Mary’s Assumption Stands to Disprove Gnosticism: You aren’t Dragging yourself, or anyone else, to Heaven
Some time ago, and throughout the years, I’ve heard various people say, “I want to drag souls to Heaven.” I’m sure that in the cases where I’ve heard it, the person didn’t realize what they were saying. They can’t drag themselves, let alone anyone else, to Heaven! If we take that phrase literally then it means that the person thinks they have the power of God, specifically, of Jesus, as their own. (!) Nobody in their right mind would claim such, except for that nasty incident in the garden, wherein Eve bought the serpent’s lie that they will “become like gods.” The implication of course was that they had to do evil in order to be like God. Thus error was born whereby people even today persist in the idea that good can be done by their own power, even with evil means.
The gnostics have, as their core doctrine as it were, two ideas that militate against this truth: first, they claim that we can become god on our own power, and they claim to have the secret (*ahem*… it’s nothing different than what the serpent said, for they follow his method) and, second, that evil is the material world and consequently, the gnostic believes salvation is obtained by ridding their soul of their material body.
Our Lord says, sine me nihil potestis facere that is, “without me you can do nothing.” That has two direct implications: 1) none of us has the power of God to do good. Nobody. Not even the Blessed Mother. 2) you can destroy things and reek error without God. It’s that first part we want to focus on, namely, that if the Most Blessed and Most Holy person besides Jesus cannot even take herself to Heaven, how can we?
The answer is in Our Lord’s words and in the example Our Blessed Mother gave. Jesus literally came and got her and took her to Heaven.
For those who merit eternal life with God, Jesus takes them to Heaven. Body and soul. Mary’s body was taken, so the Gnostics get that one wrong.
They also get the part wrong about doing it on your own power. If people were not already convinced by the Resurrection on Easter, then Jesus gave the second Easter example with Mary, His Mother. He really meant it when He promised eternal life. But unlike the gnostics, who think you have the power within yoirself, Mary shows us that even she lacked this power! Mary shows us the way, though: by Her Son, Jesus. He has the power alone.
Her life is not a guessing game, either. We have direct accounts of what she was like. Nicephorus Callistus, compiling direct accounts of her, says that the Mother of God “was of average stature, or as others suggest, slightly more than average; Her hair golden in appearance; Her eyes bright with pupils like shiny olives; Her eyebrows strong in character and moderately dark, Her nose pronounced and Her mouth vibrant bespeaking sweet speech; Her face was neither round nor angular, but somewhat oblong; the palm of Her hands and fingers were longish…
St Ambrose of Milan wrote of her in On Virgins: “She was a virgin not only in body, but also in soul, humble of heart, circumspect in word, wise in mind, not overly given to speaking, a lover of reading and of work, and prudent in speech. Her rule of life was to offend no one, to intend good for everyone, to respect the aged, not envy others, avoid bragging, be healthy of mind, and to love virtue.”
“All Her days She was concerned with fasting: She slept only when necessary, and even then, when Her body was at rest, She was still alert in spirit, repeating in Her dreams what She had read, or the implementation of proposed intentions, or those planned yet anew. She was out of Her house only for church, and then only in the company of relatives. Otherwise, She seldom appeared outside Her house in the company of others, and She was Her own best overseer. Others could protect Her only in body, but She Herself guarded Her character.”
No one had doubts of her holiness. note the comment about fasting, too (a lost art of her example seldom followed today). She must have been a joy to be near, as the apostles wept at her Dormition.
Notice in the detail, that their faces have tears. They had a funeral procession about the town (that’s why you see a censor and a candlestick in the icon) and two things happened there. First, Anthonius, a Jewish rabbi in the town was angry about the procession and the apparent regard shown for her, that he stormed and tried to topple the funeral bier. As his hands approached touching something so holy, St. Michael the Archangel (remember it was him who asked, “who is like unto God?”) sliced them off.
That’s not the end of it, though. He apparently recanted, and his hands miraculously restored.
The other thing that happened was that Our Lord came to bring His Mother to Heaven. The apostles saw Him take her.
Our Lord drags people to Heaven. We don’t. The message is pretty clear that we shouldn’t even grasp at such thoughts. Only in fantasyland can a human do what Jesus alone can, yet, that’s precisely what original sin is: fantasyland. Gnosticism is fantasy, that fantasy taught by the serpent, that by doing evil, we can become like gods. Nonsense!
Grasping at Heaven and holiness by the unworthy invokes the powers of Heaven to defend what is God’s… Literally. That the gnostic errors around us today, such as the error of Napoleon Hill’s theories on positive thinking (which is linked to the Pentecostalism lingering around the charismatic movement) or the error of Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People which abuses the duty to tell the truth into the error that lying is OK if you are doing it for good (like selling things). These errors trick people into thinking they can do the things of God! There is a clear message from Our Lady: follow her Son (Who is actually God) and don’t pretend lest you suffer.
But, even clearer, for those who trust in the example of Mary, she brings her Son to restore what we lose in error (sin), and she shows us the way to Heaven – by her Son, Jesus!
This article, Mary’s Assumption Stands to Disprove Gnosticism: You aren’t Dragging yourself, or anyone else, to Heaven is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
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About John B. Manos
John B. Manos, Esq. is an attorney and chemical engineer. He has a dog, Fyo, and likes photography, astronomy, and dusty old books published by Benzinger Brothers. He is the President of the Bellarmine Forum.