Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM Sydney Australia
Choose a topic from Vol 2:
Because they believe that she is their spiritual Mother, and that she has not lost her interest in those for whom her Son died, merely because she is in heaven. It is the Christian law, according to St. James, that we should pray for one another. The Saints in heaven pray for us who are on earth and still endeavoring to work out our salvation. And Mary is the greatest of the Saints. It is but an application in practice of our belief in the Communion of Saints, a doctrine we profess every time we say the Apostles' Creed.
We do not pray to Mary instead of to God, but we pray to her as well as to God. And those who retain devotion to Mary are in the habit of offering more prayers directly to God than those who have repudiated devotion to Mary. Moreover, prayers to Mary are prayers to God through her intercession. And you cannot deny that at times it is good to have our Lady praying with us rather than to pray alone to God. Two prayers are better than one, above all when the other whom I have asked to join in my petition is the very Mother of Christ.
That can only be because you have not understood Catholic doctrine on the subject. The Creator alone is God. Mary is as much a creature as any other human being. But whilst she is as much a creature as we are, we have not been honored by God nearly as much as she.
Firstly, Mary has not been elevated by the Catholic Church to a rank quasi-divine, or even remotely divine. In Catholic theology she falls as far short of divinity as I do, and that's infinitely. Secondly, there is no true analogue between the historical Mother of Christ and the purely mythological Isis, and still less can any illumination be derived from a comparison of the two.
It does not say that Mary is omnipotent in power and infinite in mercy. It says that her prayer and intercession have a special efficacy in winning for us the protection of the Omnipotent power of God and His infinite mercy.
The resurrection was but the complement of the redemptive work. Essentially that work was accomplished on Calvary by the death of Jesus on the Cross. And Mary was there, standing at the foot of the Cross, identifying herself with the offering of her Son. By man and woman came our death. Both sexes co-operated in our downfall, and both sexes co-operated in our redemption. God Himself predicted that this would be so. After the sin of our first parents, God said to Satan, "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel, and she shall crush thy head." Gen. III., 15. Mary is the second Eve as Christ is the second Adam. And both repaired the evil of our first parents, Christ principally and Mary secondarily and subordinately to Christ.
Mary's work was to be our co-redemptress, and to mediate for us together with Christ, but of course in subordination to Him. He is the one principal Mediator to whom we owe all. Do not be disturbed by this association of Mary with the redemptive work of Christ. If all Christians are members of Christ, and are called upon, as St. Paul says, to fill up what is wanting to the suffering of Christ, then you can be sure that as Mary, His Mother, was more closely associated with Christ than we are, so she is more closely associated with His redemptive work. By a special title, therefore, we call her co-redemptress. We call her "Our life, our sweetness, and our hope." For, in bringing forth Christ she brought us forth to life, she is the model of every virtue, and above all should be the glory of all women; and she is our hope as Eve was our despair. All this tells us what she is for. She is our spiritual Mother in heaven, and she fulfills the duties of a Mother, winning for us by her intercession that grace of Christ which is life to our souls and which, please God, will mean eternal life in the end.
The Immaculate Conception does not mean that Mary was conceived miraculously, or that there was anything abnormal in her physical origin. It simply means that her soul was preserved from that taint of original sin which all others inherit from our first parents. It was really an anticipated baptism, a redemption of Mary's soul by prevention of sin's contamination and through the merits of Christ. The Eternal Son of God would not enter this world through a defiled doorway.
She owed her preservation from sin to the anticipated merits of Christ. Christ, therefore, was her Savior by prevention as He is ours by subsequent cleansing.
Mary was not the highest person in existence since Adam. Christ was infinitely higher than Mary. But sin is not the only motive of lowliness or humility. The purest and most innocent of creatures, by the mere fact of being a creature, is infinitely lowly before the Creator. Adam, before his fall from grace, was the lowly servant of God. Jesus Himself, in virtue of the limitations of His created human nature, said, "Learn of Me, that I am meek and humble of heart." Our Lord was certainly without sin, and if He described Himself as lowly of heart, the use of the same expression by Mary is no argument against her sinlessness.
Death is the wages of sin in a very special sense. Sin or no sin, it is natural to man to die. The human body, just as the bodies of animals, has a natural process of growth to maturity followed by age, decay, and death. Naturally, therefore, even Adam and Eve, had they never sinned, would have encountered a natural physical death if no other provision had been made for them. But God promised them a supernatural exemption from any natural process of death if they remained faithful to Him. They fell, forfeited their supernatural immunity from physical death, and nature was allowed to have its way. Therefore death is the wages of sin not as if death were abnormal, but as a normal conclusion of earthly life from which men had lost their exemption. Since Mary was human, it was not unnatural that she should die. But you will ask, "If she was supernaturally preserved from sin, why was she not supernaturally preserved from death?" That we shall see.
I am afraid your thought is here a little obscure. Christ was without original sin, yet saw death, not because He was God, but because He was man. In His Divine Nature He could not die. In His human nature He could. Keep in mind that death is natural to a human nature, quite apart from original or any other sin. A human nature could not be God, and it could, and normally should die, quite apart from sin. By a special privilege God had exempted man from the normal process of death on the condition that he refrained from sin. Man sinned, and lost the privilege. Mary was preserved from all taint of sin, and by that, at least, deserved to be preserved from the natural process of death. But her life and her vocation were so intimately blended with the life and vocation of Christ, that both she and He endured an undeserved death. As when mankind fell, both sexes were represented in Adam and Eve, so both sexes were represented in our redemption. Mary, the second Eve shared death with Christ, the second Adam. The death of Christ was our redemption, but included in the redemptive work of Christ, though subordinate to it, was the death of Mary. The primitive traditions which tell us of the assumption also tell us of the "falling asleep of the Virgin Mary," an expression used to denote the transitory character of her death.
The Catholic Church has defined as an article of faith that Mary remained always a virgin. Every Catholic in the world is obliged under pain of serious sin to believe that on the very authority of God's knowledge and veracity. Now cannot you see that the Catholic Church would be very, very foolish to define such a doctrine, if the opposite were clearly stated in Scripture? Anyone can get hold of a copy of Sacred Scripture. If the opposite of the Catholic dogma were clearly stated there, one would only have to quote the passage to refute the defined doctrine, and the whole case for the Catholic Church would collapse. Should you not suspect that if the Catholic Church has defined that Mary remained ever a virgin, then, to say the least, there cannot be anything in Scripture against it? Don't you think the Church would have made sure of that, before defining what otherwise could so easily be proved to be erroneous?
Because the Jews always kept their genealogies in the male line, and since Mary was of the same tribe as Joseph, his line of ancestry was also hers.
The Bible does not say that. St. Matthew says, "Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus." That says no more than that Joseph was related by marriage to Mary, who, as a matter of fact, gave birth to Christ. St. Luke says at the beginning of his account, "Jesus, being (as it was supposed) the son of Joseph." He knew quite well that Jesus was not the son of Joseph in reality, though Joseph was the legal head of the Holy Family.
The whole of the New Testament is the written Word of God, and as Jesus is the Eternal Word, every utterance in the New Testament is His. When St. Luke writes, "Jesus, being (as it was supposed) the son of Joseph," Jesus accepts full responsibility for those words. No direct utterance from His own lips whilst on earth is recorded, though that is not proof that He never spoke of it. Not every word Jesus ever said was written down. Indirectly His words in John VIII., 14, 23, certainly indicate an origin differing from that of ordinary men. "I know whence I came," He said, "but you know not whence I come. You are from beneath; I am from above." Mary certainly spoke of the fact that Jesus was not the son of Joseph, for all scholars admit that St. Luke got his account of the birth and infancy of Jesus from Mary. But Matthew I., 19, 25, shows clearly that Joseph knew that he was not the father of Jesus. Mary being found with child, Joseph being a just man was minded to put her away privately. But the Angel appeared to him and said, "Joseph, son of David, fear not, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost." Reassured that the child of which he knew he was not the father had been miraculously conceived, Joseph did as the Angel of the Lord commanded him.
That reading does not occur in what are known as the Neutral Texts, nor in the Godex Sinaiticus. It occurs in a Syrian translation found on Mt. Sinai some few years ago, and which has been called the Sinaitic Syriac. Now as regards the wording you quote, i.e., "Joseph begat Jesus," I reply that whether it is correct or not it would not necessarily affect the Catholic concept of the Virgin Birth. But also I say that, whilst it would not affect the doctrine whether correct or not, it is not correct. Firstly, even if it were correct, it would not affect our doctrine. For such an expression would be quite normal even when referring to legal paternity as opposed to real and natural paternity. And parallel passages compel the acceptance of legal paternity only. Secondly, however, it is not correct. This isolated Syrian translation must yield to the Godex Sinaiticus and the Godex Vaticanus. Vod Soden admitted the reading you quote into his edition of the Greek text, and met with protests from scholars the world over. His action was against all the principles of Biblical textual criticism, and Lagrange did not hesitate to call it a "critical enormity." The reading, therefore, cannot be accepted as correct, and even if it were, it would not affect the Catholic doctrine of the Virgin Birth.
The medical standpoint is that children normally result from the activities of both a father and a mother. And with that standpoint I am in full agreement. But then, we have never said that the birth of Christ was a normal event. And no medical standpoint demands the admission that God is bound always to observe normal procedure according to the natural laws we usually observe. Once we assert a miraculous birth outside the normal teachings of medical experience, there is no medical standpoint left. There is a philosophical standpoint, as to whether an Infinite Creator could do immediately what He usually does mediately by secondary causes of His own making. And, granted the philosophic possibility of His doing so, there arises the historical standpoint as to whether He did so. And the Virgin Birth is an historical certainty.
That is not so. What is an illegitimate child? An illegitimate child is one born as the result of unlawful relations between two people not married, and who is not legally accepted in the eyes of the state as belonging to a lawfully married couple. But the Child Jesus was not the result of any unlawful relations on Mary's part with any person to whom she was not married. The very Bible which says that St. Joseph was not the natural father of Jesus also makes it clear that no other created human being was the father. St. Joseph was told that God Himself had miraculously caused Mary to be with child; and it is as legitimate for God to dispense with the need of a human father as to allow normal processes of generation. So, from the viewpoint of His conception Christ was certainly not illegitimate. Secondly, Joseph and Mary were lawfully married, and the Child born of Mary was legally accepted by the State as belonging to a lawfully married couple. In the external order, therefore, Jesus was legitimate also in civil law. Both by origin and public acceptance, then, He was quite legitimate.
The author of that uncanonical Gospel was orthodox in his faith, and in no way intended to discredit that faith.
It is not improbable that the Jews thus slandered Christ. And the author mentions it as a slander. If the Gospel of Nicodemus has any value for you, you can get nothing more out of it than that the enemies of Christ made a charge against Him and that the charge was false. But you, apparently, wish to accept the record of a false charge as sufficient evidence that the charge was true.
The matter is not supported by Celsus. Celsus, the pagan, and the bitter enemy of the Christian Church, repeated and amplified whatever slanders he could find. And the fact that Celsus slandered Christ in the second century no more militates against the historical character of the Gospels than the fact that you approve of those slanders in the twentieth century. Origen refuted Celsus centuries ago, showing the obviously fictitious nature of his calumnies. No reputable scholar attaches any weight to the utterances of that bitter pagan.
It was. And such was to be expected. Bitter enemies of the Church in those days no more hesitated to indulge in the propaganda of lies and calumnies than they do in these days. But, as Origen points out, the enemies of the Church had no sources of information against Jesus save the Gospels themselves. The very name of your Greek officer, Pantheras, was probably no more than a corruption of the Greek word for Virgin, "Parthenos." The attacks of these early opponents of the Christian religion have but one real value only. In their own perverted way they furnish important evidence of how essential to the Christian Faith was the doctrine of the Virgin Birth in the estimate of all the early Christians. But you repeat very old charges when you fall back on the objections of early Jewish and pagan enemies of Christianity. Do you really think that, after surviving those for nearly two thousand years, the authenticity of the Gospels is going to collapse under them now?
For a Christian it is essential to believe all that God has revealed. To deny the truth of what God reveals is to accuse God of not knowing what He is talking about, or of being a deliberate liar, surely not a very Christian attitude towards God! In the Apostles' Creed Christians for centuries have professed their faith that Jesus Christ was "conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the Virgin Mary." The Gospels very clearly state God's promise to Mary that her Child would be due to the immediate operation of the Holy Ghost and the Divine Omnipotence without the necessity of any relations with the opposite sex. They also show that St. Joseph knew quite well that he was not the father of Jesus, and that he was told that the Child to be born of Mary was "of the Holy Ghost." To repudiate the fact that Jesus was born of a Virgin Mother is, therefore, to repudiate the direct teaching of Sacred Scripture.
It would not matter in the least if it could not! What is true does not cease to be true, merely because it does not prove useful for every purpose. The truth that there are other planets besides this earth does not serve to strengthen one's character. But men do not deny the truth because of that. However, belief in the Virgin Birth of Christ does strengthen one's character, for it is due to one's faith in God, and the man of deep faith in God is strong where others are weak. To deny what God has revealed to be true is the rebellion of pride, and pride is the beginning of all sin and corruption of human character.
Most decidedly. For if indeed Christ be God coming to seek us, instead of our merely seeking God, then an impetus is given to our love of God which cannot rest content without reciprocal generosity. It may be said that the doctrine of the Divinity of Christ could be independent of that concerning the Virgin Birth. But not so. Is it not significant that attacks on the Virgin Birth come from those who reject all the supernatural and miraculous aspects of Christ? True Christians have ever held fast to the doctrine of the Virgin Birth, not only as a fact revealed by God, but as a guarantee of the real humanity of Christ because born of a human mother, yet not less decisively as a guarantee of His super-human dignity because born without the agency of a human father. The conviction that Jesus is my God is the greatest possible encouragement to Christian living. And His supernatural Virgin Birth, having for its end the founding of a new and regenerated humanity, and the introduction of a Redeemer with the divine forces needed for the world's salvation, is the normal corollary of the doctrine of Christ's Divinity. Natural generation has never resulted in a truly human, yet at the same time, a super-human being. Therefore those who have lost faith in the super-human character of Christ attack the Virgin Birth, and insist that His was a merely natural generation by an ordinary father and mother in the ordinary way. But their rejection of the Virgin Birth is a mutilation of Scripture, a contradiction of the Christian Faith from Apostolic times, and a surrender of Christian teaching into the hands of advocates of a non-miraculous, purely humanitarian Christ who may be ranked only with Buddha, or Confucius, or Mahomet, as each may wish.
I will reply to that question as Christ replied to His adversaries on another matter. Do you remember how the chief priests said to Him one day, "Tell us by what authority Thou dost these things?" and He replied, "Answer Me one question, and then I will tell you. The baptism of John, whence was it, from heaven or from earth?" They would not answer. Now let me ask you a question. If the Virgin Mary is not in heaven yet, where is she? Will you suggest that our Savior did not save His own Mother, and that she is in hell? Or, if you won't admit that, will you suggest that she is not in heaven yet because she is still in purgatory?
The doctrine merely says that, after the Blessed Virgin Mary died, her body was not allowed by God to corrupt as is the case with others. This was prevented by the resurrection of her body before corruption could set in. Reunited with her soul, her body was spiritualized and glorified; at once being assumed into heaven. In other words, God anticipated for the Blessed Virgin Mary what is going to happen to all the saved on the last day.
Death and corruption are penalties of original sin. But Mary, by her Immaculate Conception, was preserved free from all taint of original sin. You may ask, "Why, then, did she die?" Though innocent, she died in union with her innocent Son. She shared in the whole work of redemption, identifying herself with Jesus in all His sorrows and sufferings. And she accepted death as He accepted death. But, as she shared in His redemptive work, so also she shared in the privilege of His resurrection and glory. After all, it was just as easy for God to take her glorified body to heaven at once as it will be to take the glorified bodies of all the saved at the last day.