The first time I read this story I felt blown away. It’s so utterly AWESOME and inspiring. It really gave me chills, wondrous chills. Check it out dear brothers and sisters in the Lord! It’s one of the final chapters in Scott Hahn’s “Hail, Holy Queen.”
"I had long since begun to feel at home in the Catholic Church, and I was elated by how enthusiastically Catholics were recieving my conversion testimony wherever I went. Fundamentalists and evangelicals would sometimes attend my lectures to challenge me, but I was eager to take them on. I knew the arguments before they even opened their mouths–I had once espoused them myself–and I knew exactly the right biblical response. I even began to look forward to these challenges, as a marksman looks forward to the next clay pigeon challenge. I was feeling very much the macho apologist.
Flush with so much successes, I found myself one weekend in the neighborhood of my old Protestant seminary, Gordon-Conwell. I decided to go back and spend some time with the professor I’d served as a teaching assistant. He seemed eager to see me and even invited me to stay at his home while I was in town. He had heard, of course, about my entering the Catholic Church, and he was, to put it mildly, dissapointed. He said he was looking forward to discussing the matter at greater length.
I knew that he wanted to challenge me, and I was eager to be challenged.
I arrived, and we greeted each other warmly; but my initial hunch was right. It wasn’t long before my host and wife began to pepper me with all kinds of questions about the Pope, Purgatory, the Eucharist, the Priesthood, Confession . . . All of which was fine by me, because, through a whole day and into the night, I was like an all-star slugger at batting practice, slamming one slow pitch after another into the bleachers.
Then, around midnight, just as I was beginning to look forward to some well-earned shut-eye, my friend said to me: “What about the Assumption?”
I knew what he was implying–that ther eis no scriptural evidence for the Assumption. I was tired, and annoyed the he was bringing up the Assumption at that late hour of the night. But I was also unprepared. I replied, “Well, you can look at Revelation 12 and see that there she was, body and soul in Heaven.”
“That’s nice Scott,” he said. “But give me evidence that anyone in the Church believed that before the sixth century.”
I responded that, in all its history, the Church had never honored a tomb as the final resting place of Mary’s bones.
He pointed out, rightly, that the argument from silence was about as weak an argument as one could offer.
I acknowledged that he was right, but countered that times of persecution rarely yield evidence of doctrine or devotion. Survival and perseverance are the Church’s top priorities.
My hosts were not impressed.
And the macho apologist was beginning to feel the effects of a day’s worth of sporting arguments–and a year’s worth of intellectual pride.
I scrambled to point out, yes, it’s not untill the sixth century that the Assumption makes its debut in our documentary history–but by then, we encounter it as established and developed, with its own feast days, hymns, and literature. When the emperor declared it a universal feast, there was not even a hint of resistance or controversy.
My hosts smiled. “That’s all well and good, Scott. But the fact in that you don’t have anything to account for five centuries of silence, do you?”
Up to this point, our discussion had been amiable. But now I felt it turn somewhat pointed, almost adversarial.
But I had to respond, “No, I can’t think of anything.”
“Can you recommend a boo? Anything at all that I might read?”
I shook my head.
“You don’t have answers from the first five centuries. You don’t have a book I can read–you, who have a book for everything, don’t have a book on the Assumption!” He was savoring the moment, relishing this victory.
I said, “No.”
“Let me remind you, Scott, that this is a dogma, infallibly defined. And you can’t explain to me why there was silence for five centuries?”
“I don’t know,” I said.
It was the closing moment of a dramatic exchange that had gone on for hours, and all my previous triumphs seemed reduced to nothing. I kind of limped up the steps to my guest room bed, feeling like I’d let my mother down.
I sat on the bed, then dropped to my knees and prayed an apology to Jesus. I felt I’d let Him down by letting His mother down. I felt as if I’d run with the ball to the one-yard line, only to fumble short of the goal. I said, “I’m sorry, Lord, for my weakness and failure.” I prayed a Hail Mary. Then I fell, exhausted, to sleep."