Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

On the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Infallible Teaching of the Catholic Church

“Wherefore, in humility and fasting, we unceasingly offered our private prayers as well as the public prayers of the Church to God the Father through his Son, that he would deign to direct and strengthen our mind by the power of the Holy Spirit. In like manner did we implore the help of the entire heavenly host as we ardently invoked the Paraclete. Accordingly, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, for the honor of the Holy and undivided Trinity, for the glory and adornment of the Virgin Mother of God, for the exaltation of the Catholic Faith, and for the furtherance of the Catholic religion, by the authority of Jesus Christ our Lord, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own: We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful. Hence, if anyone shall dare -- which God forbid! -- to think otherwise than as has been defined by us, let him know and understand that he is condemned by his own judgment; that he has suffered shipwreck in the faith; that he has separated from the unity of the Church; and that, furthermore, by his own action he incurs the penalties established by law if he should are to express in words or writing or by any other outward means the errors he think in his heart.”
-Blessed Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, 8 December 1854

Further Teaching from the Fathers and Doctors of the Church

“The report concerning the child was noised abroad in Bethlehem. Some said, ‘The Virgin Mary has given birth before she was married two months.’ And many said, ‘She has not given birth; the midwife has not gone up to her, and we heard no cries of pain’"
-Ascension of Isaiah, 11 – 70 AD

“So the Virgin became a mother with great mercies. And she labored and bore the Son, but without pain, because it did not occur without purpose. And she did not seek a midwife, because he caused her to give life. She bore as a strong man, with will . . . "
-Odes of Solomon,19 – 80 AD

“[Jesus] became man by the Virgin so that the course which was taken by disobedience in the beginning through the agency of the serpent might be also the very course by which it would be put down. Eve, a virgin and undefiled, conceived the word of the serpent and bore disobedience and death. But the Virgin Mary received faith and joy when the angel Gabriel announced to her the glad tidings that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon her and the power of the Most High would overshadow her, for which reason the Holy One being born of her is the Son of God. And she replied ‘Be it done unto me according to your word’ [Luke 1:38]"
-Saint Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, 100 – 155 AD

“Consequently, then, Mary the Virgin is found to be obedient, saying, ‘Behold, O Lord, your handmaid; be it done to me according to your word.’ Eve, however, was disobedient, and, when yet a virgin, she did not obey. Just as she, who was then still a virgin although she had Adam for a husband—for in paradise they were both naked but were not ashamed; for, having been created only a short time, they had no understanding of the procreation of children, and it was necessary that they first come to maturity before beginning to multiply—having become disobedient, was made the cause of death for herself and for the whole human race; so also Mary, betrothed to a man but nevertheless still a virgin, being obedient, was made the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race. . . . Thus, the knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. What the virgin Eve had bound in unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosed through faith"
-Saint Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3:22:24, 189 AD

“The Lord then was manifestly coming to his own things, and was sustaining them by means of that creation that is supported by himself. He was making a recapitulation of that disobedience that had occurred in connection with a tree, through the obedience that was upon a tree [i.e., the cross]. Furthermore, the original deception was to be done away with—the deception by which that virgin Eve (who was already espoused to a man) was unhappily misled. That this was to be overturned was happily announced through means of the truth by the angel to the Virgin Mary (who was also [espoused] to a man). . . . So if Eve disobeyed God, yet Mary was persuaded to be obedient to God. In this way, the Virgin Mary might become the advocate of the virgin Eve. And thus, as the human race fell into bondage to death by means of a virgin, so it is rescued by a virgin. Virginal disobedience has been balanced in the opposite scale by virginal obedience. For in the same way, the sin of the first created man received amendment by the correction of the First-Begotten"
-Saint Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 5:19:1, 189 AD

“And again, lest I depart from my argumentation on the name of Adam: Why is Christ called Adam by the apostle [Paul], if as man he was not of that earthly origin? But even reason defends this conclusion, that God recovered his image and likeness by a procedure similar to that in which he had been robbed of it by the devil. It was while Eve was still a virgin that the word of the devil crept in to erect an edifice of death. Likewise through a virgin the Word of God was introduced to set up a structure of life. Thus what had been laid waste in ruin by this sex was by the same sex reestablished in salvation. Eve had believed the serpent; Mary believed Gabriel. That which the one destroyed by believing, the other, by believing, set straight"
-Tertullian, The Flesh of Christ, 17:4, 210 AD

“If therefore it might come to pass by the power of your grace, it has appeared right to us your servants that, as you, having overcome death, do reign in glory, so you should raise up the body of your Mother and take her with you, rejoicing, into heaven. Then said the Savior [Jesus]: ‘Be it done according to your will’"
-Pseudo-Melito, The Passing of the Virgin, 16:2–17,  300 AD

“You alone and your Mother are more beautiful than any others, for there is no blemish in you nor any stains upon your Mother. Who of my children can compare in beauty to these?"
-Saint Ephraim the Syrian – Doctor of the Church, Nisibene Hymns, 27:8, 361 AD

“Mary’s life should be for you a pictorial image of virginity. Her life is like a mirror reflecting the face of chastity and the form of virtue. Therein you may find a model for your own life . . . showing what to improve, what to imitate, what to hold fast to"
-Saint Ambrose of Milan – Doctor of the Church, The Virgins, 2:2:6, 377 AD

“The first thing which kindles ardor in learning is the greatness of the teacher. What is greater [to teach by example] than the Mother of God? What more glorious than she whom Glory Itself chose? What more chaste than she who bore a body without contact with another body? For why should I speak of her other virtues? She was a virgin not only in body but also in mind, who stained the sincerity of its disposition by no guile, who was humble in heart, grave in speech, prudent in mind, sparing of words, studious in reading, resting her hope not on uncertain riches, but on the prayer of the poor, intent on work, modest in discourse; wont to seek not man but God as the judge of her thoughts, to injure no one, to have goodwill towards all, to rise up before her elders, not to envy her equals, to avoid boastfulness, to follow reason, to love virtue. When did she pain her parents even by a look? When did she disagree with her neighbors? When did she despise the lowly? When did she avoid the needy?"
-Saint Ambrose of Milan – Doctor of the Church, The Virgins, 2:2:7, 377 AD

“Come, then, and search out your sheep, not through your servants or hired men, but do it yourself. Lift me up bodily and in the flesh, which is fallen in Adam. Lift me up not from Sarah but from Mary, a virgin not only undefiled, but a virgin whom grace had made inviolate, free of every stain of sin"
-Saint Ambrose of Milan – Doctor of the Church, Commentary on Psalm, 118:22–30, 387 AD

"Receive me not from Sarah, but from Mary; that it may be an uncorrupted Virgin, a Virgin free by grace from every stain of sin"
-Saint Ambrose of Milan – Doctor of the Church, In Ps. cxviii. s. 22

“Our Lord . . . was not averse to males, for he took the form of a male, nor to females, for of a female he was born. Besides, there is a great mystery here: that just as death comes to us through a woman, life is born to us through a woman; that the devil, defeated, would be tormented by each nature, feminine and masculine, as he had taken delight in the defection of both"
-Saint Augustine – Doctor of the Church, Christian Combat, 22:24, 396 AD

“That one woman is both mother and virgin, not in spirit only but even in body. In spirit she is mother, not of our head, who is our Savior himself—of whom all, even she herself, are rightly called children of the bridegroom—but plainly she is the mother of us who are his members, because by love she has cooperated so that the faithful, who are the members of that head, might be born in the Church. In body, indeed, she is the Mother of that very head"
-Saint Augustine – Doctor of the Church, Holy Virginity, 6:6, 401 AD

“Having excepted the holy Virgin Mary, concerning whom, on account of the honor of the Lord, I wish to have absolutely no question when treating of sins—for how do we know what abundance of grace for the total overcoming of sin was conferred upon her, who merited to conceive and bear him in whom there was no sin?—so, I say, with the exception of the Virgin, if we could have gathered together all those holy men and women, when they were living here, and had asked them whether they were without sin, what do we suppose would have been their answer?"
-Saint Augustine – Doctor of the Church, Nature and Grace, 36:42, 415 AD

“Mary was not infected by the venomous breath of the serpent."
-Origen, In Div. hom. 1

“Mary was immaculate, and remote from all stain of sin."
-Saint Ephraim the Syrian – Doctor of the Church, Orat. Ad Deip.

“’Hail, full of grace.’ By these words the angel shows that she was altogether excluded from the wrath of the first sentence, and restored to the full grace of blessing."
-Saint Augustine – Doctor of the Church, Sermon 123

"Nor did justice endure that that vessel of election should be open to common injuries; for being far exalted above others, she partook of their nature, not of their sin"
-Saint Cyprian, Commentary on Psalm 77, De Chr. Op. De Nat.).

"He who formed the first Virgin without deformity, also made the second one without spot or sin."
-Saint Amphilochius, In S. Deip. et Sim.

"The Virgin is therefore called immaculate, for in nothing was she corrupt."
-Saint Sophronius, In Conc. Oecum. 6, act. 11

“It is evident that she was free from original sin."
-Saint Ildephonsus, Cont. Disp. De Virginit. M.)

St. John Damascene says, that "the serpent never had any access to this paradise."
-Saint John Damascene –Doctor of the Church, In Assumpt.

"That Mary is that uncorrupted earth which God blessed, and was therefore free from all contagion of sin."
-Saint Bruno, In Ps. ci

“That our Sovereign Lady was full of preventing grace for her sanctification; that is, preservative grace against the corruption of original sin.
-Saint Bonaventure – Doctor of the Church, De B. V. s. 2

"It is not to be believed that he, the Son of God, would be born of a Virgin, and take her flesh, were she in the slightest degree stained with original sin."
-Saint Bernardine of Sienna, Quadr. s. 49, p. 1

"Mary was prevented in blessings from her very conception."
-Saint Laurence Justinian, In Annunt

"Thou hast found a singular grace, O most sweet Virgin, that of preservation from original sin."
-Blessed Raymond Jordano, Cont. de V. M. c. 6

“Great indeed was the injury entailed on Adam and all his posterity by his accursed sin; for at the same time that he thereby, for his own great misfortune, lost grace, he also forfeited all the other precious gifts with which he had originally been enriched, and drew down upon himself and all his descendants the hatred of God and an accumulation of evils. But from this general misfortune God was pleased to exempt that Blessed Virgin whom he had destined to be the Mother of the Second Adam—Jesus Christ—who was to repair the evil done by the first.”
-Saint Alphonsus Ligouri, Discourse on the Immaculate Conception

“Still more was it becoming that God should preserve her from original sin, for he destined her to crush the head of that infernal serpent, which, by seducing our first parents, entailed death upon all men: and this our Lord foretold: I will put enemities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head (Gen. 3:15). But if Mary was to be that valiant woman brought into the world to conquer Lucifer, certainly it was not becoming that he should first conquer her, and make her his slave; but it was reasonable that she should be preserved from all stain, and even momentary subjection to her opponent. The proud spirit endeavored to infect the most pure soul of this Virgin with his venom, as he had already infected the whole human race. But praised and ever blessed be God, who, in his infinite goodness, pre-endowed her for this purpose with such great grace, that, remaining always free from any guilt of sin, she was ever able to beat down and confound his pride, as St. Augustine, or whoever may be the author of the commentary on Genesis, says: "Since the devil is the head of original sin, this head it was that Mary crushed: for sin never had any entry into the soul of this Blessed Virgin, which was consequently free from all stain."
-Saint Alphonsus Ligouri, Discourse on the Immaculate Conception

Saturday, November 12, 2011

On the Dogma of the Perpetual Virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Infallible Teaching of the Church

"If anyone does not properly and truly confess in accord with the holy Fathers, that the holy Mother of God and ever virgin and immaculate Mary in the earliest of the ages conceived of the Holy Spirit without seed, namely, God the Word Himself specifically and truly, who was born of God the Father before all ages, and that she incorruptibly bore [Him],  hre virginity remaining indestructible even after His birth, let him be condemned."
-Pope Saint Martin I, The Lateran Council, Canon 3, 649AD (DS 256)

From Sacred Scripture

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
-Isaias 7:14

“Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child.”
-Isaias 66:7 

“Then he brought me back the way of the gate of the outward sanctuary which looketh toward the east; and it was shut. Then said the LORD unto me; This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the LORD, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut.”
-Ezechiel 44:1-3 (see quote from Saint Ambrose below)

"A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed."
-Song of Songs 4:12

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”
-Luke 2:7

More from Saint Peter

"Within her virginal womb Christ our Lord already bore the exalted title of Head of the Church; in a marvelous birth (mirando partu edidit) she brought Him forth as the source of all supernatural life, and presented Him newly born, as Prophet, King and Priest to those who, from among Jews and Gentiles, were the first to come to adore Him.."
- Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, 1943 AD

"O just, O most blessed Joseph, since thou art sprung from a royal line, thou hast been chosen from among all mankind to be spouse of the pure Queen who, in a way which defies description, will give birth to Jesus the king."
-Pope Pius XII, Ad Caeli Reginam, citing a Byzantine prayer, 1954 AD

"Along with many others, the Seraphic Doctor held the same views. He considered it as entirely certain that, as God had preserved the most holy Virgin Mary from the violation of her virginal purity and integrity in conceiving and in childbirth, he would never have permitted her body to have been resolved into dust and ashes."
-Pope Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus, citing Saint Bonaventure's: De Nativitate B. Mariae Virginis, Sermo V., November 1 1950 AD

"Therefore, the life of Joseph's pure spouse, who remained a virgin 'during childbirth and after childbirth' -- as the Catholic Church has always believed and professed and as was fitting for her who was raised to the incomparable dignity of divine motherhood -- was a life of such perfect union with the Son that she shared in His joys, sorrows and triumphs"
-Pope Paul VI, Signum Magnum, 1967 AD

"The Christmas season is a prolonged commemoration of the divine, virginal and salvific motherhood of her whose 'inviolate virginity brought the Saviour into the world.'”
-Pope Paul VI, Marialis Cultus, 1974

"Mary was therefore a virgin before the birth of Jesus and she remained a virgin in giving birth and after the birth. This is the truth presented by the New Testament texts, and which was expressed both by the Fifth Ecumenical Council at Constantinople in 553, which speaks of Mary as 'ever virgin', and also by the Lateran Council in 649, which teaches that 'the mother of God...Mary...conceived [her Son] through the power of the Holy Spirit without human intervention, and in giving birth to him, her virginity remained incorrupted, and even after the birth her virginity remained intact."
-Pope John Paul II, General Audience of Jan 28 1987

"It is a well-known fact that some of the Church Fathers set us a significant parallel between the begetting of Christ ex intacta virgine [from the inviolate Virgin] and his resurrection ex intacto sepulcro [from the sealed tomb]. In the parallelism relative to the begetting of Christ, some of the Fathers put the emphasis on the virginal conception, others on the virgin birth, others on the subsequent perpetual virginity of the Mother, but they all testify to the conviction that between the two saving events – the generation–birth of Christ and his resurrection from the dead – there exists an intrinsic connection which corresponds to a precise plan of God: a connection which the Church led by the Spirit, has discovered, not created. . . [I]t is necessary for the theologian, in presenting the Church's doctrine on Mary's virginity to maintain the indispensable balance between stating the fact and elucidating its meaning. Both are integral parts of the mystery: the meaning, or symbolic value of the event is based on the reality of the fact, and the latter, in turn, reveals all its richness only if its symbolic meanings are unfolded."
-Pope John Paul II, during a talk in Capua Italy, June 10 1992

"With the shepherds let us enter the stable of Bethlehem beneath the loving gaze of Mary, the silent witness of his miraculous birth."
-Pope Benedict XVI, Urbi et Orbi message of Christmas 2005

From the Fathers and Doctors of the Church

"Mary's virginity was hidden from the prince of this world; so was her childbearing, and so was the death of the Lord. All these three trumpet-tongued secrets were brought to pass in the deep silence of God."
-Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Father of the Church, Epistle to the Ephesians, 19; 107 AD

"Who loves you is amazed and who would understand is silent and confused, because he cannot probe the Mother who gave birth in her virginity.  If it is too great to be clarified with words the disputants ought not on that account cross swords with your Son.”
-Saint Ephraim the Syrian, Father and Doctor of the Church, Songs of Praise 1, 2

"Believe in the Son of God, the Word before all the ages, who these last days, for your sake, made Son of Man, born of the Virgin Mary in an indescribable and stainless way,-for there is no stain where God is and whence salvation comes..."
-Saint Gregory Nazianzen; Bishop, Father, and Doctor of the Church; Oration on Holy Baptism, 40:45; 381 AD

"According to the condition of the body (Jesus) was in the womb, He nursed at His mother's breast, He lay in the manger, but superior to that condition, the Virgin conceived and the Virgin bore, so that you might believe that He was God who restored nature, though He was man who, in accord with nature, was born of a human being."
-Saint Ambrose of Milan; Bishop, Father, and Doctor of the Church; Mystery of the Lord's Incarnation, 6:54; 382 AD

"Though coming in the form of man, yet not in every thing is He subject to the laws of man's nature; for while His being born of a woman tells of human nature; virginity becoming capable of childbirth betokens something above man. Of Him then His mother's burden was light, the birth immaculate, the delivery without pain, the nativity without defilement, neither beginning from wanton desire, nor brought to pass with sorrow. For as she who by her guilt engrafted death into our nature, was condemned to bring forth in trouble, it was meet that she who brought life into the world should accomplish her delivery with joy."
St Gregory of Nyssa, Homily on the Nativity 388 AD

"This is the virgin who conceived in her womb and as a virgin bore a son."
-Pope Siricius, 390 AD

"Who is this gate (Ezekiel 44:1-4), if not Mary? Is it not closed because she is a virgin? Mary is the gate through which Christ entered this world, when He was brought forth in the virginal birth and the manner of His birth did not break the seals of virginity.... There is a gate of the womb, although it is not always closed; indeed only one was able to remain closed, that through which the One born of the Virgin came forth without the loss of genital intactness"
-Saint Ambrose of Milan; Bishop, Father, and Doctor of the Church; The Consecration of a Virgin and the Perpetual Virginity of Mary, 8:52; c. 391 AD

"It is not right that He who came to heal corruption should by His advent violate integrity"
-St. Augustine, Sermon 189:2

"She brought Him forth without the loss of virginity even as she conceived Him without its loss.… in the Lord Jesus Christ born from the womb of the Virgin, because His birth was miraculous, nature was not for that reason different from ours. For He who is true God, is likewise true man, and there is no falsehood in this unity, as long as there are alternately the lowliness of man and the exaltedness of the Divinity. For, just as God is not changed by His compassion, so man is not destroyed by His dignity. For each nature does what is proper to it with the mutual participation of the other; the Word clearly effecting what belongs to the Word, and the flesh performing what belongs to the flesh."
-Pope Saint Leo the Great, Father and Doctor of the Church, Tome to Flavian
"Jesus Christ, true God and the same true man proceeded, that is, was born, while his mother's virginity remained intact: for the Virgin remained such in bearing him just as she had in conceiving him"
-Pope Pelagius I, Letter to King Childebert I

"O mystery! I see miracles, and I proclaim the Godhead: I perceive sufferings, and I do not deny the humanity. For Emmanuel opened the doors of nature as man, but as God did not break through the bars of virginity"
-Saint Proclus of Constantinople, Bishop and Father of the Church, Oratio 1, no. 10; PG 65:692A (d. 447 AD)

“How can death claim as its prey this truly blessed one, who listened to God's word in humility, and was filled with the Spirit, conceiving the Father's gift through the archangel, bearing without concupiscence or the co-operation of man the Person of the Divine Word, who fills all things, bringing Him forth without the pains of childbirth, being wholly united to God?... It was fitting that the body of her, who preserved her virginity intact in childbirth, should be kept from corruption even after death. She who nursed her Creator as an infant at her breast, had a right to be in the divine tabernacles.... It was fitting that she who saw her Son die on the cross, and received in her heart the sword of pain which she had not felt in childbirth, should gaze upon Him seated next to the Father.”
-Saint John Damascene; Bishop, Father, and Doctor of the Church; Second Homily on the Dormition of the Mother of God

“So far as He was born of woman, His birth was in accordance with the laws of parturition, while so far as He had no father, His birth was above the nature of generation: and in that it was at the usual time (for He was born on the completion of the ninth month when the tenth was just beginning), His birth was in accordance with the laws of parturition, while in that it was painless it was above the laws of generation. For, as pleasure did not precede it, pain did not follow it, according to the prophet who says, Before she travailed, she brought forth, and again, before her pain came she was delivered of a man-child (Isaiah 66:7). The Son of God incarnate, therefore, was born of her, not a divinely-inspired man but God incarnate.... But just as He who was conceived kept her who conceived still virgin, in like manner also He who was born preserved her virginity intact, only passing through her and keeping her closed (Ezekiel 44:2).”
-Saint John Damascene; Bishop, Father, and Doctor of the Church; On the Orthodox Faith, IV, 14

From the Angelic Doctor Saint Thomas Aquinas

The following is taken from the Summa Theologiae, Tertia Pars, Q. 28, a. 2

On the contrary, In a sermon of the Council of Ephesus (P. III, Cap. ix) it is said: “After giving birth, nature knows not a virgin: but grace enhances her fruitfulness, and effects her motherhood, while in no way does it injure her virginity.” Therefore Christ's Mother was a virgin also in giving birth to Him.

I answer that, Without any doubt whatever we must assert that the Mother of Christ was a virgin even in His Birth: for the prophet says not only: "Behold a virgin shall conceive," but adds: "and shall bear a son." This indeed was befitting for three reasons. First, because this was in keeping with a property of Him whose Birth is in question, for He is the Word of God. For the word is not only conceived in the mind without corruption, but also proceeds from the mind without corruption. Wherefore in order to show that body to be the body of the very Word of God, it was fitting that it should be born of a virgin incorrupt. Whence in the sermon of the Council of Ephesus (quoted above) we read: "Whosoever brings forth mere flesh, ceases to be a virgin. But since she gave birth to the Word made flesh, God safeguarded her virginity so as to manifest His Word, by which Word He thus manifested Himself: for neither does our word, when brought forth, corrupt the mind; nor does God, the substantial Word, deigning to be born, destroy virginity."

Secondly, this is fitting as regards the effect of Christ's Incarnation: since He came for this purpose, that He might take away our corruption. Wherefore it is unfitting that in His Birth He should corrupt His Mother's virginity. Thus Augustine says in a sermon on the Nativity of Our Lord: "It was not right that He who came to heal corruption, should by His advent violate integrity."

Thirdly, it was fitting that He Who commanded us to honor our father and mother should not in His Birth lessen the honor due to His Mother.

Reply to Objection 1. Ambrose says this in expounding the evangelist's quotation from the Law: "Every male opening the womb shall be called holy to the Lord." This, says Bede, "is said in regard to the wonted manner of birth; not that we are to believe that our Lord in coming forth violated the abode of her sacred womb, which His entrance therein had hallowed." Wherefore the opening here spoken of does not imply the unlocking of the enclosure of virginal purity; but the mere coming forth of the infant from the maternal womb.

Reply to Objection 2. Christ wished so to show the reality of His body, as to manifest His Godhead at the same time. For this reason He mingled wondrous with lowly things. Wherefore, to show that His body was real, He was born of a woman. But in order to manifest His Godhead, He was born of a virgin, for "such a Birth befits a God," as Ambrose says in the Christmas hymn.

Reply to Objection 3. Some have held that Christ, in His Birth, assumed the gift of "subtlety," when He came forth from the closed womb of a virgin; and that He assumed the gift of "agility" when with dry feet He walked on the sea. But this is not consistent with what has been decided above (Article 14). For these gifts of a glorified body result from an overflow of the soul's glory on to the body, as we shall explain further on, in treating of glorified bodies (XP, 82): and it has been said above (13, 3, ad 1; 16, 1, ad 2) that before His Passion Christ "allowed His flesh to do and to suffer what was proper to it" (Damascene, De Fide Orth. iii): nor was there such an overflow of glory from His soul on to His body.

We must therefore say that all these things took place miraculously by Divine power. Whence Augustine says (Sup. Joan. Tract. 121): "To the substance of a body in which was the Godhead closed doors were no obstacle. For truly He had power to enter in by doors not open, in Whose Birth His Mother's virginity remained inviolate." And Dionysius says in an epistle (Ad Caium iv) that "Christ excelled man in doing that which is proper to man: this is shown in His supernatural conception, of a virgin, and in the unstable waters bearing the weight of earthly feet."

The following is taken from the Summa Theologiae, Tertia Pars, Q. 35, a. 6

On the contrary, Augustine says (Serm. de Nativ. [Supposititious), addressing himself to the Virgin-Mother: "In conceiving thou wast all pure, in giving birth thou wast without pain."

I answer that, The pains of childbirth are caused by the infant opening the passage from the womb. Now it has been said above (28, 2, Replies to objections), that Christ came forth from the closed womb of His Mother, and, consequently, without opening the passage. Consequently there was no pain in that birth, as neither was there any corruption; on the contrary, there was much joy therein for that God-Man "was born into the world," according to Is. 35:1,2: "Like the lily, it shall bud forth and blossom, and shall rejoice with joy and praise."

Reply to Objection 1. The pains of childbirth in the woman follow from the mingling of the sexes. Wherefore (Genesis 3:16) after the words, "in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children," the following are added: "and thou shalt be under thy husband's power." But, as Augustine says (Serm. de Assumpt. B. Virg., [Supposititious), from this sentence we must exclude the Virgin-Mother of God; who, "because she conceived Christ without the defilement of sin, and without the stain of sexual mingling, therefore did she bring Him forth without pain, without violation of her virginal integrity, without detriment to the purity of her maidenhood." Christ, indeed, suffered death, but through His own spontaneous desire, in order to atone for us, not as a necessary result of that sentence, for He was not a debtor unto death.

Reply to Objection 2. As "by His death" Christ "destroyed our death" [Preface of the Mass in Paschal-time, so by His pains He freed us from our pains; and so He wished to die a painful death. But the mother's pains in childbirth did not concern Christ, who came to atone for our sins. And therefore there was no need for His Mother to suffer in giving birth.

Reply to Objection 3. We are told (Luke 2:7) that the Blessed Virgin herself "wrapped up in swaddling clothes" the Child whom she had brought forth, "and laid Him in a manger." Consequently the narrative of this book, which is apocryphal, is untrue. Wherefore Jerome says (Adv. Helvid. iv): "No midwife was there, no officious women interfered. She was both mother and midwife. 'With swaddling clothes,' says he, 'she wrapped up the child, and laid Him in a manger.'" These words prove the falseness of the apocryphal ravings.

From the Roman Catechism (edited by Saint Charles Borromeo)

“But as the Conception itself transcends the order of nature, so also the birth of our Lord presents to our contemplation nothing but what is divine.  Besides, what is admirable beyond the power of thoughts or words to express, He is born of His Mother without any diminution of her maternal virginity, just as He afterwards went forth from the sepulchre while it was closed and sealed, and entered the room in which His disciples were assembled, the doors being shut; or, not to depart from every day examples, just as the rays of the sun penetrate without breaking or injuring in the least the solid substance of glass, so after a like but more exalted manner did Jesus Christ come forth from His mother's womb without injury to her maternal virginity. This immaculate and perpetual virginity forms, therefore, the just theme of our eulogy. Such was the work of the Holy Ghost, who at the Conception and birth of the Son so favoured the Virgin Mother as to impart to her fecundity while preserving inviolate her perpetual virginity.”

Early Christian Apocryphal Writings

"And after two months of days while Joseph was in his house, and Mary his wife, but both alone. It came to pass that when they were alone that Mary straight-way looked with her eyes and saw a small babe, and she was astonished. And after she had been astonished, her womb was found as formerly before she had conceived. And when her husband Joseph said unto her: "What has astonished thee?" his eyes were opened and he saw the infant and praised God, because into his portion God had come. And a voice came to them: "Tell this vision to no one." And the story regarding the infant was noised broad in Bethlehem. Some said: "The Virgin Mary hath borne a child, before she was married two months." And many said: "She has not borne a child, nor has a midwife gone up (to her), nor have we heard the cries of (labour) pains.""
-“Ascension of Isaiah” 11:7-14; c. 70 AD

"So the Virgin became a mother with great mercies. And she labored and bore the Son, but without pain, because it did not occur without purpose. And she did not seek a midwife, because he caused her to give life. She bore as a strong man, with will"
-“Odes of Solomon” 19:6-10; c. 80 AD

From Private Revelation

“I saw the radiance round the Blessed Virgin ever growing greater.  The light of the lamps which Joseph had lit was no longer visible.  Our Lady knelt on her rug in an ample ungirt robe spread out round her, her face turned toward the east.  At midnight she was wrapt in an ecstasy of prayer.  I as her lifted from the earth, so that I saw the ground beneath her.  Her hands were crossed on her breast.  The radiance about her increased; everything, even things without life, were in a joyful inner motion, the stones of the roof, of the walls, and of the floor of the cave became as it were alive in the light.  Then I no lager saw the roof of the cave; a pathway of light opened above Mary, rising with every-increasing glory towards the height of heaven.  In this pathway of light there was a wonderful movement of glories interpenetrating each other, and, as they approached, appearing more clearly in the form of choirs of heavenly spirits.  Meanwhile the Blessed Virgin, borne up in ecstasy, was now gazing downwards, adoring her God, whose Mother she had become and who lay on the earth before her in the form of a helpless new-born child.  I saw our Redeemer as a tiny child, shining with a light that overpowered all the surrounding radiance, and lying on the carpet at the Blessed Virgin’s knees.  It seemed to me as if He were at first quite small and then grew before my eyes.  But the movement of the intense radiance was such that I cannot say for certain how I saw it.”
-Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary (a transcription of her visions)

Saturday, October 1, 2011


The Infallible Teaching of the Catholic Church

“The souls of those who die in mortal sin or with original sin only… immediately descend into Hell, yet to be punished with different punishments.”

-Pope Gregory X, Second Council of Lyons, 1274, ex cathedra

“...the souls of those who depart this life in actual mortal sin, or in original sin alone, go down straightaway to hell to be punished, but with unequal pains.”

-Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Laetentur Caeli, July 6, 1439

"The Roman Church teaches... that the souls of those who depart in mortal sin or with only original sin descend immediately to hell, nevertheless to be punished with different punishments and in disparate locations..."

-Pope John XXII, Nequaquam Sine Dolore, 1321 AD

Further Authoritative Teaching of the Church

"Baptism is given for the remission of sins; and according to the usage of the Church, Baptism is given even to infants. And, indeed, if there were nothing in infants that required the remission of sins and nothing in them pertinent to forgiveness, the grace of Baptism would be superfluous."

-Origen, Homily on Leviticus 8:3 -AD 244

"But in respect to the case of infants, which you say ought not to be Baptized within the second or third day after their birth, and that the law of ancient circumcision should be regarded, so that you think one who is just born should not be Baptized and sanctified within the eighth day ....And therefore, dearest brother, this was our opinion in council, that by us no one ought to be hindered from Baptism ...we think is to be even more observed in respect of infants and newly-born persons."

-Saint Cyprian, Epistle 58, To Fides [54] -- AD 251

"We do Baptize infants, although they are not guilty of any [personal] sins."

-Saint John Chrysostom, Father and Doctor of the Church, Ad Neophytos -- AD 388

"Unless a man be born again through water and the Holy Spirit he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. No one is expected: not the infant; not the one prevented by necessity."

–Saint Ambrose of Milan, Father and Doctor of the Church (Abraham 2,11:79 -- AD 387)

"Be it so, some will say, in the case of those who ask for Baptism; what have you to say about those who are still children and conscious neither of the loss nor of grace? Are we to Baptize them too? Certainly, if any danger presses. For it is better that they should be unconsciously sanctified than that they should depart unsealed and uninitiated."

-Saint Gregory Nazianzus, Father and Doctor of the Church, Oration on Holy Baptism, 40:28 -- AD 381

“It will happen, I believe . . . that those last mentioned [infants dying without baptism] will neither be admitted by the just judge to the glory of Heaven nor condemned to suffer punishment, since, though unsealed [by baptism], they are not wicked. . . . For from the fact that one does not merit punishment it does not follow that one is worthy of being honored, any more than it follows that one who is not worthy of a certain honor deserves on that account to be punished.”

-Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, Father and Doctor of the Church, Oratation, xl, 23

"Likewise, whoever says that those children who depart out of this life without partaking of that Sacrament (Baptism) are alive in Christ, certainly contradicts the apostolic declaration and condemns the universal Church, in which it is the practice to loose no time and run in haste to administer Baptism to infant children, because it is believed as an indubitable truth, that otherwise they cannot be made alive in Christ."

-Saint Augustine, Father and Doctor of the Church, Epistle 167, AD 415

"If you want to be a Catholic do no believe, do no say, and do not teach that infants carried off by death before they are baptized can attain the remission of original sin."

-Saint Augustine, Father, Doctor, and Bishop of the Church, On the Soul and its Origin Book II

“The idea that infants can be granted the rewards of eternal life without even the grace of baptism is utterly foolish.”

-Pope Saint Innocent I, Letter to the Bishops of the Church, 417 AD

"Likewise it has been decided that whoever says that infants fresh from their mother's wombs should not be Baptized ...let him be anathema."

-Council of Carthage, Canon 2, AD 418

"[Those dying with only original sin on their souls will suffer] no other pain, whether from material fire or from the worm of conscience, except the pain of being deprived forever of the vision of God."

-Pope Innocent III (1160-1216), Corp. Juris, Decret. l. III, tit. xlii, c. iii -- Majores

“By Baptism a man is ordained to the Eucharist, and therefore from the fact of children being baptized, they are destined by the Church to the Eucharist; and just as they believe through the Church's faith, so they desire the Eucharist through the Church's intention, and, as a result, receive its reality. But they are not disposed for Baptism by any previous sacrament, and consequently before receiving Baptism, in no way have they Baptism in desire; but adults alone have: consequently, they cannot have the reality of the sacrament without receiving the sacrament itself.”
-Saint Thomas Aquinas, ST III Q. 73 a. 3

“Regarding children, indeed, because of danger of death, which can often take place, since no help can be brought to them by another remedy than through the sacrament of baptism, through which they are snatched from the domination of the devil and adopted among the sons of God, [the sacrosanct Roman Church] advises that holy baptism ought not to be deferred for forty or eighty days, ... but it should be conferred as soon as it can be done conveniently…”
-Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Cantate Domino, February 4, 1442

“If any one denies, that infants, newly born from their mothers' wombs, even though they be sprung from baptized parents, are to be baptized; or says that they are baptized indeed for the remission of sins, but that they derive nothing of original sin from Adam, which has need of being expiated by the laver of regeneration for the obtaining life everlasting,--whence it follows as a consequence, that in them the form of baptism, for the remission of sins, is understood to be not true, but false, --let him be anathema. For that which the apostle has said, By one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon all men in whom all have sinned, is not to be understood otherwise than as the Catholic Church spread everywhere hath always understood it. For, by reason of this rule of faith, from a tradition of the apostles, even infants, who could not as yet commit any sin of themselves, are for this cause truly baptized for the remission of sins, that in them that may be cleansed away by regeneration, which they have contracted by generation. For, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

-Council of Trent, Session 5, Part 4

"The faithful are earnestly to be exhorted to take care that their children be brought to the church, as soon as it can be done with safety, to receive solemn Baptism. Since infant children have no other means of salvation except Baptism, we may easily understand how grievously those persons sin who permit them to remain without the grace of the Sacrament longer than necessity may require, particularly at an age so tender as to be exposed to numberless dangers of death."

-Catechism of the Council of Trent; Issued by Pope Saint Pius V in 1547 AD

“Noticing that frequently by various Apostolic Constitutions the audacity and daring of most profligate men, who know no restraint, of sinning with license against the commandment "do not kill" was repressed; We who are placed by the Lord in the supreme throne of justice, being counseled by a most just reason, are in part renewing old laws and in part extending them in order to restrain with just punishment the monstrous and atrocious brutality of those who have no fear to kill most cruelly fetuses still hiding in the maternal viscera. Who will not detest such an abhorrent and evil act, by which are lost not only the bodies but also the SOULS?”

-Pope Sixtus V, Apostolic Constitution Effraenatam (against abortionists), 29 October 1588

“The common teaching of the scholastic theologians is the within the earth there are four inner chambers: one for the damned, another for those being purged of sin, a third for those infants who have died without receiving Baptism, and a fourth which is now empty but once held those just men who died before the passion of Christ.”

-Saint Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621), Doctor of the Church

“The doctrine which rejects as a Pelagian fable that place of the lower regions (which the faithful generally designate by the name of limbo of the children) in which the souls of those departing with the sole guilt of original sin are punished with the punishment of the condemned, exclusive of the punishment of fire… is false, rash, injurious to Catholic schools.”

-Pope Pius VI, Auctorem Fidei, August 28, 1794

"Q. #100 - Where do infants go who die without Baptism?

A. - Infants who die without Baptism go to Limbo where they do not enjoy the sight of God, but also do no suffer. This is because having original sin, and it alone, they do not merit heaven, but neither do they merit purgatory or hell."
-Catechism of Pope Saint Pius X, first published in 1910 AD

"If what We have said up to now deals with the protection and the care of natural life, it should hold all the more in regard to the supernatural life which the newly born infant receives with Baptism. In the present economy there is no other way of communicating this life to the child who has not yet the use of reason. But, nevertheless, the state of grace at the moment of death is absolutely necessary for salvation. Without it, it is not possible to attain supernatural happiness, the beatific vision of God. An act of love can suffice for an adult to obtain sanctifying grace and supply for the absence of Baptism; for the unborn child or for the newly born, this way is not open..."

-Pope Pius XII, October 29 1951, Congress of the Italian Catholic Association of Midwives

" The Church has thus shown by her teaching and practice that she knows no other way apart from Baptism for ensuring children's entry into eternal happiness. Accordingly, she takes care not to neglect the mission that the Lord has given her of providing rebirth "of water and the Spirit" for all those who can be baptized."

-Instruction on Infant Baptism, The Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 20 October 1980, with approval of Pope John Paul II

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

On Mortification of the Eyes

These quotes are taken from the work: The True Spouse of Jesus Christ, by Saint Alphonsus Ligouri.  Those not otherwise indicated are from Saint Alphonsus himself.  They are arranged in order that they appear in the work.

Because of the difficult nature of these quotations this preface has been added to help their being read with all faith and trust that a faithful Catholic should have in them.

Saint Alphonsus was the Bishop of Saint Agatha of the Goths, Founder of the Redemptorist Order, and was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church within less than a century after his death (astonishingly fast compared to the other great doctors).  He was in fact specifically proclaimed the Doctor of Moral Theology.

“No ecclesiastical writer has ever received more direct, positive and formal approbation than that accorded by the Holy See to the moral writings of this Doctor of the Church. While still alive, four Popes expressed their admiration of his prudent doctrine. (…) In 1831, Pope Gregory XVI enhanced this approbation when he decreed that professors of theology could safely teach any opinion of St. Alphonsus, and that confessors, without weighting reasons, could safely follow him – simply on the fact that St. Alphonsus said so. Each of the thirteen predecessors of Pius XII in the chair of Peter has in some way or another recommended, approved or exalted the ‘Moral Theology’ of the Patron of confessors. In his Apostolic Brief of April 26, 1950, Pope Pius XII alludes to some of them. «By his learned writings, especially his ‘Moral Theology,’ he dissipated the darkness of error with which Jansenists and unbelievers have cloaked the world» (Blessed Pius IX). He was «the most illustrious and benign of moralists» (Leo XIII). «He illumined obscurity, made doubts plain and clear, and in the maze of over-strict and over-lax theological opinions, he hewed a path which directors of souls can tread in safety» (Blessed Pius IX). To this chorus of pontifical voices, Pope Pius XII felt, he said, constrained to add his own, declaring St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori the celestial Patron of both confessors and moral theologians. For, as the Cardinals and bishops of Spain and Austria declared in their petition for his Doctorate, «the Moral Theology of St. Alphonsus has given back to the Sacred Tribunal of Penance the mercy and the kindness of the Sacred Heart.»” -Homoletic and Pastoral Review: New Patron of Confessors, St. Alphonsus de Liguori, Vol. LI, No. 6, March 1951, Fr. Galvin J. J. C.SS.R., 1951, p. 511

Though this book was written for those in religious life the preface of English edition of The True Spouse of Jesus Christ says the following: “The saint himself tells us that his book is suitable not only to nuns, but also to all members of the religious state, in that which refers to the observance of the vows, regular discipline, and the perfection of their state. As for the practice of Christian virtues, the work will be found highly useful even for seculars.”

“Almost all our rebellious passions spring from unguarded looks; for, generally speaking, it is by the sight that all inordinate affections and desires are excited. Hence, holy Job made a covenant with his eyes, that he would not so much as think upon a virgin. (Job 31:1) Why did he say that he would not so much as think upon a virgin? Should he not have said that he made a covenant with his eyes not to look at a virgin? No; he very properly said that he would not think upon a virgin; because thoughts are so connected with looks, that the former cannot be separated from the latter, and therefore, to escape the molestation of evil imaginations, he resolved never to fix his eyes on a woman.”

"The thought follows the look; delight comes after the thought; and consent after delight." 
-Saint Augustine – Bishop of Hippo, Father, and Doctor of the Church

“What is not seen is not desired, and to the desire succeeds the consent.”
-Saint Francis de Sales, Bishop of Geneva and Doctor of the Church

“If Eve had not looked at the forbidden apple, she should not have fallen; but because she saw that it was good to eat, and fair to the eyes, and beautiful to behold, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat. (Gen 3:6) The devil first tempts us to look, then to desire, and afterwards to consent.”

“A deliberate glance at a person of a different sex often enkindles an infernal spark, which consumes the soul.”

“Through the eyes the deadly arrows of love enters." 
-Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Father and Doctor of the Church, De modo bate viv. s. 23.

 “The first dart that wounds and frequently robs chaste souls of life finds admission through the eyes. By them David, the beloved of God, fell. By them was Solomon, once the inspired of the Holy Ghost, drawn into the greatest abominations. Oh! how many are lost by indulging their sight! The eyes must be carefully guarded by all who expect not to be obliged to join in the lamentation of Jeremiah: My eye hath wasted my soul (Lamentations 3:51).”

The eyes, because they draw us to sin, must be depressed. He that looks at a dangerous object begins to will what he wills not."
-Pope Saint Gregory the Great, Father and Doctor of the Church, Mor. J. 21, c. 2.

“Gaze not about, says the Holy Ghost, upon anothers beauty; . . . hereby lust is enkindled as a fire.”
-Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 9:8-9

“To avoid the sight of dangerous objects, the saints were accustomed to keep their eyes almost continually fixed on the earth, and to abstain even from looking at innocent objects. After being a novice for a year, St. Bernard could not tell whether his cell was vaulted.…St. Peter of Alcantara kept his eyes constantly cast down, so that he did not know the brothers with whom he conversed….The saints were particularly cautious not to look at persons of a different sex. St. Hugh, bishop, when compelled to speak with women, never looked at them in the face.  St. Clare would never fix her eyes on the face of a man. She was greatly afflicted because, when raising her eyes at the elevation to see the consecrated host, she once involuntarily saw the countenance of the priest. St. Aloysius never looked at his own mother in the face.”

“St. Gregory states (Dialogues: Book 2, Ch.2) that the temptation, to conquer which St. Benedict rolled himself in thorns, arose from one incautious glance at a woman.”

“St. Jerome, (Ep. ad Eustoch) though living in a cave at Bethlehem, in continual prayer and macerations of the flesh, was terribly molested by the remembrance of ladies whom he had long before seen in Rome. Why should not similar molestations be the lot of the religious who wilfully and without reserve fixes her eyes on persons of a different sex?”

"It is not the seeing of objects so much as the fixing of our eyes upon them that proves most pernicious."
-Saint Francis de Sales, Bishop of Geneva and Doctor of the Church

"If, our eyes should by chance fall upon others, let us take care never to fix them upon any one." 
-Saint Augustine – Bishop of Hippo, Father, and Doctor of the Church; Reg. ad serv. D. n. 6.

"It is not lawful to behold what it is not lawful to covet." 
-Pope Saint Gregory the Great, Father and Doctor of the Church

The evil thought that proceeds from looks, though it should be rejected, never fails to leave a stain upon the soul. Brother Roger, a Franciscan of singular purity, being once asked why he was so reserved in his intercourse with women, replied, that when men avoid the occasions of sin, God preserves them; but when they expose themselves to danger, they are justly abandoned by the Lord, and easily fall into some grievous transgressions.”

"Where Christ is, there modesty is found." 
-Pope Saint Gregory the Great, Father and Doctor of the Church, Ep. ad Dioclem.

“I do not mean to say that the eyes should never be raised or never fixed on any object. No; but they ought to be directed only to what inspires devotion, to sacred images, and to the beauty of creation, which elevate the soul to the contemplation of the divinity.”

“St. Francis of Assisi once said to his companion, that he was going out to preach. After walking through the town, with his eyes fixed on the ground, he returned to the convent. His companion asked him when he would preach the sermon. We have, replied the saint, by the modesty of our looks, given an excellent instruction to all who saw us.”

“It is related of St. Aloysius, that when he walked through Rome the students would stand in the streets to observe and admire his great modesty.”

"When Innocent II visited St. Bernard at Clairvaux, such was the exterior modesty of the saint and of his monks, that the Pope and his cardinals were moved to tears of devotion.”

“Surius relates a very extraordinary fact of St. Lucian, a monk and martyr. By his modesty he induced so many pagans to embrace the faith, that the Emperor Maximian fearing that he should be converted to Christianity by the appearance of the saint, would not allow the holy man to be brought within his view, but spoke to him from behind a screen.”

That our Redeemer was the first who taught, by his example, modesty of the eyes, may, as a learned author remarks, be inferred from the holy evangelists, who say that on some occasion he raised his eyes. And he, lifting up his eyes on his disciples (Luke 6:20) When Jesus therefore had lifted up his eyes. (John 6:5) From these passages we may conclude that the Redeemer ordinarily kept his eyes cast down. Hence the Apostle, praising the modesty of the Saviour, says: I beseech you, by the mildness and modesty of Christ. (2 Cor. 10:1)”

“If, my children, we desire to raise the soul towards heaven, let us direct the eyes towards the earth.”
-Saint Basil the Great - Bishop of Caesarea, Father, and Doctor of the Church,  Serm. de Ascesi.

See also this post on Modesty.