Tuesday 7th July 2015

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:

Untitled 3

Pope FrancisAn Open Letter To His Holiness Pope Francis      Given the controversy and confusion surrounding the 2014 Synod on the Family, the staff of The Wanderer and its supporters thought it appropriate to address Pope Francis with an open letter . . .

Do You Know What’s Coming into Your Teen’s Phone?

You might be surprised at what your kids are exposed to every day   It is 11:30 P.M on a Thursday night. Your 13-year-old daughter is asleep. Suddenly she awakes to a ding from her phone. She quickly realizes that…Continue Reading

No, America Is Not a Great Nation

Here’s the truth: I am not happy with this country, and you shouldn’t be, either. I am disappointed in it. It disgraces itself. It turns from God. It kills its young. It attacks the family. Am I supposed to pretend otherwise…Continue Reading

Listen to the Pope, Iowa Catholic Leaders Tell GOP

Catholic leaders call on GOP hopefuls to heed pope’s teachings on climate, economics By THOMAS BEAUMONT and RACHEL ZOLL, Associated Press ANKENY, Iowa (AP) — Roman Catholic leaders in the early voting state of Iowa implored candidates for president Thursday…Continue Reading

Supreme Court upholds ObamaCare subsidies

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld ObamaCare subsidies nationwide, in the second major court victory for President Obama on his signature health care law. In a 6-3 decision, the court ruled that subsidies are valid even in states that did…Continue Reading

Synod on the Family’s working document sets the stage for spirited discussion

Vatican City, Jun 24, 2015 / 12:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- That the discussion at October’s Synod on the Family is going to be a lively one is indicated by the fact that the most controversial paragraphs of the final report…Continue Reading

Abortion Drone Will Fly Dangerous Abortion Pills to Poland to Violate Its Pro-Life Laws

drone

The pro-abortion organization that formerly ran the abortion boat that distributed the dangerous abortion pill in international waters outside pro-life nations that protect unborn children has come up with a new marketing scheme to push abortion in pro-life nations: drones.…Continue Reading

St. Louis’ Catholic Archbishop Carlson discusses same-sex marriage, clergy sex abuse, racism, more

At their annual spring meeting held in St. Louis last week, U.S Catholic bishops discussed several issues currently facing the Catholic Church, including: the clergy sex abuse scandal, what the Church sees as challenges to marriage, and the pope’s upcoming…Continue Reading

Nienstedt resigns; New Jersey bishop named interim head of Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis

Archbishop John Nienstedt has resigned in the wake of criminal charges against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis for its “role in failing to protect children and contribution to the unspeakable harm” experienced by victims in priest sex-abuse cases. Nienstedt says…Continue Reading

Priests needed: As Church growth explodes worldwide, parishes can’t keep up

Washington D.C., Jun 12, 2015 / 05:11 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The global Catholic population is growing – so quickly, in fact, that priest and parish numbers cannot keep up, says a new study on trends in the worldwide Church. And…Continue Reading

Cardinal Kasper hints at new ‘Vatican II’ strategy to gain approval of Communion proposal

June 11, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – In the face of increasing opposition to his plan to approve giving Holy Communion to people who are in adulterous remarriages, Cardinal Walter Kasper is hinting at a new “Vatican II” strategy for accomplishing his…Continue Reading

No Law Can Be Based on Injustice

In 2010, the United States Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was designed by President Obama and Congressional leaders to expand access to affordable and comprehensive health insurance coverage in the United States. After the law…Continue Reading

Cardinal: Divorced and remarried Catholics need support for conversion, not changes on communion

Catholics who have divorced and remarried need help for the “difficult climb” of conversion and spiritual growth, not a change in Church practice on the reception of Holy Communion, a prominent cardinal said. Cardinal Ennio Antonelli summarized the advice of…Continue Reading

Newsmax

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 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 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

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope Francis en route to Ecuador

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is en route to Ecuador, the first stage of a three-country tour in Latin America that will also see him in Bolivia and Paraguay – three “sister nations” as the Holy Father described them in the video message broadcast in the three countries simultaneously ahead of the visit. The Holy Father’s flight departed Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci airport (Fiumicino) shortly after 9:30 AM Rome Time on Sunday morning, and is scheduled…Continue Reading

Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI receives honorary doctorates

(Vatican Radio) Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI received Doctorates honoris causa on Saturday from the Pontifical John Paul II University of Krakow and the Krakow Academy of Music. The motivation for the honors issued by the University’s Academic Senate specifies five contributions Pope Benedict has made to knowledge and culture: his great respect for the musical tradition of the Church and remarkable sensitivity to the music of faith; the life-long and constant demonstration of a special concern for…Continue Reading

Univ. of San Francisco Celebrates SCOTUS Marriage Ruling, Despite Catholic Mission

usan

July 2, 2015, at 11:22 AM  |  By Justin Petrisek  | While the U.S. bishops responded to last week’s marriage ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court by upholding the teachings of the Catholic Church, one Jesuit university chose to publicly celebrate the decision in direct conflict with its Catholic identity and mission. Over the weekend, the University of San Francisco (USF), a Jesuit Catholic university, used its Twitter and Facebook accounts to celebrate the San Francisco…Continue Reading

‘No Global’ author at Vatican event on climate and poverty reduction

(Vatican Radio) A Catholic climate scientist and a secular Jewish feminist formed an “unlikely alliance” in the Vatican press office on Wednesday to present a two day conference entitled ‘People and Planet First: the Imperative to Change Course’. The conference, which will take place at the Pontifical Augustinianum University in Rome, includes some 200 political, religious and civil society leaders from all continents who’ll be discussing Pope Francis’ new encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ in light of…Continue Reading

Quo Vadis, America?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN “Natural law — God’s law — will always trump common law,” said Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and a Christian leader in her own right, “God will have the final word in this matter.” But, for now, Justice Anthony Kennedy has the final word. Same-sex marriage is…Continue Reading

So Now Is It “Hate Speech” To Deplore The Obergefell Decision?

By PHIL LAWLER (Editor’s Note: LifeSiteNews reprinted this article from CatholicCulture.org with permission. All rights reserved.) + + + The ink was barely dry on last week’s Supreme Court ruling when Fr. James Martin, SJ, began scolding Catholics who were, from his decorous perspective, too strident in denouncing the decision. “No issue brings out so…Continue Reading

The Popes, Marian Devotion, And The New Evangelization

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Part 3 This is the third article in a series which looks at Marian devotion, and the New Evangelization, in the light of the teaching of recent Popes. It is noteworthy, that even before St. John Paul II became Pope in 1978, he had adopted the Latin phrase “Totus Tuus” as…Continue Reading

Although Their Adversaries Seem Strong . . . Law-School Interns Are Reminded That Even Old USSR Collapsed

By DEXTER DUGGAN PHOENIX — Almost ready to start applying their new knowledge to battle moral challenges around the globe, law-school students at a dinner here were reminded that the Soviet Union once was regarded as an invincible adversary, but it finally collapsed in relatively short order. The Christian law students from 11 countries, interns…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “The ‘Gay’ Case Against Abortion”

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For electronic copies of previous articles on homosexual “marriage,” the special rights agenda, and the role of homosexuality in the Church crisis, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + “Feminists and political liberals have argued…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World . . . Legalizing Abortion And Redefining Marriage: The Anti-God Crisis

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The past week’s 5-4 Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) decision to redefine marriage as no longer between one man and one woman is merely the latest step in a journey away from God marked on its path through our history also in 1973 by Roe v. Wade. These two legal interferences are rooted…Continue Reading

An Apologetics Course… Why Be A Christian? Why Not Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 9 There are many religions in the world today, all claiming to be true. Many were founded by individuals who claimed to be “prophets” of God — or of the gods, depending. In this context, why be a Christian at all? Why not be a Muslim, a Jew, a Buddhist, a Hindu, an animist,…Continue Reading

The Four Marks Of The Church — Holiness

By DON FIER Part 2 The second of four distinguishing marks or properties of the one true Church, as we saw last week, is that she is “unfailingly holy” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 823). Despite being composed of sinners, “the Church is holy because she was founded by Jesus Christ, who is all-holy, and because she teaches, according…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

  Editor’s Note: D.M. has e-mailed to us the following thoughtful comments: “In a recent reply regarding the bishops and our borders, you noted that our immigration system is ‘badly broken.’ To me that was a bit like hearing the proverbial fingernails on a blackboard. It seems to me that those who seek to dominate all of us use the refrain,…Continue Reading

Chosen By God

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Fifteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Amos 7:12-15 Eph. 1:3-14 Mark 6:7-13 In the first reading, Amaziah, the priest of Bethel (the place of the original Temple of the Lord), chastises the Prophet Amos for preaching against the goings on in the House of God. The priest tells the prophet to go and make…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Josemaria Escriva

By CAROLE BRESLIN Part 2 With the outbreak of civil war in Spain and the attack on the Catholic Church, many priests and religious were martyred. The existing government changed the constitution to legalize persecution of the Church by closing Catholic schools, ceasing reparation payments, and suppressing religious discussion. Among other things, this helped lead to the secularization of society…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Josemaria Escriva

By CAROLE BRESLIN Part 1 God, in His loving Providence and perfect timing, gives the Church holy men and women to guide the Mystical Body of Christ. During the chaos of the Protestant revolt, he provided St. Ignatius and St. Teresa of Avila. At the beginning of the 20th century, as the lay faithful were being called to participate in…Continue Reading