The Scripture mentions the virginal conception of Jesus Christ but it does not deal with the issue of the Blessed Mother's perpetual virginity. But Christian tradition affirms that she remained a virgin throughout her life and this has been largely accepted over the centuries.
There are two issues maintained in the ancient creeds -
The Apostle's Creed (before 251) and the Nicea-Constantinople Creed (finalised in 381) - "conceived of the Holy Spirit" and "born of the virgin Mary".
In the Nicene Creed, the issue "born of Mary, always a virgin" states that this has been the traditional observance.
Songs 4:12 - "You are an enclosed garden, my sister, my bride, an enclosed garden, a fountain sealed."
The following are speeches made by Christian forefathers about Mary's virginity:
St. Jerome - Now that a virgin has conceived in the womb and has born to us a child of whom the Prophet says that government shall rest on His shoulder and His name shall be called the Mighty God, (Is 9:6), the chain of the curse is broken.
Death came through Eve, but life has come through Mary. The gift of virginity has been rightly restored to women, seeing that it has had its beginning in a woman.
St. Ambrose, a pioneer in devotion to Mary - She was a virgin, he said, not in body alone but in mind as well.
She was the model of all virtues; there was not the slightest imperfection in her. In his sermons, he called Mary the daughter of the Church and its most important member.
She was her Mother too, since she gave birth to Christ [the body of the Church].
He offered her as "the mirror of virgins" and often preached on "the richness of the virginity of Mary" especially when appealing to young women to enter the "religious life".
St. Ephrem the Syria (373) -
Mary is the garden upon which a rain of blessings descended from the Father. With that rain she sprinkled the face of Adam, whereupon he turned to life, and rose from the sepulchre, he who had been buried by his foes in hell.
Eve was a debtor to sin. But it was ordained that Mary, her daughter, might pay her mother's debts, as a legacy to all generations. She cleared up the debt that caused her mother's tears. Since Mary was the virgin inviolate prefigured by the blest land of Eden, the Tree of Life blossomed from her bosom, and its taste gives life to souls.
Let the word of life be sent by Thy Majesty to the dwelling place of the dead, and say to Eve lying in the sepulchre: "Thy daughter, with virginity unimpaired, has brought forth the Child who will pay thy debt."
I would like to quote from the Navarre Bible Commentary:-"Brethren".
Ancient Hebrew, Aramaic and other languages had no special words for different degrees of relationship, such as are found in more modern languages. In general, all those belonging to the same family, clan and even tribe were "brethren".
In the particular case we have here, we should bear in mind that Jesus had different kinds of relatives, in two groups - some on his mother's side, others on St. Joseph's.
Matthew 13:55-56, mentions as living in Nazareth, James, Joseph, Simon and Judas (his "brethren") and elsewhere there is reference Jesus' "sisters" (cf. Mk 6:3).
But in Matthew 27:56 we are told that the James and Joseph were sons of a Mary distinct from the Blessed Virgin, and that Simon and Judas were not brothers of James and Joseph, but seemingly children of a brother of St. Joseph.
How did the concept of the Perpetual Virginity of our Lord's Mother develop?
Let's a look a bit into it.
As early as AD 358 there existed writings attesting to the perpetual virginity of Jesus' mother (St. Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria). In addition, St. Irenaeus, St. Clement of Alexandria, St. Gregory of Nyssa and others upheld the perpetual virginity of Mary.
St. Augustine, St. Peter Chrysologus and St. Leo the Great all upheld the triple formula of Perpetual Virginity before, during, and after the birth of Jesus Christ.
This belief was clearly expressed by the council of Ephesus and held by ALL Christians up to the 16th century.
Since we know that by the fourth century, at the latest, a popular title for our Lord's Mother was "ever virgin", I believe this qualifies as a Universal Truth, held by all Christians, in all places, in all ages, in all times [ until the 16th Cent. ].
From my point of view, it appears that the reformers rejected a "Catholic" truth believed throughout Christianity for at least the previous 1200 years. Their rejection of this Truth seems to violate the promise Christ made to the Apostles that the Holy Spirit would "ALWAYS" guide His church.
I also did some digging on my on-line Bible (RSV). The phrase "Mary ... mother" appears in the NT 9 times, Brethren appears 25 times. Nowhere do the words "Mary('s) ... sons", or "Mary ... lived" appear in Holy Scripture.
MT 27:56 certainly establishes a different Mary as the mother of James and Joseph. Also cross-reference Mark 15:40.
The ONLY Son of Mary mentioned in the Bible is Jesus Christ, our Lord.
I would like to once again quote from the Navarre Bible, the commentary on Mark 6:3.
"...Thus in Genesis 1:3 and 14:14 and 16, Lot is called the brother of Abraham (translated as "kinsman" in RSV) whereas we know he was Abraham's nephew, the son of Abraham's brother Haran. The same is true of Laban, who is called the brother of Jacob (Gen 29:15)... there are other instances: cf 1Chron 23:21." As the ancient Eve said "Yes" to the serpent, Mary said "Yes" to Archangel Gabriel. And in Gabriel's words to Mary, "The power of the most high will OVERSHADOW you", are clear echo of the overshadowing cloud (Exodus) or light, the "glory of the Lord", which stood over the Ark of the Covenant in the Exodus, and later in the temple of Jerusalem. For the Jews, this hovering sign marked the presence of God, Himself.
"Moses could not enter the meeting tent, because the cloud settled down upon it and the glory of the Lord filled the Dwelling."
"And the angel said to her in reply, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you."
God, with His cloud, overshadowed the Ark of the covenant (stone tablets of the commandments), for as long as it was established here on earth even though the covenant that it contained has been delivered and spread to the people.
Likewise, did God remained to overshadow Mary by giving her more graces than she deserved and kept her His for as long as she stayed on earth, even after Jesus was made flesh to deliver us from sins.
God kept the Ark to Himself, the 'safety box' of the covenant, such that even Moses could NOT enter it, long after its construction and the covenant was delivered to the people as the 10 commandments of God.
God also kept Mary to Himself (although for public legitimacy, she was betrothed to Joseph) even after she delivered Jesus to dwell among the people to save us from sins.
Moses was the architect of the Ark who directed its great construction but still, Moses could NOT enter the Ark after God dwelt on it.
Joseph provided support to Mary, in whose womb Jesus was sheltered but he too did not own Mary because God dwelt upon her and overshadowed her like the Ark.
Mary retained her virginity because she was God's and she bore the Son of God.
As the Ark of Covenant was prepared and diligently constructed with exact dimensions and materials as dictated to Moses by God, Mary was also prepared for the event of her Immaculate Conception in her mother's (St. Anne) womb.
Both (the Ark and Mary) were places of very important and sacred creations (the Covenant and Jesus) to God and God dwelt on the Ark as well as Mary such that nobody else could own them. Not believing this is like an insult to God's Almighty efforts. He said His word (Genesis 3:15) and He kept His promise.
To us, mere humans, this may mean nothing but to God, who dictated and willed these 'dwelling places / safety holders', these were His works and it follows that these are very important to Him. Not to think of myself and what these mean to me, I choose to exalt God and His works, because this glorifies Him.
To us, the Ark and Mary were just ordinary vessels.
To God, they were His creations and He owned them and nobody else dwelt among them but Him.
God dwelt and overshadowed nothing else or nobody else other than the Ark of the Covenant and Mary. ( Except "the void" in Genesis.)
With this fact and in glory to God in the highest, I know and believe, deep within my heart, that Mary being overshadowed by God (thus giving her graces to remain His), He kept her to Himself for as long as her stay here on earth, and so she is really our Blessed Ever Virgin Mother.
His Peace through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Marida, "Human-kind: Where protection of valuable life starts and takes off."
Jeremiah 1:5 "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you..."
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