Wednesday 30th July 2014

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Mary’s Perpetual Virginity… Didn’t Jesus Have Brothers And Sisters?

April 5, 2014 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM

Part 1

“Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His Mother called Mary? And are not His brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all His sisters with us?” (Matt. 13:54-57; also Mark 6:2-3).
“And His Mother and His brethren came, and standing outside, they sent to Him, calling Him” (Mark 3:31-33).
St. Paul speaks of “The brethren of the Lord” (1 Cor. 9:5) and that he went to Jerusalem to see Peter but “saw none of the other apostles, except James, the brother of the Lord” (Gal. 1:19).
Acts 1:13 speaks of all the apostles being “with one mind continued steadfastly in prayer with the women and Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and with His brethren.”
But on the contrary, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 510) conveys the faith of the Early Christians and states that “Mary ‘remained a virgin in conceiving her Son, a virgin in giving birth to Him, a virgin in carrying Him, a virgin in nursing Him at her breast, always a virgin’ with her whole being she is ‘the handmaid of the Lord’” (Luke 1:38 — St. Augustine, Sermon 186, 1; PL 38, 999).
History records that belief in the perpetual virginity of the Mother of Jesus is part and parcel of the faith of the early Church, like the Eucharist and the priesthood, which were never defined as dogmas. It is a belief brought to us by the apostolic Tradition, which St. Paul refers to in 2 Thess. 2. Mary’s perpetual virginity has never been the object of a specific definition of dogma by the Magisterium of the Church. The Immaculate Conception and the Assumption into Heaven — which we will discuss in later articles — were clearly defined at a given point of time by the pontifical Magisterium.
The question remains: Who were those “brethren” of Jesus?
Many today who ignore the faith of the Early Christians take offense at the teaching of the Catholic Church on the perpetual Virginity of our Lady. If she had had other children after Jesus, then Catholics folks would be believing in a pious thought, or a fable, if you wish, but, still, no great harm would be done to anybody.
But virginity was countercultural in Mary’s days. In Jewish culture, unlike today, children were seen as a blessing, and to have many children was something to be desirous of and grateful for. A classical example is Jephte’s daughter, who “mourned her virginity” because she would not have the opportunity to be a mother (Judges 11:38) or Rachel regretting her infertility (Gen. 30:1-2). Or Samuel’s mother and Samson’s mother wishing to conceive and give birth to a child of their own.
Before we start the analysis of each of the objections, let us point out a few things that often pass without being mentioned:
1) There is never in Sacred Scripture any mention of Mary’s children. Jesus’ brothers and sisters, yes — not Mary’s children. Never.
2) The Holy Family left for Egypt and came back after the death of Herod — there is no mention whatsoever of a second child being born in exile. If it had happened, why is there no mention of such a fortunate one? Surely to be a true blood-brother of the Savior deserves a mention in the Bible!
3) The Child Jesus at the age of 12 was found in the Temple after three days. In twelve years, it would be natural for them to have a child or two. But no. No mention of any other child. If they existed, there would have been at least a mention of them, such as, “Mary and Joseph left their younger children, Rebecca, Jonathan, and the pesky little David with the folks in the caravan and went back to Jerusalem,” or something like that. But nothing of the sort is registered.
4) Our Lord gave His Mother to the care of St. John, who was a close relative: In the Jewish culture of those days, if you had blood brothers, you would not leave your mother in the care of strangers, or even cousins. Since Jesus left her to the care of St. John, that’s because she did not have other children.

+    +    +

Do the words “brother” and “sister” in Sacred Scripture always mean blood-brother, or blood-sister, that is, child of the same parents, or at least of one parent? To believe so is to completely ignore the Hebrew language, customs, and ways.
I suppose that most people know that the New Testament was not written in English. Brethren in Hebrew culture does not mean only brothers and sisters from the same father and mother, as in English, but also near kinsmen. Hebrew and Aramaic do not have specific words to differentiate between brothers and cousins — it is the same word. The context tells you what they are talking about. They did not have a “nuclear family” as we have today — father, mother, child; they always had an extended family, including blood-brothers and sisters, cousins, uncles, aunts, etc.
Even in modern languages today, we can cite examples of this kind. In French, the concept of parents and relatives, which are clearly distinguishable in English, are conveyed by one single word: parents. How do you know the difference? The context will tell you what which one we are talking about. English has a most important verbal distinction that does not exist in French, as in the auxiliary verbs can (to be able to) and may (to be allowed to), but in French it is only one word for both: pouvoir. Spanish has a most important distinction in the verb to be: ser and estar. But in English and in French there is only one form: to be in English and être in French. The three English verbs to expect, to hope, and to wait for — which convey three different meanings — have only one equivalent in Spanish: esperar.
I have been a translator and interpreter in romance languages for many years; and translators can appreciate the difficult of translating from one language to the other, when there is no equivalent word.
Sometimes, to make things more complicated, there are certain words virtually untranslatable: saudade in Portuguese, Gemütlichkeit in German, know-how in English, savoir-faire in French, mos in Afrikaans. Sometimes the translator has to use a whole sentence to convey the meaning of a single word.
So, I’d like to suggest to those who are too eager-beaver to attack the Catholic Church on the issue of the virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that they should perhaps learn another language to appreciate the issues involved and avoid taking a text out of context to turn it into a pretext.

+    +    +

Now here are a few examples from the Bible:
“And Abram said unto Lot, let there be no strife, I pray you, between me and you, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen. For we are brethren.” “And when Abram learned that his brother was taken captive [Lot], he armed his trained servants . . . and pursued them into Dan . . . and he brought back his brother Lot, and his goods” (Gen. 13:8; 14; 15).
Yet Gen. 11:27 tells us that Lot was his nephew, son of his brother Aran, not his blood-brother.
In Esther 15:12, brother is used to mean husband: King Assuerus said, “What is the matter, Esther? I am thy brother, fear not.” But he was her husband.
Next article: “brother” and “sister” in The New Testament.

+    +    +

(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.RaymondeSouza.com.)

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Virginia’s Ban On Same-sex Marriage Struck Down

In a dramatic reversal of a voter-based 2006 decision, U.S. appeals court this week struck down Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional, the latest in a string of court rulings to back gay marriage. A three-judge panel of the…Continue Reading

FEARING OBAMA UNILATERAL AMNESTY THREATS, TEA PARTY JAMS CONGRESS’S PHONE LINES

The phone lines are jammed. The American people have risen up in response to a rallying cry from Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), overloading the phone lines on Capitol Hill to pressure their members of Congress to…Continue Reading

Pope acknowledges Catholic complicity in persecution of Italian Pentecostals

Pope Francis has fulfilled a request of the Italian evangelical community by recognising the complicity of some Catholics in the fascist-era persecution of Italian Pentecostals and evangelicals. “Among those who persecuted and denounced the Pentecostals, almost as if they were…Continue Reading

The Church Needs To Stop Taking Government Money

by ELISE HILTON on FRIDAY, JULY 25, 2014 Phil Lawler at CatholicCulture.org voices what should be obvious: that by taking federal money and grants, the Catholic Church has put herself in a very awkward place. Money from the government always comes with strings attached,…Continue Reading

U.S. Considering Refugee Status for Hondurans

By FRANCES ROBLES and MICHAEL D. SHEARJULY 24, 2014 Hoping to stem the recent surge of migrants at the Southwest border, the Obama administration is considering whether to allow hundreds of minors and young adults from Honduras into the United States without making…Continue Reading

Marco Rubio To Take On Abortion and Gay Marriage in Catholic U Speech

Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) plans to take on social and cultural issues in the latest installment of his policy speeches outlining a new conservative agenda. “Senator Rubio will discuss the values needed for economic success in the 21st century: values like…Continue Reading

USCCB Chairmen Respond To ‘Unprecedented and Extreme’ Executive Order

The executive order prohibits “gender identity” discrimination, a prohibition that is previously unknown at the federal level, and that is predicated on the false idea that “gender” is nothing more than a social construct or psychological reality that can be…Continue Reading

Dallas-Fort Worth Catholic leaders appeal for legal help in border crisis

Dallas Bishop Kevin Farrell (center) and Fort Worth Bishop Michael Olson on Monday asked for volunteers to assist with a “humanitarian crisis.” By DIANNE SOLÍS Staff Writer dsolís@dallasnews.com Published: 21 July 2014 10:32 PM Updated: 22 July 2014 12:21 AM Dallas Catholic…Continue Reading

Iraq Catholic leader says Islamic State worse than Genghis Khan

By Dominic Evans and Raheem Salman BAGHDAD (Reuters) – The head of Iraq’s largest church said on Sunday that Islamic State militants who drove Christians out of Mosul were worse than Mongol leader Genghis Khan and his grandson Hulagu who…Continue Reading

CHRISTIAN HOLOCAUST UNDERWAY IN IRAQ, USA AND WORLD LOOK ON

When U.S. troops invaded Iraq in 2003, there were at least 1.5 million Christians in Iraq. Over the last ten years, significantly in the last few months with the emergence of ISIS, that figure has dropped to about 400,000. In a…Continue Reading

Vancouver Catholic Schools Adopt Transgender Policy

James Keller, The Canadian Press Published Wednesday, July 16, 2014 7:20PM EDT Last Updated Thursday, July 17, 2014 7:24AM EDT VANCOUVER — Catholic schools in Vancouver have adopted a policy that could allow transgender students to use the pronouns, uniforms…Continue Reading

New Catholic Bishops Say Civil Disobedience OK If For Common Good

Newly appointed auxiliary bishops, two Catholic clergymen suggest Occupy Central could be just, while third weighs in on reform report St Two auxiliary bishops newly appointed by the Vatican have spoken out about the Occupy Central campaign, saying the church supports…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  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 subscribe 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 145 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

'From our friends at The Foundry'


Today . . .

“What Prayer Does Not Dare to Ask”

prayer

Rome, July 29, 2014 (Zenit.org) Father Edward McNamara, LC Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy and dean of theology at the Regina Apostolorum university. Q: Many of us are perplexed by the Third Roman Missal translation for the collect of the 27th Week of Ordinary Time, particularly the meaning of the phrase, “pour out your…Continue Reading

What If Democracy Is A Fraud?

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO What if you were allowed to vote only because it didn’t make a difference? What if no matter how you voted the elites always got their way? What if the concept of one person/one vote was just a fiction created by the government to induce your compliance? What if democracy as…Continue Reading

The Day Of The Hawk

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN The bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie was premeditated mass murder. Qadhafi was taking revenge for Reagan’s raid on Tripoli in 1986. The downing of KAL 007, flying from Anchorage to Seoul, was mass murder in the second degree. Seeing an aircraft intrude into Russian air space, Soviet officers brutally…Continue Reading

Will John Roberts Decide A “State” Is Not A “State”?

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY The Supreme Court may soon need to decide whether the federal government can be considered a “state” in our federal republic in the same sense that Iowa, Wyoming, and Wisconsin are states. On the face of it, this question may seem absurd. In fact, given any level of reflection, it is…Continue Reading

Assisted Suicide In England… Life And Death Under Debate

By FR. JOHN FLYNN, LC (Editor’s Note: Fr. Flynn is a columnist for ZENIT News Agency, which provided this commentary. All rights reserved.) +    +    + A bill to legalize assisted suicide has been introduced into Britain’s House of Lords by Lord Falconer, previously lord chancellor under Labor Prime Minister Tony Blair, and it is…Continue Reading

Anglican Women Bishops — An Obstacle To Unity?

By FR. DWIGHT LONGENECKER (Editor’s Note: Fr. Dwight Longenecker is an American who has spent most of his life living and working in England. He studied theology at Oxford University. He was eventually ordained as an Anglican priest and served as a curate, a school chaplain in Cambridge, and a country parson on the Isle…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World . . . Iraqi Christian Witness In Face Of Genocide Inspires

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK “O Lord, my God, in thee have I put my trust; save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me. Lest at any time he seize upon my soul like a lion, while there is no one to redeem me, nor to save” (Psalm 7). The words of the psalm express the perennial…Continue Reading

Is The Rosary A Prayer Of “Vain Repetitions”?

By RAYMOND de SOUZA, KM Part 4 The Pharisee and the publican — improvised prayer and repetitive prayer: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and began to pray thus within himself: ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of men,…Continue Reading

The Characteristics Of Faith

By DON FIER Faith, or the obedience of faith, was characterized in last week’s installment on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) as man’s most fitting and proper response to God’s self-revelation. Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, concisely defines this assent to all God has revealed as “the free submission to God’s Word because its truth is guaranteed by…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. Jesus says that we are to learn from Him, He who is meek and humble of heart. But Jesus was not always meek and humble of heart. He talked back to the Scribes and Pharisees, He drove the moneychangers out of the Temple, He talked back to the Sanhedrin, He wasn’t bashful about claiming to be the Son of…Continue Reading

Jesus Walks Through Trials With Us

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Eighteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Isaiah 55:1-3 Romans 8:35, 37-39 Matt. 14:13-21 In the second reading today St. Paul asks the question of what can separate us from the love of Christ. He then gives a few examples of what people might think will separate us from God; anguish, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness,…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

Catholic Heroes… St. Alphonsus Liguori

By CAROLE BRESLIN Part 2 After establishing the house at Villa degli Schiavi, Alphonsus stayed there, conducting many of his missions from this site. For the previous five years he had become widely known for his missions and sermons, bringing many Catholics back to the Catholic faith. While Alphonsus is well known as a moral theologian and for his writings,…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Alphonsus Liguori

By CAROLE BRESLIN Part 1 Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, having read the works of St. Alphonsus Liguori, took him as a mentor. It is not surprising, then, that Fr. Hardon taught his students, “If you are not encountering the cross, you are not doing God’s work.” Such were the lives of saints such as St. Teresa of Avila, St.…Continue Reading

What to Do If Your Boyfriend Wants You to Get an Abortion?

by Krisi Burton Brown | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 2/20/14 4:00 PM Washington, DC (LiveActionNews) — Note: This article is for any girl or woman who is feeling pressured into having an abortion. If you are a guy who is trying to find out how to stop an abortion, please see this article written for dads. 1.  Stand your…Continue Reading

It’s Time to Build Schools, from the Ground Up

February 13, 2014 by Anthony Esolen   It might have been worth repairing, if it had once been noble and beautiful, or at least conceived in an orderly way, for ordinary human purposes. But it wasn’t. It was constructed upon false principles. Its walls looked like those of a bad factory. It smelled like a warehouse. It could be terribly…Continue Reading

Why I am Pro-Life

February 4, 2014   Pro-Lifers   By Therese Recinella   Editor’s note. This tribute was posted on Therese Recinella’s Facebook account. She is graciously allowing us to reprint it in NRL News Today.   There are many things that I could say about my Dad, but what I want people to know is this: My parents faithfully raised 8 children…Continue Reading

Fathers . . . The Essential Role of the Father

Posted on February 10, 2014 by The Catholic Gentleman 13 Comments   Divorce rates skyrocketing; adultery rampant; non-married cohabitating couples; children abandoned by their fathers or mothers; “same-sex unions” adopting children and calling this the “modern family”; pornography invading homes, leading to powerful addictions and total alienation from other members of the family: all of this is a bird’s eye view…Continue Reading

How Much is One Billion Dollars?

This article appeared in the March 20, 1941 issue of The Wanderer. (Well, 70 years later we can add 15 trillion into the example.) Here’s a simple and homely illustration of what one billion dollars amounts to: Suppose we take an imaginary boy, aged 15 years, and assign to him the task of counting one billion dollars in one-dollar bills.…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood

This article appeared in The Wanderer, April 3, 1941.  (WOW, Look what we have 70 years later.) A group which calls itself the National Committee for Planned Parenthood has begun a nationwide campaign to have the promotion of birth control included in State and national health programs. The committee—which, according to propaganda sheets reaching our desk has a branch in…Continue Reading

Questions of Non-Catholics . . . Answered by Father Richard Felix, O.S.B.

Reprinted from The Wanderer April 10, 1941 Why Does God allow us to be tempted? God allows us to be tempted so that we may prove our attachment to him and merit a higher place in heaven. Temptations are the lot of all men; they are the battle ground upon which heaven is won or lost. “The kingdom of heaven…Continue Reading