Q: How do you know that Mary and the Saints have gone to heaven? The Bible doesn't say that.
A: It is true that the Bible did not say Mary went up to heaven. But we believe she did because of the following reasons:
- Mary did so much of what God wanted that how can she not be in heaven to enjoy life everlasting?
- When we read the Gospel according to Luke - chapter 16, we read the story about Lazarus and the rich man. When both men died, the rich man went into Hades (world of the dead). Lazarus, on the other hand, was carried by the angels to join Abraham at the feast in heaven.
- We know from reading the Gospels that Moses and Elijah have gone to heaven, simply because they appeared to Jesus and spoke with Him about Jesus' suffering (Mt 17, Mk 9, and Lk 9). So at least there's somebody in heaven.
- Throughout history, Mary has made numerous appearances. Everytime, she is telling us to repent, make peace, and return to God. Here is a part of the report by Wayne Weible that I found: " When the children asked at the request of a priest if people should pray to Jesus or to Mary, her answer was: "Please pray to Jesus. I am His Mother and I intercede for you with Him. But all prayer goes to Jesus. I will help. I will pray, but everything does not depend only on me. It depends also on your strength, the strength of those who pray." So one can see that we are not to pray just to Mary but even more so to God. However, if our hearts turn to Mary more than to God then it would be a sin.
- Also, the Catholic Church teaches about devotions to Mary. Since the Holy Spirit has been guiding the Church for 2000 years, if God really disapproved of such appearances of Mary or even praying to Mary, He would not have allowed it to happen in His Church. One might argue that God can let things go wrong in His Church, but for almost 2000 years?! I think that is unlikely because Jesus promised to send down the Holy Spirit to guide the Church "into all truth (Jn 16:13)". Mistakes may still be made (by human factors), but certainly not on doctrine.
- One might argue that the Bible does not say a lot about Mary. That is true. The Bible doesn't say a lot about what Catholics believe of Mary. The majority of the New Testament are letters written from the Disciples and Apostles to teach the early Christians to conduct themselves well as early Christians. Also, the Tradition that we can sought Mary's intercession began around the beginning of the second century.
- One might also argue that we don't know if a person who's gone to heaven can hear us. Perhaps not everyone who goes to heaven can hear us talk, but certainly the ones who are considered to have a high degree of intercessory powers (ie: Mary & the Saints) because they are privileged enough by God's tremendous Glory and Blessing in them. But we are still on earth where sin rules, so most of us are not privileged to have the riches that the Saints have. It would be up to God to decide who gets to be privileged enough to hear a being from heaven appear and speak to them. Why, the angels can hear us and they're in heaven. And besides, not all apparitions were approved by the Catholic Church.
- Here's a suggestion to those who doubt (it may sound retarded to some of you...): There is an image of Mary in Guatelupe (I'm not sure if I have the spelling right) somewhere in Central America (or was it South America?) that has been around for I think four centuries. One might want to try gathering up a whole bunch of people who think they have a lot of faith in God and then say to the image, "in the name of Jesus Christ, I order you to disappear". See if that will get rid of the image. However, I think people may have already tried that in vain...
- Another important point I feel I should also make is about praying to Saints. Usually people pray to a particular Saint because of whatever outstanding quality the Saint is suppose to possess. Then the person doing the praying may learn to be more like the Saint. So we can actually say that the Saints (and Mary) serve as examples for us Christians to follow. It is said that Mary is the "most perfect imitator of Christ" (where "imitator" means being a humble servant of God; just like Christ). Mary is also credited to being Christ's "first disciple". That which is true since she was the one who was with Jesus all the way from the moment he was conceived right up to standing at the Cross. She knows Christ more than anybody else. She had so much faith in God that she found the strength to walk with Jesus all the way to the Cross and witness Him being nailed to the Cross all the time knowing that her Son will be raised. Not a lot of woman are that strong.
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