Frequently Asked Questions
Q.How do I join the Apostolate?
A. Please email rosaryapostolateinfo[remove]@gmail.com (remove the part in [brackets]from the email address, it's an anti-spam measure when posting email addresses on websites). I will assign you a decade and add you to the membership mailing list. If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback on the site or the Twitter page, please get in touch too.
Q. How long must I commit to the Rosary Apostolate?
A. For as long you as like- there is no set membership period and members are free to leave the Apostolate at any point if they wish to do so. However, we would recommend that members initially commit to praying the daily decade for at least one month, and if they do not wish to continue, to let us know rather than simply stop praying the decade. That way, we are able to reassign the decade to a new member and continue the 15-decade daily Rosary.
Q. I don't pray the daily Rosary. Can I still join the Apostolate and pray one decade a day?
A. Yes, of course. In addition, if you do wish to learn more about the daily Rosary, please explore this site- there is lots of information to help those praying a decade of the Rosary for the first time.
Q. I already pray the Rosary every day. Can I simply add the intentions of the Apostolate to my normal Rosary?
A. Although you may of course offer up your normal Rosary for the success of the Apostolate, the requirements are that you say one extra decade specifically for our intentions. This is in addition to any Rosary decades you already pray.
Q. I am a grandmother. Can I still be a member of the Apostolate?
A. Yes. Anyone may be a member, regardless of age or state in life. Membership is not limited to young Traditional Catholics, although the Apostolate is in full and unswerving support of the Society of St. Pius X.
Q. Do I have to use beads to pray the daily decade?
A. No. You can pray the decade in whatever manner you are able, such as on your fingers, although generally using Rosary beads is considered the simplest and easiest. Blessed Rosary beads also carry an indulgence for those who pray with them, an additional reason why using them is better.
Q. How is the Apostolate advertised?
A. We have flyers available and posters up in several SSPX chapels. There is also a Twitter account, @rosaryquotes. There is a link to this account on the homepage (the "follow" button). Word of mouth is also very important in spreading the Apostolate- so please tell your family, friends and fellow parishioners!
Q. May I belong to more than one Apostolate?
A. Yes, of course. There are several excellent Apostolates advertised in various SSPX chapels in the UK as well as in the District Newsletters. These take various forms and exist for different purposes. If anyone wishes to submit information about other Apostolates, prayer guilds or charitable lay organizations available to the faithful in Britain, I will do my best to include the information on this site.
The following extracts are taken from "Radio Replies", a three-volume collection of questions and answers on the Catholic Faith by Fr. Rumble and Fr. Carty, c.1940.They answer many of the objections against devotion to Mary and the praying of the Rosary:
Why do Catholics believe that Mary prays for them and helps them?
Because they believe that she is their spiritual Mother, and that she has not lost her interest in those for whom her Son died, merely because she is in heaven. It is the Christian law, according to St. James, that we should pray for one another. The Saints in heaven pray for us who are on earth and still endeavoring to work out our salvation. And Mary is the greatest of the Saints. It is but an application in practice of our belief in the Communion of Saints, a doctrine we profess every time we say the Apostles' Creed.
Why do they pray to her instead of to God, as Protestants do?
We do not pray to Mary instead of to God, but we pray to her as well as to God. And those who retain devotion to Mary are in the habit of offering more prayers directly to God than those who have repudiated devotion to Mary. Moreover, prayers to Mary are prayers to God through her intercession. And you cannot deny that at times it is good to have our Lady praying with us rather than to pray alone to God. Two prayers are better than one, above all when the other whom I have asked to join in my petition is the very Mother of Christ.
To my Protestant mind your worship of Mary is little short of idolatry.
That can only be because you have not understood Catholic doctrine on the subject. The Creator alone is God. Mary is as much a creature as any other human being. But whilst she is as much a creature as we are, we have not been honored by God nearly as much as she.
Does not the elevation of Mary, Mother of Jesus Christ, to a rank quasi-divine, find an illuminating analogue in the ancient Egyptian cult which gave Isis the divine rank of Mother of Heaven?
Firstly, Mary has not been elevated by the Catholic Church to a rank quasi-divine, or even remotely divine. In Catholic theology she falls as far short of divinity as I do, and that's infinitely. Secondly, there is no true analogue between the historical Mother of Christ and the purely mythological Isis, and still less can any illumination be derived from a comparison of the two.
Catholicism says Mary is omnipotent in power and infinite in mercy.
It does not say that Mary is omnipotent in power and infinite in mercy. It says that her prayer and intercession have a special efficacy in winning for us the protection of the Omnipotent power of God and His infinite mercy.
"Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection." Nowhere in Scripture do we find that by man and woman came the resurrection.
The resurrection was but the complement of the redemptive work. Essentially that work was accomplished on Calvary by the death of Jesus on the Cross. And Mary was there, standing at the foot of the Cross, identifying herself with the offering of her Son. By man and woman came our death. Both sexes co-operated in our downfall, and both sexes co-operated in our redemption. God Himself predicted that this would be so. After the sin of our first parents, God said to Satan, "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel, and she shall crush thy head." Gen. III., 15. Mary is the second Eve as Christ is the second Adam. And both repaired the evil of our first parents, Christ principally and Mary secondarily and subordinately to Christ.
I have even read in a Catholic book that Mary is co-redemptress of mankind !
Mary's work was to be our co-redemptress, and to mediate for us together with Christ, but of course in subordination to Him. He is the one principal Mediator to whom we owe all. Do not be disturbed by this association of Mary with the redemptive work of Christ. If all Christians are members of Christ, and are called upon, as St. Paul says, to fill up what is wanting to the suffering of Christ, then you can be sure that as Mary, His Mother, was more closely associated with Christ than we are, so she is more closely associated with His redemptive work. By a special title, therefore, we call her co-redemptress. We call her "Our life, our sweetness, and our hope." For, in bringing forth Christ she brought us forth to life, she is the model of every virtue, and above all should be the glory of all women; and she is our hope as Eve was our despair. All this tells us what she is for. She is our spiritual Mother in heaven, and she fulfills the duties of a Mother, winning for us by her intercession that grace of Christ which is life to our souls and which, please God, will mean eternal life in the end.
What do you mean by her Immaculate Conception?
The Immaculate Conception does not mean that Mary was conceived miraculously, or that there was anything abnormal in her physical origin. It simply means that her soul was preserved from that taint of original sin which all others inherit from our first parents. It was really an anticipated baptism, a redemption of Mary's soul by prevention of sin's contamination and through the merits of Christ. The Eternal Son of God would not enter this world through a defiled doorway.
Mary said, "My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior." Lk. I, 47. Would Mary have said this if she were already immaculate, and in no need of a Savior?
She owed her preservation from sin to the anticipated merits of Christ. Christ, therefore, was her Savior by prevention as He is ours by subsequent cleansing.
Mary also said, "He hath regarded the lowliness of His handmaiden." How could she be lowly if she were the highest person ever in existence since Adam before his fall from grace?
Mary was not the highest person in existence since Adam. Christ was infinitely higher than Mary. But sin is not the only motive of lowliness or humility. The purest and most innocent of creatures, by the mere fact of being a creature, is infinitely lowly before the Creator. Adam, before his fall from grace, was the lowly servant of God. Jesus Himself, in virtue of the limitations of His created human nature, said, "Learn of Me, that I am meek and humble of heart." Our Lord was certainly without sin, and if He described Himself as lowly of heart, the use of the same expression by Mary is no argument against her sinlessness.
If Mary was free from sin and immaculate, how could she die? Death is the wages of sin.
Death is the wages of sin in a very special sense. Sin or no sin, it is natural to man to die. The human body, just as the bodies of animals, has a natural process of growth to maturity followed by age, decay, and death. Naturally, therefore, even Adam and Eve, had they never sinned, would have encountered a natural physical death if no other provision had been made for them. But God promised them a supernatural exemption from any natural process of death if they remained faithful to Him. They fell, forfeited their supernatural immunity from physical death, and nature was allowed to have its way. Therefore death is the wages of sin not as if death were abnormal, but as a normal conclusion of earthly life from which men had lost their exemption. Since Mary was human, it was not unnatural that she should die. But you will ask, "If she was supernaturally preserved from sin, why was she not supernaturally preserved from death?" That we shall see.
No one except Christ could possibly be without original sin, and yet see death, unless he or she were God.
I am afraid your thought is here a little obscure. Christ was without original sin, yet saw death, not because He was God, but because He was man. In His Divine Nature He could not die. In His human nature He could. Keep in mind that death is natural to a human nature, quite apart from original or any other sin. A human nature could not be God, and it could, and normally should die, quite apart from sin. By a special privilege God had exempted man from the normal process of death on the condition that he refrained from sin. Man sinned, and lost the privilege. Mary was preserved from all taint of sin, and by that, at least, deserved to be preserved from the natural process of death. But her life and her vocation were so intimately blended with the life and vocation of Christ, that both she and He endured an undeserved death. As when mankind fell, both sexes were represented in Adam and Eve, so both sexes were represented in our redemption. Mary, the second Eve shared death with Christ, the second Adam. The death of Christ was our redemption, but included in the redemptive work of Christ, though subordinate to it, was the death of Mary. The primitive traditions which tell us of the assumption also tell us of the "falling asleep of the Virgin Mary," an expression used to denote the transitory character of her death.
Why does the Catholic Church maintain that Mary was "ever a virgin," when Scripture clearly states that she was a virgin only until the birth of Christ?
The Catholic Church has defined as an article of faith that Mary remained always a virgin. Every Catholic in the world is obliged under pain of serious sin to believe that on the very authority of God's knowledge and veracity. Now cannot you see that the Catholic Church would be very, very foolish to define such a doctrine, if the opposite were clearly stated in Scripture? Anyone can get hold of a copy of Sacred Scripture. If the opposite of the Catholic dogma were clearly stated there, one would only have to quote the passage to refute the defined doctrine, and the whole case for the Catholic Church would collapse. Should you not suspect that if the Catholic Church has defined that Mary remained ever a virgin, then, to say the least, there cannot be anything in Scripture against it? Don't you think the Church would have made sure of that, before defining what otherwise could so easily be proved to be erroneous?
If Joseph was not His father why do they trace His descent from David through him?
Because the Jews always kept their genealogies in the male line, and since Mary was of the same tribe as Joseph, his line of ancestry was also hers.
You say Jesus was descended from David through Mary, but the Bible says He is descended from David through Joseph.
The Bible does not say that. St. Matthew says, "Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus." That says no more than that Joseph was related by marriage to Mary, who, as a matter of fact, gave birth to Christ. St. Luke says at the beginning of his account, "Jesus, being (as it was supposed) the son of Joseph." He knew quite well that Jesus was not the son of Joseph in reality, though Joseph was the legal head of the Holy Family.
Did Jesus or Mary ever deny that Joseph was His father?
The whole of the New Testament is the written Word of God, and as Jesus is the Eternal Word, every utterance in the New Testament is His. When St. Luke writes, "Jesus, being (as it was supposed) the son of Joseph," Jesus accepts full responsibility for those words. No direct utterance from His own lips whilst on earth is recorded, though that is not proof that He never spoke of it. Not every word Jesus ever said was written down. Indirectly His words in John VIII., 14, 23, certainly indicate an origin differing from that of ordinary men. "I know whence I came," He said, "but you know not whence I come. You are from beneath; I am from above." Mary certainly spoke of the fact that Jesus was not the son of Joseph, for all scholars admit that St. Luke got his account of the birth and infancy of Jesus from Mary. But Matthew I., 19, 25, shows clearly that Joseph knew that he was not the father of Jesus. Mary being found with child, Joseph being a just man was minded to put her away privately. But the Angel appeared to him and said, "Joseph, son of David, fear not, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost." Reassured that the child of which he knew he was not the father had been miraculously conceived, Joseph did as the Angel of the Lord commanded him.
The Sinaitic Gode, or maybe one of the Neutral Texts, is that "Joseph begat Jesus." How reconcile this with the Catholic concept of a Virgin Birth?
That reading does not occur in what are known as the Neutral Texts, nor in the Godex Sinaiticus. It occurs in a Syrian translation found on Mt. Sinai some few years ago, and which has been called the Sinaitic Syriac. Now as regards the wording you quote, i.e., "Joseph begat Jesus," I reply that whether it is correct or not it would not necessarily affect the Catholic concept of the Virgin Birth. But also I say that, whilst it would not affect the doctrine whether correct or not, it is not correct. Firstly, even if it were correct, it would not affect our doctrine. For such an expression would be quite normal even when referring to legal paternity as opposed to real and natural paternity. And parallel passages compel the acceptance of legal paternity only. Secondly, however, it is not correct. This isolated Syrian translation must yield to the Godex Sinaiticus and the Godex Vaticanus. Vod Soden admitted the reading you quote into his edition of the Greek text, and met with protests from scholars the world over. His action was against all the principles of Biblical textual criticism, and Lagrange did not hesitate to call it a "critical enormity." The reading, therefore, cannot be accepted as correct, and even if it were, it would not affect the Catholic doctrine of the Virgin Birth.
From the medical standpoint a virgin birth is impossible.
The medical standpoint is that children normally result from the activities of both a father and a mother. And with that standpoint I am in full agreement. But then, we have never said that the birth of Christ was a normal event. And no medical standpoint demands the admission that God is bound always to observe normal procedure according to the natural laws we usually observe. Once we assert a miraculous birth outside the normal teachings of medical experience, there is no medical standpoint left. There is a philosophical standpoint, as to whether an Infinite Creator could do immediately what He usually does mediately by secondary causes of His own making. And, granted the philosophic possibility of His doing so, there arises the historical standpoint as to whether He did so. And the Virgin Birth is an historical certainty.
If Joseph was not the father of Jesus, then Jesus was illegitimate.
That is not so. What is an illegitimate child? An illegitimate child is one born as the result of unlawful relations between two people not married, and who is not legally accepted in the eyes of the state as belonging to a lawfully married couple. But the Child Jesus was not the result of any unlawful relations on Mary's part with any person to whom she was not married. The very Bible which says that St. Joseph was not the natural father of Jesus also makes it clear that no other created human being was the father. St. Joseph was told that God Himself had miraculously caused Mary to be with child; and it is as legitimate for God to dispense with the need of a human father as to allow normal processes of generation. So, from the viewpoint of His conception Christ was certainly not illegitimate. Secondly, Joseph and Mary were lawfully married, and the Child born of Mary was legally accepted by the State as belonging to a lawfully married couple. In the external order, therefore, Jesus was legitimate also in civil law. Both by origin and public acceptance, then, He was quite legitimate.
In what category would you place the Gospel of Nicodemus?
The author of that uncanonical Gospel was orthodox in his faith, and in no way intended to discredit that faith.
He mentions that the Jewish contemporaries of Jesus chided Him with being of illegitimate birth.
It is not improbable that the Jews thus slandered Christ. And the author mentions it as a slander. If the Gospel of Nicodemus has any value for you, you can get nothing more out of it than that the enemies of Christ made a charge against Him and that the charge was false. But you, apparently, wish to accept the record of a false charge as sufficient evidence that the charge was true.
Is not such a matter supported by a second century writer, Celsus, who enlarges this into the charge that Joseph divorced Mary for adultery because she had borne a child to a certain soldier named Pantheras?
The matter is not supported by Celsus. Celsus, the pagan, and the bitter enemy of the Christian Church, repeated and amplified whatever slanders he could find. And the fact that Celsus slandered Christ in the second century no more militates against the historical character of the Gospels than the fact that you approve of those slanders in the twentieth century. Origen refuted Celsus centuries ago, showing the obviously fictitious nature of his calumnies. No reputable scholar attaches any weight to the utterances of that bitter pagan.
Further, was not this charge also carried into Jewish writings, from quite an early date, which state that Jesus was actually the son of a Greek officer in the Roman Army named Pantheras?
It was. And such was to be expected. Bitter enemies of the Church in those days no more hesitated to indulge in the propaganda of lies and calumnies than they do in these days. But, as Origen points out, the enemies of the Church had no sources of information against Jesus save the Gospels themselves. The very name of your Greek officer, Pantheras, was probably no more than a corruption of the Greek word for Virgin, "Parthenos." The attacks of these early opponents of the Christian religion have but one real value only. In their own perverted way they furnish important evidence of how essential to the Christian Faith was the doctrine of the Virgin Birth in the estimate of all the early Christians. But you repeat very old charges when you fall back on the objections of early Jewish and pagan enemies of Christianity. Do you really think that, after surviving those for nearly two thousand years, the authenticity of the Gospels is going to collapse under them now?
What is there that is essential in a belief in the Virgin Birth?
For a Christian it is essential to believe all that God has revealed. To deny the truth of what God reveals is to accuse God of not knowing what He is talking about, or of being a deliberate liar, surely not a very Christian attitude towards God! In the Apostles' Creed Christians for centuries have professed their faith that Jesus Christ was "conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the Virgin Mary." The Gospels very clearly state God's promise to Mary that her Child would be due to the immediate operation of the Holy Ghost and the Divine Omnipotence without the necessity of any relations with the opposite sex. They also show that St. Joseph knew quite well that he was not the father of Jesus, and that he was told that the Child to be born of Mary was "of the Holy Ghost." To repudiate the fact that Jesus was born of a Virgin Mother is, therefore, to repudiate the direct teaching of Sacred Scripture.
Is it possible that the holding of such a belief can strengthen one's character?
It would not matter in the least if it could not! What is true does not cease to be true, merely because it does not prove useful for every purpose. The truth that there are other planets besides this earth does not serve to strengthen one's character. But men do not deny the truth because of that. However, belief in the Virgin Birth of Christ does strengthen one's character, for it is due to one's faith in God, and the man of deep faith in God is strong where others are weak. To deny what God has revealed to be true is the rebellion of pride, and pride is the beginning of all sin and corruption of human character.
Can the belief encourage one to stronger Christian living?
Most decidedly. For if indeed Christ be God coming to seek us, instead of our merely seeking God, then an impetus is given to our love of God which cannot rest content without reciprocal generosity. It may be said that the doctrine of the Divinity of Christ could be independent of that concerning the Virgin Birth. But not so. Is it not significant that attacks on the Virgin Birth come from those who reject all the supernatural and miraculous aspects of Christ? True Christians have ever held fast to the doctrine of the Virgin Birth, not only as a fact revealed by God, but as a guarantee of the real humanity of Christ because born of a human mother, yet not less decisively as a guarantee of His super-human dignity because born without the agency of a human father. The conviction that Jesus is my God is the greatest possible encouragement to Christian living. And His supernatural Virgin Birth, having for its end the founding of a new and regenerated humanity, and the introduction of a Redeemer with the divine forces needed for the world's salvation, is the normal corollary of the doctrine of Christ's Divinity. Natural generation has never resulted in a truly human, yet at the same time, a super-human being. Therefore those who have lost faith in the super-human character of Christ attack the Virgin Birth, and insist that His was a merely natural generation by an ordinary father and mother in the ordinary way. But their rejection of the Virgin Birth is a mutilation of Scripture, a contradiction of the Christian Faith from Apostolic times, and a surrender of Christian teaching into the hands of advocates of a non-miraculous, purely humanitarian Christ who may be ranked only with Buddha, or Confucius, or Mahomet, as each may wish.
How do you know the Virgin Mary is in heaven yet?
I will reply to that question as Christ replied to His adversaries on another matter. Do you remember how the chief priests said to Him one day, "Tell us by what authority Thou dost these things?" and He replied, "Answer Me one question, and then I will tell you. The baptism of John, whence was it, from heaven or from earth?" They would not answer. Now let me ask you a question. If the Virgin Mary is not in heaven yet, where is she? Will you suggest that our Savior did not save His own Mother, and that she is in hell? Or, if you won't admit that, will you suggest that she is not in heaven yet because she is still in purgatory?
Please explain fully the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The doctrine merely says that, after the Blessed Virgin Mary died, her body was not allowed by God to corrupt as is the case with others. This was prevented by the resurrection of her body before corruption could set in. Reunited with her soul, her body was spiritualized and glorified; at once being assumed into heaven. In other words, God anticipated for the Blessed Virgin Mary what is going to happen to all the saved on the last day.
What reasons are there for her bodily assumption?
Death and corruption are penalties of original sin. But Mary, by her Immaculate Conception, was preserved free from all taint of original sin. You may ask, "Why, then, did she die?" Though innocent, she died in union with her innocent Son. She shared in the whole work of redemption, identifying herself with Jesus in all His sorrows and sufferings. And she accepted death as He accepted death. But, as she shared in His redemptive work, so also she shared in the privilege of His resurrection and glory. After all, it was just as easy for God to take her glorified body to heaven at once as it will be to take the glorified bodies of all the saved at the last day.
Let us turn from your dogma of Christ to those dogmas concerning your goddess Mary.
It would be mortal sin for any Catholic to regard Mary as a goddess. If a Catholic expressed such a belief to a Priest in confession he would be refused absolution unless he promised to renounce such an absurd idea. If you wish to attack Catholic doctrine, at least find out what Catholics do believe before you begin.
If you call her Queen of Heaven do you not do her an injustice in refusing to her the title of goddess?
It would be the greatest possible injustice to regard her as a goddess. It is just to honor her even as God has honored her, which we Catholics do. Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords, and His mother certainly possesses queenly dignity, holding the highest place in Heaven next to her Divine Son. But that does not, and cannot change her finite and created human nature. To regard her as a goddess would be absurd.
Yet you insist that she is the Mother of God!
Jesus Christ is true God and true man, and as He was born of Mary she is truly the Mother of God. The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity was born of her according to the humanity He derived from her. She is not a goddess, for God did not take His Divine Being from her. But she is the Mother of God since the Second Per-Bon of the Blessed Trinity was truly born of her in His human nature.
How could Mary be the mother of the One who created her?
Mary owed her being, of course, to God, but this under the aspect of His eternal Nature. Subsequent to her creation that human nature was born of her which the Son of God had assumed to Himself. She was, therefore, the mother of Christ. But Christ was one Divine Person existing in two natures, one eternal and divine; the other temporal and human. Mary necessarily gave birth to a being with one Personality and that Divine, and she is rightly called the Mother of God.
Does not the Catholic Church insist also upon the biologically impossible dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary herself?
The dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary has nothing to do with biology. It does not mean that she was conceived miraculously in the physical sense. She was normally conceived and born of her parents, Joachim and Ann. But in her very conception her soul was preserved immaculate in the sense that she inherited no stain of original sin, derived from our first parents.
According to Catholic doctrine the Sacrament of Baptism destroys original sin. Would you say that Mary did not need Baptism?
Mary did not need Baptism in so far as that Sacrament was instituted for the destruction of original sin. She received that Sacrament in order to participate in its other effects, and chiefly in order to receive the Christian character which that Sacrament impresses upon the soul.
If Mary was sinless, she could not have needed redemption! Yet is not Christ the Redeemer of every child of Adam?
In so far as the sin of Adam involved the whole human race in condemnation Mary needed redeeming. But there are two ways of redeeming. God could allow one to be born in sin and then purify the soul by subsequent application of the merits of Christ, or He could, by an anticipation of the merits of Christ, exempt a soul from any actual contraction of original sin. Thus He exempted Mary from any actual inheritance of the sin, and she owes her exemption to the anticipated merits of Christ. In other words, she was redeemed by Christ by prevention rather than by subsequent purification.
Is there any evidence in Scripture that Mary was indeed never actually subject to original sin?
Yes. In Gen. III., 15, God said to Satan, "I will put enmities between thee and the woman ... thou shalt lie in wait for her heel." The radical enmity between Satan and that second Eve, the Mother of Christ, forbids her having been under the dominion of Satan, as she would have been had she ever contracted original sin in actual fact In Lk. I., 28, we read how the Angel was sent by God to salute Mary with the words, "Hail, full of grace." Grace excludes sin, and had there been any sin at all in Mary she could not have been declared to be filled with grace. The Protestant version translates the phrase as "thou that hast been highly favored." But the Greek certainly implies "completely filled with holiness." However, complaints that our doctrine exempts Mary from the contracting of original sin are becoming more and more rare in a world which is tending to deny original sin altogether, and which wishes to exempt everybody from it.
St. Paul says that One died for all, and therefore all were dead. II.Cor. V., 14.
Such texts must be interpreted in the light of other passages where God reveals that Mary was never under the dominion of Satan. Mary is included in these words of St. Paul juridically in so far as she was born of Adam, but she was not allowed to be born in sin to be afterwards redeemed. She was redeemed by prevention.
St. John knew the Mother of Christ better than the others, yet he does not mention her Immaculate Conception!
In Rev. XII. he shows clearly his knowledge of the deadly opposition between Mary and Satan. His Gospel he wrote to supplement the Synoptic accounts, and sufficient details had been given concerning Mary herself by St Luke. Omission to mention a fact in a given book is not proof that the writer did not know of it, and above all if it does not fall within the scope of his work.
Did the early Church know anything of this doctrine?
St. Augustine, in the 4th century, wrote, "When it is a matter of sin we must except the holy Virgin Mary, concerning whom I will have no question raised, owing to the honor due to Our Lord." St. Ephrem, also in the 4th century, taught very clearly the Immaculate Conception of Mary, likening her to Eve before the fall. The Oriental churches celebrated the feast of the Immaculate Conception as early as the 7th century. When Pope Pius IX. defined the Catholic doctrine in 1854 he gave, not a new truth to be added to Christian teaching, but merely defined that this doctrine was part of Christian teaching from the very beginning, and that it is to be believed by all as part of Christian revelation.
Your infallible Church allowed St. Bernard to remain in ignorance of this doctrine.
Since the Church had not then given any infallible definition on the subject St. Bernard naturally could not be guided by it. St. Bernard believed that Mary was born free from sin, but he was puzzled as to the moment of her sanctification. He thought the probable explanation to be that she was conceived in sin, but purified as was St. John the Baptist prior to her actual birth. But he did not regard this opinion as part of his Faith. Meantime his error was immaterial prior to the final authentic decision of the infallible Church. St. Bernard believed all that God had taught and all that the Catholic Church had clearly set forth in her definitions prior to his time.
Did not St. Thomas Aquinas deny the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception?
His opinion was probably much the same as that of St. Bernard. Before the definite decision of the Church was given theologians were free to discuss the matter. But the Church has since defined that the soul of Mary was never subject for a single moment to the stain of original sin. Both St. Bernard and St. Thomas would have been very glad to have had the assistance of such a definition.
Why did the Church withhold that honor from Mary for so long a time?
Since Mary always possessed that honor the Church did not withhold it from her. The definition that Mary did possess such an honor was given by the Church when necessity demanded it. There was no real dispute about this matter in the early Church. In the middle ages theologians attempted a deeper analysis of the privileges of Mary and, with no infallible decision of the Church to help them, some theologians arrived at defective conclusions chiefly because of the defective psychology of the times. Some theologians held that Mary was preserved from original sin from the very moment of her conception; others said from the moment of her animation; yet others that she was purified at a moment subsequent both to her conception and to her animation. All admitted that she was sanctified prior to her actual birth. Now that the Church has spoken there is no doubt on the subject.
Did not Franciscans and Dominicans attack each other bitterly over the Immaculate Conception?
They indulged in much controversy, but it was a free matter for discussion until the Church had given her definite ruling. The Catholic Church demands unity in doctrines which have been definitely decided, liberty in matters still undecided, and charity always. I admit that her ideals of charity have not always been maintained by her wayward children in theological controversies, but that is no fault of the Church.
Did not Philip III. and Philip IV. ask the Popes Paul V., Gregory V., and Alexander VII. to define the Immaculate Conception in order to stop the wrangling, the Popes replying that the doctrine was not definable as not being in Scripture?
The Popes have never given such a decision. Paul V. in 1617 forbade anyone to teach publicly that Mary was not immaculate. Gregory V. in 1622 ordered the discussion to stop until the Church should have given an official decision. Alexander VII. said that the Immaculate Conception of Mary was the common doctrine of the Church and that no one must deny it. None of these Popes gave a dogmatic definition, but rather a disciplinary ruling. Pope Pius IX. defined the doctrine finally in 1854.
Why call Mary a virgin, seeing that she was a mother. The linking of the two terms is an insult to reason.
The assertion that an omnipotent God is limited by the natural laws, which He Himself established, is an insult to reason. Jesus, the child of Mary, was conceived miraculously without the intervention of any human father, and was born miraculously, Mary's virginity being preserved throughout. I do not claim that any natural laws were responsible for this event. I claim that God was responsible, and the only way you can show that the doctrine is not reasonable is by proving that there is no God, or that He could not do what Catholic doctrine asserts.
Where does it say in Scripture that Mary was ever a virgin?
Isaiah the prophet (VII., 14) certainly predicted a supernatural and extraordinary birth of the Messiah when he wrote, "The Lord Himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son; and his name shall be called Emmanuel." St. Luke says, "The angel Gabriel was sent from God ... to a virgin . . . and the virgin's name was Mary." When Mary was offered the dignity of becoming the mother of the Messiah, a privilege to which any Jewish maiden would ordinarily look forward with eager desire, she urged against the prospect the fact that she had no intention of motherhood. "How shall this be done, because I know not man." She does not refer to the past, but by using the present tense indicates her present and persevering intention. The angel assured her that her child would be due to the miraculous operation of the Holy Spirit, and that she would not be asked to forfeit the virginity she prized so highly, and then only did she consent. Luke I., 26-38. When Jesus was born Mary had none of the suffering usually associated with childbirth. The child was born miraculously, Mary herself in no way incapacitated. She herself attended to her own needs and those of the child. "She brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him up in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger." Lk. II., 7.
Did not Mary, to cloak her own sin, persuade St. Joseph that her child was of the Holy Ghost?
No. That is absolutely false. Mary, saluted by an angel as full of grace, was the purest and holiest woman who ever lived on this earth. And, as a matter of fact, with sublime confidence in God, Mary refrained from explaining the event to St Joseph, leaving all to God. As St. Matthew tells us, "Behold the angel of the Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying, 'Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.'" I., 20. What you suggest has been said by certain people merely because the Catholic Church honors Mary. Their hatred of the Catholic Church is so great that they dislike all she loves, and are willing to overlook any injury to Christ in fostering their hatred. Yet how can they hope to please Christ by dishonoring His mother? Every true child bitterly resents disrespect to his mother, and Christ was the best son who ever lived. The more we honor Mary the more we honor Christ, for the honor we show her is because of Christ, If He were not the central figure, Mary would have been forgotten long ago.
If Jesus was born of a virgin why does He say nothing about it?
We do not know that He said nothing about it. The evangelists do not record any special utterances of Christ on this subject, but they do not pretend to record all that He ever said. St Luke tells us that when He met the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, "beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them in all the Scriptures, the things that were concerning him." XXIV., 27. There is every probability that He explained His advent into this world according to the prophecy of Isaiah. Meantime the Gospels do record the fact that Mary was a virgin, and their words are as reliable in this as when they record the utterances of Christ.
To prove Davidic descent both Matthew and Luke give the genealogy of Joseph, useless were not Joseph the father of Christ.
The genealogy of Joseph was that of Mary also. They were kinspeople of the same Davidic stock. The Jews as a rule counted their generations only in the male line, and such a generation alone would appeal to the Jews for whom Matthew above all wrote. The same St. Matthew records that the angel told Joseph that the child was conceived miraculously by the Holy Ghost and not through the intervention of man. St. Luke in turn left no doubt as to his mind on the subject when he carefully wrote that "Jesus himself was beginning about the age of thirty years; being (as it was supposed) the son of Joseph." III., 23.
St. Matthew says that Joseph knew her not till she brought forth her first-born son. I., 25.
Nor did he. And the expression "till" in Hebrew usage has no necessary reference to the future. Thus in Gen. VIII., 7, we read that "the dove went forth from the ark and did not return till the waters dried up." That expression does not suggest that it returned then. It did not return at all, having found resting places. Nor doe3 the expression first-born child imply that there were other children afterwards. Thus Exodus says, "Every first-born shall be sanctified unto God." Parents had not to wait to see if other children were born before they could call the first their first-born!
Matt. XIII, 55-56, says, "His brethren James and Joseph, and Simon and Judes and His sisters, are they not all with us?"
The Jewish expression "brothers and sisters of the Lord" in Scripture merely refers to relationship in the same tribe or stock. Cousins often came under that title. In all nations the word brother has a wide significance, as when one Mason will call another a brother-mason without suggesting that he was born of the same mother. The same St. Matthew speaks explicitly of "Mary, the mother of James and Joseph" in XXVII., 56, obviously alluding to a Mary who was not the mother of Jesus but who was married to Cleophas, the brother of Joseph.
There would not be two girls in the one family called Mary.
There certainly could be. And St. John, XIX., 25, writes that there stood by the cross of Jesus "His mother, and his mother's sister, Mary of Cleophas." But even here, Mary of Cleophas need not have been a sister in the first degree of blood relationship, but rather of the same lineage in more remote degrees of either consanguinity or affinity.
Why are Protestants, who believe in Scripture, so convinced that Mary had other children?
They are not inspired by love for Christ, or for the mother of Christ, or for Scripture in their doctrine. Their main desire is to maintain a doctrine differing from that of the Catholic Church. But it is a position, which is rapidly going out of fashion. Learned Protestant scholars to day deny as emphatically as any Catholic that Mary had other children. When Our Lord, dying on the cross, commended His mother to the care of St. John, He did so precisely because He was her only child, and He knew that Mary had no other children to care for her. The idea that Mary had other children is disrespectful to the Holy Spirit who claimed and sanctified her as His sanctuary. It insults Christ, who was the only begotten of His mother even as He was the only-begotten of His Heavenly Father. It insults Mary, who would have been guilty of great ingratitude to God, if she threw away the gift of virginity, which God had so carefully preserved for her in the conception of Christ. It insults St. Joseph. God had told him by an angel to take Mary to wife, and that the child to be born of her had no earthly father but was the very Son of God. God merely gave St. Joseph the privilege of protecting her good name amongst the undiscerning Jews, and He chose a God-fearing man who would respect her. Knowing that her child was God Himself in human form, Joseph would at once regard her as on a plane far superior to that of any ordinary human being, and to him, as to us, the mere thought of her becoming a mother to merely earthly children would have seemed a sacrilege.
You urge these privileges granted to Mary as the foundation of your devotion to her, yet Christ said, "Rather blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it."
Would you presume to say that Mary, whom the angel addressed as full of grace, did not hear the Word of God and keep it? You have missed the sense of the passage to which you allude. In Luke XI, 27, a woman praised the one who had the honor to be the mother of Christ. Christ did not for a moment deny it, as you would like to believe. The sense of His words is simply, "Yes, she is blessed. But better to hear God's word and keep it, and thus attain holiness, than to be My mother. You cannot all imitate Mary by being My mother; but you can do so by hearing God's word and keeping it." The thought that those who hear God's word and keep it are rather blessed than Mary because she did not is simply absurd. "Henceforth," declared Mary prophetically, "all generations shall call me blessed." Lk. I, 48. And Elizabeth saluted her with the words, "Blessed art thou among women." Lk. I, 42.
How do you prove Mary's bodily assumption into Heaven?
No Christian could dispute the fact that Mary's soul is in Heaven. Christ certainly did not suffer the soul of His own mother to be lost. The doctrine of her bodily assumption after her death is not contained in Scripture, but is guaranteed by tradition and by the teaching of the Catholic Church. That Scripture omits to record the fact is no argument against it. Omission is not denial. Meantime early traditions positively record the fact, and negatively we note that, whilst the mortal remains of a St. Peter and of a St. Paul are jealously possessed and honored in Rome, no city or Christian center has ever claimed to possess the mortal remains of Our Lady. Certainly relics of Our Lady would be regarded as having greater value than those of any Saint or Apostle, so nearly was she related to Christ. And it was most fitting that the body of Mary, who had been preserved even from the taint of original sin, should not have been allowed to corrupt After all, it was just as easy for God to take her glorified body to Heaven at once as it will be to take the glorified bodies of all the saved at the last day. However the definite sanction of this doctrine by the Catholic Church is sufficient assurance of the fact.
Why is the Rosary so necessary in the Roman Catholic religion?
The Rosary is not a necessary part of the Catholic religion. It is a very useful form of devotion which Catholics are free to adopt or not. Most Catholics are wise enough to adopt it, and the Church makes use of it in her evening devotions very often.
For what reasons are Rosary Beads used by Catholics?
In what is known as the Rosary, one undertakes to meditate on each of several aspects of the life and sufferings of Christ, each meditation lasting as long as it takes to recite one Our Father and ten Hail Marys. To save us from the distraction of counting these prayers we quietly allow beads, divided accordingly, to slip through our fingers, our lips repeating the prayers, our minds pondering over the significant mysteries of our Lord's life on earth.
Why do they count Rosary Beads?
They don't. They know just how many beads there are in a Rosary, without having to count them. To save any attention to the counting of their prayers they use Rosary Beads, so that they can attend to their meditation on the Gospels during the time it takes them to say the usual prayers proper to the Rosary. The beads are thus a help to avoid distraction. They also symbolize a spiritual garland of prayers to be laid at our Lord's feet just as one would place a garland of flowers on the Cenotaph for lesser and merely natural reasons of reverence and gratitude. Just because you don't do things, or because they are strange to you, you must not think them foolish, or that there is nothing in them.
The "Rosary symbol" was borrowed from the Hindus and Moslems, and it symbolises the name of Mahomet.
No "Rosary symbol" exists among the Hindus or Moslems. The use of beads for the counting of their prayers may exist, and they may attach a symbolical meaning to their beads. But they have not the symbolism of the Rosary. The Catholic Church attaches no symbolism to beads. They have a purely utilitarian value, as a help to completing a certain number of prayers without the distraction of counting them. The Rosary is a series of vocal prayers counted on the beads, accompanied by meditation on the mysteries of the life of Jesus Christ. Its symbolism is that of a garland of spiritual roses offered to God, and this symbolism refers to the prayers, not to the beads. The beads as such stand for nothing. I might point out that the Rosary did not come into existence until the twelfth century, though beads for purposes of other prayers undoubtedly existed before that. But if the Rosary did not exist until the twelfth century, it is not correct to speak of "Rosary symbols" prior to that date.
The Roman Catholic Christians took over this fetish from the Moslems 560 B.C.
Firstly, the Rosary is not a fetish. A fetish is an object with a spirit inhabiting it, whose services are at the disposal of the one who possesses that object. Now no Catholic has ever believed Rosary Beads to be inhabited by any spirit or spirits; nor are the beads worshipped in any way at all. Therefore, the Rosary cannot be a fetish. Secondly, how could Catholics take over the Rosary from the Moslems in 560 B.C.? No Christians existed before Christ Himself existed. But perhaps you mean 560 A.D. Yet here again you will be in no small difficulty. For no Moslems existed before 622 A.D., and the Rosary was unknown to Catholics until 600 years after that.
Attending a Catholic Church one evening I was disgusted by the rigmarole called the Rosary. What is that Rosary?
The Rosary is a special form of devotion to Mary. One takes a set of beads, divided into five sections, each section consisting of one large bead and ten small ones. Holding the large bead, one says the Our Father, and on each of the small ones, the Hail Mary. Between each section or decade the Gloria is said. Whilst saying the prayers, one meditates or thinks of the joys, or sorrows, or glories of Christ's life and of that of His Mother. It is a very beautiful form of prayer with which you were disgusted merely because you did not understand it.
The Rosary is a relic of the superstitious middle ages, when it was meant for ignorant people.
The use of beads dates from the earliest centuries. The prayers embodied in the Rosary were composed by Christ Himself in the case of the Our Father, and by the Angel Gabriel, St. Elizabeth, and the Council of Ephesus in the 5th century, in the case of the Hail Mary. We are in very good company with those prayers. As a devotion, with its loving contemplation of the mysteries of the life, death and resurrection of Our Lord it appeals to rich and poor, to learned and ignorant alike, as Christianity itself was meant to do.
When were beads invented, and what do they symbolize?
It is impossible to say when beads were first used. As an aid to memory, the early Christians used to put a number of pebbles in one pocket, transferring them to another as they said each prayer, so that they could be sure of completing such prayers each day as their devotion inspired. Later, berries or pebbles were strung together for the purpose. In the middle ages sections of these beads were adapted to the different meditations which compose the Rosary, the sections being a numerical help to meditate for a given period of time upon each allotted subject. The symbolism is expressed in the word Rosary. A Rosary is a garland of flowers. One rose does not make a Rosary. Prayers are the flowers of the spiritual life, and in offering that group of prayers, known as the Rosary, we lay a garland of spiritual flowers at the feet of God.
Christ did not have a crucifix or Rosary beads.
He made the first crucifix. That He did not use Rosary beads does not affect the question. He never had a copy of the New Testament in His hands, yet you do not reject the New Testament because of that!
Between each Our Father to God, it throws in ten prayers to Mary!
You've got it the wrong way round. Between each ten Hail Marys an Our Father is said. The Rosary is essentially a devotion to Mary, honoring her whom God Himself so honored. And it honors her particularly in her relation to Christ, whose life is the subject of the meditations. The Our Father abstracts from the incarnation of Christ; the Hail Mary is full of reverence to Our Lord's birth into this world for us.
Would not the Rosary be just as efficient if said with one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Gloria?
It would not be the Rosary then, but some other type of devotion. Nor would such a devotion be as efficient, for meditation whilst saying ten Hail Marys is better than meditation whilst saying one. But your trouble seems to be based on the mere question of number.That is quite immaterial.