Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Not-So-Sudden Scandal

News reports this morning indicate that some scholars of religion are suddenly having doubts about the virgin conception & birth of Jesus.

Um, wait... isn't that lack of belief as old as this (v.19)?

We are, indeed, under constant attack by the doubters. Really, the question about Mary's perpetual virginity comes down to this: either you believe, or you don't. Either the Church is right, or it's wrong. You either accept it, or you reject it.

Stop trying to convince me to reject what I've accepted!

There are many, many reasons to believe it. One could quote the early Christians Bartholomew (circa 71 AD), or Zeno of Verona (died c. 372 AD), or St. Ambrose (c. 390 AD). We have to advance forward in history another 1200 years before the Protestant Reformation began to suggest that Mary wasn't a virgin. Also worth pointing out is another quote from

The early Fathers all argue:
  • Her virginity was implied by her answer to the Angel Gabriel ' how can this be since I know not a man (Luke 1:34).
  • If Mary had other children why is Jesus emphatically called 'son of Mary (Mark 6:3) noting especially there is no mention of Joseph. In the same manner, Mary is NEVER referred to as Mother of the mother of the brethren of Jesus.
  • The Gospel texts imply the 'brethren' were all older than Jesus since they tried to give him advice, they were jealous of his popularity and they tried to 'hold ' him suggesting he was mad.
  • If Mary had other children, then Jesus when he was dying on the Cross would not have entrusted Mary to the care of St John.
And aside from all the apologetics, all of Church teaching should be accepted by the faithful on the mere fact of the Church's sole teaching authority.

With all these reasons to believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary, why would someone actively try not to believe it?

The only reason to reject anything the Church proclaims as truth is plain: one is hardened to the full acceptance of truth. The hardest thing (and yet the simplest) I had to do as a converting Protestant was allow my mind to submit to Rome's authority.

No regrets, by the way.

I recently read this, written by Blessed Isaac of Stella, who wrote in the 12th century (I recommend checking out the whole text):

In the inspired Scriptures, what is said in a universal sense of the virgin mother, the Church, is understood in an individual sense of the Virgin Mary, and what is said in a particular sense of the virgin mother Mary is rightly understood in a general sense of the virgin mother, the Church. When either is spoken of, the meaning can be understood of both, almost without qualification.

That one simple paragraph gave me a whole new respect for Our Lady. If indeed she is analogous to the Church, which was elevated to a whole new level of authority for me when I journeyed to Rome, then should she not be thusly elevated as well? There is no idolatry in that; the whole point of her life can be summed up from John 2:5: ""Do whatever he tells you."

Not only does she issue the order, but she also supplies the response (v.38): "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."

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