“Mondays with Mary” – ‘Mary, Joseph’s Virginal Spouse’

Since this upcoming Wednesday is the optional memorial of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, the Doctor of Catechesis and Thursday is the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I found it fitting to give you some catechesis from St. Cyril of Jerusalem talking about Mary as St. Joseph’s Virginal Spouse. The Catholic Church declared the doctrine known as the Mary’s Perpetual Virginity solemn in 649 A.D by Pope St. Martin I at the Lateran Synod.

The Perpetual Virgin dogma of the Blessed Virgin Mary professes that She was a virgin before the birth of Christ (ante partum), during the birth of Christ (in partu), and after the birth of Christ (post partum). This is a very important teaching of the Catholic Church in its Marian Theology. Even the Protestant Reformers such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, and Ulrich Zwingli believed in Mary’s Perpetual Virginity.

Now let us turn to the words of St. Cyril of Jerusalem who speaks with elegance on Mary’s virginity –

“Let us reject those who say that the Savior’s birth was the accomplishment of a man and a woman; those who dare to say that he was born of Joseph and Mary, solely because it was written” ‘And he took [her as] his wife’ (Mt 1:24). Let us remember Jacob, who before taking Rachel, said to Laban: ‘Give me my wife’ (Gen 29:21). Just as she was called Jacob’s wife before the marriage celebration solely because promises had been exchanged, so also Mary was called Joseph’s wife, because she was betrothed.

Sassoferrato - Virgin Mother

Note how precise the Gospel is when it says: ‘In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God, to a town of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph’ (Lk 1:26-27), and so forth. Again, when the census was taken and Joseph had to enroll himself, what does Scripture say? ‘Then Joseph went up from Galilee also, to register together with Mary, his betrothed spouse, who was with child’ (Lk 2:4-5). And even though Mary was with child, it does not say, ‘his wife’, but his ‘betrothed spouse”. Indeed, God – says Paul – sent his Son, not born of a man and a woman, but of a woman (cf. Gal 4:4) only, that is, of a virgin. We have shown that a virgin is called a woman. For from a Virgin was born the One who makes souls virgins.

You marvel at what has happened. Did she not also marvel who gave him birth, seeing that she said to Gabriel: ‘How will this happen since I do not know man?’ (Lk 1:34). But he answered: ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow; hence, the holy Child to be born will be Son of God (Lk 1:35).

Pure and spotless is this birth. For where the Holy Spirit breathes, all pollution is taken away, so that the human birth of the Only-begotten from the Virgin is undefiled.

If, then, the heretics speak against the truth, the Holy Spirit himself will convict them; against them will rise the anger of the overshadowing power of the Most High and, in the Day of Judgment, Gabriel will rise up against them with severity; the manger that held the Lord will reprove them. The shepherds who received the glad tidings, the host of angels who sang praises and hymns saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to men of good will’ (Lk 2:13-14), the temple into which he was brought after forty days, the pair of turtle doves offered for him, Simeon who took him in his arms and the prophetess Anna who was present there: they will all bear witness against the heretics (Catecheses 12, 31-32).

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