Ask Father Hardon
Vol. 5 - #4, July / August 1999
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
Q. How were Enoch and Elijah's being taken directly into Heaven
different from Our Ladys Assumption into Heaven? S.C., Georgia
A. Among others, Enoch and Elijah are identified in the Old Testament
as having been taken from this world by God without apparently going through
the act of dying. We know much more about Elijah than about Enoch. Presumably
Elijah went to heaven without dying. Moreover it was believed that Elijah
went to heaven without having first died. Does this mean that Elijah went
to heaven directly? Actually the Church has never held as official teaching
that Elijah was taken directly to heaven without going through the process
Much less is known about Enoch, the son of Cain. Enoch is said to
have walked with God because: God took him. No doubt Ecclesiasticus suggests
that Enoch was directly taken to heaven. In any case, it is not certain that
either Elijah or Enoch was directly taken from this world and assumed into
heaven. We may hold that both Elijah and Enoch were mysteriously taken from
this world without going through the ordinary human experience of dying. But
the Catholic Church has never taught this as a certain article of faith.
Q. Was the Blessed Virgin Mary impeccable? S.C., Georgia
A. The Blessed Virgin never sinned. In fact this is common Catholic
teaching. But strictly speaking Mary was preserved from ever committing actual
sin. It is a common teaching of Catholic Christianity that the Blessed Virgin,
being conceived without sin, never actually offended God by even the least
venial sin. This preservation from actual sin is part of the common teaching
of Catholic Christianity. However, the Churchs focus is on Marys being preserved
from ever committing actual sin.
Impeccability literally means the absolute impossibility of committing
sin. The Church teaches the impeccability of Christ. Christ could not sin
because He was the all holy God who became man. In fact, the Council of Constantinople
condemned the theory that Christ became fully impeccable only after His resurrection.
This is false. Christ, as the living God who became man, not only never sinned
but could never sin. Absolutely speaking Christ was impeccable. Our Lady certainly
never sinned, but we cannot say that she was incapable of sinning because
we do not say that she was absolutely impeccable. We apply impeccability to
Christ who was the living God who became man.
Q. Was Mary married to Joseph according to the Jewish Law before
the Annunciation? A.H., Oregon
A. The Church commonly teaches that Mary and Joseph were truly married
according to Jewish Law. However, in saying this, we do not hold that Mary
and Joseph ever had sexual relations. Both she and Joseph understood that
they were not ever to engage in sexual relations. Consequently, we must say
that both Mary and Joseph were truly married according to the Jewish Law.
But we must also say that they abstained from any sexual relation as wife
and husband. This is the Churchs official teaching about Mary and Josephs
Vol. 5 - #4, July / August 1999, p. 40
Copyright © 1999 by Inter Mirifica
No reproductions shall be made without prior written permission