Saturday 26th 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:

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

Skeptics And The Claims Of The Catholic Church Seventeen Reasons Scoffers Ought To Rethink Catholicism, If They Really Thought About It

July 11, 2014 05:09 EST By Thomas M. Doran In today’s world, isn’t it crazy to appeal to scoffers to consider Catholicism? Why would a rational modern man or woman in the 21st century be attracted to what the world and…Continue Reading

The Obama Administration’s Border-Crisis Plan B: Use the Catholic Church

The federal government reaches out to a California diocese to help shelter illegal immigrants in California. By Ryan Lovelace In order to avoid future clashes with the citizens of Murrieta, Calif., over attempts to transfer illegal immigrants there, the Obama administration has turned to…Continue Reading

A New Low For Liberals: Attacking Catholic Nuns Over Hobby Lobby

I’m a big fan of absurdity in politics. But even absurdity has its limits, and the National Organization for Women has surpassed it in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision inBurwell v. Hobby Lobby. As part of its full-throated…Continue Reading

Louisiana court’s ruling that Catholic priest testify about confession criticized by Baton Rouge Diocese:

The Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge has issued a statement decrying a decision by the Louisiana Supreme Court that could compel a local priest to testify in court about confessions he might have received. The alleged confessions, according to legal documents, were made to…Continue Reading

Out Of Nowhere A Network Emerged To Save Catholic Schools

By Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer POSTED: June 24, 2014   The fledgling Independence Mission Schools network of Catholic elementary schools is used to moving fast. It sprang into action two years ago to save 14 parish schools in low-income neighborhoods…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 . . .

2 Christian Brothers Face Jihadist Threat in Iraq: Will They Stay or Flee?

Rome, July 27, 2014 (Zenit.org) By Oliver Maksan There is no doubt in the mind of 23-year-old Haram. With his second child on the way, he is prepared to rush his family out of town at a moment’s notice: “My tank is always full,” he says. “If the situation escalates I’ll grab my wife and child and flee,” he adds with determination.…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

Homosexuality And The Future Of Marriage

By JOHN F. KIPPLEY (Editor’s Note: John F. Kippley is the author of Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality and other books and articles. With his wife Sheila, he is a coauthor of Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach. The commentary below is reprinted with permission from his blog at johnkippley.com. All…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Profile: Girls Scouts Of America”

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 this article with footnotes, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) +    +    + We’ve all had little girls in uniform appear on our porches selling Girl Scout cookies (with watchful mothers standing…Continue Reading

Chilling

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO “Chilling” is the word lawyers use to describe governmental behavior that does not directly interfere with constitutionally protected freedoms, but rather tends to deter folks from exercising them. Classic examples of “chilling” occurred in the 1970s, when FBI agents and U.S. Army soldiers, in business suits with badges displayed or in…Continue Reading

Do They Think We’re Stupid?. . . It’s Worse Than That

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK It has become routine to hear conservative talk radio hosts, such as Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh, as well as many commentators on Fox News, react to public comments by the Obama administration and its supporters with an exasperated, “Do they think we’re stupid?” I have in mind Obama supporters’ contentions…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

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

Anglophone Conference On Sexual Abuse . . . “The Entire Church Is Called To Put Right What Has Happened”

By MOST REV. DIARMUID MARTIN ROME (ZENIT) — Below is the full text of an address given by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin on the issue of clerical sex abuse. The address was given July 7 at the Anglophone Conference, which took place at the Pontifical Irish College in Rome. The Anglophone Conference takes place annually and its purpose is to address relevant…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World . . . Journalists, Atheists, And The Pope

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The bureaucratic apologists are now in full scramble mode once again to interpret the Pope’s words as filtered to the whole world through the atheist journalist Eugenio Scalfari and printed in the paper he co-founded, La Repubblica. Yet again, we are informed, the Pope did not say what we are told he said. The fact…Continue Reading

Is The Rosary A Prayer Of “Vain Repetitions”?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 3 The visit I received from two Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs, for short) gave me the opportunity to demonstrate that repetitive prayer — especially the rosary — is entirely in line with Sacred Scripture. When they walked into my living room and did not miss the sight of my rosary on the mantelpiece, I knew…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

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

Catholic Heroes… St. Benedict

By CAROLE BRESLIN Every month the Apostleship of Prayer publishes the intentions of the Holy Father: one for a universal intention and one for an evangelical intention. In June 2014, the evangelical intention was that Europe may rediscover its Christian roots through the witness of believers. The advent of Christian civilization coincided with the advent of Western civilization. The Benedictine…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