Orthodox Church of the Mother of God

Joy of all the Sorrowful - Mays Landing, NJ (f. 1966)

Orthodox Veneration of the Mother of God

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Attempts of Jews and Heretics to Dishonor the Ever-Virginity of Mary.

THE JEWISH SLANDERERS soon became convinced that it was almost impossible to dishonor the Mother of testis, and on the basis of the information which they themselves possessed it was much easier to prove Her praiseworthy life. Therefore, they abandoned this slander of theirs, which had already been taken up by the pagans (Origen, Against Celsus, I), and strove to prove at least that Mary was not a virgin when She gave birth to Christ. They even said that the prophecies concerning the birth-giving of the Messiah by a virgin had never existed, and that therefore it was entirely in vain that Christians thought to exalt Jesus by the fact that a prophecy was supposedly being fulfilled in Him.

Jewish translators were found (Aquila, Symachus, Theodotion) who made new translations of the Old Testament into Greek and in these translated the well-known prophecy of Isaiah (Is.7:14) thus: “Behold, a young woman will conceive.” They affirmed that the Hebrew word Aalma signifiedyoung woman” and not “virgin,” as stood in the sacred translation of the Seventy Translators [Septuagint], where this passage had been translated “Behold, a virgin shall conceive.”

By this new translation they wished to prove that Christians, on the basis of an incorrect translation of the word Aalma, thought to ascribe to Mary something completely impossible - a birth-giving without a man, while in actuality the birth of Christ was not in the least different from other human births.

However, the evil intention of the new translators was clearly revealed because by a comparison of various passages in the Bible it became clear that the word Aalma signified precisely “virgin.” And indeed, not only the Jews, but even the pagans, on the basis of their own traditions and various prophecies, expected the Redeemer of the world to be born of a Virgin. The Gospels clearly stated that the Lord Jesus had been born of a Virgin.

How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? asked Mary, Who had given a vow of virginity, of the Archangel Gabriel, who had informed Her of the birth of Christ.

And the Angel replied: The Holy Spirit shall come upon Thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow Thee; wherefore also that which is to be born shall be holy, and shall be called the Son of God (Luke 1:34-35).

Later the Angel appeared also to righteous Joseph, who had wished to put away Mary from his house, seeing that She had conceived without entering into conjugal cohabitation with him. To Joseph the Archangel Gabriel said: Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is begotten in Her is of the Holy Spirit, and reminded him of the prophecy of Isaiah that a virgin would conceive (Matt. 1:18-25).

The rod of Aaron that budded, the rock tom away from the mountain without hands, seen by Nebuchadnezzar in a dream and interpreted by the Prophet Daniel, the closed gate seen by the Prophet Ezekiel, and much else in the Old Testament, prefigured the birth-giving of the Virgin. Just as Adam had been created by the Word of God from the un-worked and virgin earth, so also the Word of God created flesh for himself from a virgin womb when the Son of God became the new Adam so as to correct the fall into sin of the first Adam (St. Ireneaus of Lyons, book III).

The seedless birth of Christ can and could be denied only by those who deny the Gospel, whereas the Church of Christ from of old confesses Christ “incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary.” But the birth of God from the Ever-Virgin was a stumbling-stone for those who wished to call themselves Christians but did not wish to humble themselves in mind and be zealous for purity of life. The pure life of Mary was a reproach for those who were impure also in their thoughts. So as to show themselves Christians, they did not dare to deny that Christ was born of a Virgin, but they began to affirm that Mary remained a Virgin only “until She brought forth Her first-born son, Jesus” (Matt. 1:25).

“After the birth of Jesus,” said the false teacher Helvidius in the 4th century, and likewise many others before and after him, “Mary entered into conjugal life with Joseph and had from him children, who are called in the Gospels the brothers and sisters of Christ.” But the word “until” does not signify that Mary remained a virgin only until a certain time. The word “until” and words similar to it often signify eternity. In the Sacred Scripture it is said of Christ: “In His days shall shine forth righteousness and an abundance of peace, until the moon be taken away” (Ps., 71:7), but this does not mean that when there shall no longer be a moon at the end of the world, God’s righteousness shall no longer be; precisely then, rather, will it triumph. And what does it mean when it says: “For He must reign, until He hath put all enemies under His feet?” (I Cor. 15:25). Is the Lord then to reign only for the time until His enemies shall be under His feet?! And David, in the fourth Psalm of the Ascents says: “As the eyes of the handmaid look unto the hands of her mistress, so do our eyes look unto the Lord our God, until He take pity on us” (Ps. 122:2). Thus, the Prophet will have his eyes toward the Lord until he obtains mercy, but having obtained it he will direct them to the earth? (Blessed Jerome, “On the Ever-Virginity of Blessed Mary.”) The Saviour in the Gospel says to the Apostles (Matt. 28:20): "Lo, I am with you always, even auto the end of the world."  Thus, after the end of the world the Lord will step away from His disciples, and then, when they shall judge the twelve tribes of Israel upon twelve thrones, they will not have the promised communion with the Lord? (Blessed Jerome, op. cit.)

It is likewise incorrect to think that the brothers and sisters of Christ were the children of His Most Holy Mother. The names of “brother” and “sister” have several distinct meanings. Signifying a certain kinship between people or their spiritual closeness, these words are used sometimes in a broader, and sometimes in a narrower sense. In any case, people are called brothers or sisters if they have a common father or mother, or only a common father or mother; or even if they have different fathers and mothers, if their parents later (having become widowed) have entered into marriage (step-brothers); or if their parents are bound by close degrees of kinship.

In the Gospel it can nowhere be seen that those who are called there the brothers of Jesus were or were considered the children of His Mother. On the contrary, it was known that James and others were the sons of Joseph, the Betrothed of Mary, who was a widower with children from his first wife. (St. Epiphanius of Cyprus, Panarion, 78.) Likewise, the sister of His Mother, Mary the wife of Cleophas, who stood with Her at the Cross of the Lord (John 19:25), also had children, who in view of such close kinship with full right could be called brothers of the Lord. That the so-called brothers and sisters of the Lord were not the children of His Mother is clearly evident from the fact that the Lord entrusted His Mother before His death to His beloved disciple John. Why should he do this if She had other children besides Him? They themselves would have taken care of Her. The sons of Joseph, the supposed father of Jesus, did not consider themselves obliged to take care of one they regarded as their stepmother, or at least did not have for Her such love as blood children have for parents, and such as the adopted John had for Her.

Thus, a careful study of Sacred Scripture reveals with complete clarity the insubstantiality of the objections against the Ever-Virginity of Mary and puts to shame those who teach differently.

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