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The Perpetual Virginity of Our Blessed Mother, Mary

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The Perpetual Virginity of Our Blessed Mother, Mary is presented in 3 parts:
I  "It Doesn't Matter"
II  Lex Orandi
III Finding the Appropriate Words Which Express/Describe What We Believe


The Perpetual Virginity of Our Blessed Mother, Mary
Part I of III
“It Doesn’t Matter”

Recently in the forums of a large Catholic website where I’m also a member, several people started different threads on the topic of errors being taught in their local RCIA .

It seems there is a common response being given to several questions in particular – a three word response : “It doesn’t matter.”  Apparently that’s what the teachers/directors of  several RCIA groups would answer. More than one RCIA group (it is claimed) received this answer  when participants asked if the Church teaches that our Blessed Mother Mary  remained a virgin after Christ’s birth.

Here are two pertinent quotes from their various recent threads:

A) “Whether or not the Virgin Mary remained virgin after she gave birth didn't matter. . ”

B) “Already, though, we were just talking about Mary's perpetual virginity, and the RCIA director mentioned it didn't matter if we believe it or not since all that matters is that Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus. . .”

In a nutshell, with the fluff trimmed away, what is being said is that the perpetual virginity of our Blessed Mother doesn’t matter ; her virginity only matters up until the birth of our Blessed Lord Jesus. Surely we can’t go around saying something like that because it contradicts what the Church teaches definitively concerning our Blessed Mother’s virginity : The Church proposes, “Yes you must give your assent of faith to the perpetual virginity of  Mary the Mother of God” , while the RCIA director (purportedly) says , “It doesn’t matter.”

I think if I had been the one asking the question about our Blessed Mother’s perpetual virginity and  an RCIA director (or anyone else) gave me the answer “It doesn’t matter”, I would be quite tempted to reply , “Well if it doesn’t matter , then why did I ask the question ?”

The Church says it matters. The whole reason the Church defines these things and proposes them for our belief, to be granted our assent of faith, is because they do matter.

And they matter in a particular way to each one of us as individuals. Our own personal version of our faith has to adhere to some sort of concept of continuity.

So where/how does this flawed logic creep into the minds of those entrusted with fostering our Holy Catholic faith in the hearts of our neophyte brothers and sisters ? Where does the line of continuity become broken . . . ? . . .  So that they may claim , “Mary’s virginity only matters up until the birth of our Blessed Lord – not afterwards.”

I wonder if it is because they haven’t yet been able to grant their own personal assent of faith to the miraculous birth of Christ ? We say not only that our Blessed Mother was a virgin before and after Christ’s birth , but also that She remained a virgin during Christ’s birth. A surprising number of Catholics are unaware of this concept (ignorance which might easily be attributable to, or caused by people – Catholic people, erroneously teaching and believing that the perpetual virginity of our Blessed Mother “doesn’t matter”)  If one is able to assent to this truth of our Blessed Mother remaining a virgin during Christ’s birth,  then her virginity after Christ’s birth becomes a most logical continuation; it completes the statement , so to speak.

Bishop Fulton Sheen makes the connection of the miraculous birth of our Blessed Lord with the suffering our Blessed Mother endures at Calvary when He says to Her, “Woman, Behold your son,”  – from the book The Seven Last Words, Fulton J. Sheen , [pgs 25, 26]

“ ‘Behold your son !’ It was the second nativity ! Mary had brought forth her First-born without labour, in the cave of Bethlehem; she now brings forth her second-born – John, in the labours of the Cross. At this moment Mary is undergoing the pains of childbirth, not only for her second-born who is John, but also for the millions who will be born to her in Christian ages as ‘Children of Mary.’

Now we can understand why Christ was called her ‘First-born.’  It was not because she was to have other children by the blood of flesh but because she was to have other children by the blood of her heart. Truly, indeed, the Divine condemnation against Eve is now renewed against the new Eve, Mary , for she is bringing forth her children in sorrow.”


The Perpetual Virginity of Our Blessed Mother, Mary
Part II of III
Lex Orandi

Giving our assent of faith to a tenet which has been definitively proclaimed by the Church  can sometimes be a mental wrestling match – particularly where miracles are involved ; and on the important issues, miracles are often involved, for example : the Incarnation, the Resurrection, and Transubstantiation , to name a few.

It isn’t too surprising then, that the perpetual virginity of our Blessed Mother should similarly cause us some serious – even difficult reflection when we ponder it . Contemplating the truth of Our Lady remaining a virgin during the birth of Christ , even prayerfully, sometimes comes with a certain degree of discomfort when we have to consider what the given biological practicalities involve. It’s always a delicate matter and we usually don’t enjoy pondering our Blessed Mother under those particular terms – we’d much rather just love Her and pray with Her . But when we fail to consider the biological or natural practicalities, we ultimately remain without that natural resource against which we need to contrast the supernatural , or miracle ; knowing the natural is a prerequisite in being able to comprehend how the miracle departs from the natural. And the Church believes and teaches about the perpetual virginity of our Blessed Mother very strongly in no uncertain terms, because the Church prays this way.

We say “Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi” meaning “The Law of Prayer is the Law of Belief”, or (rendered by Deacon Keith Fournier) :

”As We Worship, So we will Live”
, or again roughly, “The Church Prays as She Believes.”

Although Mary’s virginal conception of our Blessed Lord is expressed in all the creeds, we can’t really rely on the Creed as a comprehensive, objective reference point concerning belief about the perpetual virginity of our Blessed Mother Mary. In other words, we can’t say “Well the perpetual virginity of Mary is not mentioned in the Apostle’s Creed nor is it mentioned in the Nicene Creed so I don’t have to believe it.”  The Creed does not contain all of our  Catholic precepts – for instance there is no mention whatsoever in the Creed of our Blessed Lord’s true presence in the Holy Eucharist – no mention of the Eucharist at all, yet we believe it, and Lumen Gentium says the Eucharist is the “source and summit of the Christian life.”

“The Church Prays as She Believes” , and the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is and will always be the greatest prayer of all. Approximately one year ago in North America, we began using the new english translation of the Roman Missal . Although this brought about changes/adjustments in the wording of certain prayers , our Blessed Mother’s perpetual virginity is just as clearly professed in the new translation as in the previous one  :

-First in  the Penitential Act 1 :

“. . . therefore I ask Blessed Mary ever-Virgin, all the Angels and Saints, and you my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.”

-The same also goes for the new translation of  the communicantes and all Proper Forms of the communicantes in Eucharistic Prayer I (The Roman Canon) :

“. . . we honour Mary the ever-Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ our Lord and God. . . ”

-Finally have an edifying look now at how it is worded in (the new translation of) the Proper Form of the communicantes for Christmas and the Octave :

“In union with the whole Church we celebrate that day (night)when Mary without loss of her virginity, gave the world its Savior. We honor Mary, the ever-Virgin Mother of Jesus Christ our Lord and God. . .”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is also explicit on this matter- “ever-virgin”:

499 The deepening of faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Mary's real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man. In fact, Christ's birth "did not diminish his mother's virginal integrity but sanctified it." And so the liturgy of the Church celebrates Mary as Aeiparthenos, the "Ever-virgin".

Why would the Church be so careful to define this in the Catechism and to profess it and pray it at each Mass if it “didn’t matter” ?

Paul IV in the Constitution Cum Quorundam (1555) stated:

"The opinion is condemned that Jesus Christ] was not conceived according to the flesh by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, ever Virgin...or that the same most blessed Virgin Mary is not the true mother of God and did not retain her virginity intact before the birth, in the birth, and after the birth in perpetuity."

How can the Blessed Virgin Mary’s perpetual virginity “not matter” given that any opinion to the contrary is “condemned” ?

Mary was a virgin before, during, and after Christ’s birth.

Lex Orandi Lex Credendi,

Last edited by NeedImprovement on Fri Oct 19, 2012 12:16 am; edited 3 times in total


The Perpetual Virginity of Our Blessed Mother, Mary
Finding Appropriate Words Which Express/Describe What we Believe
Part III of III

Included here are several selected additional ways (there are more) of wording the same thing that is being presented pertaining to our Blessed Mother’s perpetual virginity. The first selection is from Fr John Hardon , S.J.’s Modern Catholic Dictionary, the third is a quote by St. Ambrose provided by a superb webpage from the University of Dayton entitled The Virginity of Mary. The second is from a locution received  by Fr. Don Steffano Gobbi – founder of the Marian Movement of Priests (although most of  the MMP’s members would argue that it is actually Our Blessed Mother who is the Movement’s founder   .)

For anyone not too familiar with the Marian Movement of Priests, there is already a quote of one of Fr. Gobbi’s locutions posted by Our-Lady-of-Victory entitled Triumph of My Immaculate Heart in this same “Blessed Holy Virgin Mary” forum. Here are several links which might fill in some blanks as well -

Arrow http://www.ewtn.com/expert/answers/MMP.htm

Arrow http://www.mmp-usa.net/history_old.html


VIRGINITY OF MARY. The revealed dogma that the Mother of Jesus conceived without carnal intercourse, gave birth to Christ without injury to her virginity, and remained a virgin all her life. The Church's faith in Mary's virginal conception of Christ is expressed in all the creeds. Mary's virginal conception was already foretold in the Old Testament by Isaiah in the famous Emmanuel prophecy: "Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and his name shall be called Emmanuel" (Isaiah 7:14). Mary's virginity includes virginity of mind, i.e., constant virginal disposition of soul; virginity of the senses, i.e., freedom from inordinate motions of sexual desire; and virginity of body, or physical integrity. The Church's doctrine refers primarily to her bodily integrity.

This next passage from the MMP’s book To The Priests Our Lady’s Beloved Sons is an excerpt of the locution entitled   In the Night of Your Time  [ # 395 ; Pgs 582-583]. It was received by Father Gobbi on Christmas Eve December 24, 1988 in Dongo (Como, Italy)  It is one of the most eloquent passages I’ve ever personally read relating to the virgin birth. It presents us with an idea of the birth of Christ from our Blessed Mother’s perspective, and it speaks to the heart:

“. . . I want to bring you into the depths of my Immaculate Heart, to share with you also, my little children, the feelings which I experienced, during the hours which preceded the birth of my Son Jesus.

My soul was immersed in an ocean of peace and of blessedness. The presence of the Word who ,for nine months, had been pulsating in his human body which was formed in my virginal womb, had filled my soul with the light and happiness of all paradise. There the Most Holy Trinity had made its habitual dwelling; the choirs of angels were prostrating themselves in perpetual adoration and interweaving sweetest harmonies of heavenly songs. The very light of God was transfiguring my soul, which became a most pure reflection of his divine beauty. Thus I was preparing a precious and holy crib in which to place the Light which was about to rise in the midst of an immense darkness.

My Heart was opening itself to an experience of a love so great such as has not been granted to any other creature. What sentiments of ineffable love my Heart was experiencing in feeling that the awaited moment of the birth of my divine Child had now come ! My motherly love was made even more perfect by my virginal state and the consciousness that the Child who was about to be born of me was the Son of God.

Thus, in the moment which preceded his birth, my Heart was filled to overflowing with the love of all those who had awaited Him for centuries. The love of Adam, of Abraham, of Moses, of all the prophets and the just ones of Israel, of the little ones and of the poor of Yahweh was becoming present in my virginal Heart, which was opening itself to love the Child, who was about to be born, with the heartbeat of all humanity redeemed and saved by Him.

My body was enwrapped in a light which was becoming stronger and stronger and more intense, the more I entered into an ecstasy of prayer and of profound union with the Heavenly Father.

On this night, paradise was completely contained within a poor and cold cave. As a ray of light passes through a crystal without even grazing it, so too the divine Child passed through the veil of my virginal womb without grazing the charm of my perfect virginity. In this wonderful manner there took place the birth of my son. The greatest of all prodigies is accomplished in the fullness of time

From the University of Dayton’s The Virginity of Mary:

In St. Ambrose (339/340-397), bishop of Milan, we see explicit reference to Mary's virginity in childbirth: "Since Christ was born from the womb of the Virgin, nevertheless he preserved the enclosure of her sexual chastity and the untouched seal of her virginity."26 And, "Behold the miracle of Our Lord's Mother. She conceived, a Virgin; she brought forth, a Virgin. A Virgin was she when she conceived, a Virgin when pregnant, a Virgin after childbirth: as it is says in Ezekiel: And the gate was shut, and it was not opened for the Lord passed through it."

There are more insights into our Blessed Mother’s perpetual virginity provided in that article by the University of Dayton which can be read in its entirety at the following link:

Arrow http://campus.udayton.edu/mary/resources/virofmary.htm

It needs to be made clear again , in our day and age, that anyone who thinks our Blessed Mother’s perpetual virginity - ergo that Mary remained a virgin after Christ’s birth “doesn’t matter”, is expressing solely their own narrow minded view/lack of faith which happens to be in direct conflict with what the holy Catholic Church proposes to us as worthy of our belief.

That Mary remained  ever-virgin did matter to God –
It mattered to our Heavenly Father,
It mattered to Jesus,
It mattered to the Holy Spirit ,
And it unquestionably mattered to Mary ; therefore it does matter to the Church,
So also it should surely matter to us .

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