What is a Dogma?
A dogma is a definitive article of faith that has been solemnly promulgated by the college of bishops at an ecumenical council or by the pope when speaking in a statement et cathedra in which the magisterial of the church presents a particular doctrine as necessary for the belief of the Catholic faithful.
There are two elements of a dogma, namely;
- Immediate divine revelation from scripture or sacred traditions
- Proposition of the dogma which not only announces the dogma but declares it binding to the faith.
Four Major Marian Dogmas Of The Catholic Church
Perpetual Virginity – This refers to the divine acknowledgment of Mary being a virgin before the birth of Christ even though she was engaged to be married to the foster father of Jesus, Joseph. Vatican II reiterated the teaching about Mary, the Ever-Virgin, by stating that Christ’s birth did not diminish Mary’s virginal integrity but sanctified it. Mary was a virgin before Christ’s conception and remained ever-virgin after the birth of Christ. It was proclaimed by Council of Lateran 649.
Mother Of God – which translates the more accurately stated Greek term “Theotokos” or “Birth-giver of God.”This dogma was proclaimed by the council of Ephesus in 431. It is accepted by all Christian doctrines. This emanates from the Bible where Mary gave birth to Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem. It is important to note that Mary’s Divine Motherhood was not the object of an independent or exclusive dogmatic declaration. The statement is embedded in texts defining the person and natures of Jesus Christ which makes the motherhood of Christ an essential Christian doctrine.
Immaculate Conception – It was proclaimed by Pope Pius IX in his apostolic constitution “In effabillus Deus” on December 8, 1854. It stresses the dignity and holiness required to become “Mother of God”. The privilege of the Immaculate Conception is the source and basis for Mary’s all-holiness as Mother of God.
This lays particular emphases on the fact “that the most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.” – [Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus (1854): DS 2803].
Assumption – There is a great difference between Ascension and Assumption. Jesus Christ, Son of God and Risen Lord, ascended into heaven, a sign of divine power. Mary, on the contrary, was elevated or assumed into heaven by the power and grace of God. This dogma has no direct basis in scripture. It was nonetheless declared “divinely revealed,” meaning that it is contained implicitly in divine Revelation. It was proclaimed by Pope Pius XII on the first of November, 1950, on his Encyclical Munificentissimus Deus. Mary has stronger support in the tradition that she lived, glorified, in body and soul which means Mary is already in the state that will be ours after the resurrection of the dead.