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Posts Tagged ‘Blessed Mary’

Objector: I went to Mass with one of my friends, and I noticed that during the Penitential Rite, Catholics ask for prayers from “the Blessed Mary, ever Virgin.” This is an obvious example of Catholics adding teachings that contradict the clear witness of Scripture.

Catholic: On the contrary, the belief that Mary was always a virgin has been held since the earliest days of Christianity. Many of the early Church Fathers, including Athanasius, Jerome, and Augustine, expressed this belief. To give just one example, Augustine said in A.D. 411 that Mary was “a Virgin conceiving, a Virgin bearing, a Virgin pregnant, a Virgin bringing forth, a Virgin perpetual.”

Objector: Well, I definitely respect Augustine, but just because he said something doesn’t mean that it’s true. He was a great theologian, but he wasn’t infallible. This is one case where I’ll have to disagree with him. By the time Augustine said this, over three hundred years had gone by since Mary had lived.

Catholic: I understand that Augustine was fallible, but I don’t think you should dismiss his testimony so easily, especially because what he says is supported by many other early Fathers. Another source that supports belief in Mary’s perpetual virginity is the Protoevangelium of James . It was written around A.D. 120, when some of those who had known the apostles were still alive. It records that Mary was dedicated before her birth to serve the Lord in the temple, as Samuel had been dedicated by his mother (1 Sam. 1:11). This required perpetual virginity of Mary so that she could completely devote herself to the service of the Lord.

Objector: But if Mary wasn’t supposed to get married, why do we read that that Mary was engaged to Joseph (Luke 1:27)?

Catholic: Again according to the Protoevangelium of James , concerns about ceremonial cleanliness required that Mary have a male protector who would respect her vow of virginity. Joseph was “chosen by lot to take into [his] keeping the Virgin of the Lord.” His duty to guard Mary was taken so seriously that when Mary conceived, Joseph had to answer to the temple authorities. So Mary’s betrothal to Joseph was not in conflict with her vow of virginity.

Objector: This is very interesting, but there were many things written early in the history of Christianity that did not express what Christians actually believed, such as the Gnostic gospels. Like these, the Protoevangelium of James expresses a belief that is contrary to what has been revealed in Scripture.

Catholic: I agree that we should use caution when relying on extrabiblical accounts, but we can also see evidence in the biblical texts that Mary had chosen to be a virgin. When the angel Gabriel tells Mary that she will bear a son, Mary asks, “How shall this be, since I have no husband?” (Luke 1:34). At this point, Mary was engaged to Joseph. Why would she then be so surprised at being told she would conceive? If she were planning on having children with Joseph in the usual way, it wouldn’t make sense for her to ask how she would be able to have a child. This question makes sense only if Mary was already planning to remain a virgin.

Objector: Maybe if you read this in light of the Protoevangelium of James , this passage could be read as an indication that Mary was planning on remaining a virgin. But why should we rely on ambiguous biblical passages and extrabiblical evidence when the Bible itself clearly states that Jesus had siblings? For example, Matthew records that “while [Jesus] was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him” (Matt. 12:46). His listeners ask, “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?” (Matt. 13:55). Jesus is even advised by his siblings: “So his brothers said to him, ‘Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples may see the works you are doing. For no man works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world'” (John 7:3-4).

Catholic: Although the Bible says that Jesus had brothers, this doesn’t mean that they were necessarily sons of Mary. If we accept the theory put forth in the Protoevangelium of Jamesand accepted by many in the early Church, Jesus’ brothers would be stepbrothers, sons of Joseph but not of Mary. This would explain why Jesus’ “brothers” felt that they could admonish him, as they do in John 7:3-4. In Near Eastern society of that time, it was normally unacceptable for younger siblings to give advice to older ones.

Objector: But not all of the early Church Fathers believed that Joseph had children. St. Jerome said, “I claim that Joseph himself was a virgin.”

Catholic: It is interesting that you quote St. Jerome, who adamantly defended the doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity. It is certainly possible for Catholics to believe that Joseph did not have children of his own. In this case, the brothers of Jesus could be other relatives, such as cousins. Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus and his apostles, had no word for “cousin,” so cousins and other close relatives were often referred to as brothers. For example, Abraham’s nephew Lot was called his brother (Gen. 14:14).

Objector: There’s a problem with your reasoning here. Although cousins may have been referred to as brothers, it’s clear that in this case, the word brothers means blood brothers of Jesus — sons of Mary. We read in Matthew’s Gospel that Joseph “had no marital relations with her until she had borne her firstborn son” (Matt. 1:25). This implies that Joseph did have relations with her after she had given birth.

Catholic: The word until here just says what happened up to the time of Christ’s birth. It doesn’t imply anything about what happened after that, although our modern use of the word until seems to imply that. For an example of this, look at 2 Samuel 6:23, which says, “Michal the daughter of Saul had no children till the day of her death.” We’re obviously not supposed to assume that she had children after she died.

Objector: In this case, it’s obvious that Michal could not have had children after her death. The situation of Mary and Joseph is quite different. We see that in the same verse, Jesus is called Mary’s firstborn son. If Jesus is designated as Mary’s firstborn son, that shows that she had other children. My mother wouldn’t call me her oldest child if I were her only child.

Catholic: This is another case where our modern understanding of terms interferes with understanding what the Bible meant at the time it was written. In biblical times, the termfirstborn had great importance. The firstborn was to be consecrated to the Lord (Ex. 13:2); the parents were to redeem every firstborn son (Ex. 34:20). They weren’t supposed to wait until they had a second child to redeem the firstborn, and so the first son born to a woman was called the firstborn regardless of whether or not she had other children later on.

Objector: It seems to me like you’re using a lot of complicated reasoning to ignore the obvious statements in Scripture that show that Jesus had brothers and that Mary therefore could not have remained a virgin. You’re going to the passages with the idea that Mary was a virgin, and you’re reading that idea into the passages instead of drawing it from them. Even if the passages in question could be interpreted the way you see them, I don’t see any evidence in Scripture that they should be interpreted that way.

Catholic: On the contrary, I think there is evidence (even beyond what I’ve shown you already) that it is very reasonable to interpret the texts as showing that Jesus did not have brothers. If Jesus did have brothers, why would he have entrusted Mary to the beloved disciple, John, at the foot of the cross (John 19:26-27)? He would have had surviving siblings who would have taken care of her. It would be surprising for Jesus to release his brothers from their obligation to their mother, especially because he criticized the Pharisees for neglecting the support of their own parents in Matthew 15:3-6.

Objector: But how could Mary and Joseph have had a loving marriage if she always remained a virgin?

Catholic: Granted, a life of complete abstinence is not the recommended way for ordinary married couples to interact. But Mary and Joseph were not an ordinary married couple. They were entrusted with raising the Son of God. This circumstance was so unusual that their marriage could not have been an ordinary one, because the child they nurtured was no ordinary child.

Objector: I still don’t see why the Church requires Catholics to believe that Mary remained a virgin instead of allowing them to have their own opinions. Does it really matter if Mary had other children?

Catholic: Actually, it does matter. Every doctrine about Mary tells us something about Christ or something about ourselves or the Church. Mary’s perpetual virginity demonstrates her purity of heart and total love for God. In 388, St. Ambrose of Milan wrote that Mary’s virginity was “so great an example of material virtue” because it demonstrated her total devotion to Jesus. In Mary, we see an example of the purity our own hearts must have in total dedication to God. Her virginity also tells us something about the Church, which, like Mary, is both mother to the faithful and “pure bride to her one husband” (2 Cor. 11:2)

© Catholic Answers, Inc.

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A priest once asked Lucy, one of the visionaries of Our Lady of Fatima, “Why five Saturdays, and not nine, or seven, in honour of the Sorrows of Our Lady? (Our Lord had previously requested this from Seer Lucy in one of His apparitions).

That same evening, in May 29th 1930, while in deep prayer the seer implored Our Lord to inspire her with an answer to this and other questions that her confessor, Father Gonçalves, had asked. A few days later she reported the following answer to her confessor:

“When in the chapel with Our Lord, during a Thursday nigh adoration -as it was her habit to do – Our Lord explained the following to her:

“My daughter, the reason is simple. There are five types of offenses and blasphemies committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary:

  1. Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception
  2. Blasphemies against her perpetual virginity;
  3. Blasphemies against Her Divine Maternity, in refusing at the same time to recognize Her as Mother of men;
  4. The blasphemies of those who publicly seek to sow in the hearts of children indifference or scorn, or even hatred of this Immaculate Mother.
  5. The offenses of those who outrage Her holy images.

Here, My daughter, is the reason why the immaculate Heart of Mary inspired Me to ask for this little Reparation…”

Please follow link for more info on the Reparation of the First Five Saturdays.

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Ave Maria!
Maiden mild!
Oh, listen to a maiden’s prayer
For thou can’t hear amid the wild
This thou, this thou can’t save amid, despair
We slumbers safely tear the Mother
Though we be man outcast relived
Oh, Mainden, hear a maiden’s sorrow
Oh, Mother, hear a suppliant child!
Ave Maria

Ave Maria, gracia plena
Maria, gratia plena
Maria, gratia plena
Ave, ave dominus
Dominus tecum

The murky cavern’s air so heavy
Shall breath of balm if thou hast smiled
Oh, Maiden, hear a maiden pleadin’
Oh, Mother, hear a suppliant child
Ave Maria
Ave Maria

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The Virgin Mary with Angels

Today I thought I’d write about the antagonism expressed by most non-Catholic Christians in regards to the Blessed Virgin Mary and/or the Catholic views on Mary, the Mother of Jesus.  Most protestants tend to become emphatically averted  towards Catholicism because of Mary and it is not uncommon to hear people blaspheme and insult the Virgin Mary, because of their strong opposing opinions on the subject. It seems that however well-meaning and good intentioned they may be, many  fail to acknowledge the importance of the Holiest woman of all times, the one who carried Jesus in her womb. 

One obvious question that comes to my mind is why would any one who loves Jesus choose not to honor His mother? Certainly, God wouldn’t have chosen Mary to become the mother of Jesus,  if she wasn’t very special.  Would God choose any-one else but  the most worthy woman to be  the Mother of Christ, Who comes from the Father and is One with the Father?

The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and will name him Jesus.  Lk 1:30-31 

Anyhow, it seems that  such resentment is caused either because of ignorance or prejudice, or both.  Unfortunately, there are many Christians who believe that Catholics worship Saints, or that we hope to get to Heaven through faith in Mary rather than in God! When in fact,  Catholics hold that salvation is a free gift of God and that there is nothing we can do to for ourselves to ‘deserve’ or ‘earn’ our salvation. In spite of their faith in God, Catholics  rely entirely on His mercy and grace to gain eternal salvation. 

(more…)

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