Jesus' "Brothers" and "Sisters"? No Way!! : LUSENET : Catholic : One Thread

I was recently visited by some Jehova's Witnesses. As I was trying to defend our Church as best I could, not being the most knowledgable of her apostles, they began to insult Our Lady. This enraged me, but I tried to remain calm and composed, remembering that I am called to "internalise Christ Jesus" everday (Fthr. Corapi). They said, basically that Mary should not be revered, as much as Catholics revere her, because she was not perfect. EXCUSE ME!!! They said among other things that she had OTHER CHILDREN? These men proceeded to read me Mark 6:4. I calmly said that these "brothers" scripture recalls, were his apostles. "Joseph", said one of them "there was no apostle Joseph". Also, who are his "sisters" scripture also mentions in this passage?

My wife and I think that anytime Jesus' "brothers" are metioned it is refering to you and me, or the apostles. His "sisters" I assume would refer to any women who may have been following the Master during any one time of his ministry.

The question I'm asking then, trying not to sound very ignorant is this...."DID OUR LADY EVER HAVE ANY CHILDREN, AFTER OUR LORD JESUS?"


Thank you for your time, I assume this is an easy question to answer.

-- Tyler Daniel (, January 04, 2001


No she didn't and the Scriptures show very clearly that the persons referred to as Jesus's brethern are specifically named in Scripture as being children of another Mary. Yes it's right there in black and white and they don't see it.

-- Br. Rich SFO (, January 04, 2001.

Brothers and sisters of Jesus

The Catholic Church has held from apostolic times the Perpetual Virginity of Mary to be believed by all.

The Helvidius and Jovinian heresies of the 5th century are simply restated today! Pope St. Siricius, in a letter to the Bishop of Thessalonica in 392 AD said , “For if they accept the doctrine... that Mary had a number of children,...” The Lateran council of 649 declared her perpetual virginity again. In 1555, Pope Paul IV restated this and also the council of Trent. Vatican II also uses the title “Ever virgin”

In Mk 3:331-35, Jesus clearly say’s”...For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” I don’t think he’s talking about blood relations.

The Gospels enable us to trace some of those who were called his brothers not to the Blessed Virgin but to another Mary. St. Matthew mentions by name James and Joseph (Matt 13:55). St. John, Matthew and Mark also tell us that among those present at the crucifixion were: “Mary, the mother of Jesus; Mary of Cleophas, the mother of James and Joseph; and Mary Magdalen.” In Gal 1:19 and 1Cor 9:5, Paul speaks of the blessed virgins sister’s son, James (the son of Mary of Cleophas), his cousin, or “brethren” as used by the Jews.

-- Br. Rich SFO (, January 04, 2001.

Just to clarify for Tyler, most Protestant, Evangelical and Charismatic/Pentecostal Christian denominations today also believe that Mary had other children and that she was not without sin.

There are lots of reasons, but the purpose of my post was not to re- engage that debate, but simply to inform Tyler that there are many others who share that view even though we share precious little else with Jehovah Witnesses who are not a Christian faith at all.

-- David L Bowerman (, January 04, 2001.

This post reminds me of the catholic high school I attended.

They had a motto: "If more women were like Mary, more men would be like Joseph" That would be great if more women were like Mary, but more men being like Joseph should not be hinged on more women being like Mary.

Anyway I am in agreement with David. Thank you Dave , for clarifying that Jehovah Witnesses are not Christians.

The important thing is Salvation. Heaven or Hell. Choose Jesus Christ...Heaven. Don't choose Jesus Christ.....Hell.


-- SSM (follower of Christ) (, January 05, 2001.


The other thing is to make sure you aren't using scriptures the JW brought with them. They have rewritten the Bible in their own image. Online you can view a Catholic Bible or even good Protestant ones for the New Testament, and get different (and not deliberately incorrect) interpretations than the JW.


-- Someone (, January 05, 2001.

I thank you all for your speedy and knowledgeable responses. I thank our Holy Mother everyday, for connecting me on earth with bretheren of the faith such as yourselves. You truly complement the "one true faith", which I have come to know as our (and indeed everyone's) Catholic Church. FYI - I am 24 years old and spent 21 of those years living in sin, as most of my family provided a very slack attitude towards religion. I was "brought up protestant, but never taught anything, or even taken to church. So in effect, I grew up as a person who "believed in God... or some higher power". I thank our Lord every day, for sending me my Wife 7 years ago. She was (and is) a devout Catholic, and thirsted for my conversion. Today, I no longer watch 8 hours of television a day, and devote my life to the gain of material possesions. Through her prayers and the intervention of our Blessed Mother, I (once a doubting Thomas) was brought into the light of our Lord Jesus Christ. Now I spend most of my free time, trying to learn as much as I can about our faith. I have been fortunite enough to have run across the Father John Corapi tapes, and I can follow along with him, reading from my Catechism. I recently saw him speak in Hamilton, what a blessing he is to our faith community!! I live near Peterborough, Ontario and made several pilgrimiges to a place called Marmora, a piece of farmland, whose owners have dedicated to Our Lady. The stations of the cross are set up in an orderly fashion across the entire property. It was at the tenth station, that Our Lady rewarded my wife, my sister and myself, along with countless others, when the 'miracle of the sun' occurred. Some people there could not see it, I guess she rewards those who need it most. I have not turned back since, and now realise that there is only one way to truly please God the Father, and that is to follow the teaching of our Church, the Church built on the "rock", the church St. Peter began.

Praise God for you people! Please continue to answer the questions of the people of our faith, for there are many (such as myself) that will continue to look to you (the learned of our faith) for answers we have not yet discovered, yet have existed in the TRUE teaching of the Catholic church since the time of Christ.

The Peace of the Lord Jesus be with you always,



-- Tyler (, January 05, 2001.

The Jewish people used to call there cousins there brothers and sisters. We know that Jesus did not have brothers because He gave his mother to John to take care of. In those times Mary would have been in the care of one of her sons since Joseph died, but since after Jesus died Mary had no other children Jesus put her in Johns care.

-- Chris Fox (, January 05, 2001.

What Makes Mary so holy?

Was she not born in sin, shaped in Inquitiy, come into this world speaking lies, just as you and i were?

Did not she have to recieve the Holy Spirit in her life, with the rest of the 120 in the upper room, just like everyone else?

Mary Left Jesus at the Pentecostal feast. Mary went back up with Joseph three days looking for Him. She'd been looking for Him, couldn't find. She found Him. What did she find? She found Him in the temple discussing the Word of God with the priests. And right in the front of those priests, those dignified, Mary let the curtain drop. She did exactly the thing she should not have done. And you call her God the mother of God? A mother ought to have more wisdom than her son. And she said, "Your father and I have sought You with tears for day and night. Your father and I..." Claiming that the birth wasn't supernatural, that Joseph was the father of Jesus. She denied the supernatural birth.

I respect Mary as the one that gave birth to Jesus, but Remember, God Created the Egg and Sperm in her womb, ..Mary only gave Birth, she was the carrier of Jesus, ... Cause if it was marys egg that was mixed into the seed that God sowed, then u will have God committing adultery with mary!!! and that would be wrong!! Mary only gave Birth to Christ, she had nothing to do with Creating his Body inside of her! .. that which was concived in her is of the "Holy Ghost" ..Read Matt 1

now, i ask you again! what makes mary so holy enough that i should pray to her?

No Law but Love, No Creed but Christ, No Book but the Bible

-- Dr. TaiChi (, January 05, 2001.

Dr. Chi you sound really confused. I would suggest that you study the Early Church and it's history a bit more. As the Scriptures say "How can I understand (the Scriptures) unless someone explains them to me. Learn to listen to the Church and you will understand more.

-- Br. Rich SFO (, January 05, 2001.

Br. Rich SFO:

I hope that my probing at the indeepth things of the scriptures doesnt makes you confused, God is hidden in simplicity and revealed in the same. I do believe in a 5 fold ministry that paul set in order when he wrote his letter to the ephesians, but I also believe where he said in...

GALATIANS 1:8 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

GALATIANS 1:9 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any [man] preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

So, its not just hearing and taking what the "Church" says, cause if what the Church says, dosnt line up with what the Word says, then the Church accursed. No matter how holy you can get, how good you can be, its not by your merits or good works, that God looks at, its if you take him at his Word.

-- Dr. TaiChi (, January 06, 2001.

Dr. Chi,

You wrote: "So, its not just hearing and taking what the "Church" says, cause if what the Church says, dosnt line up with what the Word says, then the Church accursed."

I would agree that if there is a conflict between Scripture and a church teaching that something is wrong but with todays convluted translations of Scripture. It is quite probable that it is in the translation of the Scriptures, especially when the Church teaching has never changed in 2000 years.

No matter how holy you can get, how good you can be, its not by your merits or good works, that God looks at, its if you take him at his Word.

That's interesting since the Scritpures themselves say that we will be awarded based on our works.

-- Br. Rich SFO (, January 06, 2001.


Dr Tai says to take God at His word: and then denies the Holy Trinity!

It seems I've read in the Scriptures that the ''Man of Perdition'', Anti-Christ is one ''Who will deny the Father and the Son.'' If the Father and Son are not One, there can be no Holy Spirit-- in fact, no Holy Trinity.

Am I applying this too strictly? Can he deny the Trinity, and NOT deny Father and Son? Is our good Doctor a man of perdition?

Dr. Tai is also a believer of Scripture, but cannot see how Mary, ''Full of Grace'', was anything but sinful. --Naturally, he only says this to contradict the Church of Jesus which has taught us from earliest times her soul was preserved by God from the stain of Original Sin. Scripture, then, must always mean only what Taiching says it does. All the others must concede to his interpretation; above all the Catholic Church. This despite the fact he arrived in this world just a number of years ago; noy like the holy Apostles, who saw Our Lord. But he denies any hubris on his own part! A humble type; very apostolic. HA!

-- eugene c. chavez (, January 06, 2001.

Amen Dr TaiChi.

-- Susan Walters (, January 12, 2001.

Dr TaiChi makes some interesting points.

It is belief in Jesus Christ as the son of God that brings salvation not works. The bible says not by works alone. It does not say that works will get you to Heaven.

Mary was an ordinary person like you or me. She lived an ordinary life until the time that she was concieved by the Holy Spirit. She is venerated far to highly in the catholic tradition. She carried Jesus, she did not die for our sins or do anything else that could not have been done by any other person of her standing.

It does not matter whether she had other children or not, though if Joseph never had sex with her he was breaking Jewish law, what matters is that she was willing to trust God.

Mary is only holy by the fact of her willingness and trust and the great blessing given to her. Her status as ever virgin makes no sense biblical, practically or morally.

-- Sharon (, January 12, 2001.

Dear Sharon,
Mary was most certainly NOT any ordinary person like you and me. If you know the Scripture, it says that the angel Gabriel called Mary ''Full of grace.''

Under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit, she herself said, ''Henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.'' You maintain all she had to do could have been done by another person of her standing.

Well, she is of the house of David. That is a distinction. She was a virgin, not just any person. The fact an angel was sent to her, and announce her vocation, shows us she was HOLY. Not just any person, certainly not me; are you holy?

It makes no sense, biblically, morally or practically? Then we can say only what makes ''sense'' to us becomes the measure of Mary's perpetual virginity? Does God, does Jesus, does GRACE have anything at all to do with her virginity? Why do you make such a superficial and altogether tainted judgment? Is it only because you can't abide the Catholic Church, where this teaching comes from? Why not admit it?

-- eugene c. chavez (, January 12, 2001.

Amen Sharon. Eugene you are spiritually blind because of your Catholic indoctrination, you should take a good long look at what Sharon has written. The catholic Mary bears little resemblence to the Mary of the Bible.

-- Matt Veld (, January 12, 2001.

Matt. --My Church is indeed where doctrine is to be learned. The true doctrine of Christian believers, as given to them from antiquity. It is by the grace of the Holy Spirit preserved from error; a grace that was lost to those Christians that were separated from the Church of the Holy Apostles, i.e., Of Christ. It was lost by the rebellion of their Protestant leaders, once Catholics themselves. If you are of European descent, you have ancestors yourself who belonged to the Catholic Church. In faith we believe, or at least hope, they are in heaven today.

The church to which Sharon Guy belongs exists to this day because Henry VIII, Roman Catholic King of England, a very staunch Catholic once, demanded the Pope grant him an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, a valid marriage with Catholic vows. He had political reasons for needing the annulment. It was not granted, and Henry declared himself the Head of the Church of England, separating the Catholic faithful of his kingdom from their Church even to this day. The Church's British possessions were seized, priests and nuns were forced to renounce all ties with Rome, and citizens were required by law to accept Henry as the representative of Jesus Christ in England. If anyone was caught by Henry's police at a Mass, or harboring a priest, they were summarily executed. The British people were not given a choice in this ''conversion'' to Protestantism. They were forced under penalty of death to renounce their Catholic faith. You and Sharon are not in a position to call me ''blind.'' Look to your own credentials. As to the Virgin Mary; I have no blind spot in regards to her place in the Church. Nor do I apologize to you or Sharon for giving Mary love and respect over any woman that has ever lived. She is deserving of the love of all Christians.

-- eugene c. chavez (, January 12, 2001.

Eugene, 'My Church is indeed where doctrine is to be learned.' Yes indeed the doctrines of men not necessarily of the Bible. Incidentally what church we belong to has nothing to do with our salvation, as Sharon so aptly pointed out 'It is belief in Jesus Christ as the son of God that brings salvation not works. The bible says not by works alone. It does not say that works will get you to Heaven.' Can you not grasp this simple fact? As I said Eugene you need to really read what Sharon has written.

You are a religous person Eugene, not necessarily spiritually enlightened just as the Pharisees were very religious but obviously not spiritually enlightened.

I wouldn't be in too much of a hurry to condem the protestants as Rome has the blood of many many Christians on it's hands.

-- matt veld (, January 12, 2001.

The catholic Mary bears little resemblence to the Mary of the Bible.

Uh Matt,

The Catholic Mary IS the Mary of the Bible. Or do you somehow think that your definition of what Mary's character is (from reading the New Testament as presented to you by the Catholic Church) is more accurate than that of the Church itself?

What was Satan's sin again?


-- Someone (, January 12, 2001.

Frank, then why do you and most catholics attribute things to Mary that aren't in the Bible?

-- matt veld (, January 12, 2001.


Such as? I'm not being (entirely) flip here, but really don't know what you mean. Can you please give me a few examples of what you believe we do incorrectly?



-- Someone (, January 12, 2001.

Dear Matt-- When Jesus told His disciples, ''Go and make disciples of all nations. . . teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you,'' (Matt: 28, 20) He did not mean you and your church? You have no need for teaching, nor to observe what Christ commands? Hey, you are right. I did not grasp that simple fact.

There it is. He meant my Church, the Catholic Church of the Apostles. Not yours. Too bad, Matt; I'm sorry for you and your church.

-- eugene c. chavez (, January 12, 2001.

Eugene, and to what church do you think I belong? If you want to think the catholic church is no.1 then good for you, keep on thinking that. It's totally irrelevant anyway what church someone belongs to. You seem to have set yourself up as some sort of catholic guru; Lord help us all.

-- matt veld (, January 12, 2001.

Frank, a few examples but by no means a complete list.

a) The perpetual virginity of Mary. b) Mary as an intercessor to our prayers. c) That Mary didn't die but ascended. d) That Mary, in a subordinate role to Christ, had a "part with him in the redemption of the human race.

None of the above has any foundation in the word of God the Bible.

-- matt veld (, January 13, 2001.

My dear Matt,

The Word of God is true-- but you are hardly the one to be expounding on it. Did the Christian world wait 2,000 years for you to come and make it clear to Catholics? Thanks! Go polish your sword with crumbs and enjoy your cakes and ale.

-- eugene c. chavez (, January 13, 2001.

Eugene, all the things I have mentioned have been said before countless times, I am certainly not the first. If I wish to expound on the word of God my dear man then by all means I'll do so (I have seen you do it often enough). It's called freedom of speech incidentally.

-- matt veld (, January 13, 2001.

OK, Matt, --Countless times *since the so-called reformation* would be more like it. You are a true reformer. A brother-in-arms of Henry VIII or the Orangemen of Ireland; Christian stalwarts all!

Freedom of speech is yours, fine; just stick to the truth. You have left it far behind, in your haste to bash the Church of the holy apostles and Jesus Christ.

-- eugene c. chavez (, January 13, 2001.


Now you are accusing me of being a liar? Good Lord man, pull yourself together. The fact that you cannot prove certain catholic doctrines as being the Word of God speaks for itself. You seem hellbent on squashing any persons objections to anything Catholic.

Yes Eugene, you are indeed very religious just like the Pharisees.

-- matt veld (, January 13, 2001.

Please, Matt-- Don't have a cow, or kittens. I'm not calling you a liar. I ask you to stop presenting your biased opinions as fact. I am sorry to inform you that you haven't the authority. You only give opinion and nothing but-- Matt's opinion. It isn't the truth, by a long shot.

-- eugene c. chavez (, January 13, 2001.

Eugene, "I am sorry to inform you that you haven't the authority. You only give opinion and nothing but-- Matt's opinion". Isn't that precisely what Eugene Chavez does? Such hypocracy; you do your catholic religion a disservice sir.

-- matt veld (, January 13, 2001.


It's *very* hard to prove a negative, so I can't say something DIDN'T happen,

a) The perpetual virginity of Mary.

Matt, reading your Bible I'm sure you'll realize that *nowhere* in the Bible itself does it say that studying the Bible is to be the only thing one does to learn about the Lord. The traditions of the church comprimise the other half of our information. (Before we rehash this if you don't accept it, please see prior threads on the subject). The perpetual virginity of Mary is equally valid being covered in church tradition as if it were in the Bible itself.

b) Mary as an intercessor to our prayers.

Ditto. Depending on your beliefs you may have more or less of a problem with this. Many christians don't mind asking a friend to pray with them (and on their behalf) when praying to God. We are saying that in addition to praying to God ourselves we ask Mary to pray to God WITH us. (Also, considering the wedding feast at Cana, at least we know Jesus listens to Mary, we *don't* know about your uncle Herbie ;-) . If OTOH you don't believe ANYone can pray for you, remember the church tradition IS valid.

c) That Mary didn't die but ascended.

Show me where in the Bible it says Mary died and was buried.

d) That Mary, in a subordinate role to Christ, had a "part with him in the redemption of the human race.

I don't know what you mean here, but if Mary had said, "NO" to God, we may not have HAD Jesus. Wouldn't you say that she had "a part" in our redemption? I would, just as I realize that without airplane mechanics a pilot can't fly a plane.

In your posts you haven't mentioned anything that the church teaches that is WRONG. Why not?


-- Someone (, January 15, 2001.

There's a fact that has never occured to Matt V. --Neither Chavez, nor any other faithful Catholic on this board has ever expounded to him on the faith, basing it on his own opinion, or on a personal interpretation. That's the way Protestants like Matt do it. I say only that about the Scriptures, about our faith, about God's Divine Will, --that which is explicitly taught by Holy Mother Church.

I am no ''guru'', nor self-styled ''minister'' of the gospel, as are the preachers of Protestant persuasion. My own opinion does not enter into the arguments I present. The Catholic Church stands behind all that I say in this forum, since I know what I know from Her teaching. That has come to Her from the holy Apostles, who got it from Jesus Christ. Catholics need no gurus; they learn from Christ everything that has been revealed, in the Old and New Testaments. Besides Christ, there can be no other biblical teaching.

Unfortunately for Matt and his fellows, they reject many important things which Christ has revealed.

-- eugene c. chavez (, January 15, 2001.

Italics off, please!

-- eugene c. chavez (, January 15, 2001.

I'd like to correct a slight misconception: that Mary didn't die and was assumed into heave. Like all mortals, Mary died. She suffered a temporal death. However, immediately after death, in order to avoid corruption of her body, Our Lord assumed her body and soul into heaven. While non-Catholics do not believe that Mary died and was assumed into heaven all Catholics are compelled to believe. It forms part of the deposit of the faith. For reference I enclose a site: from EWTN that outlines the encyclical "Encyclical MUNIFICENTISSIMUS DEUS Pope Pius XII (Defining "ex cathedra" (from the chair of Peter) the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin; concerning the assumption. One should pay particular attention to paragraphs 17, 20, 21, 35, 40 which clearly indicate the Church and its early doctors accepted as fact, the death, and subsequent assumption of Mary.


-- Ed Lauzon (, January 15, 2001.


Ed's Link


-- Someone (, January 15, 2001.

I am rather confused by one of Dr. Chi's comments-- that Jesus is not the son of God, that Joseph is in fact his father. Throughout the Bible, Jesus is referred to as the son of God. When Peter says he is the son of God, Jesus blesses him. And the Bible makes it very clear that Mary is pregnant BEFORE she is married to Joseph. Joseph, her fiance, does not want to marry her, until an angel comes to him and tells him that her child is the son of God. SO Dr. Chi cannot be reading the Bible very closely at all. I mean, I have heard people say that Jesus was just God's son, not God himself, but never that God orchestrated Mary's egg and Joseph's sperm. The Mary thing can be confusing, but the explanations can be found in the previous comments. But Dr. Chi, even if you don't want to believe the Church's interpretations of the Bible, at least don't ignore the EXPLICIT truths in it. Christ was NOT just a nice man murdered by the Romans-- He was God, the son of God, and His sacrifice brought salvation to the world.

-- Hannah (, January 20, 2001.


Hi, Hannah.
You have misunderstood what TaiChi said. That's not hard to do, because he/she has some difficulty with English. (I assume TaiChi is from Asia.).
TaiChi actually was saying that Mary, at the temple, "forgot" that God was Jesus's father and gave credit to St. Joseph, simply because she told Jesus that "your father and I have sought you." [Naturally, he is wrong, as explained on another thread.]
Then TaiChi seems to have gone wrong again in a second paragraph, claiming that God (Father and Holy Spirit?) implanted Jesus within her, creating all his humanity directly, rather than using an ovum from her body. TaiChi wrote, "God created the egg and sperm in her womb," and he called Mary a "carrier" (i.e., surrogate mother). [I thought I had heard everything -- but I had never before heard that error, which is also refuted on another thread. I now realize that it is an invention, concocted to avoid giving Mary credit for anything, not even crediting her with being a true mother. Now you are beginning to realize how troubled (and troubling) these visitors are.]

God bless you.

-- J. F. Gecik (, January 21, 2001.

Dear John-- I just read your post to Hannah, and Wow ! That last part had slipped by me. [I thought I'd heard everything.] He says she was a surrogate mother?

I'd like to see anyone defend Sola Scriptura after that example. I suppose he thought Gabriel the Archangel was just blowing smoke, when he said, ''Hail, Full of Grace; the Lord is with you.'' Yes, of course.

-- eugene c. chavez (, January 21, 2001.

Yes, Eugene. I missed it the first time too. If you haven't already done it, scroll up to Doc's message and read it slowly and carefully. You'll see what I mean.

-- J. F. Gecik (jgecik@desc.dla mil), January 21, 2001.

matt 13: 54-56 mark 6: 1-3 the regular people asked arent these your sisters so no jumping thru hoop's sister does not mean like friend does it? it means he had sisters? matt 1:25 joseph didn't "know" her "till" after the birth (know) in the biblical sexual sence? or know as in he never met her at all and just now started to become aquanted with her? this is my 1st time here in the forum it is interesting i am a 21 year old catholic and i am above all seeking truth knowing full well that both the catholic and protostant church are brimming over with lies wich come from either ignorance or smite towards truth or from a result of being lost in all the translation's one general rule with scripture is that only GOD can shed light unto it outside of GOD only darkness exist and i realise now that if i keep my eyes on GOD the truth that i desire will be given to me and i am willing to pay the price for whatever truth's that GOD shows me i do not hate catholic's or protostants but i do sorta feel stuck in the middle somewhere in all this stuff and i will stay there knowing that this isn't our war it is GODS and that as his children as true belevers and worshipers of Jesus in TRUTH and in SPIRIT that whatever comes up against his sheep will be taken care of by GOD he already overcame the world it is FINISHED he is the aruthur of our salvation and it is already written down and finished now we just wait to receve it and live everafter in his kingdom thank GOD he is mercyfull and will save us all from ourselves and regenerate our mind's and spirits

-- Philip McCarty (H20, January 30, 2001.

Something tells me (the poor spelling and syntax) that Dr Ozio is coming back as Philip McCarty this time. He won't quit. I get the feeling he's on drugs, poor soul!

Above all, he is obsessed with the need to belittle Mary the Mother of Our Lord. He also refers to sex a lot.

Loving Mother of Jesus, Immaculate Mary--Pray for us! --Pray, St. James for converts to Our Catholic Faith! Amen.

-- eugene c. chavez (, January 30, 2001.


Here's the footnote I have for that:

"...The brother of James...Simon: in Semitic usage, the terms 'brother,' 'sister' are aplied not only to children of the same parents, but to nephews, nieces, cousins, half-brothers, and half- sisters; cf Gn14,15; 29,15; Lv10,4. While one cannot suppose that the meaning of a Greek word should be sought in the first place from semitic usage, the Septuagint often translates the Hebrew 'ah by the Greek word adelphos, 'brother,' as in the cited passages, a fact that may argue for a similar breadth of meaning in some New Testament passages. For instance, there is no doubt that in v1, 'brother' is used of Philip, who was actually the half-brother of Herod Antipas...

The question you have began when people started doing their scholarship in English, where no distinction of meaning is made.

aaaaaaa aaaaaa aaaaaaaaaaa

-- anthony (, January 30, 2001.


I object to your comments that make me out to be a catholic hater. I am not. I am just trying to get to the truth.

You seem to think that the bible can be added to. A vision of Mary is seen and her words are taken as fact. While I believe in the power of God to provide such visions, all words recieved must be checked for SCRIPTURAL accuracy.

Your commitment to your church is honourable but do not forget that faith in the church is not enough to save you. You must have faith in Jesus Christ the author and perfector of our faith. Only He has the power to save.

What is it with this personification of the Church. Reference is made to 'Her'. The church is not a person with its own personality it is a body of believers, why call it 'Her'?

Matt - don't let them grind you down. Believe in God and Jesus and view whatever church you belong to as a place in which faith is nurtured.

-- Sharon Guy (, February 02, 2001.

Because the Church is the mystical bride of Christ. That's one reason anyway.


-- Hannah (, February 02, 2001.

Dear Sharon guy,

It's hard work, having to explain things to you. You may not hate Catholics, but you are scornful of them. What is the reason?

We never add or take anything off the Holy Scriptures. I've taken pains to make clear, a ''vision of Mary''--far from being accepted as fact, is always disputed, probed and investigated before the Church sees it as genuine. Even after that much, no Catholic is forced to accept it involuntarily. It isn't part of the inspired Word of God, and therefore a verification of such an event may or may NOT have to be ''checked for Scriptural accuracy''.

You go too far afield, trying to accuse Catholics of disregard for the Holy Bible. We love the Bible, same as we love the Church. Both are Divinely established. I was asked by an antagonist some days ago, ''Do you love God or do you just love the Catholic Church?'' Now, if I ask Sharon, ''Do you love God, or do you love the Bible?'' --would that sound absurd? We have to love each one, as believers. But not in the same manner. God is worshipped, the Church is not worshipped, it's loved. The Bible is not worshipped, but it is loved and treasured by believers.

Same as the Church; that being Christ Himself. Recall the words of Jesus to Paul, at his conversion: ''Saul, why dost thou persecute Me?'' (Acts, 9: 4-6) And he said, ''Who art thou, Lord?-- and heard, ''I am Jesus, whom thou art persecuting.'' The Church-- and that's all!

We refer to the Church on earth as Holy Mother Church. In heaven and on earth and in our own hearts, Mystical Body of Christ, and in her role after His advent, Bride of Christ. I'm sorry that using the feminine gender upsets those who can't love the Catholic Church. It's too bad.

-- eugene c. chavez (, February 02, 2001.

P.S. Dear Sharon:

Our mutual friend Matt Veld isn't being ground down; his judgment is in question, that's all. Matter of fact, he has no problem stating it is irrelevant what church one belongs to.

I want to know, he and yourself; would Christ find it irrelevant, if the church you belong to is not the Church He founded on the Apostles /-- It is a body of believers as you maintain. And they all have the express obligation to believe that which the Holy Apostles taught. Dear Matt, and Susan-- The body of believers is the Catholic Church, because it alone preserves in full the teaching of the Apostles. So, that makes it very relevant.

-- eugene c. chavez (, February 02, 2001.


I was asked by an antagonist some days ago, ''Do you love God or do you just love the Catholic Church?'' Now, if I ask Sharon, ''Do you love God, or do you love the Bible?''

That's pretty insightful. I hope he'll think about his answer, and not just type "God" without thinking about it.


-- Someone (, February 02, 2001.


Good day, folks.
Eugene, if anyone could come away from your lucid message in a state of confusion, in doubt, or less than moved in spirit, that person would have no heart and no ability to reason. I congratulate and thank you.

Sharon wrote to you: "Your commitment to your church is honourable but do not forget that faith in the church is not enough to save you. You must have faith in Jesus Christ the author and perfector of our faith. Only He has the power to save."

Having read dozens (perhaps hundreds) of Eugene's messages, spanning more than a year, I can state categorically to Sharon that Eugene has the most powerful faith in Jesus, knows that only He is our savior, and does not regard the Church as a savior -- but rather as an "instrument" of the Lord, a channel that Christ uses for the dispensing of his grace and salvation.

Hannah, you are so right to remind Sharon that the Church is the "bride of Christ," and can be called "Her." To support you, I offer this, from Ephesians 5 (as found in two Bibles translated by non-Catholics -- first the Revised Standard Version, then the New International Version):

25: Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
26: that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
27: that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,
27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
[The most recent edition of the King James Version (the NKJV) also uses the pronouns "she" and "her." The Greek and Latin words for "church" -- ekklesia/ecclesia -- are feminine in gender. And God's people of the Old Covenant, Israel, are again and again referred to in feminine terminology -- often as His faithless, sometimes as his loving, bride. The Church is the new Israel, the new people of God, and his Bride.]

Finally, I cannot agree with Sharon's advice to Matt ("... view whatever church you belong to as a place in which faith is nurtured"), because ...
(1) his "church" may also be a place in which serious error is nurtured -- such as approval of deadly sins (abortion, "remarriage," homosexual acts, non-marital heterosexual acts, etc.) ...
(2) his "church" may also be a place in which some true doctrines get watered down or ignored entirely.
And so, it is not enough for him to accept some nurturing of his faith. Rather, the fullness of the truth (as found in Catholicism) is what he needs (as does Sharon).

God bless you.
St. James, pray for us.

-- J. F. Gecik (, February 02, 2001.

Dear John
Now that you mention it, going back to the statements of Sharon Guy : "Your commitment to your church is honourable but do not forget that faith in the church is not enough to save you. You must have faith in Jesus Christ the author and perfector of our faith. Only He has the power to save."

Can you sense here an undertone; this juxtaposition of Church versus faith in Christ, seen together with: It's irrelevant what church you belong to, (words of Matt Veld); a suggestion that we can really dispense with the Church. It's a burden we can live without. For this the Apostles and martyrs went to their deaths! So a protestant may smugly say such things. The gall!

Most Holy Virgin Mary, pray for your Church and her adversaries! Dear Saint James, we turn to thee for aid in this good endeavor for the Holy Gospel! Pray for us, Amen.

-- eugene c. chavez (, February 03, 2001.

Yes, I see it, Eugene.
I believe that it comes from that "school" of Protestantism that believes only in an "invisible" church of Jesus. (It's OK to hook into a denomination for your convenience, they think, but the "true church" is a collection of folks from across the spectrum. Faith rules!)

-- J. F. Gecik (, February 03, 2001.


''Invisible Church?''

Precisely the reason why Jesus Christ made Peter the Rock upon which He founded the Catholic Church: It must be VISIBLE; not hard to identify among the swarm of pretenders. In the successors to Peter from the first days to John Paul II, a beacon is visible to all Christians. It points out: Make no mistake-- Here is Christ's Church!

Mother Mary Immaculate, pray for us! Dear Apostle James, take our prayers before the feet of Our Lord Jesus! AMEN!

-- eugene c. chavez (, February 03, 2001.

James the son of Alphaeus was one of the twelve apostles. Whether or not this James is to be identified with James the Less, the son of Alphaeus, the brother of our Lord, is one of the most difficult questions in the Gospel history.

By comparing Mat. 27:56, Mark 15:40, with John 19:25, we find that the Virgin Mary had a sister named, like herself, Mary, who was the wife of Clopas or Alphaeus (varieties of the same name), and had two sons, James the Less and Joses, with two other brethren named James and Jude among the apostles.

It would certainly be natural to think that we had but one family of four brothers and three or more sisters, the children of Clopas and Mary, nephews and nieces of the Virgin Mary. There are difficulties with this conclusion; but in reply to the objection that the four brethren in Mat. 13:55 are described as the brothers of Jesus, not his cousins, it must be recollected that "adelphoi", which is here translated.

Never did Jesus ever call Mary, "mother." One day she came to visit Him at His meetings, in a house something like this. Someone come, said, "Outside the door there, Your mother and brothers wait for You." He said, "Who is My mother, My brothers? Who are they?" Looked around upon His disciples, and said, "They that do the will of My Father, is My mother, My brother, My sister, so forth. That's who it is."

And at the cross, when He was dying, He said to John, the young disciple, He said, "Behold thy mother." "Woman, behold thy son." "Son, behold thy mother." See, never claimed Himself. It wasn't her Son. It was God's Son.

-- William (, February 10, 2001.

Dear William,
Never did Jesus call Mary ''Mother''.

Why, you know-- in 2,000 years the Catholic Church never has noticed this glaring fact! But then, Jesus never called James or the other ones, ''Brother'', and you maintain they must have been. To me it seems you and others of your persuasion will perform any contortion of your brain-cells to arrive at these howlers! Just because you see the Catholic Church as an enemy.

It is nothing short of hare-brained to contend Jesus did not see Mary as His own mother. The only one He possibly could call Mother, in all creation!

I will leave to others here the unenvious task of informing you of the significance ''WOMAN'' had for the ancients, as a title of respect for one's MOTHER or elder female. And the curious fact that Jesus Christ throughout all the gospel accounts never once had anything but tenderness and respect for every woman He ever addressed, even the foreigners. --You could not be more mistaken in your analysis of Mary. She is most certainly the Mother of God. Not an equal of God, or of her Divine Son-- just the Mother!

On the Day of Judgment, you'll be asked to prove innocence of mailigning Jesus Christ's Holy Mother. I really pity you on that day, William.

Here is Luke, 1:31-- ''Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call His name Jesus.'' And that, Sir is as plain as a wart on your nose!

-- eugene c. chavez (, February 10, 2001.


My goodness, William. You plum lost your accent!

Could it be that the above words are not really your'n?

Darn tootin' you did, Plagiarizin' Bill! (Your surname wouldn't be "Clinton," would it?)

You did some good old-fashioned copy-and-paste work (without giving credit) from Smith's Bible Dictionary, didn't you?
[Search for "James" on this page and then scroll down.]

Oh, and about your claim ... "Never did Jesus ever call Mary, 'mother.'"
Let's take a look at John 2:1 ... "On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there."
Now, since God was the "primary author" of Holy Scripture, and since Jesus is God, I can see that Jesus called Mary his "mother" right in that verse.

William, you can't fight it. Cry "uncle."

St. James, pray for us. O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.
God bless you.

-- J. F. Gecik (, February 10, 2001.

Dear Eugene

your arrogance continues to astound me. I did not and would not suggest that it is a choice between faith and church, niether would I suggest that it is a choice between faith and works. Your interpretation of my words is erroneous (perhaps this is where your problems come from).

I believe in the Holy Bible as the true and only Word of God. Whenever I am told anything by you or by my church leaders I take it to the Bible and to God in prayer. I do not take anybody's word as truth until it is checked with Biblical truth.

Faith must be nurtured and supported by the Church it cannot exist by itself, as we humans are fickle creatures and can be easily mislead by the world.

Faith also must produce works, but it is the faith not the works that save you. Works are a natural outpouring of the love and forgiveness we have recieved from God.

I am shocked by the tone of much of the postings by John and yourself. You seem hellbent on putting anyone down who does not agree with you or who is not a catholic and questions you. You claim you are doing it out of concern for our souls but I hear no love in what you say.

We (anglicans) read the same Bible, we say the same words in church, our worship follows the same pattern and we love and have faith in the same God. Tell me then why I am not saved and you are. I was baptised as an adult in the name of The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. one God now and forever.

I have no doubt that I will rejoice with God in Heaven one day. BUT I also have no doubt that I will have to pass through the fire and be judged by God. I will not escape unscathed because we all have fallen short of the Glory of God. However Jeus knows my name, I am on the guest list and He will raise me up on the last day.

I pray that you will find it in your heart to truly LOVE those who stop by this forum and show Christ's love in all your words.

I do not hate the Catholic Church and I am not scornful of it. Scorn is something that I will leave to you.

I am interested in the teachings of the Church, a great many of which are good and valid. I have problems with a few because I do not see how they were derived from the Bible. And others I think are damaging.

What is more damaging of course, is the hardline interpretation and application of these teachings which can leave many grtoups of people without hope.

Jesus would not approve.

No-one has yet answered the question of Joseph breaking Jewish law if he did not sleep with Mary.

Yours in the One True God,

-- Sharon (, March 01, 2001.

Dear ''Adam'',
You are Oizoo, or Dr Tai Chi, and your style of writing gives you away. (Smile.)

Interesting how you stand behind Sharon, because when you were at your most boorish she stood behind you. Makes no diff. I find most of your ideas demeaning to the Catholic Church. I really wish you would keep them to yourself. You've been banned twice already in the past for your insulting posts. Thank you, but I wouldn't find meeting you personally any treat at all.

Dear Mary Immaculate, Pray for us, Amen!
Saint James, guide us here and pray for us! Amen /

-- eugene c. chavez (, March 01, 2001.

adam, the simple answer is that what you are asking them to do is to pray to God WITH you, just as you might get some friends to bring a petition before God WITH you. You are not praying that *they* will do anything for you instead of God, nor are you asking them to pray * instead* of you.

You can't pray to people that are living because while they are on earth they are constrained by everything you are (can you hear a person in China without a telephone?).

There's no mention that they *can't* hear you or that they'd *refuse* to intercede. Actually, quite the opposite is said in Revelation, where good people *do* have their petitions brought before God.


-- Anthony (, March 01, 2001.

Dear Sharon Guy,
Just one problem with your total reliance on the words of the Holy Bible. All of us have one, and those Christians outside the catholic Church all have it.
Why all the divergent opinions on the true meaning of so many crucial passages in the Scriptures?


I believe in the Holy Bible as the true and only Word of God. Whenever I am told anything by you or by my church leaders I take it to the Bible and to God in prayer. I do not take anybody's word as truth until it is checked with Biblical truth.


Sharon, please tell us why, if the Bible was meant to be ''the true and ONLY Word of God; and all mental activity was banned if the Bible couldn't substantiate it, why would Jesus Christ send the Paraclete to be eternally with His Church? (John, 16:12 through :16)

Many things yet I have to say to you, but you cannot bear then now. But when He, the Spirit of Truth has come, He will teach you all the truth. For He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He will hear He will speak (TO THE CHURCH), and the things that are to come, He will declare to you.

He will glorify me, because He will receive of what is mine and declare it to you. All things that the father has are mine. That is why I have said that He will receive of what is mine, and will declare it unto you.

Therefore, if the Bible as we have it is the SOLE source of the truth, and every truth has its ONLY substantiating help from the Bible-- Why does Christ state: ''Many things yet I have to say to you, but you cannot bear them now; but when He the Spirit of Truth has come, He will teach you all the truth'' ( ? ? ? ) Jesus tells them, expect more of the Truth when the Holy Spirit is with you. Simply stated, the Holy Bible, while inerrant, is NOT the only body of Divine Truth. Jesus Christ in no way said that the Holy Spirit would come only to encapsulate all the truth into the Bible. He certainly could have said so, but didn't! Catholics rightly believe on the Word of Jesus Christ, that the Church has the Holy Spirit's truth in its eternal favor. The scriptures testify to this, the Apostles did so, and Sacred Tradition also verifies it.

-- eugene c. chavez (, March 01, 2001.

Sharon, you said,

It does not matter whether she had other children or not, though if Joseph never had sex with her he was breaking Jewish law, what matters is that she was willing to trust God.

I take it that's what you were referring to in your recent post when you said,

No-one has yet answered the question of Joseph breaking Jewish law if he did not sleep with Mary.

What answer do you want? Jesus himself did the same thing (Luke 6)

On a sabbath, while he was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands. 2: But some of the Pharisees said, "Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the sabbath?" 3: And Jesus answered, "Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4: how he entered the house of God, and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those with him?" 5: And he said to them, "The Son of man is lord of the sabbath."

What law do you follow my Anglican friend, the law of Moses, or Christ?


-- Someone (, March 01, 2001.


Hi, Sharon.
You wrote: "I am interested in the teachings of the [Catholic] Church, a great many of which are good and valid."

I was wondering why you are "interested in the teachings."
Is it just that you are curious about all kinds of religious matters?
Is it that you find serious deficiencies within Anglicanism, leading you to seek something that will share more of the truth with you?
Is it that you think that you should be a Catholic, but you are searching for excuses not to convert? For example, an excuse could be that you don't like the way Eugene and I answer you?

You wrote to Eugene: "I am shocked by the tone of much of the postings by John and yourself. You seem hellbent on putting anyone down who does not agree with you or who is not a catholic and questions you. You claim you are doing it out of concern for our souls but I hear no love in what you say."
Sharon, it is part of our fallen nature to wrongly see a "tone" we don't like and a "putting ... down" -- whenever we are shown to be mistaken. (I admit that flaw in myself, and I invite you to admit it in you.) I just re-read my several replies on this thread. I would admit to you if I thought I did wrong. I have apologized many times in my life -- even here! But having read my replies, above, I judged that an objective person should not have raised the objections about them that you just raised.

I believe that you are overreacting. You should try to become accustomed to the way Eugene and I write, and you need to get used to being corrected. Perhaps you have gone along for years without anyone correcting you, and you just aren't used to it. But everyone who visits here (including us Catholics) has to try to get used to it. We all make mistakes (especially non-Catholics!). If Eugene and I occasionaly get somewhat biting or angry, keep in mind that we ordinarily would do that only when we are provoked by unjust or abusive statements. The great majority of our posts here are not emotional.

St. James, pray for us. Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.
God bless you.
PS: In response to your comment (If St. "Joseph never had sex with [the BVM,] he was breaking Jewish law"), I would say three things:
1. Please quote for us the Jewish law of which you speak. (I'm just curious to see it -- not that it would have been binding.)
2. Any such law would have been from God, who had the right to give St. Joseph a dispensation therefrom -- as he would have done through the angelic messengers sent to that just man.
3. Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical letter on St. Joseph, repeats Traditional Christian teaching: "It was to assure fatherly protection for Jesus that God chose Joseph to be Mary's spouse" -- i.e., not to raise up half-brothers and half-sisters to Jesus.
PPS: You seem to have forgotten that you were somewhat moved by the argument (on another thread, months ago) that St. Joseph, a devout Jewish man, would never have dreamt of intimately touching the very mother of God, the spouse of the Holy Spirit -- the New Ark of the Covenant -- for fear of being struck dead, as was Uzzah (2 Sam 6:7).

-- J. F. Gecik (, March 02, 2001.


Jesus came not to break the law but to fulfill it. Joseph was before the Law of Christ since Joseph was his daddy while on Jesus was on the earth. I follow Christ.


The Holy Spirit is for all those who believe in the Jesus 'it is for you for your children and for those far off whom the Lord will call'.

I rely heavily on the Holy Spirit of God to maintain my faith and to whisper gently when I stray from the True Path.

I would remind you that the Jews were God's chosen people from the first. We are simply a graft on Jesse's stem and we can easily be cut off and discarded. Pray then that your hearts will be true and that pride will not blind you and cause you to lose the what is of most value.

We are no different - we worship the same God, we have faith in the same Jesus Christ, why then is that not enough to allow us to communicate in love and develop and understanding of each others traditions.

I have heard it said that the Catholic church is the whore of Babylon, this is not a position I would defend. It is a ridiculous suggestion and without merit. The Catholic church is filled with honest people who love God. But none of us is perfect and none of us has all the answers.

I first clicked on the forum whilst looking for material on priests attitudes to child abuse for my dissertation. I t intrigued me and I realised that it could be a tremendous resource for learning more about the Catholic church. I did not expect to be ridiculed, accused or have attempts made to convert me. I believe you faith is true and your salvation is true. So is mine and I would not be so rude as to try to convert you. I long for a free flow of ideas and knowledge between us so that we and all who read it can be enriched by the experience. Don't allow prejudice to spoil our witness to those who stray onto this site or those who come looking for answers. That would be a tragedy and serves no-one least of all the One True God.

When I said I check everything with the Bible, what I meant was that I make sure the new teaching/information/revelation/vision is IN KEEPING with the truths therin. Should anything contradict what is to be found there then I reject it. The Holy Spirit would not speak in contradiction to the words found there. I hope this clarifies my position.

May the Spirit guide and uphold us, may Jesus inspire and encourage us and May God the Father gather us to himself and bless us. Amen.

-- Sharon (, March 02, 2001.

Sharon, I think you can see in William's post one of the reasons John and Eugene and the rest of us here can get annoyed. Ideally, this would be a place where people would come to learn about what Catholics believe, and where there could be mutual respect. Having been continually faced with posts that are filled with ignorance, love of ignorance, and scorn, we can be a little wary and defensive at times. I don't have a problem with you coming here at all, and if you just want to learn what we believe, that's fine with me.


-- Hannah (, March 02, 2001.

"there never was a denomination until 360 years after the death of the last disciple. That was the Roman Catholic Church."

As stated on an earlier thread, the first VERY clear use of authority by the Bishop of Rome over other churches (this one in Corinth, if memory serves me correct) occured about AD90. The letter was almost added to the canon as "inspired."

At this point, there is no question that there was a "pope" at and before AD90.

Keep trying william, you'll get it right one of these days.


-- Anthony (, March 02, 2001.

I believe it was Clement (4th Pope). You *should* be able to find it in any encyclopedia in an entry pertaining to Clement or Church history (or both). I'm packing up for our spring break, but I can tell you that someone recently posted it here, so you should be able to find it on this board as well.

If you still need more info I'll see what I can do for you tonight.


-- Anthony (, March 02, 2001.

Dear Sharon:
Notice the strong convictions of a so-called Christian, William (believer), as he describes his Bible-driven idea of the Catholic Church;

''The reason that she was impure, she had a cup of doctrines in her hand, the wine of her wrath of her fornications. And she give to the kings of the earth, and she set over many waters and reigned over the rulers of the earth. We see that so in the Bible. We see that she was supposed to be setting on seven hills, a church; we found it. We see that she was decked with a triple crown, jurisdiction of hell, heaven, and purgatory. Right. And it's a man was the ruler of it; he was the antichrist setting in the temple of God, showing himself he was God, forgiving sins on earth.''


You ought to realize now, Sharon-- while the words of this person are still in front of you, He is an avid Bible-reader, a fanatical lover of the Bible. If he's in doubt about any particular meanings in a passage of scripture, JUST AS YOU DO, --William relies on the Holy Spirit of God to maintain his faith and to ''whisper gently when he strays from the True Path.'' Take it to the logical conclusion, both he and you are making your subjective interpretations of scripture ''The Holy Spirit's'' soft whisper. That's absurd!

You might wonder then, that Catholicism over 2,000 years did not ''evolve'' into an Anglican, or Unitarian or Methodist faith? How can it? It has a Magisterium and the Pope. It has guidance from above, not altogether from subjective bible study. Christ called this the Paraclete, or Spirit of Truth. (John 16, 13-15) A Church cannot misinterpret Holy Scripture with the Spirit to guide its clergy. This is how St. Peter explains this: '' And we (the Church) have the word of prophecy, surer still, to which you (believers) would do well to attend, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. This then, you must understand first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is made of private interpretation.'' (2Peter 1:19-20)

The Spirit can also enlighten all of the faithful. But they don't depart from Church teaching, because all know the Church alone is authorized by Christ to learn it directly from the Holy Spirit. There is a final authority, and it isn't just a soft whisper in the ear of the individual.

Blessed Virgin and Mother Mary, Pray for us your children.
Saint James, pray for us! Amen.

-- eugene c. chavez (, March 02, 2001.


Hi, Anthony and Adam.
James Kiefer writes: "St. Clement is counted as the third bishop of Rome after the apostles. ... Clement ... wrote a letter to the Corinthians, which was highly valued by the early church, and has been preserved to the present day. The letter itself does not carry his name, but is merely addressed from the congregation at Rome to the congregation at Corinth. However, a letter from Corinth to Rome a few decades later refers to 'the letter we received from your bishop Clement, which we still read regularly.' Other early writers are unanimous in attributing the letter to Clement. ... The letter is occasioned by the fact that a group of Christians at Corinth had banded together against their leaders and had deposed them from office. Clement writes to tell them that they have behaved badly, and to remind them of the importance of Christian unity and love."

According to apologist Joseph Gallegos, the Epistle contains this statement from St. Clement: "The Church of God which sojourns in Rome to the Church of God which sojourns in Corinth. ... If anyone disobey the things which have been said by Him through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and in no small danger."

Mr. Gallegos also gives us a statement from the early Church historian, Eusebius, about Pope Victor I, another martyr who reigned from 189 to 198: "Thereupon Victor, who presided over the church at Rome, immediately attempted to cut off from the common unity the parishes of all Asia, with the churches that agreed with them, as heterodox; and he wrote letters and declared all the brethren there wholly excommunicate..."

These examples show that very early Bishops of Rome knew that they exercised universal jurisdiction over the Church.

St. James, pray for us. Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.
God bless you.

-- J. F. Gecik (, March 02, 2001.


Jesus came not to break the law but to fulfill it. Joseph was before the Law of Christ since Joseph was his daddy while on Jesus was on the earth. I follow Christ.

I don't buy the "Joseph was before Christ" argument. Jesus was "I am", and that to me predates Joseph. Aside from that, what point were you trying to make? I think I may have missed it. My point was that if Mosaic Law didn't apply to the followers of Jesus when it was inappropriate, why would it apply to Joseph?

I would remind you that the Jews were God's chosen people from the first. We are simply a graft on Jesse's stem and we can easily be cut off and discarded.

I agree. Remember also that when Moses went up to get the 10 commandments, he came back to find the Jews worshipping the golden calf. If God didn't cut them from Jesse's stem, He probably won't cut us off either. God loves His children.

why then is that not enough to allow us to communicate in love and develop and understanding of each others traditions.

Well Sharon, it's not that we don't love you as brothers, it's that we believe that our church is the ONE church founded by Jesus himself, and so is *correct* in all things. Let me ask you, if YOU believed your brothers and sisters were in err in a VERY serious matter, wouldn't you try and correct them? That is our stance.

The Catholic church is filled with honest people who love God. But none of us is perfect and none of us has all the answers.

This is true, doubly so for me! But as Catholics we believe that the Holy Spirit CAN directly make God's true word known to us through the church, which is a different belief from any offshoot of the Catholic church.

I first clicked on the forum whilst looking for material on priests attitudes to child abuse for my dissertation.

Good LUCK (through effort) on your dissertation!!! Believe me, you WILL live, although at times you'll wish you hadn't. A second time, good luck! Remember, the doctorate will be with you forever, the pain is fleeting.

I long for a free flow of ideas and knowledge between us so that we and all who read it can be enriched by the experience.

That is what we want too, as a perusing of old threads should demonstrate. Please don't be put off by our more "salty" members (myself included), after all, we are a representation of ALL of God's children, and not just the "nice" ones!

Stick around a bit, we grow on one,


-- Someone (, March 03, 2001.

To those of you who are giving your rightful opion, I respect you very much for standing up for your right, but if you please I am a youth with a few questions and answers. I am what you would call a Protostant beliver. Sorry Eugene. I'm a Brethern Girl. Why are we so different, affter all is it not man who made the divide of denominations? God didn't do any thing to separate his children. I do not agree with every thing the Catholic church believes in. I became very upset while reading you so called biblical coomments. For are we not all brothers and sisters in christ? Are we not supposed to live as God showed us to live. Remember teh verse- This is my commandment that you love one another,and that your joy may be full?, or As Jesus said a the Last super- My only command is that you love one another as I have loved you? My goodness what have we done to each other? Tell me and I will listen with a open, uderstanding, patient heart. My beleifs are... there is only one God. Jesus is my lord and savior! It dosen't matter what chuch you attend. For what does it say?... Where one or two are gathered in my name there I may be also. And yes there are many thigs I think are wrong in the catholic faith,but it dosen't concern me if you beleive as a true chrstian in the truth. I have a teacher who I have grown close to, she is like a mom, and she is a Catholic. Every day I worry about where she'll spend eternity. I love and cae for her so much, I'm affaid she is not right with the lord,because of the kind of church she was raised in. And YOU KNOW WHY? Because... I don't beleive Mary would have said " besides my son pray to me as well." I don't beleive christ comes out of heaven every sunday into a peice of bread and then is digested into you system. I don't belive in Purgatory, cause that would deafeat the whol process of Jesus dieing for our sins. I know for a fact that mary did not decend. Eugene you said to the one protostant "Show me in the bible where is says she died?" Well I'm asking you to show me where is says she assended into heaven? The only people that have ever assended Were our lord Jesus,and Elija(remeber he was taken to heaven in a flaming chariot,drawn by horses?)And How dare you say we commit treason on or christ.We LOVE the lord our God, and who are you to say we don't listen to his words. I think some of you catholics ought to get out your TRUE bibles and look for the truth and real answers your self,and stop beleiving everything you "Mother Church" tells you to because your to scared to do otherwise. Wheather you know it are not, they have aded thing to their own convenience through out time. They added the Appocraphy to the beginning,and you have the guts to day "We have never taken away from the holy scriptures." Well WAKE UP! You Have!!!!! Peter never started the Catholic faith in fact Your church wasen't even around when they were alive. Jesus said"who do you think I am"? and Peter said, "some think you Elija, some think your John theBaptist come back to life..." then christ said, ";who do you think I am?" and peter said" I think you are the true christ." and Jesus said and this is the rock on which I shall build." Thats where we miss enterprate things. when jesus said that he didn't mean you peter physicaly you will build my church, he said on that confession of faith by man is what his church would be built apon. Not Peter. rember the Galations and Colastians and the Corethiens? the were people of the towns of where the FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCHES were established.( not catholic) Also this whol bit of baptism saving your soul as an infant is absurd. I think a child should be dedicated to the lord, but baptized when ne fully understands and is ready to make that commitment to the lord and be comed saved. ROmans 10:10 if you read about a vers ahead you hear the truth. it says"for what does it say the word is near you in your mouth and in your heart that is the word of faith wich is preached,and if we CONFESS with OUR MOUTH TO THE LORD JESUS and BELEIVE IN OUR HEARTS that God hs raised him from dead YOU WILL BE SAVE, for with the heart one belives unto righteuosness and with the mouth confession is made unto SALVATION, for the SCRIPTURE SAYS WHO EVER BELEIVES ON HIM WILL NOT BE PUT TO SHAME. We don't get to heaven by our good works eigther. We do them to honor God, not to benifit ourselfes...Not by works of righteuosness which we have done but acording to his mercy he saved us by the washing and regeneration and renewing of he holy gost TITUS 3:5 Look its there right in God's true word. I was alway a chrsitian growing up, but only now am i looking for answers, and let me tell you the only way you find out is rome God himself through his prcious word. TO the catholics on this debate, look and you will see, I plead with you even if you don't want to listen to a 16yr old at least look for your selfes. Its unbeleiveble how the bible makes just as much sense in guiding our lives then it has in the past with Abraham. Please don't be mad, I'm asking for your views on catholosism to learn,and I try to let you know that you don't have to live in fear if you go to another source other than your chuch,as another catholic teacher of mine said, ABBy if you didn't asked questions and search you wouldn't care. I pray for all of you my brothers and sisters In chrstian love AMen

-- Abby King (, May 02, 2001.

Thanks, Abby.

I see that you have found a January-to-March, 2001, thread on our forum.
After having read your comments, I can promise you that you have completely misunderstood what we Catholics believe.
We DO believe some things that you fear that we don't believe.
And we DON'T believe some things that you fear that we do believe.

It was really amazing to see that in one huge paragraph, you included dozens of errors about the Christian faith -- and you bashed Catholicism and Catholics (even your friend, whose salvation you doubt) in a most unpleasant way. Until today, I did not realize that people of the Church of the Brethren are anti-Catholics.

However, I am glad to see that you are not really filled with hatred. You did state, "Please don't be mad, I'm asking for your views on catholosism to learn ..." This tells me that you don't want to remain mired in ignorance. But, as I said, you have expressed a huge number of separate questions or objections. It would take a long time to answer them all -- and I want to let you know that all of them have been answered before on this forum, probably several times each. [And since the Catholic Church was founded by Jesus and has been around for almost 2,000 years, your questions and objections have been answered MILLIONS of times. You should have realized that something that is false and not "of God" could never have lasted 2,000 years. It's time to re-think your position completely.]

I would like to invite you to read lots more of the old threads on this forum, which will answer your questions/objections ... and a whole lot more. Please go to this page, give it a chance to fully load, and start at top or bottom, picking threads to read that seem to have interesting topics.

St. James, pray for us.
God bless you.
Thanks. John
PS: You asked, "affter all is it not man who made the divide of denominations?" Yes, it was "man." Certain men of the 1500s -- the first Protestants who, through sins of pride, decided not to remain Catholic -- started the "divide of denominations" in motion. Since its doctrines have not been infallibly protected from error by God, Protestantism has divided into over 30,000 denominations. [The Catholic Church is not a "denomination." Her doctrines are protected by God's Holy Spirit from error.]

-- J. F. Gecik (, May 02, 2001.

This debate reminds me of Gulliver's travels wherein Gulliver observes that there was a great "religious" debate about whether to open a boiled egg on the big or little end. The "big endians" and the "little endians" were mortal enemies ready to do violence to each other in furtherance of their respective beliefs. The debate you are engaged in is a peripheral issue to the fact that God was made flesh and came to redeem us in the person of Jesus Christ. Stick to the central issue and stop bickering about the big or little end.

-- ed sedlmeier (, May 21, 2001.


For the most part, Ed, we folks here are already agreed on what you call "the central issue."

However, life being more complex than that, our agreement on the "central issue" does not bring us close enough together in many crucial areas. If you expect us to ignore all the things about which we still disagree -- calling them "peripheral" -- you are being unrealistic.

Suppose two women agree on the "central issue" ("that God was made flesh and came to redeem us in the person of Jesus Christ"), but one of them thinks that abortion is mortally sinful, while the other is unrepentant about her three abortions. Is one of them a "big endian" and the other a "little endian?" Of course not. They should be permitted to discuss the topic without your interference.

A "modest proposal" (to borrow again from Swift): If you don't like the discussions here, you can become happier by not coming here, and we will become happier not to be told by you what to do.

God bless you.

-- (, May 22, 2001.

It is my understanding that the immaculate conception refers to Mary being conceived in her mother's womb without original sin. as for your question did Mary have other children? I would venture a guess that only GOD knows. was she not legally married to Joseph ? and did not God say " be fruitful and multiply" ? Is it so important? you are not being lax by not being able to personally defend our holy mother , Mary. Just know that one can not possibly know ALL except GOD and treasure in your heart your personal faith.

-- rose marie (, May 23, 2001.

Dear Rose Marie--
Catholics aren't as indifferent as you are to this question. Mary's virginity is not open to question, and such an indifference on our part would be admitting the Church never knew one way or another. You may not, and I may not, but the Church does know, that Mary is ever a virgin by the grace of God. Since the Church doesn't admit of merely human opinion, but depends on Sacred Tradition first, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit as well, our knowledge in the matter is secure.

If it is unimportant to you, and you wish to be skeptical, feel free. It is an article of our faith. Nothing about Mary's virginity or her life on earth has been hidden from the Church founded by her son Jesus Christ. Her singular privileges (freedom from sin, the virgin birth of Jesus, her perpetual virginity) are known to the Church because the Holy Apostles were entrusted with these truths. It never would have entered their minds to either add or take away one iota of the truth from a revelation by our Lord and His Holy Spirit. That's why we rest assured in the matter. It's a matter of profound and unchanging faith.

-- eugene c. chavez (, May 24, 2001.

The bible states that Mary had other children, it even mentions their names. the bible talks about joseph's(son of jacob) brothers, moses' brother aaron, john and james were brothers, peter had a brother etc. but yet when it talks about the brothers of jesus you say no that means his "cousins" or "family" ummm ..kinda shady isn't it?

-- rj (, March 20, 2004.

Careful rj! Be nice! We'll let you comment but please respect the rules of the forum. Insults don't sit well with us. We're here to discuss the faith and answer any questions you may ask, but it's not our intention to sit idly by while someone characterizes our Faith as "shady". Please read our rules at the top of the thread entitled "Rules of the Fourm".


-- Ed (, March 20, 2004.


Remember that the Bible was not written in English and that the words of the day have to be understood in context. Thats why it helps to have a Bible scholar who speaks Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic and knows the idiosyncratic wordage of the time to help out. Even better have a horde of Bible scholars. That what the Catholic Church has done and continues to do.


The perpetual virginity of Mary has always been reconciled with the biblical references to Christ’s brethren through a proper understanding of the meaning of the term "brethren." The understanding that the brethren of the Lord were Jesus’ stepbrothers (children of Joseph) rather than half-brothers (children of Mary) was the most common one until the time of Jerome (fourth century). It was Jerome who introduced the possibility that Christ’s brethren were actually his cousins, since in Jewish idiom cousins were also referred to as "brethren." The Catholic Church allows the faithful to hold either view, since both are compatible with the reality of Mary’s perpetual virginity.

-- David F (, March 20, 2004.

Dear R J--
You've asserted here, ''The Bible states that Mary had other children, it even mentions their names.''

Find that statement in your Bible, would you? Show us chapter and verse. Find ONE mention in the scripture saying MARY had any other children but Jesus. Or; some passage or verse saying ''so and so-- the son or daughter of MARY who was mother of Jesus''--? ? ?

You can't. There is no word saying Mary had any son but Jesus Christ.

Only when she stood at the foot of the cross did Mary hear Him say of John, His beloved apostle: ''Woman, behold thy son.'' You are apparently confused. Learn to read your Bible.

-- eugene c. chavez (, March 20, 2004.

I beleive that most Protestants beleive twothings Catholvis do not, both have already been mentioned, but I will restate.

1: Mary was a sinnerliek the rest of us. Catholcis teach she never sinned, this, however, is piculiar tot he Catholic Faith, and most, if nto all, Protestants do not hold this veiw.

2: Mary had other Children. Cahtolcis maintain she remained a Virgin, even after the time of Jesus's Birth. Most, if not all, Protestants reject this, and claim she had a normal Marriage with her husband, Joseph.

Protestants base both claism on simple ligic and scriptures. For the Logic part, mart was married to Joseph, and their is no reason for her not to have a nromal marriage. The scriptures used are verses like mark 6:3.

3. Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.

This Verse makes clear refeence to his Brothers and sisters.

However, roman Cahtolics maintain that this i a figure of speach, referign to his cousins, or else these are hsi stepbrothers and sisters, from jospeh and a former, though unmentioed, relationship.

Either way however, it isnt worth becomign upset over, for, even though Cahtolcis may perceive the protestant position as insultung to Mary, it is not intended to be so. It is intended instead to be simpley a beelif of Hisotry that, rather right or wrong, is held in Senserity by protestants based on such as the above.

Likewise, though many Protestants become angry withte veneration Cahtolcis give Mary, as many will note just form this forum and the charge of "Mary worship" , as it, too, is not realy what it appears.

In both cases the teahcign is different and posibley misunderstood. However, if a protestant ( or a Jehova's witness, int his case, as stated they arent techniclaly Christain) claims she was just a sinner liek the rest of us, or that she was not always a Virgin, this is not meant as an attack on their part, but is earnestly held.

Well, unless it is form such people as derive pleasure form attackign roman Cahtolisism. ( Or protestantism, if it is reverse.)

My recomendation however is to merely accept that this is taught, and explain your eiws ansd why these are taught. an open dialouge will work wonders, an will create a less polaised atmospehre. Likewise, Jesus said "Blessed are the Peacemakers."

So I suggest we just accept the teachign of the others, and tell why we hold this beleif, and not get too upset over the oposition if they are themselves hionest and sincere.

-- ZAROVE (ZAROFF3@JUNO.COM), March 20, 2004.


You are always a voice of reason and fairness but in this case it makes a huge difference as to who is right. My Episcopal past and Catholic future both proclaim Mary to have been a virgin who had no other children. To say she had a sexual relationship is heresy. What kind of man has sex with a woman whose womb carried Our Lord? What kind of woman allows herself to have sex with a man after her womb was occupied by our Savior? I dare say it calls into question the Divity of Christ Himself. Its a very slippery slope indeed to blaspheme St Joseph and Our Lady.

Here is the best explanation I have read re brethren of Jesus.

Brethren of the Lord"

When Catholics call Mary the "Blessed Virgin," they mean she remained a virgin throughout her life. When Protestants refer to Mary as "virgin," they mean she was a virgin only until Jesus’ birth. They believe that she and Joseph later had children whom Scripture refers to as "the brethren of the Lord." The disagreement arises over biblical verses that use the terms "brethren," "brother," and "sister."

There are about ten instances in the New Testament where "brothers" and "sisters" of the Lord are mentioned (Matt. 12:46; Matt. 13:55; Mark 3:31–34; Mark 6:3; Luke 8:19–20; John 2:12, 7:3, 5, 10; Acts 1:14; 1 Cor. 9:5).

When trying to understand these verses, note that the term "brother" (Greek: adelphos) has a wide meaning in the Bible. It is not restricted to the literal meaning of a full brother or half-brother. The same goes for "sister" (adelphe) and the plural form "brothers" (adelphoi). The Old Testament shows that "brother" had a wide semantic range of meaning and could refer to any male relative from whom you are not descended (male relatives from whom you are descended are known as "fathers") and who are not descended from you (your male descendants, regardless of the number of generations removed, are your "sons"), as well as kinsmen such as cousins, those who are members of the family by marriage or by law rather than by blood, and even friends or mere political allies (2 Sam. 1:26; Amos 1:9).

Lot, for example, is called Abraham’s "brother" (Gen. 14:14), even though, being the son of Haran, Abraham’s brother (Gen. 11:26–28), he was actually Abraham’s nephew. Similarly, Jacob is called the "brother" of his uncle Laban (Gen. 29:15). Kish and Eleazar were the sons of Mahli. Kish had sons of his own, but Eleazar had no sons, only daughters, who married their "brethren," the sons of Kish. These "brethren" were really their cousins (1 Chr. 23:21–22).

The terms "brothers," "brother," and "sister" did not refer only to close relatives. Sometimes they meant kinsmen (Deut. 23:7; Neh. 5:7; Jer. 34:9), as in the reference to the forty-two "brethren" of King Azariah (2 Kgs. 10:13–14).

No Word for Cousin

Because neither Hebrew nor Aramaic (the language spoken by Christ and his disciples) had a special word meaning "cousin," speakers of those languages used either the word for "brother" or a circumlocution, such as "the son of the sister of my father." But circumlocutions are clumsy, so the Jews used "brother."

The writers of the New Testament were brought up to use the Aramaic equivalent of "brothers" to mean both cousins and sons of the same father—plus other relatives and even non-relatives. When they wrote in Greek, they did the same thing the translators of the Septuagint did. (The Septuagint was the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible; it was translated by Hellenistic Jews a century or two before Christ’s birth and was the version of the Bible from which most of the Old Testament quotations found in the New Testament are taken.)

In the Septuagint the Hebrew word that includes both brothers and cousins was translated as adelphos, which in Greek usually has the narrow meaning that the English "brother" has. Unlike Hebrew or Aramaic, Greek has a separate word for cousin, anepsios, but the translators of the Septuagint favored adelphos, even for true cousins.

You might say they transliterated instead of translated, importing the Jewish idiom into the Greek Bible. They took an exact equivalent of the Hebrew word for "brother" and did not use adelphos in one place (for sons of the same parents), and anepsios in another (for cousins). This same usage was employed by the writers of the New Testament and passed into English translations of the Bible. To determine what "brethren" or "brother" or "sister" means in any one verse, we have to look at the context. When we do that, we see that insuperable problems arise if we assume that Mary had children other than Jesus.

When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she would conceive a son, she asked, "How can this be since I have no relations with a man?" (Luke 1:34). From the Church’s earliest days, as the Fathers interpreted this Bible passage, Mary’s question was taken to mean that she had made a vow of lifelong virginity, even in marriage. (This was not common, but neither was it unheard of.) If she had not taken such a vow, the question would make no sense.

Mary knew how babies are made (otherwise she wouldn’t have asked the question she did). If she had anticipated having children in the normal way and did not intend to maintain a vow of virginity, she would hardly have to ask "how" she was to have a child, since conceiving a child in the "normal" way would be expected by a newlywed wife. Her question makes sense only if there was an apparent (but not a real) conflict between keeping a vow of virginity and acceding to the angel’s request. A careful look at the New Testament shows that Mary kept her vow of virginity and never had any children other than Jesus.

When Jesus was found in the Temple at age twelve, the context suggests that he was the only son of Mary and Joseph. There is no hint in this episode of any other children in the family (Luke 2:41– 51). Jesus grew up in Nazareth, and the people of Nazareth referred to him as "the son of Mary" (Mark 6:3), not as "a son of Mary." The Greek expression implies he is her only son. In fact, others in the Gospels are never referred to as Mary’s sons, not even when they are called Jesus’ "brethren." If they were in fact her sons, this would be strange usage.

Also, the attitude taken by the "brethren of the Lord" implies they are his elders. In ancient and, particularly, in Eastern societies (remember, Palestine is in Asia), older sons gave advice to younger, but younger never gave advice to older—it was considered disrespectful to do so. But we find Jesus’ "brethren" saying to him that Galilee was no place for him and that he should go to Judea so he could make a name for himself (John 7:3–4).

Another time, they sought to restrain him for his own benefit: "And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for people were saying, ‘He is beside himself’" (Mark 3:21). This kind of behavior could make sense for ancient Jews only if the "brethren" were older than Jesus, but that alone eliminates them as his biological brothers, since Jesus was Mary’s "first-born" son (Luke 2:7).

Consider what happened at the foot of the cross. When he was dying, Jesus entrusted his mother to the apostle John (John 19:26–27). The Gospels mention four of his "brethren": James, Joseph, Simon, and Jude. It is hard to imagine why Jesus would have disregarded family ties and made this provision for his mother if these four were also her sons.

Fundamentalist Arguments

Fundamentalists insist that "brethren of the Lord" must be interpreted in the strict sense. They most commonly make two arguments based on Matthew 1:25: "[A]nd he did not know her until (Greek: heos, also translated into English as "till") she brought forth her firstborn son." They first argue that the natural inference from "till" is that Joseph and Mary afterward lived together as husband and wife, in the usual sense, and had several children. Otherwise, why would Jesus be called "first-born"? Doesn’t that mean there must have been at least a "second-born," perhaps a "third-born," and so on? But they are using a narrow, modern meaning of "until," instead of the meaning it had when the Bible was written. In the Bible, it means only that some action did not happen up to a certain point; it does not imply that the action did happen later, which is the modern sense of the term. In fact, if the modern sense is forced on the Bible, some ridiculous meanings result.

Consider this line: "Michal the daughter of Saul had no children till the day of her death" (2 Sam. 6:23). Are we to assume she had children after her death?

There is also the burial of Moses. The book of Deuteronomy says that no one knew the location of his grave "until this present day" (Deut. 34:6, Knox). But we know that no one has known since that day either.

The examples could be multiplied, but you get the idea—nothing can be proved from the use of the word "till" in Matthew 1:25. Recent translations give a better sense of the verse: "He had no relations with her at any time before she bore a son" (New American Bible); "He had not known her when she bore a son" (Knox).

Fundamentalists claim Jesus could not be Mary’s "first-born" unless there were other children that followed him. But this shows ignorance of the way the ancient Jews used the term. For them it meant the child that opened the womb (Ex. 13:2; Num. 3:12). Under the Mosaic Law, it was the "first-born" son that was to be sanctified (Ex. 34:20). Did this mean the parents had to wait until a second son was born before they could call their first the "first- born"? Hardly. The first male child of a marriage was termed the "first-born" even if he turned out to be the only child of the marriage.

The Holy Family

Fundamentalists say it would have been repugnant for Mary and Joseph to enter a marriage and remain celibate. They call such marriages "unnatural" arrangements. Certainly they were unusual, but not as unusual as having the Son of God in one’s family, and not nearly as unusual as having a virgin give birth to a child! The Holy Family was neither an average family nor should we expect its members to act as would members of an average family.

The circumstances demanded sacrifice by Mary and Joseph. This was a special family, set aside for the nurturing of the Son of God. No greater dignity could be given to marriage than that.

Backing up the testimony of Scripture regarding Mary’s perpetual virginity is the testimony of the early Christian Church. Consider the controversy between Jerome and Helvidius, writing around 380. Helvidius first brought up the notion that the "brothers of the Lord" were children born to Mary and Joseph after Jesus’ birth. The great Scripture scholar Jerome at first declined to comment on Helvidius’ remarks because they were a "novel, wicked, and a daring affront to the faith of the whole world." At length, though, Jerome’s friends convinced him to write a reply, which turned out to be his treatise called On the Perpetual Virginity of the Blessed Mary. He used not only the scriptural arguments given above, but cited earlier Christian writers, such as Ignatius, Polycarp, Irenaeus, and Justin Martyr. Helvidius was unable to come up with a reply, and his theory remained in disrepute and was unheard of until more recent times.

So, if it is established that the "brethren of the Lord" were not Jesus’ brothers or half-brothers through Mary, who were they?

Prior to the time of Jerome, the standard theory was that they were Jesus’ "brothers" who were sons of Joseph though not of Mary. According to this view, Joseph was a widower at the time he married Mary. He had children from his first marriage (who would be older than Jesus, explaining their attitude toward him). This is mentioned in a number of early Christian writings. One work, known as the Proto-evangelium of James (A.D. 125) records that Joseph was selected from a group of widowers to serve as the husband/protector of Mary, who was a virgin consecrated to God. When he was chosen, Joseph objected: "I have children, and I am an old man, and she is a young girl" (4:8–9).

Today, the most commonly accepted view is that they were Jesus’ cousins. Of the four "brethren" who are named in the Gospels, consider, for the sake of argument, only James. Similar reasoning can be used for the other three. We know that James the younger’s mother was named Mary. Look at the descriptions of the women standing beneath the cross: "among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee" (Matt. 27:56); "There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome" (Mark 15:40).

Then look at what John says: "But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene" (John 19:25). If we compare these parallel accounts of the scene of the crucifixion, we see that the mother of James and Joseph must be the wife of Clopas. So far, so good.

An argument against this, though, is that James is elsewhere (Matt. 10:3) described as the son of Alphaeus, which would mean this Mary, whoever she was, was the wife of both Clopas and Alphaeus. But Alphaeus and Clopas are the same person, since the Aramaic name for Alphaeus could be rendered in Greek either as Alphaeus or as Clopas. Another possibility is that Alphaeus took a Greek name similar to his Jewish name, the way that Saul took the name Paul.

So it’s probable that James the younger is the son of Mary and Clopas. The second-century historian Hegesippus explains that Clopas was the brother of Joseph, the foster-father of Jesus. James would thus be Joseph’s nephew and a cousin of Jesus, who was Joseph’s putative son.

This identification of the "brethren of the Lord" as Jesus’ first cousins is open to legitimate question—they might even be relatives more distantly removed—but our inability to determine for certain their exact status strictly on the basis of the biblical evidence (or lack of it, in this case) says nothing at all about the main point, which is that the Bible demonstrates that they were not the Blessed Virgin Mary’s children.

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-- David F (, March 20, 2004.

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