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Sunday, 30 April 2017

Is it in the Bible? How the Devil uses the Bible to ensure that millions go to hell!

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In today’s world, filled with thousands of sects claiming to be Christian, we hear these non-Christians say that the Bible is the ONLY source of Faith for Christians. Their usual refrain is ‘Is it in the Bible?’ or ‘The Bible says’, ‘where is it in the bible’ etc. Although the Bible is the Inspired Word of God, placing the Bible above the Church is the Devil’s secret weapon for destroying people’s souls in hell, for all eternity!

The Bible itself told us that the Church is the ‘Bulwark and Pillar of the truth’(1 Timothy 3:15). What is the meaning of the word ‘Church’ in this passage? It means the Catholic Church! While these letters were written, there was only ONE Church in existence which everyone acknowledge to be the Church of Christ, called the Catholic Church. This is a historical fact!

But those deceived by the Devil does not think that history is anything to go by. They will ask, ‘Show me where that is in the bible’ and because the bible is not just a book of history, you will not see the word ‘Catholic Church’ there and so these deceived dismiss this truth.

They will then secretly, assess the situation in the world and suggest that everyone calling the name ‘Christ’ is a Church! In other words, because they cannot find a single Church that can represent the words ‘bulwark and pillar of truth’, they reason that it is all persons calling ‘ Christ’ that is the church and so the Church means those who read the bible as the ONLY source of faith and so the bible is the ONLY truth of faith. Once a piece of belief is NOT literally in the bible, they dismiss it!

That is the Devil working in people’s lives preparing them for the fires of hell!

The Church has the authority from God to teach regarding faith and morals and in her teaching she is preserved from error by the special guidance of the Holy Ghost. This means that since the Holy Ghost is infallible, then the Church MUST be infallible in as much as it is ruled by the Holy Ghost!

This infallibility of the Church is FULLY acknowledged by the Apostles (See Gal 4:14), 1Thess 2: 13). The apostles were the ONLY authority in preaching and interpreting the word of God in the early Church. The New Testament was not completed till around 100 years after Christ and when it was completed, the Christians did not know about anything called ‘The New testament’.

Only a few lay people knew about the New Testament documents when they were completed in a scattered manner in many territories. So it is impossible to say that the bible is the only authority in the Church. The Apostles transmitted to their successors their power to preach, to baptize, to ordain (as they ordained Matthias), to confirm, etc. They also handed down the essential gift of infallibility.

It will not do when the ‘Protestants’ (‘pentecostals’) say ‘we have an infallible scripture as a substitute for the infallible apostolate of the first century’ since an infallible book is of no use to us without an infallible interpreter.

There must be just ONE meaning of the Bible. Each passage must have just ONE meaning since truth is ONE and eternal. There cannot be different equally true perspectives about the Bible! There MUST just ONE authentically true interpretation of the bible!

But in Protestantism, there are thousands of meanings given by each preacher as he or she starts his or her own religion and justifies the new religion with the bible!

But no matter what anyone believes, we have positive evidence from the Bible itself that the Catholic Church being the ONE TRUE CHURCH established by Christ cannot err in her teachings.  Our Lord Jesus in constituting St Peter, Prince of the Apostles said to him ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’ (Mat 16: 18). Christ makes here a solemn prediction that no error shall ever invade His Church and if She fell into error the gates of hell have certainly prevailed against her!

The Protestant revolutionaries of the 16 century who are erroneously called ‘reformers’ believed that the Church has fallen in errors! So sought to start new ‘Churches’ free from errors! This was impossible as what they started was riddled with errors dangerous to the soul! Ask yourself: how can fallible human being start fallible Churches? Impossible!

If the prediction of our savior about the preservation of His Church from error be false, then Jesus Christ is not God!

But Christ predicted the truth when he declared that the gates of hell will not prevail against His church.

This is one reason why the evil religion at the Vatican is not that Church of Christ since it is riddled with errors and heresies!

Jesus Himself never said we should read the bible! He sent out His Apostles with powers to preach the Gospel! ‘As the Father sent me, I also send you’ (John 20:21). He did not send them to read the bible but to preach! ‘Go therefore, teach all nations, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you’ (Matthew 28: 19-20). ‘Preach the Gospel to every creature’ (Mark 16:15) ‘Ye shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and even to the uttermost part of the earth’ (Acts 1:8).

This commission evidently applies to the Apostles only, but also to their successors, to the end of time, since it was utterly impossible for the apostles to personally preach to the whole world. Christ referring to preaching to the whole world presupposes the coming of the apostolic successors. Read more about Apostolic Succession here

Not only does Our Lord empowers His Apostles to preach the Gospel, but he commands and under the most severe penalties those whom they preach to listen and obey. ‘whosoever will not receive you, nor hear your words, going fourth from that house or city, shake the dust from your feet. Amen I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgment than for that city’ (Mat 10: 14-15).

‘If he will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican’ (Mat 28: 17). ‘He that believeth shall be saved, he that believeth not shall be condemned’ (Mark 16: 16). ‘He that heareth you heareth me, he that despiseth you despiseth me and he that dispiseth me dispiseth He that sent me’ (Luke 10: 16).

From these passages we see, on the one hand, that the Apostles and their successors have received full power to announce the Gospel and on the other hand that their hearers are obliged to listen with docility and to obey not merely by an external compliance but also by an internal assent of the intellect.

Nowhere did the passages say anything about the bible or reading of the bible! It was focused on preaching what Christ has commanded which the Apostles knew and which they handed down to their successors!

What Use is the Bible?

The Church as we have seen is the ONLY Divinely constituted teacher of revelation and NOT the Bible! The Bible is ONE of the tools used by the Church today for preaching and the Church is NOT limited to the bible or by the bible!

The Bible is a great depository of the Word of God. The Church is the Divinely appointed Custodian and interpreter of the Bible!

God NEVER intended the Bible to be the ONLY Christian rule of faith, independently of the living authority of the Church! Those who say that the bible is the ONLY source of the faith are ruled by the Devil!

No nation ever had a greater veneration for the Scriptures (Old Testament) than the Jews. The Holy Scripture was their pride and their glory. It was their national song in time of peace; it was their meditation and solace in time of tribulation and exile. Yet, the Jews NEVER dreamed of settling their religious controversies by a private appeal of the Scriptures.

Whenever any religious dispute arose among the people it was decided by the high priest and the Sanhedrim, which was a council consisting of 72 civil and Temple judges. The sentence of the High priest and of his associate judges was to be obeyed under penalty of death.

The book of Deuteronomy, one of the principal Jewish books in the bible stated that:

 ‘there be among you a hard and doubtful matter in judgment……thou shall come to the priests of the levitical race and to the judge…..and they shall show thee the truth of the judgment…. And thou shall follow their sentence, neither shalt thou decline to the right hand not to the left… but he that will….refuse to obey the commandments of the priest….that man shall die and thou shall take away the evil from Israel’! (Deut 17:8-)

From this passage, we perceive that God does not refer the Jews for the settlement of their controversies to the letter of the law (the scriptures), but to the living authority of the ecclesiastical tribunal which He had expressly established for that purpose! In other words, no Jew rushes to read the law on his own and say ‘oh I have found the answers in the scriptures’ without referring to those who legitimately interpret and teach the right sense of the scriptures.

Hence the priests were required to be intimately acquainted with the Scriptures because they were the depositories of God’s law and were expounders to the people. ‘The lips of the priest shall keep knowledge and they (the people) shall seek the law at his mouth because he is the angel (the messenger) of the Lord of Host’. (Malachi 2:7).

Infact very few of the Sons of Israel were in possession of the Scriptures! The scriptures were very rare among the people!

Did Christ reverse this when he came to the world? Does he tell the Jews to be their own guides in the study of the scriptures? Never! He commanded them to obey the constituted authorities, no matter how messy the private lives of the authorities are! ‘Then Jesus said to the multitude, and to His disciples: the Scribes and Pharisees sit upon the chair of Moses. All things therefore whatsoever that shall say to you, observe and do’ (Matthew 23:2-3)

It is true that Our Lord Jesus Christ said in one occasion ‘ Search the Scriptures for you think in them to have life everlasting and the same are they that give testimony of me’ (John 5:39). This passage is triumphantly quoted by Protestants as favoring their private and misguided reading and interpretation of the Bible. But this passage proves nothing like that! This passage is NOT asking each individual to read and interpret the bible on his own!

Many learned commentators of the Bible, including some Protestants, express the verb in this passage in indicative mood. They render is as: ‘Ye search the scriptures’. The passage was not commanding a search of the scriptures.

Remember that our Savior speaks here of ONLY of the Old Testament because the New Testament was not yet written while Our Lord was here. He addresses NOT the multitude, but the Pharisees who were the teachers of the law, condemning them for not seeing His Divinity from the Scriptures! That passages therefore can be rendered as follows: ‘ you  have the scriptures in your hands, why then do you not recognize Me as the Messiah, since they give testimony that I am the Son of God?’

Besides He did not rest the proof of His Diviity ONLY on the scriptures! He showed first:

By the testimony of John the Baptist (John 5:33) who had said ‘behold Him who taketh away the sins of the world. (see also John 1: 34).
Second, by the miracles which He wrought (John 5:36)
Third, by the testimony of the Father (John 5: 37) when He said ‘This is my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, hear ye Him’ (Mat 3: 16, Luke 9:35)

So when the Lord Jesus abolished the Old law and established His Church, The Catholic Church, did He intend that the Gospel should be disseminated by the circulation of the Bible or by the Living voice of his disciples? The answer is NO!

Did He intend that the Bible be circulated as the ONLY source of what ought to be preached? The answer is again No!

Why then are the Protestants, claim to read the bible and insist that the Bible is the ONLY source of the faith? We ask like them: where is it in the Bible?

Where is it in the bible that the bible is the ONLY source of the faith?

The Protestant will go and dishonestly quote 2 Timothy 3: 16, which says that ‘every scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness’.

Is there a way this passage means that the bible ALONE is good to be used? No! But the Protestants are manipulated by the Devil who fills them with dishonesty making them quote this passage as if it confirms their Bible alone belief.

By the way, the the word ‘scripture’ in this passage refers to the Old Testament because when Paul wrote to Timothy, there was no New Testament. So the scripture they knew was the Old Testament!

While Paul was writing these words to Timothy, other people were at that time writing various things about the faith. Infact, there were 69 Gospels and other writings calling themselves ‘scripture’ all claiming to bear testimony to Christ!

The Catholic Church in the plenitude of her authority as the Church established by Jesus Christ, separated the chaff from the wheat! She, at the council of Carthage in the year 397AD, separated which books were canonical and which is apocryphal. In other words the Catholic Church at Carthage decided which book will become part of the Bible and which will not. She selected for instance, just 4 Gospels among the available 69 of them!

So when the Protestants peddle the bible claiming to know EVERYTHING about it, remind them that they are misreading a Catholic book. They should indeed go back to learn from the owner of the book! That is the honest thing to do!

Even after the Catholic Church selected the books of the Bible, the books did not reach everybody. It was a very rare collection! Only a few elite and the Monasteries had a complete copy and Monks had to copy, with hand ALL the available copy making the Bible a very expensive collection in the ancient Church!

If ONLY the Bible is what we MUST consult to know the truth, it means that many millions of people will not know the truth because they had no bibles! Those who cannot read will perish!

The art of printing was invented by Gutenberg in the year 1440. It was then that the circulation of the bible improved. But no one started to say that the bible alone is what is necessary to know the truth of faith!

Each authoritative book must have their ONE authentic interpretation. In the USA, they have their constitution. No person will read the constitution and claim to know for a fact what it means in each given circumstance! No! The interpretation of the constitution falls to the Supreme Court!

The same is true about the Nigerian constitution. The Lawyers are specifically trained to interpret the law and when a dispute arises, which requires final interpretation, that prerogative falls in the laps of the Supreme Court. When the Supreme Court makes pronouncements, all other interpretations, personal or otherwise, fall under that of the Supreme court!

So in Christendom, it is the Pope ( not the criminal now called Pope Francis, read more here) that has the sole authority to determine the meaning of a particular passage in the bible! He does this though the power of the Holy Spirit!

The Protestants have no such single interpretation since they are ruled by the devil who furnishes them with various and conflicting interpretations which lead to the increment of thousands of sects all claiming to know what the bible is saying.

The Protestants also dishonestly claim that the Catholic Church commands her faithful not to read the bible! This is calumny for how can the owner of the Bible command people not to read it?

There are signs everywhere that shows that the Catholic Church commands the reading of the bible by the faithful!

When the Church collected the original bible, with the Old Testament in Hebrew (Aramaic) and the New Testament in Greek, the reigning Pope, Damascane commanded a translation of the bible into Latin so that the educated class will have access to it since Latin was the language of the learned people!

This gigantic task fell on St. Jerome and he set out doing this translation which was called the Vulgate or popular edition! Because of this Latin translation, it became easy to put the bible into other languages of Europe!

Ask yourself, why these translations, all done by the Catholic Church?

If the Catholic Church wished to suppress the Bible or prevent people from reading it, it could have so easily done that. But no, She set out to have the bible in as many languages as possible so that more people, not just Monks and priests, will have access!

It was the Catholic saint St. Bede that translated the Bible into the Saxan languages, paving the way for the English bible!

When the Catholic Bishops of the United States of America translated the Bible into their own kind of English called the Haydock Bible, the Pope then, Pope Pius VI, personally wrote the preface commanding that all Catholics in America should read the Holy Scriptures here translated, to be refreshed by the word of God. You know that in the Catholic Church the command of the Pope is VERY weighty.

So the Protestant being deceived by the Devil uses the bible in such a way that ensures that they are damned in hell by the devil.

The Catholic Church admonishes that the Bible be read as  a spiritual reading but cannot never be used as the only source of the truth of the faith. No one can claim that the bible tells him or her what to do unless through the mediation of the Catholic Church who has been mandated by Christ to preach to all nations and which makes use of the bible as one of the sources of faith!

When a dispute arises, the bible CANNOT be referred to, to make the final pronouncement on the matter, that authority falls on the Church, in particular the pope!

The Pope calls people, who have studied the bible, examining it side by side with the deposit of the faith as was preached by the Apostles and their successors to determine the answer to any bugging question.

Everyday, the Catholic Church reads the bible officially at Mass and in the Divine office (the official prayers of the Church). Each Catholic is called to read the bible with the Church not on personal grounds!  If anyone where to claim the full knowledge of the bible without recourse to the Church, the person is truly ruled by the devil as the Devil rules the Protestants!

Presented by Malachy Mary Igwilo, 30th of April 2017. Second Sunday of Easter, Feast of St. Catherine of Sienna


Sunday, 23 April 2017

Is your church a true or false Church? Marks for Identifying true from false Churches

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In today’s world, there are thousands upon thousands of false religions who claim to be Christian Churches! Each of these false religions claims that their heads have been called by God. Many millions of people, including educated men and women, abandon reason and also flock to these false ‘churches’ claiming to worship God. The spread and acceptance of these false religions by society shows the dearth reason bedeviling society today. This explains why the family and society itself suffer from all sorts of devastating spiritual and intellectual illnesses.

Christianity is a historical religion and so NO ONE can see Christianity as something that fell out of the sky and so, we must look at what happened in the past to inform what is happening today.

How then can we identify the true Church of Christ? Distinguishable from these thousands of false religions that say they are ‘Christians’? Is it by simply believing that your ‘General Overseers’ was called by God? Is by simply believing in the miracles happening in your religion? To answer this question, we must go back to the bible and Tradition!

The true Church MUST BE APOSTOLIC! The Catholic Creed, framed at the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in the year 325AD stated that: ‘I believe in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church’! Simply having the word ‘Apostolic’ does not make a particular religion Apostolic. There must BE concrete evidences that link a true Church to the Apostles!

This attribute of the Church implies that the true Church must always teach the identical doctrines once delivered by the Apostles and which the Apostles got from Christ Himself and the Church ministers must derive their powers from the Apostles by an uninterrupted succession.

Consequently, no Church can claim to be a true Church whose doctrines differ from those of the Apostles or whose ministers (pastors) are unable to trace, by an unbroken chain, their authority to an Apostolic source.

The Church says St. Paul is ‘built upon the foundation of the Apostles’ (Ephesians 2: 20) so that the doctrines which it propagates must be based on the Apostolic teachings. Hence St. Paul says to the Galatians: ‘Though an angel from heaven preaches a Gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema’ (Gal. 1:8). The same St. Paul gives this admonition to Timothy: ‘The things which thou has heard from me before many witnesses, the same commend to the faithful men who shall be fit to teach others also’. (2Tim 2:2). Timothy must transmit to his disciples ONLY such doctrines as he heard from the lips of his Master, Paul.

Not only is it required that ministers of the Gospel should conform their teaching to the doctrines of the Apostles, but also that these ministers (pastors) should be ordained and commissioned by the Apostles or their legitimate successors. ‘Neither doth any man take honor to himself, but he that is called by God as Aaron was’ (Hebrew 5:4). How did God call Aaron? Well, this text evidently condemns all self-appointed preachers and ‘reformers’ for ‘how shall they preach, unless they be sent?’(Romans 10:15). Sent ofcourse, by legitimate authority and not directed by their own caprice or claiming to hear directly from God or interpreting certain events in their lives to mean that they have been called by God.

Hence, we find, that those who succeeded the Apostles were ordained and commissioned by the Apostles to preach and that no others were permitted to exercise this function of preaching and ministry. Thus we are told that St. Paul and Barnabas ‘had ordained for them priests in every Church’ (Acts 14:22). And St. Paul said to Titus: ‘For this cause I left thee in Crete…..that thou shouldst ordain Priests (pastors) in every city, as I also appointed thee’(Titus 1:5). Even St. Paul himself, though miraculously called and instructed by God, had the Apostles impose hands on him (see Acts 13:2-3), so that others should not be tempted by his example to preach without Apostolic mandate.

St Paul actually counters those who say ‘I have been called’ by God! Yes, God can call someone, but it must still be confirmed by the Apostles or their legitimate successors. Legitimate successors here are those who were appointed and commissioned by the apostles and those commissioned by these people also. Ask your pastor who commissioned him next time you go to Church, when he tell you, ask him who commissioned that person that commissioned him and see if it goes all the way back to the Apostles.

To discover therefore the true Church of Christ among the thousands of sects claiming to be Christian Churches, we have to inquire, first, which Church teaches whole and entire those doctrines that were taught by the Apostles. Second what ministers can trace back, in an unbroken line, their missionary powers to the Apostles?

Each person must ask and answer these questions for himself or herself since if you ask the wrong questions and arrive at the wrong answers, you are putting yourself on that road to hell where those against Christ and His Church go for all eternity.

The Catholic Church ALONE teaches doctrines which are IN ALL RESPECTS identical with those of the first teachers of the Gospel, the Apostles. How do we know this? We know this from the written testimonies of those who were with the Apostles! These we call ‘Church Fathers’ and their writings have come down to us. The Church fathers wrote things the Apostles were preaching and doing and we compare these to what we now believe to see that they are the same with what we now believe as Catholics! Look for a field of study called Patristic studies to learn more about these Church fathers!

Many have rejected the Church Fathers’ writings because it leads them directly back to the Catholic Church which they hate with every fiber in their being. This is intellectual dishonesty. Others have said that they cannot depend on the Church Fathers because some of their writings contain things out rightly un-Christian. These people already arrived at the conclusion before approaching the Church Fathers writings. They simply look at the Catholic Church and hate it and then condemn the Church Fathers because their writings lead to Catholicism which they hate. Talk of intellectual dishonesty!

Many intellectually dishonest people will ask: where is it in the bible that the Catholic Church is connected to the Apostles? Or is even mentioned in the Bible?

Alas, this is an era of ‘intellectual dishonesty’. We see intellectual dishonest in nearly ALL peoples living today as if the Devil has specifically instilled this vice in all peoples such that no one wants to obtain the truth, logically and honestly and through sound reasoning process. There are always gaps in peoples’ ways of arriving at what they believe and yet the society accept these half measures and people are generally not worried about these gaps.

First of all, there was no bible when the apostles were preaching! They simply made use of the word of mouth and were guided by the Holy Ghost and so could not teach anything contrary to the faith of Christ. This word of Mouth teaching has come down to us.

It is some of these word of mouth that were eventually written down as the New Testament! Other practices which the Church does and which are not written down is referred to as Tradition, with the capital T.

So when someone, knowing that the Bible is a later addition to the Church, which equally bears testimony, to what the Apostles were teaching, insist on seeing, word for word, ALL the perennial Apostolic teachings practiced by the Catholic Church, the person is indeed intellectually dishonest and cannot claim the name ‘Christian’!

There are many people who today claim to be evangelists, pastors, bishops, prophets, etc, who have no connection both in authority and doctrine to the apostles, yet millions of people adhere to these men at the detriment of their souls!

What then can we do for these people? We continue to speak out and pray for their conversion to the true Church, the Catholic Church lest they lose their souls at their death! We do this knowing that many people will rather go to hell than accept the truth!

We must also know that the huge religion, occupying Rome today, calling itself ‘Catholic Church’ and headed by the apostate, Francis has no connected to the Apostles!

They severed that connection the moment they introduced false new doctrine and changed the prayers which sustains the Apostolic Succession at priestly ordinations and consecration of bishops.

While we pray and preach to the millions who look at this false religion as if it is the Catholic Church, we must also pray for them to have the discernment to leave that huge false religion.

Presented by Malachy Mary Igwilo, Second Sunday of Esther, feast of St. George. 23rd April, 2017

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Learn Again The Truth about the Blessed Virgin Mary

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The thousands of false religions, calling themselves Christians or Pentecostals or Protestants hate Mary yet they celebrate Easter! They do not know that Mary is at the heart of Easter!

The good Catholic puts Jesus Christ at the center of his life. As for the Blessed Virgin Mary, he loves and honors her as the highest of all of God’s creation, as Catholics believe God Himself holds her.

She is not worshiped in adoration but in honor only.
Worship can mean adoration (latria) or mere honor (dulia or hyperdulia). Catholics do not honor her any more than the great honor already bestowed on her by God by making her his own mother. Just as Christ obeyed the Law of honoring his mother and Father, so we imitate Christ.

Catholics most certainly pray to her as they do all the angels and saints.
Although all worship (adoration) is prayer, not all prayer is worship. The primary definition of pray is “to ask, implore, and beseech.” Praying is the only form of communication we have with Heaven. When prayer is attributing divinity, it must be directed to God alone.

To pray to the dead is condemned by God, but those in Heaven are not dead. Catholics pray to Mary and the saints as a form of communication, because they’re alive in Christ.

Catholics believe Christ is the one mediator between God and man and that salvation comes only from Him and through Him.
Catholics do not believe that God is too big for us to go straight to Him, because we go straight to Him every day. However, we do ask those older brothers and sisters and mother who have entered Heaven to pray for us and to help us in need, because they are instruments of God’s grace.

Is this unbiblical? Not at all! They are the cloud of witnesses who are concerned with our salvation. (Hebrews 12:1) Mary and the saints are not dead but alive in Christ. We are in the love of Christ as those who have gone before us. Not even death can separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:38) and we who belong to Christ belong to His Body the Church. We cannot say we don’t need others in the Body of Christ (I Cor. 12:18-20, 24-25) especially the saints.

The Holy Bible says the prayer of a righteous man avails much. (James 5:16)
Who are more righteous than the saints in Heaven? After all we petition Christians on earth to pray for us (I Timothy 2:1-3), and this doesn’t run contrary to the doctrine that Christ is the one mediator. It is through Christ we pray for one another.

Why not petition those who have gone before us glorified in the Body of Christ who are concerned with our salvation?
This is what praying to Mary and saints is all about. Our Father in Heaven wants us to have a relationship with Mary and our older brothers and sisters in Heaven since after all, we are one big family who will one day be together for all eternity.

We call Mary the “EVER” Virgin because she did not have other children. The brethren of the Lord are not her children. The New Testament mentions “brothers” and “sisters” of the Lord in (Matt. 12:46; Matt. 13:55; Mark 3:31–34; Mark 6:3; Luke 8:19–20; John 2:12, 7:3, 5, 10; Acts 1:14; 1 Cor. 9:5).
“Brother” (Greek: adelphos or plural Adelphoi) and “sister” (adelphe) do not always mean full or half blood brother and sister.

The Old Testament shows that “brother” could mean any male relative from whom you are not descended. Male relatives from whom you are descended are known as “fathers” and all generations who are descended from you are your “sons” as well as cousins, those by marriage, or by law.

Lot is called Abraham’s “brother” (Gen. 14:14), even though, being the son of Haran, Abraham’s brother (Gen. 11:26–28), he was actually Abraham’s nephew.
Jacob is called the “brother” of his uncle Laban (Gen. 29:15). Kish and Eleazar were the sons of Mahli. Kish had sons of his own, but Eleazar had no sons, only daughters, who married their “brethren,” the sons of Kish. These “brethren” were really their cousins (1 Chr. 23:21–22).

(Deut. 23:7; Neh. 5:7; Jer. 34:9) refers to kinsman. See also the reference to the forty-two “brethren” of King Azariah (2 Kgs. 10:13–14) and (2 Sam. 1:26; Amos 1:9) refers to friends.

Be that as it may, there was no word for cousin in Hebrew or Aramaic and the word brother was used to identify them. The Greek word for cousin is anepsios but the New Testament writers translated by transliterating the Hebrew and Aramaic idiom into the Greek text.

We also see this in the Septuagint. The Septuagint was a Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, which came from the Hellenistic Jews 100 years BC. It was this version of the Bible that Christ used as the quotations found in the New Testament came from the Septuagint.

The English translators continued to use the same Hebrew word to identify all kinsmen. A close look at the text will clue us in on which kinsmen the word brother(s) might be or cannot be.

When Mary was told by the Angel Gabriel that she would conceive a son, she asked, “How shall this happen, since I do not know man?” (Luke 1:34)
The early Church Fathers interpreted this (and rightly so) to mean that Mary had made a vow of virginity even through married life. Why ask the question if this were not the case? After all, if Mary planned on having children with Joseph she would not have asked the question. Her marriage with Joseph was the rare type of living like brother and sister.

The first heretic to come up with the idea that Mary had other children was Helvidius in 380 AD. St Jerome in his treatise “On the Perpetual Virginity of the Blessed Mary” used Holy Scripture and the writings of earlier Fathers as St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Polycarp (disciple of St John the Apostle), and Justin Martyr to completely debunk Helvidius’ position which Jerome called “novel, wicked, and daring affront to the faith of the whole world.”

The following is somewhat how St Jerome argued.
The finding of Jesus in the Temple at age twelve did not hint of the idea that Mary had other children. (Luke 2:41–51). Jesus was known as “the son of Mary” (Mark 6:3), not as “a son of Mary.” Never do we see other children in the Gospels being referred to as children of Mary.

At the foot of the Cross, Jesus entrusted his mother to John (John 19:26-27). John’s blood mother Salome was also at the foot of the Cross and if Jesus had other full blood brothers, why make Mary a mother to John who already has a mother? What about Mary’s other sons?

The answer is that Mary never had any other child. Heretics argue that “brethren of the Lord” must be interpreted as full blood brothers because of other Scripture verses.
(Matthew 1:25): “And he did not know her till she brought forth her firstborn son.”
Heretics fail to understand that “till” here does not always mean until something else happens. We see this word several times in Holy Writ. In (II Sam. 6:23), “Michal the daughter of Saul had no children till the day of her death.” Does this mean that she had children after her death? Of course not.

In (Deuteronomy 34:6), speaking about Moses, “and no man hath known of his sepulcher until this present day.” Does this mean that they know now? Of course not.
In (Genesis 8:6-7) speaking about Noah, “after that forty days were passed Noe, opening the window of the ark which he had made, sent forth a raven: Which went forth and did not return till the waters were dried up upon the earth.” Does this mean the raven returned? Of course not.

Just as till or until does not work to mean some future event in these verses, it also does not imply in (Matthew 1) to mean that Mary and Joseph had relations after the birth of Christ.

First-born also doesn’t imply that there is a second or third-born. As we see in (Exodus 12:2; Numbers 3:12) the Hebrews understood the meaning of first-born to be the child that opens the womb. The first-born son was to be sanctified under the Law. (Exodus 34:20) That child will always be thought of as the first-born regardless.

As for the brothers of the Lord who are mentioned, we know that the mother of James (the Less or Younger) was also named Mary.
When we cross reference the Gospels on the women standing beneath the cross we get a clear picture who is who: “among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee” (Matt. 27:56)

“There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome” (Mark 15:40).
“But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene” (John 19:25).

We see that Salome is the mother of the sons of Zebedee (James the Greater and John) and the mother of James and Joseph is the wife of Clopas.
Elsewhere (Matt. 10:3) we see that James is also the son of Alphaeus. This Alphaeus is the same person as Clopas. The Aramaic name for Alphaeus can be rendered in Greek either as Alphaeus or as Clopas.

Some have argued that Alphaeus took a Greek name similar to his Jewish name, the way Saul took the name Paul. James the Less or Younger (brother of the Lord) is the son of Mary and Clopas (Alphaeus). The other “brethren” are the actual full blood brothers of James, which means they are not the sons of the Virgin Mary.
There are other arguments to demonstrate Mary’s perpetual virginity, but the above arguments alone suffice.

The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception means that Mary was conceived in her mother Anne’s womb without the stain of original sin. Original sin is the deprivation of sanctifying grace with the stain of a corrupt nature.
Mary was preserved from this sin by God’s grace from the first instant of her existence. She was born and remained throughout her whole life immaculate. Never did she sin nor was affected with a corrupt nature.

This doesn’t mean she is almighty, all knowing, or equal to God. The Angels in Heaven have not sinned and we don’t think of them as being equal to God.
It means that she has completed what Eve failed in the beginning. It means she is the perfect model for the Church. If the imperfect St Paul said to imitate him as a model (I Cor. 4:16, 11:1, Philippians 3:17), how much more than the perfect Virgin Mary?
The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is most certainly justified from the Holy Bible.

First, (Genesis 3:15) can be used to identify Mary, who is at enmity with Satan. This comes right after the Original Sin of Adam and Eve.
Here, Holy Scripture says there will be a woman and whose seed will both be at enmity with Satan. The historical Christian faith has always identified Jesus as the “New Adam” but also Mary as the “New Eve.” Incidentally, Jesus identified his mother as “woman” at the wedding feast at Cana (John 2:4) and again at the foot of the cross (John 25:26). Was Jesus reminding us of the prophecy of Genesis 3:15?

Secondly, the Angel Gabriel’s greeting to Mary demonstrates her purity and perfection. The angel Gabriel said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28). “Full of grace” is a translation of the Greek word kecharitomene. It therefore expresses a characteristic quality of Mary as it is a title.
The traditional translation, “full of grace,” is by far the best translation for it best captures what the Angel is conveying, rather than the poor translation “highly favored daughter.”

No doubt, Mary is the highly favored daughter of God, but the Greek implies much more. Also, it never mentions the word for daughter.
Kecharitomene is a perfect passive participle of charitoo, meaning “to fill or endow with grace.” Since this term is in the perfect tense, it indicates that Mary was graced from the beginning up until the present.

Mary was always full of God’s grace and she enjoyed that position throughout her whole life. She is the Immaculate Conception. Period!
The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was officially defined by Pope Pius IX in 1854. Heretics claim the doctrine was an invention of the Church at that time.
Doctrines are defined formally when controversy arises that needs to be settled or when the Church believes such definitions will draw men closer to God.

Many doctrines and beliefs took years for the Church to define. The Holy Trinity was defined in 325 AD and the Holy Bible was first defined in 380 AD. These were not inventions of the Church but definitions and declarations to clarify the Christian Faith.
Heretics say that Mary was a sinner because of (Rom. 3:23) “all have sinned” and because Mary said her “spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:47), and only a sinner needs a Savior.

It is true that Mary needed a Savior. However, unlike the rest of mankind, Christ saved her from absolute death by prevention. Mary is perfect because Christ saved her in anticipation at the moment of her conception.
Just as a drowning man is saved by being pulled out of the deep waters, Mary was prevented from falling in and even getting wet. Just as a man in a deep pit is saved by being pulled out, Mary is prevented from falling into the pit in the first place and being stained with the mud below.

She has more reason to call God her Savior than we do, because he saved her in an even more glorious manner!
As for Romans 3:23, “all have sinned”, we know that infants have not nor could not sin, and even St Paul in (Romans 9:11) implies such when referring to Jacob and Esau.
The extreme mentally ill cannot sin since they have not the ability to reason.
Jesus never sinned (Heb. 4:15).

Both Mary and Jesus followed the Law of Moses of making sin offerings but this was to identify themselves with sinners, not indicate they were sinners needing to make an offering for some sin.
Since there are clear exceptions to Romans 3, it does not follow that Mary must be a sinner based on this verse.

In 1950, Pope Pius XII, in Munificentissimus Deus, defined that Mary, “after the completion of her earthly life was assumed body and soul into the glory of heaven.”
Christ, by his own power, ascended into heaven, but Mary was taken up into Heaven by God.

She didn’t do it under her own power. No one knows if she died or not. The majority says she did die by choice in imitation of her Son and Savior.
Besides Enoch, Elijah and perhaps Moses, other bodily assumptions are mentioned in Holy Writ: Matthew 27:52–53: “The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.” (Matthew 27:52-53)

One cannot argue that Mary’s bodily assumption is impossible.
The woman clothed with the sun in the Apocalypse 12:1 can be interpreted to be Mary. In this verse, we see the woman described with a head and feet, which implies a body. She also has a crown of twelve stars implying that she is a queen.

The woman can also be interpreted to be the Church but since the other figures in the Apocalypse represent specific persons such as the dragon who is Satan and the beast who is the antichrist, then it would follow that the woman would most likely be Mary.
There is also the fact that the entire history of the Church has recognized that Mary was taken into Heaven with her body. There is more history to confirm this fact than the Immaculate Conception itself.

Relics of saints are highly prized especially the bones, hair, teeth, etc. There are body relics of every major saint except Mary, who was the greatest human person (Christ was the Divine Person).

Cities and churches boast about the relics of their particular saints but none boast about Mary’s. The reason for this is that the faithful have always known that there are none with Mary since her body was taken up.
When we look at the Ark of the Covenant of the Old Testament in reference to Mary of the New Testament, we see that she is the Ark of the New Covenant.
The Old Testament Ark carried the Word of God in the Ten Commandments, the bread of heaven called manna, the staff of Aaron which symbolized the high priesthood.

Mary carried the Word of God in the person of Jesus, who is the true Bread from Heaven, and the high priest.
The Old Testament Ark was made of incorruptible wood, and Mary is incorrupt.
David said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” (II Sam 6:9) and Elizabeth said, “why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”

David danced before the Lord because of the ark (II Sam 6:12-14) and the babe John the Baptist in Elizabeth’s womb leaped when approached by Mary. (Luke 1:41)
Just as the Old Testament Ark was overshadowed by the glory of the Lord in Exodus 40:34-35, so too, Mary was overshadowed by the Holy Ghost in Luke 1:35.

It is no coincidence that Luke wrote about Mary as the New Ark of the Covenant. He drew from the same books of the Old Testament.
St John’s says in his Apocalypse that he sees the Ark of the Covenant in the temple of God in chapter 11:19, and the very next verse describes a “woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.”
No doubt, St John is seeing Mary and is saying that she is the Ark of the New Covenant.

The whole Book is about Christ and his triumph over Satan and his wickedness over the earth. It was Mary that brought us our Lord and Savior, and through her, Christ conquers and reigns.

Since the Immaculate Conception and Assumption are not explicit in Scripture, heretics conclude that the doctrines are false.
This comes from the anti-historical, anti-Scriptural, and anti-logical doctrine of Sola scriptura, or the Protestant “Bible only” doctrine.

The Catholic Church was commissioned by Christ to teach all nations and to teach them infallibly—guided, as he promised, by the Holy Spirit until the end of the world (John 14:26, 16:13).

The mere fact that the Church teaches that something is definitely true is a guarantee that it is true (Matt. 18:17-18, 28:18-20, Luke 10:16, 1 Tim. 3:15).
Heretics will, of course, disagree with this position, but the point is made that the Ever Virgin Mary is immaculate “without sin” using Scripture and logic to do so.

Presented by Malachy Mary Igwilo, Easter Tuesday 18th April 2017