The Blessed Virgin Mary

"May that bright and gentle Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, overcome you with her sweetness, and revenge herself on her foes by interceding effectually for their conversion." - Cardinal John Henry Newman


"And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed [art] thou among women, and blessed [is] the fruit of thy womb. And whence [is] this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed [is] she that believed: for there shall be a performance of The Blessed Virgin Marythose things which were told her from the Lord. And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For He hath regarded the low estate of His handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For He that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy [is] His name." - Luke 1:41-49

"And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him." - John 2:3-11

"And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and [to] his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred [and] threescore days." - Revelation 12:1-6


What the Catechism of the Catholic Church says on "The Virgin Mary:"

64. "Through the prophets, God forms his people in the hope of salvation, in the expectation of a new and everlasting Covenant intended for all, to be written on their hearts. [Cf. Is 2:2-4 ; Jer 31:31-34 ; Heb 10:16 .] The prophets proclaim a radical redemption of the People of God, purification from all their infidelities, a salvation which will include all the nations. [Cf. Ezek 3:6; Is 49:5-6; Is 53:11 .] Above all, the poor and humble of the Lord will bear this hope.  Such holy women as Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Judith and Esther kept alive the hope of Israel's salvation. The purest figure among them is Mary. [Cf. Ezek 2:3 ; Lk 1:38 .]"

148. "The Virgin Mary most perfectly embodies the obedience of faith. By faith Mary welcomes the tidings and promise brought by the angel Gabriel, believing that 'with God nothing will be impossible' and so giving her assent:  'Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be (done) to me according to your word.' [Lk 1:37-38; cf. Gen 18:14.] Elizabeth greeted her: 'Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.' [Lk 1:45 .] It is for this faith that all generations have called Mary blessed. [Cf. Lk 1:48.]"

273. "Only faith can embrace the mysterious ways of God's almighty power.  This faith glories in its weaknesses in order to draw to itself Christ's power. [Cf. 2 Cor 12:9 ; Phil 4:13.] The Virgin Mary is the supreme model of this faith, for she believed that 'nothing will be impossible with God', and was able to magnify the Lord: 'For he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.' [Lk 1:37, 49.]"

487. "What the Catholic faith believes about Mary is based on what it believes about Christ, and what it teaches about Mary illumines in turn its faith in Christ."

490. "To become the mother of the Saviour, Mary 'was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role.' [LG 56.] The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as 'full of grace'. [Lk 1:28 .] In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God's grace."

491. "Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, 'full of grace' through God, [Lk 1:28 .] was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:  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, Saviour of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin. [Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus (1854): DS 2803.]"

492. "The 'splendour of an entirely unique holiness' by which Mary is 'enriched from the first instant of her conception' comes wholly from Christ:  she is 'redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son'. [LG 53, 56.] The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person 'in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places' and chose her 'in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love'. [Cf. Eph 1:3-4 .]"

493. "The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God 'the All-Holy' (Panagia), and celebrate her as 'free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature'. [LG 56.] By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long.  'Let it be done to me according to your word. . .'"

494. "At the announcement that she would give birth to 'the Son of the Most High' without knowing man, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary responded with the obedience of faith, certain that 'with God nothing will be impossible':  'Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be (done) to me according to your word.' [Lk 1:28-38 ; cf. Rom 1:5 .] Thus, giving her consent to God's word, Mary becomes the mother of Jesus. Espousing the divine will for salvation wholeheartedly, without a single sin to restrain her, she gave herself entirely to the person and to the work of her Son; she did so in order to serve the mystery of redemption with him and dependent on him, by God's grace: [Cf. LG 56.]  As St. Irenaeus says, 'Being obedient she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race.' [St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3, 22, 4: PG 7/1, 959A.] Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert. . .: 'The knot of Eve's disobedience was untied by Mary's obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith.' [St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3, 22, 4: PG 7/1, 959A.]  Comparing her with Eve, they call Mary 'the Mother of the living' and frequently claim: 'Death through Eve, life through Mary.' [LC 56; St. Epiphanius, Panarion 2, 78, 18: PG 42, 728CD-729AB; St. Jerome, Ep. 22, 21: PL 22, 408.]"

495. "Called in the Gospels 'the mother of Jesus', Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as 'the mother of my Lord'. [Lk 1:43 ; Jn 2:1 ; Jn 19:25 ; cf. Mt 13:55 ; et al.]  In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father's eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly 'Mother of God' (Theotokos). [Council of Ephesus (431): DS 251.]"

496. "From the first formulations of her faith, the Church has confessed that Jesus was conceived solely by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, affirming also the corporeal aspect of this event: Jesus was conceived 'by the Holy Spirit without human seed'. [Council of the Lateran (649): DS 503; cf. DS 10-64.] The Fathers see in the virginal conception the sign that it truly was the Son of God who came in a humanity like our own. Thus St. Ignatius of Antioch at the beginning of the second century says:  You are firmly convinced about our Lord, who is truly of the race of David according to the flesh, Son of God according to the will and power of God, truly born of a virgin,. . . he was truly nailed to a tree for us in his flesh under Pontius Pilate. . . he truly suffered, as he is also truly risen. [St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Smyrn 1-2: Apostolic Fathers, ed. J. B. Lightfoot (London: Macmillan, 1889), 11/2, 289-293; SCh 10, 154-156; cf. Rom 1:3; Jn 1:13.]"

497. "The Gospel accounts understand the virginal conception of Jesus as a divine work that surpasses all human understanding and possibility: [Mt 1:18-25 ; Lk 1:26-38 .] 'That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit', said the angel to Joseph about Mary his fiancee. [Mt 1:20 .] The Church sees here the fulfilment of the divine promise given through the prophet Isaiah: 'Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son.' [Is 7:14 vLXX; quoted  in Mt 1:23 vGreek.]"

498. "People are sometimes troubled by the silence of St. Mark's Gospel and the New Testament Epistles about Jesus' virginal conception. Some might wonder if we were merely dealing with legends or theological constructs not claiming to be history. To this we must respond: Faith in the virginal conception of Jesus met with the lively opposition, mockery or incomprehension of non-believers, Jews and pagans alike; [Cf. St. Justin, Dial. 99, 7: PG 6, 708-709; Origen, Contra Celsum 1, 32, 69: PG 11, 720-721; et al.] so it could hardly have been motivated by  pagan mythology or by some adaptation to the ideas of the age. The meaning of this event is accessible only to faith, which understands in it the 'connection of these mysteries with one another' [Dei Filius 4: DS 3016.] in the totality of Christ's mysteries, from his Incarnation to his Passover. St. Ignatius of Antioch already bears witness to this connection:  'Mary's virginity and giving birth, and even the Lord's death escaped the notice of the prince of this world: these three mysteries worthy of proclamation were accomplished in God's silence.' [St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Eph. 19, 1: AF 11/2 76-80: cf. 1 Cor 2:8 .]"

499. "The deepening of faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Mary's real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man. [Cf. DS 291; 294; 427; 442; 503; 571; 1880.] In fact, Christ's birth 'did not diminish his mother's virginal integrity but sanctified it.' [LG 57.] And so the liturgy of the Church celebrates Mary as Aeiparthenos, the 'Ever-virgin'. [Cf. LG 52.]"

500. "Against this doctrine the objection is sometimes raised that the Bible mentions brothers and sisters of Jesus. [Cf. Mk 3:31-35; Mk 6:3; 1 Cor 9:5; Gal 1:19.] The Church has always understood these passages as not referring to other children of the Virgin Mary. In fact James and Joseph, 'brothers of Jesus', are the sons of another Mary, a disciple of Christ, whom St. Matthew significantly calls 'the other Mary'. [Mt 13:55; Mt 28:1; cf. Mt 27:56 .] They are close relations of Jesus, according to an Old Testament expression. [Cf. Gen 13:8 ; Gen 14:16; Gen 29:15; etc.]"

501. "Jesus is Mary's only son, but her spiritual motherhood extends to all men whom indeed he came to save:  'The Son whom she brought forth is he whom God placed as the first-born among many brethren, that is, the faithful in whose generation and formation she co-operates with a mother's love.' [LG 63; cf. Jn 19:26-27; Rom 8:29; Rev 12:17.]"

502. "The eyes of faith can discover in the context of the whole of Revelation the mysterious reasons why God in his saving plan wanted his Son to be born of a virgin. These reasons touch both on the person of Christ and his redemptive mission, and on the welcome Mary gave that mission on behalf of all men."

503. "Mary's virginity manifests God's absolute initiative in the Incarnation.  Jesus has only God as Father. 'He was never estranged from the Father because of the human nature which he assumed. . . He is naturally Son of the Father as to his divinity and naturally son of his mother as to his humanity, but properly Son of the Father in both natures.' [Council of Friuli (796): DS 619; cf. Lk 2:48-49.]"

504. "Jesus is conceived by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary's womb because he is the New Adam, who inaugurates the new creation: 'The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.'[1 Cor 15:45,47.] From his conception, Christ's humanity is filled with the Holy Spirit, for God 'gives him the Spirit without measure.' [Jn 3:34 .] From 'his fullness' as the head of redeemed humanity 'we have all received, grace upon grace.' [Jn 1:16; cf. Col 1:18.]"

505. "By his virginal conception, Jesus, the New Adam, ushers in the new birth of children adopted in the Holy Spirit through faith. 'How can this be?' [Lk 1:34; cf. Jn 3:9.] Participation in the divine life arises 'not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God'. [Jn 1:13.] The acceptance of this life is virginal because it is entirely the Spirit's gift to man. The spousal character of the human vocation in relation to God [Cf. 2 Cor 11:2.] is fulfilled perfectly in Mary's virginal motherhood."

506. "Mary is a virgin because her virginity is the sign of her faith 'unadulterated by any doubt', and of her undivided gift of herself to God's will. [LG 63; cf. l Cor 7:34-35.] It is her faith that enables her to become the mother of the Saviour: 'Mary is more blessed because she embraces faith in Christ than because she conceives the flesh of Christ.' [St. Augustine, De virg. 3: PL 40, 398.]"

507. "At once virgin and mother, Mary is the symbol and the most perfect realization of the Church: 'the Church indeed. . . by receiving the word of God in faith becomes herself a mother. By preaching and Baptism she brings forth sons, who are conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of God, to a new and immortal life. She herself is a virgin, who keeps in its entirety and purity the faith she pledged to her spouse.' [LG 64; cf. 63.]"


COMMENTS

I will begin by paraphrasing St. Bernard of Clairvaux.  Is it better to honor Mary too much or too little?  If one is a sin - which would be more forgivable in the eyes of God?  St. Bernard thought it better to be guilty of honoring her too much as Christ will forgive a person for honoring His Mother (if it were indeed a sin which it is not).

Below is the prayer "Sub Tuum Praesidium" from the 4th century. As one can see from it, the early Christians who were being persecuted by the Romans put their trust in the Mother of God as well as God Himself. Why shouldn't we today?  The most popular Marian prayer among Catholics today is the "Hail Mary."  Most of this prayer is taken directly from Scripture (see Luke 1:28 and 42).  Is it a sin to recite Scripture?  The rest of the prayer only asks for Mary to pray for us as sinners.  Is that a sin?

In addition, Jesus Christ performed His first public miracle at the "intercession" of His mother (John 2:1 ).  Why would that change now that she has joined Him in Heaven?

--- Chris                                            


HAIL MARY

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.

Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.


SUB TUUM PRAESIDIUM

From the 4th century

We turn to you for protection, holy Mother of God.

Listen to our prayers and help us in our needs, glorious and blessed Virgin!


THE PERPETUAL VIRGINITY OF MARY

"Heretics called Antidicomarites are those who contradict the perpetual virginity of Mary and affirm that after Christ was born she was joined as one with her husband." - St. Augustine of Hippo (early 5th century)

Does the word "till (until)" in the following passage mean a cessation of Mary's virginity after the birth of Christ?:

"And (Joseph) knew her not TILL she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus." (Matthew 1:25)

If it is true that Mary's virginity ceased after the birth of Christ, then using this same "flawed" logic, Christ's reign will end at some point according to the following passage:

"For he must reign, TILL he hath put all enemies under his feet." (1 Corinthians 15:25)

However, this cannot be true as the following passage contradicts that one when using this line of logic:

"And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever ." (Revelation 11:15)

So "till (until)" cannot mean that the state of Mary's virginity stopped for if that were so Christ's reign would also end.

According to history and the writings in the catacombs, the early Christians called Mary "the Virgin Mary" or "the Blessed Virgin" or "the Virgin." Why would the early Christians continue to call her a "virgin" if she was no longer so?  A person does not continue to state "my unmarried brother" after that brother has married.

In addition, Ezekiel 44:2 states that the "gate" in which the Lord passes is closed further for others.  Does this not apply to the Blessed Virgin Mary's womb through which Christ passed during His birth?  All of the initial Protestant Reformers (Zwingli, Luther and Calvin) interpreted this passage to mean that Mary's virginity continued after the birth of Christ.

"And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn." (Zechariah 12:10)  Obviously, this is a prophetic reference to Jesus Christ (i.e., "piercing" as described in John 19:37).  And it is definitely stated in this Scriptural passage that he is an "only son" yet He is also "firstborn."  The two do not contradict each other as certain "Bible" Christians claim.  Firstborn means just that "the first to be born."  It does not preclude "the only to be born" also.

If Mary is the daughter of the Father (Luke 1:28), is the mother of Christ (Acts 1:14), then is she not the spiritual bride of the Holy Spirit as that is Who made her with child (Matthew 1:18 )?  For Jesus certainly was "legitimate," for Scripture states Jesus Christ was "made under the law" (Galatians 4:4).  Yet St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary were not married when Christ was conceived ("made") (Luke 1:27).  Consequently, the Holy Spirit must be the "spiritual" husband of Mary, otherwise Christ would have been illegitimate.  If the Holy Spirit is the "spiritual" husband of Mary, then would she not be "in essence" committing adultery if she and St. Joseph were to have sex?  Therefore, both Mary and St. Joseph must have remained chaste during their marriage.  For they had to raise and serve Jesus (God) as their son and it is better to remain chaste when one is to serve the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:32).  Scripture states it is best to remain chaste (1 Corinthians 7:1) and to live as if one does not have a spouse (1 Corinthians 7:29).  This is exactly what both the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph did.  They were called by God while in "the state of virginity" and that is the state in which they remained (1 Corinthians 7:20).

"For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:2).  How can Mary who was "espoused" to one husband (St. Joseph) also remain a "chaste virgin" (as she did according to Catholic teaching) if she actually had sex with St. Joseph as some non-Catholic Christians teach?

At this point, I will quote the Summa Theologica by St. Thomas Aquinas regarding the virginity of Mary after the birth of Christ:

Third Part, Question 28, Answer 3

Whether Christ's Mother remained a virgin after His birth?

Objection 1: It would seem that Christ's Mother did not remain a virgin after His Birth. For it is written (Mt.
1:18): "Before Joseph and Mary came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost." Now the Evangelist would not have said this---"before they came together"---unless he were certain of their subsequent coming together; for no one says of one who does not eventually dine "before he dines" (cf. Jerome, Contra Helvid.). It seems, therefore, that the Blessed Virgin subsequently had intercourse with Joseph; and consequently that she did not remain a virgin after (Christ's) Birth.

Reply to Objection 1: As Jerome says (Contra Helvid. i): "Although this particle 'before' often indicates a subsequent event, yet we must observe that it not infrequently points merely to some thing previously in the mind: nor is there need that what was in the mind take place eventually, since something may occur to prevent its happening. Thus if a man say: 'Before I dined in the port, I set sail,' we do not understand him to have dined in port after he set sail: but that his mind was set on dining in port." In like manner the evangelist says: "Before they came together" Mary "was found with child, of the Holy Ghost," not that they came together afterwards: but that, when it seemed that they would come together, this was forestalled through her conceiving by the Holy Ghost, the result being that afterwards they did not come together. 

Objection 2: Further, in the same passage (Mt.
1:20) are related the words of the angel to Joseph: "Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife." But marriage is consummated by carnal intercourse. Therefore it seems that this must have at some time taken place between Mary and Joseph: and that, consequently she did not remain a virgin after (Christ's) Birth.

Reply to Objection 2: As Augustine says (De Nup. et Concup. i): "The Mother of God is called (Joseph's) wife from the first promise of her espousals, whom he had not known nor ever was to know by carnal intercourse." For, as Ambrose says on Lk. 1:27: "The fact of her marriage is declared, not to insinuate the loss of virginity, but to witness to the reality of the union." 

Objection 3: Further, again in the same passage a little further on (Mt.
1:24, 25) we read: "And" (Joseph) "took unto him his wife; and he knew her not till she brought forth her first-born Son." Now this conjunction "till" is wont to designate a fixed time, on the completion of which that takes place which previously had not taken place. And the verb "knew" refers here to knowledge by intercourse (cf. Jerome, Contra Helvid.); just as (Gn. 4:1) it is said that "Adam knew his wife." Therefore it seems that after (Christ's) Birth, the Blessed Virgin was known by Joseph; and, consequently, that she did not remain a virgin after the Birth (of Christ).

Reply to Objection 3: Some have said that this is not to be understood of carnal knowledge, but of acquaintance. Thus Chrysostom says [Opus Imperf. in Matth., Hom.1: St. John Chrysostom] that "Joseph did not know her, until she gave birth, being unaware of her dignity: but after she had given birth, then did he know her. Because by reason of her child she surpassed the whole world in beauty and dignity: since she alone in the narrow abode of her womb received Him Whom the world cannot contain."

Others again refer this to knowledge by sight. For as, while Moses was speaking with God, his face was so bright "that the children of
Israel could not steadfastly behold it"; so Mary, while being "overshadowed" by the brightness of the "power of the Most High," could not be gazed on by Joseph, until she gave birth. But afterwards she is acknowledged by Joseph, by looking on her face, not by lustful contact.

Jerome, however, grants that this is to be understood of knowledge by intercourse; but he observes that "before" or "until" has a twofold sense in Scripture. For sometimes it indicates a fixed time, as Gal. 3:19: The law "was set because of transgressions, until the seed should come, to whom He made the promise." On the other hand, it sometimes indicates an indefinite time, as in Ps. 122:2: "Our eyes are unto the Lord our God, until He have mercy on us"; from which it is not to be gathered that our eyes are turned from God as soon as His mercy has been obtained. In this sense those things are indicated "of which we might doubt if they had not been written down: while others are left out to be supplied by our understanding. Thus the evangelist says that the Mother of God was not known by her husband until she gave birth, that we may be given to understand that still less did he know her afterwards" (Adversus Helvid. v).

Objection 4: Further, "first-born" can only be said of one who has brothers afterwards: wherefore (Rm.
8:29): "Whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be made conformable to the image of His Son; that He might be the first-born among many brethren." But the evangelist calls Christ the first-born by His Mother. Therefore she had other children after Christ. And therefore it seems that Christ's Mother did not remain a virgin after His Birth.

Reply to Objection 4: The Scriptures are wont to designate as the first-born, not only a child who is followed by others, but also the one that is born first. "Otherwise, if a child were not first-born unless followed by others, the first-fruits would not be due as long as there was no further produce" [Jerome, Adversus Helvid. x]: which is clearly false, since according to the law the first-fruits had to be redeemed within a month (Num. 18:16).

Objection 5: Further, it is written (Jn.
2:12): "After this He went down to Capharnaum, He"---that is, Christ---"and His Mother and His brethren." But brethren are those who are begotten of the same parent. Therefore it seems that the Blessed Virgin had other sons after Christ.

Reply to Objection 5: Some, as Jerome says on Mt. 12:49, 50, "suppose that the brethren of the Lord were Joseph's sons by another wife. But we understand the brethren of the Lord to be not sons of Joseph, but cousins of the Saviour, the sons of Mary, His Mother's sister." For "Scripture speaks of brethren in four senses; namely, those who are united by being of the same parents, of the same nation, of the same family, by common affection." Wherefore the brethren of the Lord are so called, not by birth, as being born of the same mother; but by relationship, as being blood-relations of His. But Joseph, as Jerome says (Contra Helvid. ix), is rather to be believed to have remained a virgin, "since he is not said to have had another wife," and "a holy man does not live otherwise than chastely."

Objection 6: Further, it is written (Mt. 27:55, 56): "They were there"---that is, by the cross of Christ---"many women afar off, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto Him; among whom was Mary Magdalen, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee." Now this Mary who is called "the mother of James and Joseph" seems to have been also the Mother of Christ; for it is written (Jn.
19:25) that "there stood by the cross of Jesus, Mary His Mother." Therefore it seems that Christ's Mother did not remain a virgin after His Birth.

Reply to Objection 6: Mary who is called "the mother of James and Joseph" is not to be taken for the Mother of our Lord, who is not wont to be named in the Gospels save under this designation of her dignity---"the Mother of Jesus." This Mary is to be taken for the wife of Alphaeus, whose son was James the less, known as the "brother of the Lord" (Gal. 1:19).

It is written (Ezech. 44:2): "This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall pass through it; because the Lord the God of
Israel hath entered in by it." Expounding these words, Augustine says in a sermon (De Annunt. Dom. iii): "What means this closed gate in the House of the Lord, except that Mary is to be ever inviolate? What does it mean that 'no man shall pass through it,' save that Joseph shall not know her? And what is this---'The Lord alone enters in and goeth out by it'---except that the Holy Ghost shall impregnate her, and that the Lord of angels shall be born of her? And what means this---'it shall be shut for evermore'---but that Mary is a virgin before His Birth, a virgin in His Birth, and a virgin after His Birth?" 

I answer that, without any hesitation we must abhor the error of Helvidius, who dared to assert that Christ's Mother, after His Birth, was carnally known by Joseph, and bore other children. For, in the first place, this is derogatory to Christ's perfection: for as He is in His Godhead the Only-Begotten of the Father, being thus His Son in every respect perfect, so it was becoming that He should be the Only-Begotten son of His Mother, as being her perfect offspring.

Secondly, this error is an insult to the Holy Ghost, whose "shrine" was the virginal womb ["Sacrarium Spiritus Sancti" (Office of B. M. V.,
Ant. ad Benedictus, T. P.)], wherein He had formed the flesh of Christ: wherefore it was unbecoming that it should be desecrated by intercourse with man. 

Thirdly, this is derogatory to the dignity and holiness of God's Mother: for thus she would seem to be most ungrateful, were she not content with such a Son; and were she, of her own accord, by carnal intercourse to forfeit that virginity which had been miraculously preserved in her.

Fourthly, it would be tantamount to an imputation of extreme presumption in Joseph, to assume that he attempted to violate her whom by the angel's revelation he knew to have conceived by the Holy Ghost.

We must therefore simply assert that the Mother of God, as she was a virgin in conceiving Him and a virgin in giving Him birth, did she remain a virgin ever afterwards.


THE MOTHER OF GOD

"If anyone does not believe that Holy Mary is the Mother of God, such a one is a stranger to the Godhead." - St. Gregory Nazianzen (390 A.D.)

"And so you say, O heretic, whoever you may be, who deny that God was born of the Virgin, that Mary the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ ought not to be called Theotokos, i.e., Mother of God, but Christotokos, i.e., only the Mother of Christ, not of God. For no one, you say, brings forth what is anterior in time. And of this utterly foolish argument whereby you think that the birth of God can be understood by carnal minds, and fancy that the mystery of His Majesty can be accounted for by human reasoning...." - St. John Cassian (5th century A.D.)

This is a very appropriate title for the Blessed Virgin Mary. For in Luke 1:43, St. Elizabeth calls her this exact title: "And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord (emphasis mine) should come to me?" Lord is with a capital "L" meaning "God." So why do most non-Catholic Christians not accept this as a proper title for Mary when the title comes from Scripture Itself? For if Jesus is the Son of God (Mark 1:1) and the Son of God is God also (Hebrews 1:8) and Mary is Jesus's mother (Acts 1:14), then ergo: Mary is the Mother of God.

Since Mary is the mother of Jesus (John 2:1-3; Acts 1:14), how did Jesus honor His mother as per the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:12)?  Here's how - He made her Queen of Heaven, He created her without sin, He made her our mother (John 19:27 ), He made her mother of the Church and He made her the mediatrix of all graces.

--- Chris                                   


THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION AND THE SINLESSNESS OF MARY

"The Blessed Virgin never committed any actual sin, not even a venial one.  Otherwise she would not have been a Mother worthy of Jesus Christ; for the ignominy of the Mother would also have been that of the Son, for He would have had a sinner for His Mother." - St. Thomas Aquinas (1274 A.D.)

If Mary is "blessed among women," does that not mean that she is greater than any woman that is born, had been born, or will be born?  If this is so, why would she not be free from original sin? If she is greater than Eve and Eve was created without original sin, then why wouldn't Mary also be conceived (created) without original sin?  Where does Scripture state that every grace has to be given while on this earth?  Mary was given grace as the Mother of God before she was even born (prevenient grace).  Yes, God is her Savior (Luke 1:47) - He saved her from every sin, including original sin.

Let us examine the phrase "full of grace" as it is applies to Mary (Luke 1:28).  For the Greek word used in this passage is "kecharitomene" which means not just "highly favoured one" (as commonly interpreted in Protestant versions of the Bible), but "completely, perfectly, enduringly endowed with grace."  Thus, the word "full" means that Mary cannot encompass any more of God's graces.  If God cannot give her anymore graces than she already has, then He must have given her every grace possible. Is it even possible for Mary to sin after receiving all of these graces from God?  Conceivably, no.

Scripture also states that angels are superior to men (Luke 20:36; Hebrews 2:7; 2 Peter 2:11) so why would a superior being (the archangel St. Gabriel) "hail" (salute, honor or praise) Mary (a "supposed" inferior being)?  If this honor is given to Mary as Scripture states, then Mary must be greater than the angels.

Who else can the following passage be speaking of except Mary?  The woman in this passage is "spotless" (i.e., immaculate; without sin): "Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee." (Song of Solomon 4:7)

--- Chris                                            

Coronation
 of Mary, the Queen of Heaven


CONCLUSION

What Christian would not give the grace of sinlessness to his/her mother if he/she had the power to do so?

What Christian would not bring his/her mother into Heaven, body and soul, if he/she had the power to do so?

These Marian doctrines are not "non-Scriptural" as many non-Catholic Christians seem to believe.  Jesus Christ was only fulfilling the Fourth Commandment (Exodus 20:12) to "honor" His mother by giving her these unique graces and privileges.  To say Christ did not give these graces to His mother when it was possible for Him to do so, is to accuse Him of a sin of omission against the Fourth Commandment.  Therefore, since Christ did not sin (Hebrews 4:15), Mary has to be sinless and was assumed into Heaven for God Himself would not disobey one of His own commandments.

And, to this day, Christ continues to obey His own commandment by allowing Mary to be our mediatrix, the dispenser of His graces and to share in His omniscience to hear the millions of daily prayers addressed to her.

--- Chris                                 


CHURCH BELIEFS & ISSUES


WHAT THE EARLY CHURCH BELIEVED


Links

Reference Materials


Biblical quotations on this web site are either from the King James Version or the Douay-Rheims Version of the Bible.

1997-2012 Chris Tesch.  This Web site first loaded on July 10, 1997.
Domain name - www.catholic-defense.com secured April 5, 1999.

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