Sunday 26th February 2017

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Mary’s Perpetual Virginity . . . Summing Up

May 25, 2014 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM

Part 8

The Gospels mention Jesus’ brothers and sisters (Matt. 13:54-57; also Mark 6:2-3 et alia), and anti-Catholic bigotry sees in this a supposed “argument” against the Catholic teaching of the perpetual virginity of our Lady. But bigotry ignores that in the Hebrew and Aramaic languages, there was no clear distinction between “blood-brother” and “cousin.” Their culture was not centered on the “nuclear family” as we have it today, but the extended family, in which cousins were known as brothers and sisters.
The New Testament was not written in English. In Hebrew and Aramaic, “brethren” does not mean only brothers and sisters from the same father and mother, as in English, but also near kinsmen.
History records that belief in the perpetual virginity of the Mother of Jesus is part and parcel of the faith of the Early Church and was never defined as a dogma. It was not necessary, since everyone believed it.
There is never in Sacred Scripture any mention of Mary’s children. No mention of children born in Egypt or before Jesus’ being left behind in the Temple. Jesus gave His Mother to the care of St. John: In the Jewish culture of those days, no one would leave his mother in the care of strangers, or even cousins, if you have blood brothers. If Jesus left her to the care of St. John, that’s because she did not have other children.
Examples in the Bible: Abram called Lot his brother, whereas he was his nephew; King Assuerus called Esther his sister, whereas she was his wife.
On the cross, Jesus called John His son, whereas he was His cousin; Ananias called Paul his brother, whereas he was only a fellow Jew; St. Paul calls Titus his brother, and later on his son, whereas they were just fellow-Christians; Jesus calls His brother, sister, mother those who do the will of God. And so on, and so forth.
“And he [Joseph] did not know her till she brought forth her firstborn son. And he called his name Jesus” (Matt. 1:25).
The words “till” and “until” reflect a manner of speaking, usual among the Hebrews, which refers to a state or condition which may or may not continue after a given point in time: They say nothing about what happens after. The words convey the same meaning, that is, they speak only about what happens up to a particular point but say nothing about what happens after.
When St. Paul exhorted the Philippians to be “sincere and without offense till the day of Christ,” he did not expect them to stop being sincere and without offense after the day of Christ.
When St. Paul told Timothy: “Until I come, be diligent in reading [the Scriptures].” He did not mean that Timothy should stop reading the Scriptures after he came.
In the story of the man born blind, “the Jews did not believe him until they called his parents” (John 9:18). But they did not believe the ex-blind man after his parents came.
God punished Michol, King Saul’s daughter, with childlessness: “She did not bear children until she died” (1 Kings 3:23). Did she have children after her death? We hope not!
All that St. Matthew is saying is that the child was not fathered by Joseph. The Jerusalem Bible gets it right: “Although he had no intercourse with her, she gave birth to her firstborn son.”
In biblical terms, the words till or until refer only to what happened up to a given point in time, and say nothing about what happens after.
“And he [Joseph] did not know her till she brought forth her firstborn son. And he called his name Jesus” (Matt. 1:25).
The firstborn was a legal title given to the first male child born to a woman — if it was a girl, then she was not considered the firstborn.
Mary’s perpetual virginity was foreseen by the Prophet Ezekiel’s vision of God’s Temple, in which the East Gate was reserved for the Lord God of Israel: “This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall pass through it; because the Lord God of Israel has entered in through it, and it shall be shut” (Ezek. 44:1).
The Early Christians understood this symbol as meaning the perpetual virginity of the Mother of Jesus.
Besides, Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli defended her perpetual virginity, against the beliefs of many people calling themselves evangelical Christian today.
Of all the Marian symbols in the Old Testament, the Ark of the Covenant enjoys pre-eminence. The similarities are simply outstanding. What the ark meant in symbol, in pre-figure, Mary is in reality.
But the original Ark was only a symbol. In Mary, God was really present, so much so as to become her Son. That is why the early Christians considered Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant.
The Ark was overlaid with the purest gold, within and without. Now gold is the symbol of purity, and the Ark was the dwelling place par excellence of God’s presence. The Ark of the Covenant carried within it the Word of God in stone. The Blessed Virgin Mary carried within her the Word of God made Flesh — she is the Ark of the New Covenant, the dwelling place of God among men.
No man could touch the Ark. The Philistines who did died by the thousands and Oza the Hebrew who held it from the oxcart was struck by God on the spot.
St. Joseph was a man; he lived with the Ark of the New Covenant under the same roof for over 20 years, and was not struck dead by God. Why? Simple: He never touched her as a husband is wont to touch his wife.
The Early Christians believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary. Denial of this belief flies in the face of the whole history of Christianity.
“Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, Joseph, Jude, and Simon? And are not also his sisters here with us?” Those were Jesus’ cousins, sons of their uncle Cleophas and his wife, Mary.
Jesus’ brethren were not children of St. Joseph from a previous marriage, either, however pious this thought may be. If he had been a widower who married again, he would not have wanted to live a celibate life in his new marriage.
The dialogue between our Lady and the angel in Luke 1 also shows her intention to remain a virgin for life.
“But Mary said to the angel, how shall this happen, since I do not know man?” (Luke 1:34). Now she was espoused to Joseph, and had a clear idea of how babies are conceived and born. This question of hers makes no sense if she had not determined to remain a virgin. Otherwise in the natural course of events in married life, she would eventually conceive and become a mother of the son of God. What she was asking was, “How can I have a child while remaining a virgin?”

St. Augustine

A final but beautiful explanation of the verb to know in “And he [Joseph] did not know her till she brought forth her firstborn son. And he called his name Jesus” (Matt. 1:25) is inspired in a comment by St. Augustine:
St. Joseph knew who his spouse truly when he saw the angels of God singing around the crib of Bethlehem and understood that she was the Virgin Mother of God. . . !
The denial of the perpetual virginity of Mary is unscriptural, unhistorical, and illogical in terms of Hebrew customs, traditions, and language; it goes against the faith of the early Church and even the beliefs of the Protestant leaders themselves.

+    +    +

(Raymond de Souza is director of the Evangelization and Apologetics Office of the Winona Diocese, Minn.; EWTN program host; regional coordinator for Portuguese-speaking countries for Human Life International [HLI], president of the Sacred Heart Institute and a member of the Sovereign, Military, and Hospitaller Order of the Knights of Malta. His web site is: www.RaymonddeSouza.com.)

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Leaders call for Catholic sanctuary movement to blunt deportation crackdown

MODESTO, Calif. (CNS) — The push for sanctuary was on a lot of minds at the U.S. Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements. Concerns about President Donald Trump’s intention to deport millions of unauthorized immigrants rose throughout the Feb. 16-19…Continue Reading

Bishop Schneider: If a Bishop or Pope Commands Me to Sin, “I Have to Refuse”

Bishop Schneider: Aspects of Second Vatican Council Might Be Corrected in the Future; Priests Must Also Come to Resist at Times On 16 February 2017, Rorate Caeli published an interview with Bishop Athanasius Schneider, conducted in Mexico by a very…Continue Reading

Pro-Abort . . . Kaine discusses refugee crisis with Pope Francis during Vatican visit

Sen. Tim KaineTim KaineWashington-area lawmakers request GAO report on DC MetroKaine discusses refugee crisis with Pope Francis during Vatican visitA guide to the committees: SenateMORE (D-Va.) met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday to discuss the ongoing refugee…Continue Reading

Trump to Drop Transgender Bathroom Mandate

Obama’s controversial mandate attempted to force schools to let boys into girls’ locker rooms WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) – President Donald Trump is expected to revoke Obama’s transgender bathroom mandate insisting that students be allowed in opposite-sex bathrooms and locker rooms. The…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke is ‘de facto’ suspended, claims Knights of Malta condom promoter

February 21, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The Knights of Malta official at the center of controversy over the Order’s Catholic identity and sovereignty says its patron, Cardinal Raymond Burke, has been “de facto” suspended. Albrecht von Boeselager, a German aristocrat, was…Continue Reading

Cardinal Zen says ‘naïve’ Pope and bad advisors are betraying underground Church in China

February 21, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Joseph Zen says the Vatican is betraying Catholics living their faith out clandestinely in China. In an exclusive interview with LifeSiteNews, he says he has been urged to speak out by Catholics who lack…Continue Reading

Cardinal Zen on dubia: ‘Very respectful request by those bishops and Cardinals to have a clear statement’

February 20, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Joseph Zen in an interview with EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo expressed his support for the four Cardinals’ dubia that asks for clarification on the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia’s chapter 8. “I suppose it is a…Continue Reading

These Catholic parishes openly celebrate LGBT. Why aren’t bishops stopping it?

January 17, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – As controversy continues to rage over Pope Francis’ doctrines on communion for the divorced and remarried, an even more controversial practice proliferating in the shadows for decades is becoming increasingly open and explicit: same-sex couples…Continue Reading

Michael J. Novak, Jr. [1933 – 2017]

Theologian, public intellectual, and close friend of the Acton Institute, Michael J. Novak Jr., passed away last night on February 17, 2017. Acton Institute President Rev. Robert A. Sirico reflects on the passing of his friend and mentor Michael Novak,…Continue Reading

Twitter erupts with dubious reaction to Cardinal Cupich’s post on marriage document’s ‘absolute clarity’

February 16, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Chicago Cardinal Blasé Cupich tweeted Tuesday that Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia document was in full fidelity with the Catholic Church and absolutely clear in the expression of its teaching on marriage, but users of the…Continue Reading

More essential than ever for Catholic hospitals to maintain distinct identity: Cardinal Burke

Catholic health-care institutions are needed today more than ever, Cardinal Raymond Burke told a conference on Catholic hospitals in Ohio last week. “Our country suffers the scourge of an attack on the dignity of human life,” the cardinal said. He…Continue Reading

Council of Cardinals pledges allegiance to Pope Francis

ROME, February 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – In an odd note without explanation placed on the Vatican’s daily press briefing today, the Council of Cardinals, a group of 10 Cardinals which Pope Francis has delegated to work with him on reform,…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Why is there a resurgence of infidelity among Catholic leaders?

Earlier this week, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus stressed the need to “discern” the meaning of Christ’s teachings rather than simply accept the way Catholic doctrine states these truths. This triggered an email from an obviously same-sex attracted reader who ecstatically thanked God that someone “besides the Pope” was finally willing to express the truth about the teachings of the Church: “They must be discerned!” The email was so wild that I…Continue Reading

The loss of this one key distinction is fueling much of the confusion around Amoris Laetitia

February 23, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — A rather stark and sobering teaching of the Church is that everyone of adult age on the face of this good Earth, and that means all who can discern between good and evil (which occurs sometime soon after the dawn of reason), is either in a state of grace or in a state of mortal sin, which means that should we all die this instant by some cataclysmic disaster, each…Continue Reading

Virginia bishops lament veto of bill defunding Planned Parenthood

Feb 22, 2017 – 04:35 pm .- The bishops of Virginia’s two dioceses on Tuesday decried Governor Terry McAuliffe’s veto of a bill which would have redirected state funding away from abortion providers and toward community health centers.

San Diego’s Catholic bishop urges citizens to be ‘disruptors’ and ‘rebuilders’ in Trump era

Even before the White House announced stricter immigration policies Tuesday, there were signs of opposition. Addressing people “of all faiths and no faith,” San Diego’s Roman Catholic bishop on Saturday urged Americans to be “disruptors” and “rebuilders.” Donald Trump, Bishop Robert McElroy noted, had campaigned for the presidency as “the disruptor.” “Well now,” McElroy told almost 700 community organizers and social justice advocates meeting in Modesto on the weekend that “we must all

Washington D.C. Becomes 6th Place in the U.S. to Legalize Assisted Suicide

A Washington, D.C. law allowing doctors to prescribe their patients lethal drugs to commit suicide went into effect Saturday after U.S. Congress failed to block the measure, the Washington Times reports. The district is the sixth area in the U.S. to legalize the deadly procedure, following Oregon, Washington state, Vermont, California and Colorado. The D.C. council passed the law at the end of 2016, despite wide-spread opposition from African Americans, people with disabilities, medical professionals,…Continue Reading

Stop And Go, But Don’t Think

By DONALD DeMARCO It may very well be that my philosophical nature inclines me to value the Stop Sign above traffic lights. This may seem to be an odd and arbitrary preference, but there are good reasons for it, especially if one thinks symbolically. The latter represents a mechanical stop-and-go instruction that reminds me too…Continue Reading

St. Catherine Of Bologna . . . The Patron Saint Of Artists

By RAY CAVANAUGH There are patrons of the arts, and then there’s St. Catherine of Bologna — the patron saint of artists. She was a nun, mystic, painter, and author whose feast day occurs on March 9. Born in the northern Italian city of Bologna on September 8, 1413, she entered an aristocratic family. Her…Continue Reading

A Movie Review… Stalin’s Bitter Harvest

By REY FLORES Bitter Harvest is a powerful film; but where do I begin to tell you about it? The first 11 minutes give us the background of the main characters who are shown enjoying somewhat of the last vestiges of a peaceful and idyllic existence before the Holodomor, which was a deliberate famine created…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101… The History Of Future Dreams

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of the complete series on artificial reproduction, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + “In the year 6565, ain’t gonna need no husband, won’t need your wife, you’ll pick your son,…Continue Reading

Ex-Planned Parenthood Worker . . . Recalls Webcam Abortion Opposition, Sees Hope For Pro-Life Cause

By PEGGY MOEN ST. PAUL — Sue Thayer told her February 15 audience here that “an immediate stopper” in a debate with a pro-abort is this quotation from President Reagan: “I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.” Thayer was addressing the Legislative Dinner of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, held here at the…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Liturgical Celebration Of The Eucharist

By DON FIER Part 2 The Liturgical Celebration of the Eucharist, as was pointed out last week, is composed of two main parts — the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist — which “form a fundamental unity” (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], n. 1346). They “are so closely connected with each other,” teach the fathers…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: For those who wonder about the value of praying the rosary daily, consider the following anecdote from Fr. Roger Landry about Fr. Sal Ferigle, an Opus Dei priest who passed away in 1997 and whom many described as “the holiest priest I ever knew.” During a meditation once on the last things, said Fr. Landry, Fr. Sal “confessed…Continue Reading

“Get Away, Satan!”

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER First Sunday Of Lent (YR A) Readings: Gen. 2:7-9, 3:1-7 Romans 5:12-19 Matt. 4:1-11 In the readings today, we hear about Adam and Jesus. In the second reading, St. Paul compares the two of them, recognizing that by one sin many became sinners and by one righteous act many became righteous. So, we have the correlation…Continue Reading

Joy And Dismay . . . Greet Cardinal Tong’s Article On China-Holy See Dialogue

By FR. BERNARDO CERVELLERA (Editor’s Note: In the article below, Fr. Bernardo Cervellera evaluates the optimism of Hong Kong’s John Cardinal Tong over a change in the method of appointing China’s bishops and the function of the Patriotic Association. But it is unclear whether it is real change or just nominal — in words only. (Fr. Cervellera notes that underground…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Signs Of Growth At “The Margins” Of The Church

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Why does a young man of 18 years old put on a suit and tie on Sunday morning, leaving his parents and sisters behind, to drive to a more distant parish? To attend the Traditional Latin Mass. I’d noticed him for a few weeks along with our growing Sunday Traditional Mass congregation and met him…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Blessed Thomas Mary Fusco

By CAROLE BRESLIN Throughout the history of the Church different saints have had special devotions. St. Margaret Mary Alacoque had a great devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Peter Julian Eymard had a great devotion to the Real Presence, and Blessed Thomas Mary Fusco had a deep devotion to the Most Precious Blood. (The Catholic Church recognized this…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Geltrude Caterina Comensoli

By CAROLE BRESLIN (Editor’s Note: Some sources give this saint’s name as Gertrude, but the Vatican’s website calls her Geltrude.) + + + Can there be any nobler calling than to promote adoration of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ really and truly present in the Blessed Sacrament? St. Peter Julian Eymard, St. Alphonsus Liguori, and St.…Continue Reading