Wednesday 4th March 2015

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

Comment on this Article:

Catholic Schools Should Be Catholic, Even in San Francisco

Archbishop Cordileone is predictably blasted for a commonsense policy. If you care to learn how thin our conception of religious liberty has become, look to the Bay Area. In early February, San Francisco archbishop Salvatore Cordileone released a statement “regarding…Continue Reading

EXCLUSIVE: CARDINAL BURKE INTERVIEW WITH RORATE CAELI

burk10

Last week, Rorate Caeli interviewed Raymond Cardinal Burke via telephone on numerous topics. Nothing was off the table for this interview and His Eminence was incredibly generous with his time. He showed himself to be brilliant and yet filled with…Continue Reading

Hit job on Card. Pell because he’s doing his job

His Eminence George Card Pell was appointed by Pope Francis to oversee cleaning up the finances of the Holy See. He is doing his job. And so as Pell drills into the financial corruption and is getting closer to the…Continue Reading

Oil company hit man has Archbishop Cordileone in his sights

San Francisco, Calif., Feb 27, 2015 / 05:20 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Sam Singer’s public relations firm spun a Chevron oil refinery disaster in California and fought back a legal ruling in Ecuador that could have awarded billions of dollars to…Continue Reading

What about Henry VIII?

Interestingly, Jesus’ hard teaching that “what therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder” (Mt 19:6) follows not long after his insistence to Peter on the necessity of forgiveness (see Mt 18:21–35). It is true that Jesus did…Continue Reading

Sacrificing Priests on the Altar of Insurance

Fr. Bob (that’s what we’ll call him) was a faithful parish priest for more than 25 years. One day, a process server showed up at the rectory door and handed him a summons and complaint. The complaint alleged that some…Continue Reading

Catholic Colleges Must Save Students from Pornography Epidemic, Says Counseling Expert

Catholic colleges and universities owe it to their students to do everything within their power to help combat the destructive effects of pornography, argued Dr. Peter Kleponis in a recent interview with The Cardinal Newman Society. Kleponis, a licensed clinical…Continue Reading

Imagine: A Catholic Archbishop!

If it weren’t so predictable, it would be infuriating, but because of that, it is infuriating to thinking people. It’s happening again as San Francisco drops the hammer – again – on the Catholic Church and especially Archbishop Cordileone. He’s…Continue Reading

As storm brews, San Fran archbishop strikes back at school guideline critics

San Francisco, Calif., Feb 20, 2015 / 03:19 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Politicians have targeted San Francisco Catholic schools’ teacher standards, but Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone says they are a matter of Catholic mission and common sense. “Would you hire a campaign…Continue Reading

University of Scranton to end all abortion coverage

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) – The University of Scranton plans to end employee health care coverage for abortions in cases of rape, incest and to preserve the life of the mother. The Times-Tribune of Scranton (http://bit.ly/1JstU9i ) reports Thursday that the…Continue Reading

Notre Dame Scandals under Fr. Jenkins Are Rooted in Diminished Catholic Faculty, Alumni Say

February 20, 2015, at 11:02 AM  |  By Kimberly Scharfenberger  | Following the election of University of Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins, C.S.C. to his third term, Notre Dame alumni spoke with The Cardinal Newman Society to share their…Continue Reading

Cardinal Napier: African Bishops Have Higher Priorities Than Communion for Divorced and Remarried

by CNA/EWTN NEWS 02/19/2015 Cardinal Wilfrid Napier speaks at the Vatican Press Office on Oct. 14, 2014. – Bohumil Petrik/CNA ROME — A leading African cardinal says the continent’s bishops want the upcoming Vatican synod to zero in on strengthening…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

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: Jesus reveals himself, as the perfect icon of the Father

(Vatican Radio) Before the Angelus the Pope recalled Sunday’s Gospel on the Transfiguration in which Jesus “is at the peak of his public ministry. The Holy Father explained that Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, where the prophecies of the ‘Servant of God’ will be fulfilled. The crowds, he added, facing the prospect of a Messiah that does not fit their earthly expectations, abandoned him. They thought that the Messiah would be a liberator…Continue Reading

Pope At Santa Marta: Judge Not

pope730

(Vatican Radio) It is easy to judge others, but we can only progress on our Christian journey in life if we are capable of judging ourselves first, said Pope Francis at Monday morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta. The readings of the day focused on the subject of mercy. The Pope, recalling that “we are all sinners” – not “in theory” but in reality – said that the ability to judge oneself is “a Christian…Continue Reading

Pope Angelus: Prayers for Syria, Iraq and Venezuela

pope276

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis following the recitation of the Marian Prayer on Sunday remembered the people of Syria and Iraq saying “Unfortunately, there is no cessation in the dramatic news about violence, kidnapping and harassment against Christians reaching us from Syria and Iraq. The Pope went on to say that those facing these situations were not forgotten and prayed that the intolerable brutality of which they are victims would soon be at an end.  …Continue Reading

Pope Francis at the close of the Spiritual Exercises – With a piece of Elijah’s mantle

2015-02-27 L’Osservatore Romano The meditations this morning, Friday 27 February, in Ariccia were the last of the Spiritual Exercises in which the Pontiff and members of the Roman Curia participated. Meditations were led by Carmelite, Fr Bruno Secondin, in the chapel of the House of Divin Maesto belonging to the Pauline Fathers. At the end of his reflection Friday morning, Pope Francis wanted to thank the preacher. “On behalf of everyone, myself included,” the Pope…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101… “Birth Control For Teens Who Are ‘Doing It Anyway’?”

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 chapter 21 of The Facts of Life, “Contraception,” e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + If pressed, many “family planners” admit that, in an ideal world, all young people would…Continue Reading

Virginia Parish Calls On Catholics . . . Join In An “Affirmation Of Faith” To Pope Francis

By LISA BOURNE FRONT ROYAL, Va. (LifeSiteNews) — A Virginia Catholic parish is publicly affirming Church teaching on marriage and its fidelity to the Church, while at the same time calling on Pope Francis to proclaim and defend the same. In the wake of the October Extraordinary Synod on the Family in Rome, St. John…Continue Reading

Egalitarian Chess

By DONALD DeMARCO A high school principal, let us imagine, who is thoroughly devoted to political correctness, summoned the school’s chess coach into his office. In that venue the following conversation took place. P: I think it is time to bring the game of chess into the 21st century. C: But chess is a timeless…Continue Reading

What If The Government Fears Freedom?

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO What if the current massive spying on Americans began with an innocent secret executive order signed by President Reagan in 1986? What if Reagan contemplated that he was only authorizing American spies to spy on foreign spies unlawfully present in the U.S.? What if Reagan knew and respected the history of…Continue Reading

Our Lady And The New Evangelization

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Part 3 This article will look at the importance of the modern Marian apparitions, and particularly Fatima, and in this regard, this is what the Church, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 67) says about private revelation: “Throughout the ages, there have been so-called ‘private’ revelations, some of which…Continue Reading

The Wanderer Interviews His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke . . .

burk10

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, who previously served as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome from June 2008 until November 2014, recently visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis. Prior to that he served as Archbishop…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World… Root Of Faith Crisis In Rupture Between Life And Love

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Quite a few years ago, I went hiking in the Alps on the border between Italy and France with a group of reformed drug addicts and their family members. One father brought his two sons who observed my delight as I ran up to the snow line ahead of the group and collected fresh snow…Continue Reading

Are Statues Idols? The Meaning Of “False Idols”

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 2 “I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath…Continue Reading

Catechesis In The Twenty-First Century

By Don Fier “In order to arrive at a systematic knowledge of the content of the faith, all can find in the Catechism of the Catholic Church a precious and indispensable tool. It is one of the most important fruits of the Second Vatican Council.” With these words in his apostolic letter Porta Fidei announcing the upcoming Year of Faith…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. As a longtime subscriber to The Wanderer, I am puzzled that your writers don’t hesitate to criticize and disagree with bishops and cardinals on particular issues, but when it comes to the Pope you automatically close shop, yet he is human just like the bishops and cardinals. There is no teaching in our Church that says one cannot disagree…Continue Reading

God’s “Foolishness” Is Wisdom

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Sunday Sermon for March 8, 2015 Third Sunday Of Lent (YR B) Readings: Exodus 20:1-17 1 Cor. 1:22-25 John 2:13-25 In the Gospel reading today, we hear about our Lord cleansing the Temple because the people had turned God’s house into a marketplace. The people, naturally, were appalled at this action because the buying and selling…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Isidore Of Seville

By CAROLE BRESLIN Spain is one of two countries located on the Iberian Peninsula. During the time of the Roman Empire, it was the Romans who first called this land “Hispania.” To this land the Romans brought the Latin language, civil organization, and law, as well as the Christian religion. However, as the Roman Empire began to crumble during the…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Augustus Chapdelaine

By CAROLE BRESLIN Christianity has never been warmly welcomed by the authorities in China, but that did not stop the missionaries over the centuries who have gone there to save souls. Christianity has existed in various forms since the Tang Dynasty (eighth century). The first reports of Catholic priests going to China go back to the 13th century. John of…Continue Reading