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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

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