Skip to comments.Catholic Word of the Day: MARY'S VIRGINITY, 02-26-13
Posted on 02/26/2013 4:03:26 PM PST by Salvation
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The belief that the Mother of Jesus was always a virgin. Three stages of virginity are professed in this belief: "mary's conception of her Son without the co-operation of man, giving birth to Christ without violating her integrity, and remaining a virgin after Jesus was born.
The Church's faith in Mary's virginal conception of Jesus found its way into all the ancient professions of belief. In a text dating from the early second century, the Apostles' creed speaks of "Jesus Christ . . . who was born by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary." The biblical basis was traceable to the prophecy or Isaiah (7:14), which the first Evangelist applies to Mary: "Therefore the Lord Himself shall give a sign. Behold a virgin [halmah] shall conceive and bear a son and his name shall be called Emmanuel [God with us]." From the beginning, Christians understood the passage to refer to the Messiah, since the sign had been fulfilled. Matthew thus interpreted the term in recalling the Isaian prophecy (Matthew 1:23).
All the Fathers affirm Christ's virginal conception by Mary. At the turn of the first century, Ignatius of Antioch spoke of Jesus as "truly born of a virgin." Starting with Just the Martyr (c. 100-65), ecclesiastical writers uniformly defended the Messianic interpretation of Isaiah, as given by Matthew and confirmed in the Gospel by St. Luke.
Christian tradition went a step further. Not only did Mary conceive without carnal intercourse, but her physical virginity was also no violated in giving birth to Christ. When the monk Jovinian (d. 405) began to teach that "A virgin conceived, but a virgin did not bring forth," he was promptly condemned by a synod at Milan (390), presided over by St. Ambrose. Her integrity during the birth of Jesus is included in the title "perpetual virgin," given to Mary by the fifth general council held at Constantinople (553). Without going into physiological details, ancient writers such as Ambrose, Augustine, and Jerome employ various analogies--the emergence of Christ from the sealed tomb, his going through closed doors, penetration of light through glass, the going out of human thought from the mind.
Mary remained a virgin after Christ was born, Denied in the early Church by Tertullian and Jovinian, the doctrine of virginity post partum (after birth) was strenuously defended by the orthodox Fathers and crystallized in the term aeiparthenos (ever virgin) coined by the fifth ecumenical council (second of Constantinople). From the fourth century on, such formulas as that of St. Augustine became common: "A Virgin conceived, a virgin gave birth, a virgin remained."
Essays for Lent: Mary Ever-Virgin
Why is the perpetual virginity of Mary so important to Catholics? [Ecumenical Vanity]
Is the Perpetual Virginity of Mary a Biblical View?
Aeiparthenos (An Anglo-Catholic Priest on Mary's Perpetual Virginity)
The Heõs Hou polemic is over: Radio Debate Matatics VS White & Svendsen on Perpetual Virginity Mary
The Early Church Fathers on Marys Perpetual Virginity - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
The Heõs Hou polemic is over: Radio Debate Matatics VS White & Svendsen on Perpetual Virginity Mary
Luther, Calvin, and Other Early Protestants on the Perpetual Virginity of Mary
Luther, Calvin, and Other Early Protestants on the Perpetual Virginity of Mary
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Being married to a Catholic and having consented to raising our children Catholic, I’ve always found it disturbing and a bit disgusting that people dwell on Mary’s post-partum hymen (or lack thereof).
What’s demeaning to women is that the virgin birth doctrine has its roots in the idea that sex is unclean, and women who have had sex are unclean.
Well I’m pregnant with number three so what does that make me lol!
The virgin birth doctrine relates to the need for Jesus to be sinless from the time of conception, otherwise His sacrifice would not have atoned for all sin. He was the perfect Lamb sacrificed for us. In Jewish thought, sin comes from the father, therefore not having a human father assured that Jesus was conceived without sin. Instead, His father was God the Father!
Talking about being "conceived without sin",another Catholic non-Scriptural dogma is that Mary herself was conceived without sin. Basically, it says that it was ok for God to become a man, live in our dirty world, go to the cross... but somehow it was not ok for him to be incarnated in the womb of a sinner. It figures!
People don’t understand that Mary was the Ark of the New Covenant.
People who touched the Ark of the Old Covenant were zapped.
Christ is the fulfillment of the New Covenant — and like you said needed a clean place to stay from his conception through the Holy Spirit until his birth.
God the Father and Jesus (remember John 1 — In the beginning was the Word — that’s Jesus! — chose Mary ahead of time since God’s time is not our time. She was cleansed of original sin before her birth through the power of God......the Immaculate Conception.
Incarnation — about Christ’s conception
Immaculate Conception — about Mary’s conception
I imagine many people "touched" Mary, just not the way we were talking in this thread. I think you are stretching things a wee bit here.
She was cleansed of original sin before her birth
I always wondered why she acknowledged needing a Savior in Luke 1:47. Also, what happened to "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Ro. 3:23).
I know I am not going to convince you, and neither are you likely to change my mind. Honestly, what difference does it make to our salvation whether Mary remained a virgin or not? The important thing is that she was a virgin when she conceived and so she delivered the perfect, spotless Lamb of God.
It's too late for me, so good night, peace and grace to you.
Mary's virginity makes no difference to our salvation but it has a huge impact on church doctrine.
I was raised Catholic but married in an evangelical Christian church and didn't want to put my new bride through the burden of becoming Catholic. It took only a couple months of adult Bible study to convince me that I could never subscribe to Catholic doctrine again.
There is no evidence in the Bible that Mary was a perpetual virgin. There is lots of circumstantial evidence that she could not have remained a virgin after Jesus birth. To wit:
* There are two Biblical passages which clearly note that Joseph did not know his wife until she gave birth to the child by the Holy Spirit.
* Jesus was raised as a carpenter under the tutelage of his father. It's hard to imagine that, after the Savior's birth, Joseph would not have engaged in normal martial relations with his wife. Joseph did not vanish after Jesus' birth.
* There are multiple NT passages that refer to Jesus' brothers, in particular, James, who did not believe his brother was the Messiah until after his brother's resurrection. At least 10 passages.
But the real issue I had with Catholic doctrine is when the church calls Mary the "co-redemtrix," meaning that we Christians can be redeemed EITHER through Jesus or his mother. There is zero Biblical basis for this Catholic doctine. The first time I read that passage in John 14:6, "No one comes to the Father except through me," all the scales over my eyes fell away.
So why did the Catholic church of old insist that Mary was a perpetual virgin? Probably because a perpetual virgin -- with those notions of forever being clean -- was the only way to justify her role as an equal path to salvation as Jesus himself.
Sorry, Catholics, I'm not intending to create discord here, but it does matter whether Mary was a virgin. The only path to salvation is through Christ, not his mother. She was neither a perpetual virgin, nor a path to salvation.
That is not what it means at all.
I am the Queen of Heaven, the Mother of God. I told you to wear a brooch on your chest. I will now show you more fully how, from the beginning, when I first heard and understood that God existed, I always, and with fear, was concerned about my salvation and my observance of his commandments. But when I learned more about God - that he was my Creator and the judge of all my actions - I loved him more dearly, and I was constantly fearful and watchful so as to not offend him by word or deed.
Later, when I heard that he had given the Law and the commandments to the people and worked such great miracles through them, I made a firm decision in my soul to never love anything but him, and all worldly things became most bitter to me. When still later I heard that God himself would redeem the world and be born of a Virgin, I was seized by such great love for him that I thought of nothing but God and desired nothing but him. I withdrew myself, as much as I was able, from the conversation and presence of parents and friends, and I gave away all my possessions to the poor, and kept nothing for myself but meager food and clothing.
Nothing was pleasing to me but God! I always wished in my heart to live until the time of his birth, and perhaps, deserve to become the unworthy handmaid of the Mother of God. I also promised in my heart to keep my virginity, if this was acceptable to him, and to have no possessions in the world. However, if God wanted otherwise, my will was that his will, not mine, be done; for I believed that he could do all things and wanted nothing but what was beneficial and best for me. Therefore, I entrusted all my will to him.
When the time approached for the virgins to be presented in the temple of the Lord, I was also among them due to the devout compliance of my parents to the Law. I thought to myself that nothing was impossible for God, and since he knew that I wanted and desired nothing but him, I knew that he could protect my virginity, if it pleased him. However, if not, I wanted his will to be done. After I had heard all the commandments in the temple, I returned home, burning even more now than ever before with the love of God, being inflamed daily with new fires and desires of love.
For this reason, I withdrew myself even more from everyone, and was alone day and night, fearing greatly, and most of all, that my mouth should say anything, or my ears hear anything against the will of my God, or that my eyes see anything alluring or harmful. I was also afraid in the silence, and very worried that I might be silent about things of which I should, instead, have spoken.
While I was worried in my heart like this, alone by myself and placing all my hope in God, an inspiration about Gods great power came over me, and I recalled how the angels and everything created serve him, and how his glory is indescribable and unlimited. While I was thus fascinated by this thought, I saw three wonderful things: I saw a star, but not the kind that shines in the sky; I saw a light, but not the kind that shines in this world; I smelled a fragrance, but not of herbs or anything else of this world. It was most delightful and truly indescribable, and it filled me up so completely that I jubilated with joy!
After this, I immediately heard a voice - but not from a human mouth - and when I heard it, I shuddered with the great fear that it might be an illusion, or a mockery by an evil spirit. But shortly after this, an angel of God appeared before me; he was like the most handsome of men, but not in the flesh as is the body of a created man, and he said to me: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! When I heard this, I wondered what he meant and why he had come to me with such a greeting, for I knew and believed that I was unworthy of any such thing - or any good thing! However, I also knew that nothing is impossible for God, if he desires it.
Then the angel spoke again: The child to be born in you is holy and will be called the Son of God. May his will be done as it pleases him. But, not even then did I consider myself worthy, and I did not ask the angel why, or when, this would happen. Instead I asked him how it could be that I, an unworthy maiden, who did not know any man, should become the Mother of God. The angel answered me (as I have just said): Nothing is impossible for God, for whatever he wants to do will be done.
When I had heard these words of the angel, I felt the most fervent desire to become the Mother of God, and my soul spoke out of love and desire, saying: See, here I am; your will be done in me! With these words, my Son was conceived in my womb to the indescribable joy of my soul and my every limb! While I had him in my womb, I bore him without any pain, without any heaviness or discomfort. I humbled myself in all things, knowing that he whom I bore was the Almighty!
When I gave birth to him, it was also without any pain or sin, just as I had conceived him, but with such exaltation and joy of soul and body that my feet did not feel the ground where they had been standing because of this indescribable joy! Just as he had entered my limbs to the joy of all my soul, he left my body, leaving my virginity intact, and my soul and whole body in a state of indescribable joy and jubilation.
When I gazed upon and contemplated his beauty, joy seeped through my soul like dewdrops and I knew myself to be unworthy of such a son. But when I considered the places where (as I had learned from the predictions of the prophets) nails would be pierced through his hands and feet at the crucifixion, my eyes filled with tears and my heart was almost torn apart by sorrow.
When my Son saw my weeping eyes, he became almost deathly saddened. However, when I considered his divine power, I was consoled again in knowing that this was what he wanted and that it should happen in this way, and I joined all my will to his. So my joy was always mixed with sorrow.
When the time of my Sons suffering arrived, his enemies seized him and struck him on the cheek and neck, spat at him and ridiculed him. Then he was led to the pillar of torture where he voluntarily removed his clothes and placed his hands around the pillar, and his enemies then mercilessly bound them. When he stood bound at the pillar, he had no covering at all, but stood naked as he had been born, suffering the shame of his nakedness.
Then all my Sons friends fled from him, and his enemies came together from all directions and stood there, scourging his body, which was pure from every stain and sin. I was standing nearby, and at the very first lashing, I fell down as if I were dead. When I regained consciousness, I saw his body whipped and scourged so badly that the ribs were visible! What was even more terrible when the whip was pulled out, his flesh was furrowed and torn by it, just as the earth is by a plough! As my Son was standing there, all bloody and wounded, so that no place could be found on him that was still intact and no sound spot could be scourged, then someone present there, aroused in spirit, asked: Are you going to kill him before he is even judged? And he cut off his bonds immediately.
Then my Son put his clothes back on, and I saw that the place where he had been standing was filled with blood! By observing my Sons footprints, I could see where he had walked because the ground was bloody there as well. They did not even wait for him to get dressed, but pushed and dragged him to make him hurry up. While my Son was being led away like a robber, he wiped the blood from his eyes. When he had been sentenced to death, they placed the cross on him so that he could carry it to the place of suffering. When he had carried it for a while, a man came along and took the cross to carry it for him. As my Son was going to the place of suffering, some people hit him on the neck, while others hit him in the face. He was so brutally and forcefully beaten that, although I did not see who hit him, I heard the sound of the blow clearly. When I reached the place of suffering with him, I saw all the instruments of his death lying there ready. When my Son got there, he took off his clothes by himself.
The executioners and the crucifiers said to each other: These are our clothes! He will not get them back because he is condemned to death! As my Son was standing there, naked as he had been born, a man came running up and handed him a cloth with which he joyfully covered his private parts. Then the cruel executioners seized him and stretched him out on the cross. First, they fastened his right hand to the wooden beam (which was fashioned with holes for the nails), piercing the hand at the place where the bone was most solid and firm. Then they pulled out his other hand with a rope and fastened it, in a similar way, to the beam. Next they crucified the right foot - with the left foot on top of it - with two nails, so that all his sinews and veins were stretched so much that they burst. After they had done this, they put the crown of thorns on his head. It cut into my Sons venerable head so deeply that his eyes were filled with blood as it flowed down, his ears were blocked by it, and his beard was totally soaked with it. As he stood there, so bloody and pierced, he felt sorry for me, for I was standing nearby and crying. Looking with his blood-filled eyes upon my nephew, John, he commended me to his care. At that moment I heard some people saying that my Son was a robber! Others said that he was a liar, and others that no one deserved to die more than did my Son!
My sorrow was renewed from hearing all this. And, as I said before, when the first nail was driven into him, I became overwhelmed by the sound of the first strike and fell down as if dead with darkened eyes, trembling hands, and faltering legs. In my bitter pain and great sorrow, I was not able to look up again until he had been completely nailed to the cross. But when I got up, I saw my Son hanging pitifully, and I, his most sorrowful Mother, was so grieved and heartbroken that I could barely stand up because of my great and bitter sorrow. When my Son saw me and his friends in inconsolable tears, he called out with a loud and sorrowful voice to his Father, saying: Father, why have you forsaken me? It was as if he wanted to say: There is no one who pities me but you, Father.
By this time, his eyes seemed half-dead. His cheeks were sunken, his face was sorrowful, his mouth open, and his tongue was bloody. His stomach was pressed in towards his back because of all the liquid that had been lost. It was as if he had no intestines. All of his body was pale and languid because of the loss of blood. His hands and feet were very rigidly outstretched, for they had been extended and made to conform to the shape of the cross. His beard and hair were completely soaked with blood. When my Son stood there so bruised and pale blue, only his heart was still vigorous, for it was of the best and strongest nature. He had taken from my flesh the most pure and well-wrought body. His skin was so thin and tender that blood flowed out of it instantly if he was scourged even slightly. His blood was so fresh that it could be seen inside the pure skin. And because he had the very best constitution, life contended with death in his pierced body. Sometimes the pain from his pierced limbs and sinews rose up to his heart, which was still completely vigorous and unhurt and tormented it with the most unendurable pain and suffering. Sometimes the pain descended from his heart into his wounded limbs and, in so doing, prolonged his bitter death.
Surrounded by these pains, my Son beheld his weeping friends who, with his help, would rather have suffered his pain themselves or have burned in hell for all time than to see him tortured in this way. His sorrow over his friends sorrow exceeded all the bitterness and grief which he had endured in body and heart, for he loved them so tenderly. Then, out of the exceedingly great suffering and anguish of his body, he cried out on account of his Manhood to the Father: Father, into your hands I commend my spirit. When I, his most sorrowful Mother heard his voice, my whole body trembled in the bitter pain of my heart. As often as I later thought on this cry, it was as if still present and fresh in my ears.
When his death drew near, his heart burst because of the violence of the pain. His whole body convulsed, and his head raised itself a little, and then dropped down again. His mouth was open and his tongue was completely bloody. His hands retracted a little from the place of the nail holes, and his feet were made to bear more of the weight of his body. His fingers and arms were stretched out somewhat, and his back was tightly pressed against the cross.
Then some people said to me: Your Son is dead, Mary! But others said: He is dead, but he will rise again. When everyone was going away, a man came and thrust his spear into his side so forcefully that it almost went out the other side! When the spear was pulled out, its point appeared to be red with blood. It seemed to me then, when I saw my beloved Sons heart pierced, that my own heart had been pierced as well!
Then he was taken down from the cross and I received his body onto my lap. He looked like a leper, and was completely covered with bruises and blood. His eyes were lifeless and filled with blood, his mouth as cold as ice, his beard like string, his face paralyzed, and his hands were so stiffened that they could not be bent over his chest, but only over his stomach, near the navel. I had him on my knee just as he had been on the cross: stiffened in all his limbs.
After this, they laid him in a clean linen cloth and I dried his limbs with my own linen cloth and closed his eyes and mouth, which he had opened when he died. Then they laid him in the grave. I would willingly have been placed alive in the grave with my Son if it had been his will! When these things were done, good John came and brought me home. Behold, my daughter, what my Son has endured for you, and love him with all your heart!
This is from St Bridget’s Revelation 10th chapter. I think one of the most amazing writings on Mary .
Like you, I am also a former Catholic, married to an evangelical Christian, who has seen how unscriptural Catholic doctrine can be. I agree with you, the virginity of Mary does have a huge impact on Catholic doctrine. I was just trying to tell Salvation that we were arguing about doctrinal points that are irelevant to salvation, but there is a thin line on whether a false doctrine is just silly or actually an impediment to being born again. I don't know which side of the line the virginity of Mary falls, so I pray daily for my still-Catholic family.
Probably because a perpetual virgin -- with those notions of forever being clean -- was the only way to justify her role as an equal path to salvation as Jesus himself
You got me here. Anybody who depends on anybody other than Jesus for salvation is NOT saved. And I say this perfectly aware that it includes my family. Maybe that's why the Lord has put such a burden on me about their salvation... Maybe it is time to stop "thinking" and start talking to them... but you know very well how defensive Catholics can be!
**Mary’s virginity makes no difference to our salvation **
Without Mary would Christ have been born?
**There are multiple NT passages that refer to Jesus’ brothers**
And how may times does St. Paul refer to people in his letters as ‘brothers’??
It was common language back then.
“co” in Latin means “with”
Without Mary there would have been no birth of Jesus.
You are always a Catholic, once a person is baptized, that mark of the Holy Spirit is on your soul. You will always be a Catholic, whether an active one or a lapsed one, is up to you. And you will eventually (at the moment of your death) tell Jesus why you denied your Baptism.
Thanks for the sincere reply. I thought I might contribute something to your thoughts about your Catholic family, and their salvation.
While I am not a Catholic anymore, and never will be again, I do not for a moment believe that Catholics are not saved. Here's why.
Salvation is pretty simple. Confess your sins, believe in Christ as your savior, and in the truth of his birth and resurrection, and grow in faith over whatever time you have after your salvation, be it 50 years or 50 minutes. Jesus' parable in Mt 20:1-16 makes that clear to us. Someone saved on his deathbed is no less worthy of the kingdom of God than someone who led a mostly blameless and decent life.
If salvation is that straightforward, and does not require a lifetime of service or worship, then it changes our perspective of those who are not evangelical Christians as we, and their future in eternity.
And, the fact that faith has very few prerequisites and equally few requirements, means that doctrine, rituals and rules, might obscure the truth and its simplicity but certainly not undo it.
Hence, there is very little that a Catholic can do to "unearn" his salvation just because he believes in Catholic doctrine, engages in Caholic rituals, or believes that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ on earth and is infallible. None of these doctrinal matters will divert his heart from the truth of salvation. They might be distractions at times, but will not unearn his salvation.
As for the Christians who get all hot and bothered about Mormonism, I think that they too are very likely saved as well. Again, the simplicity of the criteria for salvation, and a right heart, is all it takes. We can never know if a devout Mormon looks heavenward one day and utters this prayer, "Lord, I get confused by all this doctrine, ritual, and rules, but I just want to get right by you and hold you in my heart each day." I have zero doubt that the Holy Spirit is with that fellow at that moment. There is no amount of ritual or doctrine that can unearn this fellow's salvation in my view.
I am confident that this happens because I keep hearing in Christian media that it is happening throughout the Muslim world. Muslims are looking heavenward, praying for understanding, and they become convicted immediately of the truth of Christ. If it's happening to Muslims, it's happening to people throughout the globe.
Don't get me wrong. Not all Catholics and Mormon, in addition to Christian church members, are saved merely because they belong to a church and practice what the church teaches. But those that look heavenward and pray will no doubt be led by the Holy Spirit.
My two cents. I hope this is a useful perspective.
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