Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Vigil of Christmas—24 December A.D. 2017
Ave Maria!

Please pray for Alfie Evans, 16 Months old ,
another hostage of socialized medicine in Britain.


Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English

Romans i: 1-6

    Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,  Which he had promised before, by his prophets, in the holy scriptures,  Concerning his Son, who was made to him of the seed of David, according to the flesh,  Who was predestinated the Son of God in power, according to the spirit of sanctification, by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead;  By whom we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith, in all nations, for his name;  Among whom are you also the called of Jesus Christ.[1]

Matthew i: 18-25

    When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child, of the Holy Ghost.  Whereupon Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing publicly to expose her, was minded to put her away privately.  But while he thought on these things, behold the angel of the Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying: Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name JESUS. For he shall save his people from their sins. 

    Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which the Lord spoke by the prophet [Isaias], saying:  “Behold a virgin shall be with child, and bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”  And Joseph rising up from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him, and took unto him his wife.  And he knew her not till she brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.[2]


“They refuse to honor the God- bearing Woman
because their Christ is only a God-bearing Man.”[3]

    Monday night I got a call from a lady I have known for about ten years and her newly married husband.  They had attended Mass (Novus Ordo, I think) that morning, and were disturbed by a reading that seemed to deny the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin.  It was the same passage we read from Saint Matthew’s Gospel this morning, but with a few more verses, and in a more “modern” translation. (There are, by the way, worse translations out there.)

    Modern Protestants and modernist Catholics use the phrases “before they came together” and “did not know her till she brought forth her firstborn son” in an effort to assert that the relationship between Mary and Joseph was intimately physical, and even to suggest that they had other children together after the birth of Jesus.  I believe I should put these passages in proper perspective.

    Roughly eleven months ago, January 23rd on the liturgical calendar, traditional Catholics celebrated a feast honoring the “espousal” or “betrothal” of Mary and Joseph.  For the Jewish people, an espousal was far more than an “engagement” as we know it.  The couple exchanged wedding vows, signed a wedding contract, and took whatever financial steps that were customary—the only thing missing from a full-blown wedding was that the bride continued to live with her family until the couple were able to establish living arrangements for their new family.

    Saint Joseph is thought to have been considerably older than Mary; likely owning his own home and attached carpentry practice—but it would take some time and effort to transform a single man’s home into one suitable for a wife and the hoped for children.  (you have to get the lumber out of the living room, and the pegs and the nails out of the kitchen cabinets!)  Linens and dishes and towels may well have been received as wedding presents, but there would still be a need to acquire domestic animals, cooking hardware, and other household necessities.  A man like Joseph might have needed time to satisfy out of town building contracts before joining his bride.  The betrothal period (usually a year or less) gave the couple the time to organize all of this.  Their marriage would become a normal marriage when they were able to consolidate their new family’s dwellings.  Their “coming together” would have been a perfectly normal and natural thing.

    Tradition has it that Saint Joseph was selected by the priests of the Temple to become Mary’s husband.  To the usual list of practical reasons why any mother should be married—including the Mother of God—Saint Jerome adds:

    First, for the sake of the genealogy of Mary, which we have obtained by that of Joseph.  Secondly, because she was thus saved from being stoned by the Jews as an adulteress.  Thirdly, that [Jesus] and His mother might have a guardian on their journey into Egypt. To these, Ignatius, the martyr of Antioch, has added a fourth reason namely, that the birth might take place unknown to the devil, who would naturally suppose that Mary had conceived by Joseph.[4]

    Today’s Gospel confirms the betrothal of Joseph and Mary, yet indicates the lack of knowledge about each other that a new couple would have about each other until they “came together.”  Mary, in her sixth or seventh month, has begun to “show.”  Joseph knew that her child could not be his, and began to think about the best way to follow the Mosaic Law without subjecting her to harm—the law prescribed death for an adulteress![5]  In His divine providence, God sent an angel to explain the exalted gift of Mary’s pregnancy to Joseph.  Joseph did the good and holy and chaste thing, and took her into his home, as was ordained by Almighty God’s priests.  Mary and Joseph’s “coming together” was entirely good and holy and chaste.  Their “coming together” had been decreed by God to protect His Son and to confuse the devil.

    Now the other thing—Matthew’s verse 25—says “he [Joseph] knew her not till she brought forth her firstborn son.”  A man “knowing” a woman can be a euphemism for him taking her intimately and physically.  But it is only a euphemism.  For the most part, we “know” someone when we understand their habits, their beliefs, and their thinking.

    Saint Matthew’s Gospel comes down to us in Greek.  The exact verb he used to indicate “knowing” in this passage is used elsewhere in the Gospels to describe cognition rather than physical contact.[6]  And cognition is what today's Gospel is all about.  Joseph was unaware of Mary's condition until it was revealed to him.  Their marriage had been arranged, so there must have been many other things that they didn't know about each other.  Joseph would be lucky indeed if he came to know all there was to know about Mary by the time Jesus was born!

    The modernists like to tempt us into thinking that the word “till” implies a change thereafter—but it does not.  “It rained until midnight on Monday” tells us nothing about the precipitation on Tuesday or any of the days after—it certainly does not declare a drought for the rest of the week or the month!

A number of biblical passages become illogical if “till” denotes a subsequent change of status (Hat-tip to Karl Keating: Keating, Karl (1988), Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on "Romanism" by "Bible Christians", Ignatius Press, ISBN 978-0-89870-177-7):

Genesis 8:7  Which [raven] went forth and did not return, till the waters were dried up upon the earth.

Odd raven—one would have expected him to return to the ark if there were no dry land on which to perch, but not if there were!

Deuteronomy 34:6 And He buried him [Moses] in the valley of the land of Moab over against Phogor: and no man hath known of his sepulchre until this present day.

Well, today is the “present day” and we still do not know where Moses is buried!

2 Kings 6:23 Therefore Michol the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.

Unfortunately, the scripture tells us nothing about the children of Saul’s daughter had after she died!

    Finally, we know that Mary and Joseph were scrupulous in observing the Mosaic Law—indeed this Gospel shows how Joseph would even put Mary away if the Law demanded it.  They obeyed the Law even in matters from which they could reasonably claim exemption—for example the ritual purification from the guilt of childbirth on the 40th day—they obeyed that Law even though there was no guilt in the birth of Jesus Christ!

    Depending upon how you interpret Deuteronomy 24, physical congress between the two would have made Mary unclean with respect to God![7]  Considering that she was the Mother of God that would be clearly intolerable.  Or, it might be possible to read the Law in such a way that it would have made Mary unclean with respect to Joseph—which still would be an awful situation.  He was her divinely appointed protector!  Again, people who placed such importance on observing the Law would not have done anything so far afoul of it—nor would they bring such penalties upon themselves.

    On the bulletin board you can read a brief passage by Msgr. Ronald A. Knox, explaining why non-Catholics belittle the Blessed Virgin—or you can read it on the church’s website.[8]  In brief, people who think little of Mary think little of God and their Son.

“They refuse to honor the God-bearing Woman
because their Christ is only a God-bearing Man.”




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