Mary’s Witness to Her Perpetual Virginity

09/28/2012 Comments (41)

It is no secret that ancient Judaism, like the Church, prized the goods of marriage and family. But Judaism had room for celibacy too, if practiced for religious reasons. The best known example is the rabbi named Jesus of Nazareth. In addition to him we also have the example of the prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 16:1–2), St. Paul (cf. 1 Cor. 7) and St. Philip’s “four unmarried daughters, who prophesied” (Acts 21:9). Beyond the record of Scripture, we also find Jewish groups like the Essenes and the Therapeutae, who likewise consecrated themselves to virginity. Consecrated virginity was not unheard of in ancient Judaism.

Indeed, there’s even room in ancient Judaism for celibacy within marriage:...READ MORE

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Why Believe in the Perpetual Virginity of Mary?

09/23/2012 Comments (106)

In talking about the meaning of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary and the whole nuptial side of Catholic Marian devotion, I wrote with the assumption that I was writing for a Catholic readership who took it for granted that Mary is, in fact, perpetually a virgin.  However, as I survey the comboxes following that discussion, it is evident that a number of readers think that the Perpetual Virginity of Mary is not true and is, indeed, contrary to Scripture.  So as a followup, permit me to review, over the next few blog entries, the evidence for the case that Mary was, as a matter of historical and biblical fact, perpetually a virgin.  The case for this is, in fact, very strong.

The Catechism...READ MORE

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Mary Guards the Truth about Our Relationship to One Another

09/21/2012 Comments (16)

Mary guards a truth at once profoundly repugnant and profoundly attractive to our culture: the truth that purity is fruitful.

Mary’s purity reflects and signifies the purity ofthe Church, the bride without wrinkle, spot, or blemish. Chesterton, in one of his typically insightful remarks, noted that heresy has always tended to identify purity with sterility, while Catholic teaching “always connects purity with fruitfulness; whether it be natural or supernatural.” This is seen not only in ancient forms of false teaching that tried to scrape spirit clean of all contact with icky disgusting matter, but in more modern heresies as well. For example, it’s one of the strange contradictions of...READ MORE

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Mary Guards the Truth about Our Relationship to God

09/17/2012 Comments (231)

In the virginity of Mary, we see reflected to us the essential truth of the Gospel: that it’s God who is the author of our salvation. That’s as deeply offensive to us today as it has ever been, because people don’t want to hear that we can no more save ourselves than a corpse can jump. We are much more comfortable thinking of ourselves as heroes who achieve something great and earn the respect of God and our peers through our achievements. In short, we believe in power, not love. It is the poison that has gnawed at our vitals since the serpent bit us in the Garden. It is pride.

And so, the world teaches us to treat life as a power struggle among economic classes, races, man, and...READ MORE

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Mary, the Virgin Mother

09/14/2012 Comments (6)

The purity of Mary’s faith, so closely bound up with her virginity, leads to the other great Marian image found in John’s Gospel. For at the very climax of the story, a curious thing happens that John obviously regards as extremely important. He writes:

One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth—that you also may believe ( John 19:34–35).

Why does John interrupt the narrative of his Gospel here, of all places, to make sure we believe blood and water gushed from Jesus’ side? Is he really interested in the anatomical details of pericardial...READ MORE

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The Significance of the Wedding at Cana

09/10/2012 Comments (29)

John is careful to note that Jesus’ first miracle (at Cana) is done in response to Mary’s intercession ( John 2:1–11). Mary, the icon of the bride and the counterpoint to Jesus the groom, is exactly the importunate supplicant Jesus tells us he is looking for in the Parable of the Unjust Judge (Luke 18:1–8). She doesn’t take “no” for an answer, but first taps Jesus on the shoulder and says, “They have no wine” and, after a seeming rebuff, goes with perfect trust to the servants and tells them, “Do whatever he tells you.”

There is a strong tendency in Evangelical circles to read this story as yet another example of Jesus “rebuking” Mary. But the longer I contemplated it, the more...READ MORE

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In Honor of Our Son Matthew's Wedding Tomorrow…

09/07/2012 Comments (95)

I thought it might be good to talk a bit about a subject near and dear to his heart and the heart of his beautiful bride-to-be, Claire.  That would be Mary (they are both members of the Militia Immaculata, founded by St. Maximilian Kolbe, and are consecrated to her).  So today and Monday we will take a look at Mary.  First we will discuss the meaning of her Virginiity.  Then on Monday, we will take a look at the significance of the Wedding at Cana.

So What’s the Big Deal about Mary’s Perpetual Virginity?

The first thing to note about this teaching is that it’s the natural extension of the dogma of the Virgin Birth. Many modern people assume that, at its core, the Virgin Birth was...READ MORE

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A Reader Plagued by Scrupulosity Writes…

09/03/2012 Comments (73)

As you know, I have been totally confused by this whole issue of modesty that seems to convulse the Catholic blogosphere. Anyway, what do you think of bikini-style swimsuits in that regard? My problem is that almost every woman I know wears one, yet I know for a fact that most of them are not trying to incite lust in anyone. My estranged wife, who is German, for example, always wore a bikini at the beach or pool, or even the top half to work out in the garden. The cut of it was never as such that I would have found it to be over the top, especially before I started worrying about this kind of stuff due to the Catholic blogosphere. And even among bikini suits, there are those that...READ MORE

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About Mark Shea

Mark Shea
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Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.