Actual birth of Jesus, did Mary labor? : LUSENET : Catholic : One Thread

A priest on EWTN, during the daily Mass, gave a beautiful homily on our Blessed Mother. I was busy around the house, but passed the living room and had to sit and listen.

At one point he said Mary did not suffer labor pains. That 'like the sun passes through a plate of glass, but not disturbing the glass at all', so the Son of God passed through her virginal womb without disturbing it at all, leaving her completely intact, with no labor pains.

Knowing she is completely intact, I still had never heard about a laborless birth. Any thoughts on this?

-- Theresa Huether (, December 24, 2002



-- Theresa (, December 24, 2002.

Dear Theresa,

I have heard it before. It's a theory proposed by some theologian or another. The Church doesn't take a stand on it one way or the other, so Catholics are free to accept the idea or not. Personally, I believe that Jesus was born in the usual way, and biologically speaking, that causes pain, especially for a first delivery. Naturally, God could bypass the usual laws of nature and prevent that pain if He so chose. But there is no solid evidence to support the idea that He did - or that He didn't.

Peace! Paul

-- Paul (, December 24, 2002.

"Naturally, God could bypass the usual laws of nature and prevent that pain if He so chose."

I know what you mean by that Paul, and I am speculating here, but the way I have always conceptualized it is that impassibility (ability to move through objects unhindered) is actually the way things were meant to be; that matter not being able to pass through other matter intact is actually not the way it is supposed to work, but that our current condition and abilities are only shadows of what once was or will be later.

I often think of our current physical and mental capabilities as being by analogy like a demo program on a computer, which unlike the full version has options that are shaded out, or greyed out and unavailable. I believe that the fully functioning human will be restored upon our salvation and perfect state with God, and that it has at this time has been dumbed down or reduced in the life, since the fall in the garden, in order to protect a certain level of innocence or simpleness whereby we are able to avoid a complete destruction of the soul by its own fantastic capabilities used for evil. I think the reduction of power and capability is a sort of elementary, minimumal, basic humility necessary for the human to even be able to begin the path to salvation, as it seems from Genesis 3:22:

"Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever""

That's why I think the new agers are certainly not making things up when they talk about certain powers of the human being. In fact, when they speak of out of body experiences, it is much like the bi- location of some of the saints. The problem is that the new agers, though, seek these powers of the human outside of the context of God and salvation and seek to apply them in this life to their benefit, to some degree or another. In other words, it seems to me they are in some way attempting to trespass in the garden of Eden, which is forbidden, as that same chapter in Genesis goes on to say:

"So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life."

It appears to have always been the aim of fallen man to try to recapture the garden apart from the difficult way to salvation that God prescribes... the narrow path of humility and suffering. We had the Tower of Babel, and today we have every attempt of technology to prolong life and even to attempt indefinite or eternal life, to find the fountain of youth. This is really the ultimate aim of modern biotechnology. Sometimes I wonder if the technological explosion of the last 100 years was not due to the imparting of "the knowing of the doing of things" by fallen angels. After all, in Scripture in seems that the good angel Raphael had this same knowledge and put it to its proper use for Tobias within the proper context.

I think the nature of the human as God designed it is far, far more awesome and powerful than we now realize in our minimal state, and we shall know it later in Heaven, and that our current weakness and frailness is supposed to be the substrate under which we choose God or reject Him.

So for Mary, being perfect, and Christ being perfect, it seems plausible or safe to say that a painless and very unconventional but so much more "real", beautiful and impressive way of birth might have occured, one more in accord with the true nature and power of the orginal design of the human. This is just my speculation though.

-- Emerald (, December 24, 2002.

Yes; Mary was a true mother, and motherhood calls for suffering. But being the Immaculate Conception, Mary wasn't bound by sin to give birth in sorrow and pain. (Gen 3 :16.)

Her son was born without causing Mary to undergo deflowering; and she remained virginal even after the Nativity.

Of course, these are mysteries into which the faithful shouldn't pry. We owe it to our Blessed other to respect that particular grace she received from God.

The account we read of the Nativity of Jesus by Anne Catherine Emmerich is not to be seen as inspired truth; no one is called to believe it; but we aren't forbidden to, either.

Her vision of the birth of Our Lord is truly awesome; and everyone should read it. Nothing in the gospel narrative of Luke is contradicted, and much wonderful detail, from minute to minute, is revealed, if one wishes to believe; as I do.

I won't say more of ths, except recommend our forum find this lovely story. I found it in the book titled, Life of the Blessed virgion Mary, by Anne Catherine Emmerich.

-- eugene c. chavez (, December 24, 2002.

Hey Eugene. I've never read the account of Anna Catherine Emmerich on the Nativity. The only thing I've read on her, besides skimming an account of her life and suffering, was her prophecies (for lack of a better word) on future events in the Church. Did she say something similiar?

-- Emerald (, December 24, 2002.

Hi, Em:
Someone posted a site address here a few days ago, on Emmerich's life and all the revelations (visions) she's alleged to have seen. It's comprised of several books and one of them is the life of the Virgin. It's there she relates all that Mary experienced, as if from an eye-witness aspect.

I'll tell you; there is nothing quite as beautiful, for the believer. I recall pasting a short excerpt in here from this book some time back. It had to do with the Holy Family's sojourn in Egypt. They were warned by an angel, etc.; I related the wonderful, if tragic, account of that day in which Herod had all the boy children in the region around Bethlehem slaughtered in hopes of killing the new-born king of Israel.

The uncanny description of these events by Anne Catherine Emmerich can never be forgotten. She says that on that day the infant Jesus was inconsolable and cried the whole day long.

Small sidelights like this one are what amazes one about the visions of Emmerich. She apparently tossed off details like that every day.

-- eugene c. chavez (, December 24, 2002.

Can one believe that Mary's birthing of Jesus was a pain-free experience and at the same time believe that the woman of Rev 12:2 is Mary?

Rev 12:2 "A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth."

Seems clear that this is an either/or proposition.


-- non-Catholic Christian (, December 24, 2002.

It was kind of humorous to read this thread, I must say.

What is happening to your memories, my dear people? We just discussed this subject in detail less than six months ago, and the same specific things were raised then! (You are exempt, Theresa, because you weren't visiting with us yet.)

I mean Emerald said then what he said today -- right down to using the word "impassibility" wrongly (since it means, as I told him then, "inability to suffer pain"). Jesus is now "impassible" in his glorified body, and he ALSO has the ability to pass through solid matter. (I don't think that this latter ability has a name, but I vaguely recall inventing one last time, perhaps based on the word "permeate" or "penetrate.")

And I think that, last time, Eugene said the same things that he said today -- about Ven. Emmerich, etc.. This from Gene today looks very familiar (and I disagreed with it both last time and today!): "Of course, these are mysteries into which the faithful shouldn't pry." [It's not "prying" to discuss the doctrine of Mary's ever-virginity, about which the Church has spoken frankly (as the priest mentioned in the homily that Theresa heard).]

Like this time, last time someone brought up the idea that Mary, "being the Immaculate Conception, ... wasn't bound by sin to give birth in sorrow and pain (Gen 3:16)."
And like this time, last time someone [JFG] brought up the now-forgotten facts ... (1) that Gen 3:16 shows that Eve would have suffered labor pains even if she had not sinned and (2) that Revelation 12 shows us that Mary suffered labor pains. [To clarify on Gen 3:16 ... it says: "I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing" -- indicating that there was going to be pain even before the Original Sin.]

Merry Christmas.

-- J. F. Gecik (, December 25, 2002.

David, I think the Woman of Revelations refers not so much to Mary as to the Church.

John, well give me another word for what I'm talking about. Maybe I have the wrong word... a word for passing through matter with destruction.

-- Emerald (, December 25, 2002.

I found that other thread. We were conversing about this in August. At that time I suggested "perviousness" to you (as a seeming antonym of "imperviousness" [impenetrability]).
Chris B also said on that thread that the Church has often related the woman of Revelation 12 to Mary. It must have been on yet another thread (further in the past) that I pointed out to someone arguing against the woman being Mary that this passage is chosen by the Church to be read on a major Marian feast (Assumption, I think). There is nothing wrong with seeing the woman as a symbol of the Church or even of Israel (12 stars = tribes or Jewish apostles), because Scriptural verses sometimes have more layers of meaning than we poor mortals can even penetrate. But a Catholic should also see the woman as representing Mary. There is just so much in the chapter pointing to that reading.

Here is the August thread, in case you want to look at it again.

God bless you.

-- (, December 25, 2002.

Your quote of Genesis 3:16 is in fact interesting. I wonder what the orginal language was. On the other hand, Eugene's idea is convincing too:

"Her son was born without causing Mary to undergo deflowering; and she remained virginal even after the Nativity."

If I had money on it and had to guess, I would definitely go with the painless birth. I do think there is something to this perviousness, though, but it is in fact rank speculation on my part.

About the woman of the Apocalypse, I think it does go both ways as far as being the Church or Mary, but in the context, it does seem to weigh heavier on the side of the Church, at least in my mind, I guess because of comments that various saints have made about the passage.

-- Emerald (, December 25, 2002.

thanks, guys

-- Theresa Huether (, December 26, 2002.

I believe this was a question in the Early Church. It is the question of whether during the natural childbirth of Jesus there was what I think was called a true "parturition." Saint Jerome held that the birth canal was, as the question above states, completely intact. Those who did not hold to this view were sometimes condemned as heretics. I hold that the childbirth was completely natural, and, of course would have involved normal labor pains for one main reason. To think otherwise tends toward the heresy of "docetism." Docetism comes from the Greek word meaning "to seem." The heresy in the early church taught that it only "seemed" that God's Son became an incarnate human being. It was an attack on the true humanity of Christ. If God's Son wasn't truly incarnate as a human being, He could not be our Savior. Therefore the full and true humanity of Christ must be upheld as much as the full and true deity of Christ. To deny Jesus Christ was born in a fully human way denies his full humanity. I fully believe in the Virgin Birth. But I prefer the term Virgin Conception. Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit without an earthly father. Nevertheless, he was fully human! A laborless childbirth I think would be "docetic."

-- Greg Yankey (, December 28, 2002.

Dear Mr. Yankey,
You may believe in the ''virgin conception'' or other ''natural'' births.

But the Church clearly teaches Our Lady was a virgin before and after the Nativity of her Son. We're to understand plainly, Jesus' entrance into the world didn't cause her to become less a virgin; she remained intact. This may seem obstinate; and I realise it. That's why a few posts ago, I commented we should desist from that kind of prying. The physical virginity of Our Lady is a mystery revealed by God. Our acceptance in faith is the necessary concession we owe her Holy Son. These things aren't subjects for clinical and/or graphic speculation.

-- eugene c. chavez (, December 28, 2002.

Dear Greg,

You either accept the binding doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary, or you reject the words of Jesus Himself to the leaders of His Church, "Whatsoever you bind on earth is bound in heaven". This teaching, bound in heaven by the promise of God Himself, has a divine guarantee of truth. No personal interpretation of Catholic writings by members of manmade sects can change that profound reality. Jesus said straight out that the Church He founded, and no other, cannot teach error. The Church does not teach the fact of Mary's perpetual virginity because the doctrine is "necessary", but only because the Holy Spirit has revealed that it is true. Jesus told His Church, and no other, "When the Holy Spirit comes, He will guide you to all truth". This is the Word of God. It cannot simply be passed over because one's personal interpretations of scripture do not match those of the Holy Spirit.

Many passages in scripture make it clear that Jesus did not have any siblings. Even if Mary and Joseph had children, they would only be half-brothers to Jesus. However, the broad use of "brothers" or "brethren" in scripture, for people who clearly were not related to Jesus, disallows any claim that Jesus had siblings. When He appeared to more than five hundred of His brethren at once, were these all Mary's children? Other passages reveal that "brother" had a wide range of meaning and could refer to any male relative from whom you are not descended (your ancestors, regardless of how many generations removed, were called "fathers") and who are not descended from you (your descendants, regardless of the number of generations removed, were called "sons"). The term was also used to designate cousins, in-laws, and close friends of the family. Why do Protestants find it so compelling to try to disprove Mary's virginity?

continued .........

-- Paul (, January 14, 2003.

No-one disputes that married life is as holy as single life. That has nothing to do with this issue. Again, the Church does not teach this truth because Mary would otherwise be less holy - it teaches it simply because it is revealed truth.

As far as Mary being called "co-redemtrix", this term properly understood as Mary's cooperation with the one true Redeemer takes nothing away from Jesus Christ. One can exercise a charism of healing, thereby acting as a "co-healer" with Christ, the clear understanding being that such ministry is always in submission to the one true healer. Likewise, teachers and preachers of the faith, if they are genuine, are always "co-teachers" and "co-preachers" with Christ, acting in union with the one true teacher. We know that Jesus alone is the Redeemer. We also know that He became the Redeemer and the Christ through the cooperation of Mary.

-- Paul (, January 14, 2003.

Just as Jesus was conceived in a ray of Light when the Holy spirit came on her when she gave her FIAT so the Baby Jesus was born in the same sea of light. The angels carried the baby and gave Him to His Mother .... quoted by Our Lady in the story of her life in The Kingdom Of the Divine Will.

-- Laudie Sneddon (, August 02, 2003.

Jesus was conceived by an act of God, not a ray of light. Once conceived, He was a human being like us, in all things but sin. He ate like us, got weary like us, slept like us, sweated like us, got sick like us, stubbed his toe and cut his finger like us ...and was born like us - a normal human birth. While the Church does not require us to believe this last-mentioned detail, there is no firm evidence to indicate otherwise.

-- Paul (, August 02, 2003.

the only firm evidence against a completely normal human birth comes from the fact that labor pains are not part of a natural human birth. labor pains, as we know from genesis, are a direct consequence of original sin. therefore, one could easily assume that mary, being free from the taint of original sin, would not have felt any pain during Jesus' birth.

-- paul (, August 02, 2003.

Labor pain is natural and is a consequence of normal labor which were have reason to believe since no extraordinary comments about the birth of Christ spoke otherwise.

Unless Mary's anatomical and physiogical infrastructure is inhuman she indeed, likely, was in the normal extreme discomfort of real labor when her uterus, under stimulation of hormones, rhythmically contracted to further the birth process of pushing the unborn Christ through the cervix, which needs labor to soften and dilate to pass a human through a lumen normally many many times smaller.

I suggest you observe a live birth Paul as I have five times, once, in fact, delivering my oldest daughter after having spent many hours comforting her mother as labor lashed her body, in spite of much training in "natural" child birth. My arms were bruised along most of the length of both humeri as I cushioned my wife's thrashing head. I will never forget the experience. It was terrifying and among the most beautiful experiences a father and mother can have. I remain singularly blessed for having an obstetrician who trusted me and tested me enough to see that I could, by choice, survive what my wife had to bear fully, also by her choice, and to then let me deliver our first child, as my wife pushed through intense pain from labor and an episiotomy.

I think the priest is all wet.


-- Karl (, August 02, 2003.

Dear paul,

While that is indeed the very reasoning which has led some to posit that Mary might not have suffered the pain of childbirth, it is still an observable fact, as Karl pointed out, that such pain is an inevitable consequence of human anatomy which as far as we know did not change after Adam and Eve sinned. It is also observable that other species likewise undergo labor and pain in giving birth, and these species are not affected by original sin. Therefore such a literal, "anatomically correct" interpretation of Genesis may not be completely supported by the evidence.

-- Paul (, August 02, 2003.

yes, but there are also animals which deliver young painlessly.

there is, however, a distinct line of logic that one can follow...

pre original sin childbirth was painless

post original sin childbirth would cause extreme pain (as God declared)

Mary was free from original sin

ergo it is PLAUSABLE that mary could have concieved and given birth to a child without any labor pains.

Please not, i use the word plausable because im not making a comment in favor of either side. instead im merely pointing out that nobody here can possibly know the answer, but that both means are a distinct possibility (when we all know, under God, that regardless of human anatomy if it was the will of God, then Jesus' birth could very well be painless)

-- paul (, August 02, 2003.

Hi, T

I would think that even if it where pains, that they would be pains that would be a diferent kind of"labor pains" that only the Vigin Mary could understand(By the grace of God). Can you imagine giving birth to the God of the Universe?

May the Blessed Mother pray for all of us sinners!

-- - (, August 10, 2003.

Apparently you don't realize that the Catechism contains countless infallible teachings! The Pope, in releasing it, called it a "reliable compendium" of Catholic doctrine.

Also, you must be unaware of the fact that the Church says that we MUST give our assent to ALL Catholic Church teachings -- for example, EVERYthing that the Catechism teaches -- even if it is not labeled as "infallible." If you publicly deny some Church teaching, you make yourself a dissenter (possibly even a heretic), you give bad example, and you commit sin. That's all there is to it. You can ignore any contradiction of what I've told you if someone (even an ordained Catholic clergyman) tells you otherwise.

Now, turning to the subject of the Immaculate Conception, here is what the Catechism says -- and be aware, in advance, that the Church has declared that the definition in the encyclical mentioned (by Pope Pius IX) is indeed infallible (requiring belief, under pain of committing the sin of heresy) =====>

491. Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, 'full of grace' through God, [Lk 1:28] was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854: "The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin." [Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus (1854): DS 2803]


-- Art (ars@gratia.artis), August 11, 2003.

-- (ars@gratia.artis), August 11, 2003.

no, youre not.

youre name gives you away, and i have a pretty good idea who you are. sly, but not so good, if youre writing style were better it wouldnt be so transparent.

but back to the point. you arent a traditional loyal catholic. even schismatics like jake and emerald believe in the immaculate conception and have a special place of respect in their hearts for the mother of God.

finally, i note that you called me paul cyp in another thread. but if you paid any attention you would know that we're completely different people. where is the moderator anyway? normally he would have your stuff wiped from here by now.

-- paul (, August 12, 2003.

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