On 1 November 1950 Pope Pius XII defined the dogma of the assumption of Mary:
“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” .
How Did She Breathe Up There?
I wanted to take a moment to address a concern some people have about the assumption of Mary. The concern is that it sounds silly. What happened exactly? She just started floating up towards heaven like Superman (or Supergirl, I suppose)? Isn’t this just an example of the early Christians holding to a erroneous cosmology where Heaven is up there somewhere? Where did she go? Into outer space? How did she breathe up there?
First, it should be said that all of these questions could be asked of Christ’s ascension into Heaven, and so if one is willing to accept that by faith, it really isn’t a stretch to accept the assumption if we have good revelatory grounds for believing it. Secondly, it doesn’t follow that just because we don’t understand something, or that a thing seems silly to us, that it is therefore false (consider the double-slit experiment, or the platypus).
No Ordinary Cloud
Thirdly, and this is the main point I want to make in this post, the cloud that Christ was taken up into was not an ordinary cloud.
In Witnesses of the Messiah, Stephen Pimentel writes:
“Jesus was taken up not into the clouds of the sky but into the cloud of glory that manifests the presence of God. This was the cloud that descended upon Mount Siani, accompanied Israle in the wilderness, and filled Solomon’s temple. This was the cloud that overshadowed Jesus during the transfiguration and from which the Father spoke (cf. Lk. 9:34-35). Thus, Paul describes Jesus as having been ‘taken up in glory’ (1 Tim 3:16). Within the cloud of glory there is found the cloud of God, and from the Ascension onward Jesus is seated on this throne at the right hand of the Father.”
If this was true of Christ, then it may have been true of his mother.
This doesn’t necessarily make the assumption less mysterious, but it does answer the question, “how did you breathe in outer space?” Namely, that’s not where she went.
To learn more about the Assumption, here’s a blog by my mate, Tim Staples.