Fulton Sheen Meme

May I Attend the Wedding?

Recently it was asked if a Catholic may attend the wedding of another Catholic who is divorced and without an annulment.  The short answer is, no.  Why?  Because the "wedding" is invalid in the eyes of the Church.  

In the eyes of the Church, until an annulment is adjudicated, the divorced party is still married and thus has an  impediment preventing a valid wedding.  Regardless of relationship one might have to the person(s) getting married - to be in attendance at such implies support for the non-sacramental celebration.  It is also, in the eyes of the Church and Divine Law, an adulterous relationship which you would be consenting to.

Do you "cut off" this person completely?  No!  You cannot show support for the non-sacramental union, but visiting them and/or them visiting you and/or a family get together does not necessarily imply support for their decision to "get married" outside the Church.  

One would hope too that the person(s) getting married would understand why faithful Catholics cannot attend such a ceremony.  It is not because they do not care, quite the opposite!  They do not show because they DO care about not only the souls of those participating in the ceremony, but also those who of weaker faith which might be also in attendance and believe that your "showing up" is a sign of support.

We must pray for those caught up in such a situation which is, unfortunately, becoming all the more prevalent in today's society.  Pray that they reconcile themselves before God and the Church. 

To show this is not just "me" talking, here's some more references/reading for you too:

Luke16:18 (Divine Law):
“Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery."
This same question is answered on the website of Our Sunday Visitor:

outdoor wedding
“Remarriage of a divorced person without annulment.” Invalid. Potentially remediable through annulment and sanatio (from the Latin for “healing”), which cannot be presumed. For purposes of clarity, an annulment invalidates a marriage, while sanatio validates a marriage. Practicing Catholics should not attend. Possibly against natural law; certainly does not fulfill canon law. 
 Because of the strong words of Jesus cited above (see Mt 19:9), I don’t see how a practicing Catholic in good conscience can attend a wedding ceremony that he knows will be an invalid marriage. His/her attendance seems to condone what is going on. Rather, he should explain to the individauls that he loves them and prays for them and wants the very best for them, but that he will not be helping them at all if he ignores the clear teachings of Jesus Christ. These can be very hard conversations. But remember what Jesus said: “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father” (Mt 10:32). That should be some consolation.

Here is what Jimmy Akin says in his article Can You Attend the Wedding?:
"I take a strict line on attending weddings that are presumptively invalid. I never advise people to go to those because of the signal it will send to the participants–and others."

More from Jimmy Akin:
A reader writes:
What are our responsibilities as parents.  I know that we cannot "celebrate" the wedding in any way so as not to lend our presence to the ceremony and thereby indicate that it is "OK", but surely if we visit the couple at any time during their invalid marriage we would be implying that it is ok?  Does this mean we must no longer see our son?
The question of how to navigate social relationships without endorsing an invalid union is a very difficult question that many find themselves in. It is particularly painful and complex and depends in significant measures on how the parties are related to each other and how they would "read" different actions as messages saying things about the union.
Attending the wedding, celebrating anniversaries, letting two people share the same bed under your roof, etc., would all be actions that in our culture would be taken as an endorsement of the union. (And it is hard to see how they might be anything other than that, even in other cultures.)
However, social interactions not directly related to marriage may not be taken this way. For example, inviting people (who know that you don’t think that they are married) over to your house or going over to their house is often not read as an endorsement of a union in our culture. The act is remote enough from the marriage itself that in the opinion of many it is not necessary to refrain from these social interactions.
It most definitely is not necessary that you cut off all contact with your son. Indeed, maintaining contact with him may be essential to the future rectification of his situation. The difficult and painful thing is figuring out how to maintain contact in a way that does not send him false messages. Ultimately, one just has to do the best one can to muddle through that.
 On Catholic Answers:
Am I right to refrain from attending the Episcopalian wedding of a divorced Catholic whose first marriage has not been annulled?
You are correct. To enter into an invalid marriage simply to have a fancy church wedding because of reasons of convenience is sinful and betrays a lack of good judgment. It can also give scandal to those who are not knowledgeable in their Catholic faith.

Answered by:  Fr. Vincent Serpa O.P.
From "All Experts" website:
Expert: Fr. Timothy Johnson - 2/17/2010
Question:  Hello, Father.  I am trying to decide if I may attend a wedding of a divorced Catholic relative.  The wedding will be officiated by a Protestant minister in a residence and followed by a reception. 
Answer:  Hi, John:It seems to me that your presence at this wedding would be an outward sign of approval that a Catholic can just dissolve a marriage, without regard for looking at the matter of whether or not it was ever truly a sacramental marriage.  It saddens me how so many Protestant ministers promote the idea that adultery and forgiveness for that adultery can dissolve a marriage bond.  I have always thought that there idea of divorce and remarriage is a lot like: Find the new person who you want for your spouse, then break off with the first spouse, ask God to forgive you of your sins, and this will dissolve the marriage bond, and then you can go on to marry whomever you wish.  If there is truly something more to the matter, then no Protestant has ever clearly presented to me.  Personally I would not attend the wedding, but I am not you; and I can't very well force you one way or other over the internet.
Fr. Timothy Johnson 

Canon Law:
Canon 1059 The marriage of Catholics, even if only one party is baptized is governed not only by Divine Law but also by Canon Law, without prejudice to the competence of the civil authority in respect of the merely civil effects of the marriage.
Canon 1066 Before a marriage takes place, it must be established that nothing stands in the way of its valid and lawful celebration.
Canon 1069 Before the celebration of a marriage, all the faithful are bound to reveal to the parish priest or the local Ordinary such impediments as they may know about.
Canon 1070 If someone other than the parish priest whose function it is to assist at the marriage has made the investigations, he is by an authentic document to inform that parish priest of the outcome of these enquiries as soon as possible.

Peter the Rock

In Matthew’s parallel section of this week’s Gospel reading we find Jesus changing Peter’s name from Simon to 'Peter'.  In response to Simon’s (ie Peter) answer the Jesus the Christ, the son of the living God Jesus tells Peter that he is indeed blessed and on the Rock that is Peter His Church will be built (Matt 16:16-18).  Here’s a short exchange from an online source on how one can defend the Catholic position that Jesus made Peter the first Pope on that day and with those words...

For a layman, I suppose I was reasonably well informed about my faith—at least I never doubted it or ceased to practice it—but my own reading had not equipped me for verbal duels.

Then, one day, I came across a nugget of information that sent a shock wave through the next missionary who rang the bell and that proved to me that becoming skilled in apologetics isn’t really all that difficult. Here’s what happened.

When I answered the door, the lone missionary introduced himself as a Seventh-day Adventist. He asked if he could "share" with me some insights from the Bible. I told him to go ahead.

He flipped from one page to another, quoting this verse and that, trying to demonstrate the errors of the Church of Rome and the manifest truth of his own denomination’s position.

Some of the verses I had encountered before. I wasn’t entirely illiterate with respect to the Bible, but many verses were new to me. Whether familiar or not, the verses elicited no response from me, because I didn’t know enough about the Bible to respond effectively.

Finally the missionary got to Matthew 16:18: "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church."

"Hold it right there!" I said. "I know that verse. That’s where Jesus appointed Simon the earthly head of the Church. That’s where he appointed him the first pope." I paused and smiled broadly, knowing what the missionary would say in response.

I knew he usually didn’t get any defense of the Catholic position at all as he went door to door, but sometimes a Catholic would speak up as I had. He had a reply, and I knew what it would be, and I was ready for it.

"I understand your thinking," he said, "but you Catholics misunderstand this verse because you don’t know any Greek. That’s the trouble with your Church and with your scholars. You people don’t know the language in which the New Testament was written. To understand Matthew 16:18, we have to get behind the English to the Greek."

"Is that so?" I said, leading him on. I pretended to be ignorant of the trap being laid for me.

"Yes," he said. "In Greek, the word for rock is petra, which means a large, massive stone. The word used for Simon’s new name is different; it’s Petros, which means a little stone, a pebble."

In reality, what the missionary was telling me at this point was false. As Greek scholars—even non-Catholic ones—admit, the words petros and petra were synonyms in first century Greek. They meant "small stone" and "large rock" in some ancient Greek poetry, centuries before the time of Christ, but that distinction had disappeared from the language by the time Matthew’s Gospel was rendered in Greek. The difference in meaning can only be found in Attic Greek, but the New Testament was written in Koine Greek—an entirely different dialect. In Koine Greek, both petros andpetra simply meant "rock." If Jesus had wanted to call Simon a small stone, the Greek lithos would have been used. The missionary’s argument didn’t work and showed a faulty knowledge of Greek. (For an Evangelical Protestant Greek scholar’s admission of this, see D. A. Carson, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984], Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., 8:368).

"You Catholics," the missionary continued, "because you don’t know Greek, imagine that Jesus was equating Simon and the rock. Actually, of course, it was just the opposite. He was contrasting them. On the one side, the rock on which the Church would be built, Jesus himself; on the other, this mere pebble. Jesus was really saying that he himself would be the foundation, and he was emphasizing that Simon wasn’t remotely qualified to be it."

"Case closed," he thought.

It was the missionary’s turn to pause and smile broadly. He had followed the training he had been given. He had been told that a rare Catholic might have heard of Matthew 16:18 and might argue that it proved the establishment of the papacy. He knew what he was supposed to say to prove otherwise, and he had said it.

"Well," I replied, beginning to use that nugget of information I had come across, "I agree with you that we must get behind the English to the Greek." He smiled some more and nodded. "But I’m sure you’ll agree with me that we must get behind the Greek to the Aramaic."

"The what?" he asked.

"The Aramaic," I said. "As you know, Aramaic was the language Jesus and the apostles and all the Jews in Palestine spoke. It was the common language of the place."

"I thought Greek was."

"No," I answered. "Many, if not most of them, knew Greek, of course, because Greek was the lingua franca of the Mediterranean world. It was the language of culture and commerce; and most of the books of the New Testament were written in it, because they were written not just for Christians in Palestine but also for Christians in places such as Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch, places where Aramaic wasn’t the spoken language.

"I say most of the New Testament was written in Greek, but not all. Many hold that Matthew was written in Aramaic—we know this from records kept by Eusebius of Caesarea—but it was translated into Greek early on, perhaps by Matthew himself. In any case the Aramaic original is lost (as are all the originals of the New Testament books), so all we have today is the Greek."

I stopped for a moment and looked at the missionary. He seemed a bit uncomfortable, perhaps doubting that I was a Catholic because I seemed to know what I was talking about. I continued.

"We know that Jesus spoke Aramaic because some of his words are preserved for us in the Gospels. Look at Matthew 27:46, where he says from the cross, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ That isn’t Greek; it’s Aramaic, and it means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’

"What’s more," I said, "in Paul’s epistles—four times in Galatians and four times in 1 Corinthians—we have the Aramaic form of Simon’s new name preserved for us. In our English Bibles it comes out as Cephas. That isn’t Greek. That’s a transliteration of the Aramaic word Kepha (rendered as Kephas in its Hellenistic form).

"And what does Kepha mean? It means a rock, the same as petra. (It doesn’t mean a little stone or a pebble. What Jesus said to Simon in Matthew 16:18 was this: ‘You are Kepha, and on thiskepha I will build my Church.’

"When you understand what the Aramaic says, you see that Jesus was equating Simon and the rock; he wasn’t contrasting them. We see this vividly in some modern English translations, which render the verse this way: ‘You are Rock, and upon this rock I will build my church.’ In French one word, pierre, has always been used both for Simon’s new name and for the rock."

Large portions of text copied from http://www.catholic.com/tracts/peter-the-rock

God Bless

Mary's Perpetual Virginity

Last week we looked at the reasons why the supposed evidence that Mary had other children after Jesus is, in the end, not very strong evidence at all. So now let’s look at some Biblical basis’ for Mary’s perpetual virginity. There seems to be quite a few verses that point to Mary’s perpetual virginity although the weight of the arguments are arguable.

We find in Luke 2:41-51 that Jesus is found missing. Joseph and Mary are frantic and search for him for three days and then find him in the Temple. I find it odd that throughout those three days there is no mention of any siblings helping in the search for Jesus.

A second argument can be made by the fact that in Jewish society younger sons never gave public advice to an older brother, much less, the oldest son. This would be very disrespectful. And this is what seems to be happening in John 7:3-4 “So his brothers said to him, "Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples may see the works you are doing. For no man works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world”.”

A third argument is pretty evident at His actions on the cross. Our Lord entrusted his mother to John. That action makes no sense if Mary had other sons (John 19:26-27). The social customs of the time would have made such an action unthinkable.

Lastly, we find that in Luke 1:34 Mary is surprised by the angel’s announcement that she will bear a son. She was already betrothed, or to be married, and she was surprised that she is going to bear a son? Why would she be surprised at that statement? She answered that she does not know man. You would think that Mary would just assume that her husband-to-be is going to father her a child. She would only be surprised if she had vowed to never know a man. Only after she questions the angel about her virginity does the angel explain that “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the holy thing which is born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35) Only then does she seem to understand.

The descriptive term to “overshadow” gives the connotation of a man overtaking a woman, as the coming together of man and women. In essence, Mary believes she is connected to God in a marital fashion.

After learning of Mary’s expectancy, Joseph was contemplating quietly divorcing and putting her away because he knew that she would be accused of adultery and the possibility of Mary being stoned to death was definitely present. As he was contemplating his choices an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream and said to him: “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 1:20). Thus he received confirmation that he was called to live his marriage in a completely special way.

Therefore, we see that even though Mary was with child and he knew that the Child was not his, he still accepted Mary as his wife on the word of a powerful dream. Is there any better reason to keep a chaste life when you know you are to marry God’s mother and raise His Son?

Another way of arguing the perpetual virginity is by looking at the typology of Mary as found in the OT. “A type is a person, thing, or event in the Old Testament that foreshadows something to come later in time, either later in the Old Testament itself of in the New Testament. It is like a taste or hint of something that will be fulfilled or realized. The anti-type (New Testament event) is always greater than its type (shadow of an event in the Old Testament). And both are independent of each other.

“Types” are explained in Rom 5:14 and Heb 9:9, as a figure, 1 Cor 10:6 and 2 Thess 3:9 and 2Pet 2:6, as examples, 1 Cor 10:11 and Heb 11:19, as a type.

The Egyptian Exodus told in Hosea 11:1 is quoted exactly in Matt 2:15 when speaking of Jesus’ return to Israel from Egypt: “where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son."”

What Matthew has done here is he took an historical event and interpreted it as a shadow of something greater to come in the future, which he sees as‘fulfilled’ in the person of Jesus the Messiah.

Other examples of type/antitype pairs are:

A) Jonah in the belly of the of whale is a type of Christ in the tomb. For Jonah stayed in the belly for three days as did Christ stay buried for three days until His resurrection.

B) The manna in the desert, Ex 16:31, is the bread of life compared to its antitype the living bread of life, that is Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, Matt 26:26

We can see from these examples that the Old Testament writers as well as the New Testament writers wrote and used these kinds of connections to show the greatness of God…through His imagery, and interconnections woven throughout Scripture.

Let’s see if we can find a new antitype that fits-in with the Old Testament Ark of the Covenant type. The Ark of the Covenant contained the Ten Commandment tablets, a golden pot containing some of the manna that fell from the sky during the 40 years of wandering the deserts after their liberation from the Egyptians, and the rod of Aaron.

Now, when we look for another container holding something similar yet greater than these objects, we can’t help but notice how Mary, the mother of Jesus, fits that description very well.

The Ark contained the Ten Commandments, the Word of God written by the finger of God on stone tablets. In Mary contained the Word of God made flesh, God incarnate.

The Ark also contained a pot of the miraculous bread that fell from the sky to sustain the wandering Jews after their liberation. In Mary contained the bread of life giving us spiritual life instead of merely physical sustenance.

The Ark also contained the rod of Aaron, the proof of true priesthood. In Mary’s womb is the true priest. And the Ark is treated as such that one who touches it without proper reverence died (2 Sam 6:6-7). Pretty good incentive to refrain from improperly touching Mary huh?

And lastly we also find that where God has entered through Mary's virginal opening so too must that opening remain shut as seen in Ezekiel 44:1-2 " The man led me to the outer gate at the east side of the Temple area. The gate was closed, and the LORD said to me, "This gate will stay closed and will never be opened. No human being is allowed to use it, because I, the LORD God of Israel, have entered through it. It is to remain closed

Since there is no break in this belief of ever-virgin through Christian history up until a few decades ago, we need to acknowledge that the perpetual virginity of Mary to be a default position. Therefore those against this precept need to prove otherwise not the other way around. I believe I have discredited any ‘proof’showing that Mary and Joseph were having marital relations after Jesus’ birth in last weeks leaflet and today I believe I have shown that there are some verses that point to the ever-virginity of Mary. To conclude, Mary was a virgin before the conception of Christ, during her pregnancy and after our Lord’s birth up to her last day on earth. To accept anything different will need additional proofs to the contrary.

Homosexual Lobby at the Vatican?

Allegedly, this is true - as reported on Breitbart's site:

 6/11/2013 7:21:05 PM
VATICAN CITY, June 11 (UPI) -- Pope Francis has confirmed there is a "gay lobby" inside the Vatican, a Catholic website reported.
Reports of such a group in the Curia have circulated for months and may have been a consideration in Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's retirement, CNN reported.
The Curia is the Vatican's bureaucracy.
A Chilean website, Reflection and Liberation, which discusses liberation theology, first reported Francis' comments, though CNN said a Vatican spokesman refused to comment on the report.
"In the Curia," Francis said, "there are holy people. But there is also a stream of corruption," adding, "The 'gay lobby' is mentioned, and it is true, it is there. We need to see what we can do."
The pope's remarks came during a meeting Sunday with CLAR, the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Religious Men and Women. Members head Catholic communities of priests, sisters and monks.
Some Catholics said people should not read too much into the pope's remarks, CNN reported.
"We don't have any explanation of what 'gay lobby' means," Rocco Palmo said. Palmo is a Vatican watcher who runs Whispers in the Loggia, a website on Catholic news and church politics.

Those who read here know my preference not to sugarcoat "homosexuality" with the word "gay," but the original article, which is quoted above, uses that term so I left it.

What Catholics Believe, The Creed Part 2

Secondo Pia's 1898 negative of the Shroud of Turin
[Covered in What Catholics Believe, Part 1]

I believe in one God, the Father almighty,
    maker of heaven and earth,
    of all things visible and invisible.

****************************Part 2

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, 

Lord here is not the title of an earthly lord.  It is used as another word for God.  The name of God is  Hebrew was not used, so God was usually referred to in Scripture as Lord.  In the New Testament Lord is frequently used for both God the Father and Jesus Christ. (CCC 446)  Elizabeth proclaimed it to Mary, "Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?"  

Jesus is the name announced by Gabriel at the Annunciation; the name Jesus means "God saves."  It is not just a name but the very core of the meaning of the Incarnation.  (CCC 430)

Christ is the Greek word for the Hebrew Messiah which is "anointed".  (CCC 436

These names/titles reveal much about Who we believe Jesus was and is.  He is God.  He saves.  He is the anointed One of God.  This is what we believe as Catholics.

        the Only Begotten Son of God, 

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption. (Gal. 4:4-5)
We believe that Jesus was, literally, the Son of God born of a woman, Mary, and the Holy Spirit.  He "came from God" (Jn 13:3), "descended from Heaven" (Jn 3:13), and "came in the flesh" (I Jn 4:2). (CCC 423) He came from the Father in the Person of Jesus Christ.  He suffered and died for us.  He is now, after rising, living with us forever. (CCC 426)

        born of the Father before all ages. 

Michelangelo's Jesus on the Sistine Chapel
Born means produced or generated from.  Just as we receive our humanness from our father, so Jesus received His divine essence from God.  St. Peter said that Jesus was "the Christ, the Son of the living God", to which Jesus replied, "Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father Who is in Heaven." (Matt. 16:16-17) 

We also believe that Jesus always existed in God.  
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came to be through Him, and without Him nothing came to be.  What came to be through Him was life..."  (John 1:1-4a)
     God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, 

Jesus is not God the Father; He is God the Son.  They are distinct from one another but the are both God.  To continue with John 1:4:  "...and this life was the light of the human race."  The Father and the son light each other and in turn light the world with life.  They are of one voice, one "testimony".  (John 8:17-18)  We believe that Jesus is God; He is light; He is true God

    begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; 
In the early Church, some of the heresies that cropped up were that either Jesus was not God, but only a man; that Jesus was God who came in the appearance of a man; and that somehow God coexisted in the body of a man.  However, the Nicaea Creed emphasizes the fact that we believe He is of the same substance, homoousios, as the Father.  At the Council of Chalcedon, the Church affirmed that Our Lord Jesus Christ is
"Perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity, the same truly God and truly man, composed of rational soul and body; consubstantial with the Father as to His divinity and consubstantial with us as to His humanity; "like us in all things but sin."  (CCC 467)

         Through him all things were made. 

Separation of light and darkness (Michelangelo)
Here we go back to John chapter one. "In the beginning was the Word...and the Word was with God...all things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made." (John 1:1-4)  God created everything through the eternal Word, His Son, along with the Holy Spirit (we'll get to Him soon) Who is the "giver of life."  (CCC 291)

    For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, 

Appropriately, the name Jesus means "God saves."  (CCC 430)  The perfect name for the Incarnation Who came to free mankind from the bondage of sin.  As God, He existed before there was a world.  He came down from His home for the love of mankind.
The Word became flesh so that thus we might know God's love: "In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him." (1 John 4:9)  "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16) (CCC 458)
There is not much more I can say than that.

        and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, 
But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God....for nothing will be impossible for God.”  (Luke 1:34-35,37)
The Scripture tells us the name of His Mother and the manner of Jesus' conception.  It is not by Joseph or any other man that Jesus comes into being.  He becomes incarnate in the Virgin Mary's womb by the Holy Spirit.  Mary's virginity is and remains a dogma (something a Catholic must believe) of the Church.  Mary conceived "without any detriment to her virginity, which remained inviolate even after His birth" (Council of the Lateran, 649).  Mary in this way becomes the Mother of God.  (More on this later)

         and became man.

 He became truly man while remaining truly God.  Jesus Christ is true God and true man.  (CCC 464)  From apostolic times the Christian faith has insisted on the true incarnation of God's Son "come in the flesh." (CCC 465)  

*******************************************************End Part 2

    For our sake he was crucified
      under Pontius Pilate,
        he suffered death and was buried,
        and rose again on the third day
        in accordance with the Scriptures.
    He ascended into heaven
        and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
    He will come again in glory
        to judge the living and the dead
        and his kingdom will have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
        the Lord, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
    who with the Father and the Son
        is adored and glorified,
        who has spoken through the prophets.
I believe in one, holy, catholic,
     and apostolic Church.
    I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins
        and I look forward to the resurrection
        of the dead and the life of the world to come.

Did Jesus Have Brothers?

In St Paul’s letter to the Galatians we find Paul mentions that Jesus had a brother by the name of James.  Does this mean that Jesus’ mother did not remain a virgin after His birth, did Jesus have blood-related siblings?  Let’s answer that question.

In Aramaic or Hebrew, there is no separate word for cousin.  Therefore, the word brother was used for cousins as well as other close members of the family. As an example we find that in Gen 14:14 Lot is called Abraham’s brother although we know him to be his nephew.  In the jewish custom we find that the word brother has a broader use such as people joined in a cause to refer to them as kinsmen (ex: 42 bretheren of King Achaziah (2 Kings 10:13-14)).  Or to describe a friend as in 1 Kings 9:13, 20:32 and 2 Sam 1:26.  In Amos 1:9 the word is used to describe an ally.   

Therefore, when we come up to verses which speak of the bretheren (or brothers) of Jesus we can correctly assume that His brothers are in effect close friends, fellow believers or even fellow citizens of His native town Nazareth.  Verses such as Matt 12:46 “As he was yet speaking to the multitudes, behold his mother and his bretheren stood without, seeking to speak to him.” can easily be explained as Jesus’ mother and his childhood friends (or fellow Nazareens, or cousins). 

I believe the difficulty comes when we find the verses that seem to specify brothers by name such as verses Mark 6:3 and Matt 13:55.  Both these verses seem to be relating the same incident.  Matt 13:55 “Is not this the carpenter’s son?  Is not his mother called Mary, and his brethren James, and Joseph, and Simon, and Jude?”  This verse seems to suggest that Mary had other children by the name James, and Jude.  But if you look closely the author did not call these men Mary’s sons, this writer separated them from Mary and in doing so introduced the idea that these men were not Jesus’ biological brothers.  We find elsewhere in Matthew that Mary was the mother of James and Joseph but these men’s father was Zebedee.  You will see what I mean when you read Matt 27:56 which states: “Among whom was Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.”  With this we find that at least James and Joseph (or Jose, its English equivalent) are the sons of Zebedee (Cleophas) and another Mary.  Therefore, we find that James and Joseph are not the biological brothers of Jesus.  The only reason to be called the bretheren of Jesus would be because they were childhood friends.  We can extrapolate that conclusion by studying John 19:25 which states: “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene”.  We find that Mary, the mother of Jesus, had a ‘sister’ named Mary and more than likely these two were not siblings but were very close.  

            About Simon nothing certain can be stated.  Out of the four men grouped together and named in Matt 13:55, we find three of them are definitely not the biological sons of Mary, Mother of Jesus.  Since these men were grouped together and two out of the four are not His brothers, we can safely and accurately say that the other two are not Jesus’ brother since to be as such Simon and Jude would have been introduced in a manner reflective of that fact. At the very least Simon and Jude would have been described in a different way from the other two.  All agree that if Joseph and James are not brothers of the Savior, the others are not.   

To conclude, Mary was a virgin before the conception of Christ, during her pregnancy and after our Lord’s birth up to her last day on earth.

God Bless

What Catholics Believe, The Creed Part I

I believe in one God,

This is a belief of all Christians, as far as I know.  It is the one commonality between three major world religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.  Not only do we, Christians, believe in one God but in the oneness of God.  “The Christian faith confesses that God is one in nature, substance and essence.” (CCC 200 quoting Roman Catechism I, 2, 2) We believe that God is one but that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are God—The Blessed Trinity.  “To confess that Jesus is Lord is distinctive of Christian faith.  This is not contrary to belief in the One God.  Nor does believing in the Holy Spirit as “Lord and giver of life” introduce any division into the One God.” (CCC 202)

We firmly believe and confess without reservation that there is only one true God, eternal infinite (immensus) and unchangeable, incomprehensible, almighty and ineffable, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; three persons indeed, but one essence, substance or nature entirely simple.
(CCC202, footnote 8: Lateran Council IV: DS 800)

Frederick Hart's "Creation of the World" (National Cathedral, Washington, DC)

the Father almighty,

While the mystery of the Holy Trinity is “the central mystery of Christian faith and life” (CCC 234), the Creed addresses God as Father first.  In fact, it was Jesus, God the Son, Who revealed God as the loving Father. 
maker of heaven and earth,

    of all things visible and invisible.

The Church teaches that God created the visible world of creation and the invisible world of angels and souls.  He created everything from nothing.  This statement was made in the creed, despite Scriptural support because early heretics such as the Gnostics and Marcionites thought that God only created the invisible or spiritual world.  They believed that there was an evil God who created the evil material world.   Here, in the creed, Christians acknowledge one Creator of all.  
 God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good.  Gen 1:31

“Look to the heavens and the earth and see all that is in them; then you will know that God did not make them out of existing things.  In the same way humankind came into existence.”  2 Maccabees 7:28
Added, so readers can see the entire Nicene Creed used in the Catholic Liturgy today, one can see how the above fits in the Creed as a whole.

****************************************************************************End Part 1
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
        the Only Begotten Son of God,
        born of the Father before all ages.
    God from God, Light from Light,
        true God from true God,
    begotten, not made, consubstantial
       with the Father;
        Through him all things were made.
    For us men and for our salvation
        he came down from heaven,
        and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate
        of the Virgin Mary,
        and became man.

    For our sake he was crucified
      under Pontius Pilate,
        he suffered death and was buried,
        and rose again on the third day
        in accordance with the Scriptures.
    He ascended into heaven
        and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
    He will come again in glory
        to judge the living and the dead
        and his kingdom will have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
        the Lord, the giver of life,
    who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
    who with the Father and the Son
        is adored and glorified,
        who has spoken through the prophets.
I believe in one, holy, catholic,
     and apostolic Church.
    I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins
        and I look forward to the resurrection
        of the dead and the life of the world to come.

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