothers and sisters listed are cousins of Jesus. The Jews referred to those in their tribe as brothers and sisters, indeed, all Jews were considered one family because they all came from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Mary’s assumption is a foretaste of what has been promised to us all–the bodily resurrection to eternal life. She was not the first to be taken up bodily into heaven. Scripture tells us that Enoch and Elijah were also taken up. Mary’s assumption lets us know that Christ will keep his promise to raise our mortal bodies from the dead. Mary, being sinless and full of virtue was assumed and now intercedes with her Son on our behalf.

I hope these few comments help you understand that Catholics are not exalting Mary above her station, but rather delving more deeply into the mysteries of the Incarnation to better understand Jesus’ life and mission and what it means for us, who like Mary, are not divine like him. Mary’s perogatives show us that we indeed can be holy as the Father is holy just as Jesus commanded us to be. :slight_smile:

Awesome! This should be a sticky! :wink:

Some info. about who Our Lady is to us:

About the Assumption.

One important reason for devotion to Our Holy Mother in the modern era:

Our Lady is Mother and helper of Christians. If we have come to faith, she has come to greet us first.

Just as in The Wedding at Cana, it is through prayers to Our Lady that Our Lord responds most instantly, to requests. Our Lady leads us to her Son. Our Lady was with Our Lord in the most intimate times of His life - birth, first miracle and His death. She was also present in His mission (True Family) and with the disciples after His Resurrection and Ascension, during the Coming of the Holy Spirit.

She is Mother to all of our Creator’s children. She is Mother to the Son, Daughter of the Father and Spouse of the Holy Spirit. Some say a fifth dogma will come proclaiming Our Lady to be the Dispnsor of all Graces as it has been made known that she is the Mediatrix of Grace and Advocate of Grace (with capitals).

Our Lord has made it known that with humility, to place all into Our Lady’s hands, will be the way that we find our way to Him.

As Della said also (about being invited into the holy mysteries…etc…) - very important. Crucial, in fact.

Our Lady is the New Eve. Our Creator has ordained it, that it is His Will for satan to be crushed by Our Lady’s heel. This process has already begun.

Our Lady is the Immaculate Conception. Very important, considering there are such powers that be, who think unborn babies do not have life until later on in the natural process.

If in doubt, read: ‘True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin’.

Mary is your Mother, by spiritual adoption.

Catholics/Orthodox see Mary as, in some sense, the Church. As such, we not only understand Christ better by her, but we also learn to understand our own selves better by her, ourselves as we are purified by Christ, as others have already commented in a much better way than I ever could.

However, i do sympathize with the opinion that doctrines like the Immaculate conception and the Assumption didn’t need to be formally defined, and didn’t necessarily need to be made binding.

Christi pax,


Because they are true, they are part of the deposit of faith delivered to the Apostles.

Tom, this is a much better place to start working through issues than Marian doctrines. Because, at the heart of it, the Catholic position is that sola scriptura is a heresy.

Divine Revelation consists of BOTH Sacred Scripture AND Sacred Tradition. These are equally divine revelation. The need for a “clear scriptural case” comes from this sola scriptura belief, not from any lacking in the Marian doctrines themselves as they are completely logical and part of the fabric of the Salvation story.

I think you did a pretty fine job of explaining.

However, i do sympathize with the opinion that doctrines like the Immaculate conception and the Assumption didn’t need to be formally defined, and didn’t necessarily need to be made binding.

Christi pax,


Don’t forget that Our Lady appeared to St. Bernadette. When Our Lady appears it is for good reason. So maybe the very fact that these truths were made dogma was because they needed to be for the sake of salvation history! Your first paragraph in a sense answers your second.




Please think this through. Truth, when it is known, does NOT bind us, but sets us free. **John 8:31-32 **

It enables us to reason and to know more.
Know Mary, Know Jesus.


Some good food for thought. I guess I should be looking at the relationship between scripture, tradition, and revelation then.

Yes. When we understand that Scripture is one part of Sacred Tradition, which is the revelation of God to man in Christ, then everything else falls into place. :slight_smile:

I guess what I was trying to convey is that I don’t know the reason why these dogmas need to be revealed. I have faith that God does have a reason to reveal these Truths*, I just don’t know that reason, and thus I can sympathize with those who become frustrated for not understanding what that reason is.

*I would have believed them even if they were not dogmitized: remember, there aren’t extraordinary magisterium declarations that declare Christ as Christ: that dogmatize that Jesus was Messiah. Yet no one doubts them, even of they aren’t authorize based on a Papal ex cathedra or a Council. Heck, I don’t think Mary, Queen of Heaven or Mary, mediator of All Grace are dogmatized, yet I believe them, and think they are quite obviously deprived from a Patristic and Scriptural understsnding of Mary.

Christi pax,


There is Mariological study. I think the Church deepens her understanding of revelation in Scripture over time, in and of our Lord. And as time has progressed, as insights go deeper, we develop a more intimate knowledge of Our Lady and her Son and Saviour through her pondering faith-filled Immaculate heart.

The problem is, is that people derile Our Lady, which began with other Christian denominations doing this, which in turn imposed obstacles to our embracing, due to making Catholics tentative when approaching the subject.

I can’t sympathise with people who don’t understand because there is no time to. And as far as I am aware, where Our Lady is the topic of conversation, there is not room to be swaying in the wind. One has to be forthright in one’s declarations, because of Marian honour. We are to defend Our Lady. And if there are dogmas certifying particular truths then I see the work of the Holy Spirit in these dogmas having been realised, for He is the Spouse of Our Lady. And her position written in stone allows all the more access for people to find their way to her Son.

You will find in life, that where there is public opposition to Our Lady, there satan will be, behind this. Because it is Our Lady who treads on satan, as ordained by our Creator, in our own lives, and in the world.

So I don’t sympathise but I do feel sorry for people that they can’t open themselves up to reading a book or meditating upon Church truths, because if they were doing this, they certainly would not argue about such wonderful life-giving truths online. They would seek knowledge not argue about it. They would be too concerned about the possibility that they might be leading people away from our Creator - the “millstone” analogy applies.

It is okay to ask questions but not to persecute. If persecuted, one is to use the sword of faith and reason, to defend Our Lady’s honour.


I can relate to your posts. Sometimes I wonder about why the need to dogmatize the Assumption, in 1950 for instance. It’s hard to see how the world, or my own personal life, are helped or harmed by this. On the other hand I trust the Magisterium. I trust it far more now than 50 years ago, for instance, because I have seen how bad some churches have gone, without the Magisterium. The Living Magisterium defines Scripture and Tradition, and is a living guide for the Christian life in my lifetime.

I suspect in prior centuries people at the time did not understand the need to dogmatize certain things then, when they were dogmatized. “The Arian neighbors seemed like nice people, why bother to make a fuss about some point that doesn’t seem to apply to everyday life?” But I can in hindsight see part of the purpose in past dogmatic pronouncements. What seemed to many people at the time to be an extra stone laying around, became part of a foundation for explaining a larger truth later on; or a barrier against some future error, not visible to many at the time.

I am sure many people at the time saw no need for the Magisterium to define the New Testament canon in the early Church. I think most Catholics and non Catholics now see the need, and are glad it was defined. In the future people will better understand the need for the 1950 Extraordinary definition of the Assumption.

The full text of the Pope Pius XII’s declaration defining the dogma of the Assumption is here:

I have excerpted the following parts,

"44. For which reason, … by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.

  1. It is forbidden to any man to change this, our declaration, pronouncement, and
    definition or, by rash attempt, to oppose and counter it. If any man should presume to make such an attempt, let him know that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul."

As you can see, Catholics are required to believe this dogma under penalty of incurring the “wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul”.

I know Popes profess to speak for Almighty God, but I find the reference to the Apostles
Peter and Paul puzzling in the context of this specific Declaration. I happened upon the
following link by Kenneth Humphreys, who professes to be an atheist (and he is also anti-
Christian) but who also professes to be very knowledgeable about the Bible:
Mr. Humphreys does not believe that Jesus or Mary even existed, but he appears to be knowledgeable about the Bible passages regarding Mary, and I hereby quote the following excerpt from his link,

"… Paul does not mention Mary (or Joseph) at all, and in the gospels, the shadowy figure of Mary, destined to become the most pre-eminent of all the saints and Queen of Heaven, at best, is a two-dimensional nonentity.

In the gospel pageant, ‘Mary’ appears in several scenes. … She appears first in the so-called ‘Annunciation’ (at the well …?) when an angel maps out her career. With little ado, she accepts the ‘blessed’ role revealed to her (Luke 1.38) and rushes off to spend three months in the mountains with the pregnant Elizabeth (she who will mother John the Baptist). In this, her biggest scene, Mary delivers her only set-piece speech … – the … ‘Magnificat’:

God only knows who was also in the room (or was it a cave? ) to record all this! Perhaps
she wrote her memoirs. (In truth, the piece is an obvious adaptation of the song of Hannah
in 1 Samuel 2). But after this soliloquy Mary has not a word to say for herself. She
witnesses visits of shepherds and wise men and ‘ponders’ (Luke 2.16); she is taken to Egypt (Matthew 2.13.18) and brought back to Galilee; she puzzles at her twelve-year old’s claim to messiahship (Luke 2.48,52); she witnesses the turning of water to wine (John 2.1,12); she is rejected by her super-star off-spring (Luke 8. 19,21); she witnesses his crucifixion (John 19.25,27); and she waits for the holy spirit (Acts 1.14). Her ultimate fate is not revealed and she is credited with no role at all in the creation of the Christian Church."

After reading Mr. Humphreys’ link, I looked at my Catholic New American Bible, and I was
not able to find any reference to Mary in any of the Apostle Paul’s Letters to the various
churches. I looked at the Books of Peter, although I understand that Peter, the first
Pope, did not write either of these Books of the Bible (This is stated in the introduction
to each of these Books). I then looked for quotes by Peter in the Acts of the Apostles,
and I did not find any quotes about Mary, but I did find a quote to the effect that Jesus
is the only mediator and there is no other name in the human race by which we are saved.

If anyone knows of any quotes by Paul or Peter about Mary, please let me know. In Paul’s Letters he often warns against false doctrines, and he purports to instruct on the true Christian faith. If Paul and Peter’s theology did not include Mary, why are their names invoked to support a Marian doctrine which must be believed under penalty of their wrath and the wrath of Almighty God?

From an historical standpoint, I understand that Mary was alive at the time Paul wrote his
Letters and at the time Peter made the statements which he is quoted as making in the
Bible. I understand there may be an effort in the Catholic Church to have Mary declared
as Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix of all Graces, so I have the following question about
this: If Mary is the Mediatrix of all Graces, who was mediating graces after the death of
Jesus Christ and before Mary’s Assumption into heaven? Was Mary mediating graces from planet Earth, and if so, why did Peter and Paul not mention this? And if Mary is so central to Christian theology, why was she not even mentioned by Paul and Peter?

I find Catholic Church teachings to be almost as much of a Marian theology as a Christian
theology. I wonder why this is the case if the first Pope and the Apostle Paul did not
even mention her in their writings or statements. I know there are those who will say that Christian theology “developed”, but I find it hard to see that as a “development” rather than an “addition” when the earliest teachings on basic Christian theology did not include a theology of Mary.

There is a text from St. Paul. I will try and find it when it comes to mind again.

It is recognised that St. Luke, the doctor, was St. Paul’s scribe/writer. St. Paul knew St. Peter, and St. Peter knew St. John, and St. John and St. Peter knew Our Lady. The link is there. You could read some of Pope Benedict’s trio of books. There is mariological study and it is not new. This is taught wide-spread throughout the world.

Also, Our Lady was humble. She is mentioned in very specific areas in the Bible which reveal a lot. Being one of the sources she always chose to glorify her Son. There were those who may, having known her great faith, mistaken her for a goddess at that time, so it has been suggested, that this is a reason she was not mentioned too much. Maybe even for her safety.

It is not the case that the Church is making anything happen but revealing the truth and sharing it.

To know who was mediating grace: we have the Holy Trinity who can do all and Mary who was utterly devoted. But if you have a question, treat it seriously by taking it to prayer, and maybe ask the question during the praying of the Holy Rosary in particular.

I fail to see if you have such questions why you haven’t evidently sought to read any holy books on the subject to fill in the gaps! :confused::shrug:

Your reference to the Church deepening her understanding of the Scriptural revelation of Mary can only lead one to contemplate Mary’s most poetic Magnificat, The Canticle of Mary,

From where can we learn more about Mary scripturally than her longest speaking part of the Bible, which we find in Lk 1:46-55, Mary proclaims that God has looked upon “his handmaid’s lowliness” when she speaks about herself. One cannot imagine a more humble and lowly servant! By her words she rejoices in God her savior.

How wonderful that God, in his Providence, ensured that such words be preserved for us to this day. One can only imagine the 1st Century devotion to Mary as she processed among the people reciting her Magnificat so that all would know how God had blessed her and so that all would know how she had proclaimed God immediately following her visit to Elizabeth as recounted in Luke’s Gospel. The hearts of the people had to be so moved as they followed her and repeated her words, knowing that by so doing, these words would be carried forward from decade to decade until finally finding their rightful place in Luke’s Gospel. By reason of this, for all ages Mary is called blessed.

Whenever the Church “binds” us in a doctrinal belief, it is necessarily so that she sees that it would be a sin for us not to believe in that doctrine. The doctrines of the Church are not just some abstract intellectual positions. They are the manifestation of the work, the grace, and the power of Jesus Christ.

Just as Mary pondered the works of God we are called to imitate her and do that as well.

Luke 2:51
“ … and his mother kept all these things in her heart.”

Sometimes we could want a lot of things more clear.
What about Mary’s life ? Why did Gabriel not stick around to answer what had to be the many questions that would come up in her life? Who was more deserving than she was, and is ? Who had a more important job than she ?

Trying or hoping for life without the pain of uncertainty is not the answer. God knows what we need and He gives that. The pondering and the seeking is good for our soul and the strengthening of our faith.

We live in a world were corruption, sin, evil, and persecution can seem rampant.
The Immaculate Conception of Mary shows how Jesus conquers sin in an absolute way that confounds the proud and arrogant.

[INDENT]Luke 1:46
“My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm,
**he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, **52 he has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent empty away. 54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy …”
The Assumption of Mary gives us hope that we will be saved from all our worldly problems on judgement day if we remain faithful to Him.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit