Ask A priest

 

My question is regarding Mary. At Mathew 13:55,56 says there that Jesus had brothers and sisters.
Also at Galatians 1:19 Paul says that James was the brother of Jesus.
Isn’t then the Bible the word of God? Thus it shows to us that yes Mary was virgin up to Jesus birth and thereafter had children with Joseph. Jesus was brought up in a normal family..
So according with the biblical evidence why Catholic Church still believes that Mary remained virgin in all her lifetime.
Please could you answer me.
Thanks

Fr. John Bonavitacola

 

The first point you always have to remember is that when you read the Bible you are reading a translation from the original languages. In the case of the New Testament the original language it was written in was ancient Greek ( a bit different than modern Greek) Anytime you translate a word from one language to another some of the meaning with be lost or altered. When you look up a word in a dictionary it will often give you multiple meanings of a word, with the first listed as the most used.

This is the case with the wording of the phrase: Jesus brothers and sisters. The Greek word also means relatives, close relations, cousins. We often describe people who are very close to us as a brother or a sister even though they are not a blood relative. So based on the meaning of the original word it is hard to say if these brothers and sisters of Jesus were full blood siblings. Another explanation is that Joseph may have been widowed and had children with his first wife, its why he is often depicted in art as being much older than Mary. So the brothers and sisters could have been step siblings. Alternatively they could have been children Mary and Joseph took in after their parents died. The point is that from the actual text you can not prove or disprove that Mary had other children with Joseph.

Therefore you have to consider other evidence, namely that the tradition of the Church from the first centuries held that Mary remained a virgin and that this has been consistently held through the centuries. Also it would seem odd that if Mary had other biological children why did Jesus entrust her from the Cross to John the Apostle and not one of the “brothers and sisters of Jesus”.? This doesn’t mean that Jesus was not raised in the normal way by his parents. Mary would have followed all the practices of a first century parent and a good Jewish mother in raising her son and whatever other children she may have had in her care.

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Sunday Obligation

Liz
Question: My mom recently moved into a lovely Senior Living community. The sisters from the local parish bring the Eucharist and have a communion service. If I attend that with my mom, does that meet my Sunday obligation?

Priest
Answer: The general rule of thumb for this sort of situation is that if a person is the primary care giver and can not leave their loved one/patient alone to attend Mass then receiving the Eucharist from a visiting Minister of Care would suffice for a Sundayobligation. If the caregiver is not prevented from leaving the person they are caring for then they should attend Mass.

Can I Go To Heaven If I …….?

Your Question:If you identify as homosexual, and act on those desires, can you go to heaven? What if you want to change but can’t drag yourself out if temptation?

Answer

Whether one goes to heaven or not is God’s decision only. What we know about what the standard God will use to judge us (or maybe more properly we judge ourselves) is first one’s acceptance of the saving death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. If we knowingly cling to our sins we will have judged ourselves. But in order to do that we need to first have made a decision to embrace that which is intrinsically wrong through a full consent of our will and done with sufficient knowledge or reflection.  (Conditions such as habitual or addictive or compulsive behavior tend to mitigate our ability to fully consent but we still have  responsibility to deal with the addiction or compulsion.)
One of the more confusing aspects to our culture is its insistence on identifying people by their desires. So in this case being identified as a homosexual as opposed to a person who experiences same sex attractions. When you chose the former it defines you whole self, where as the latter only describes part of who a person is. So with that in mind a person who struggles with temptation of any kind, even to serious wrong, is just struggling which is something that is part of the human experience. Some struggles may be more intense than others. The spiritual tradition provides tools to resist the temptation and also see the struggle as possibly productive of virtue. SO when we learn to say no to a part of ourself we are at the same time learning to say yes to God.
The worst thing we can do is to simply succumb to the temptation, with a “it’s not worth the struggle anymore” attitude or because I feel this way it is not wrong.  If same-sex attraction is your struggle than struggle with it and seek out the tools you need to not cave into it and help you resist it. When we simply cave and act out we do put ourselves in spiritual danger.

Wayward Women

Wayward Women: Question
I am a widowed woman of almost 4 years.  My husband died in 2012.  I met a married man back in 2008, and to this day we have a relationship that is more than just sexual......we are deeply in love with each other.  Our plan is to one day get married.  In the past 7 years that I have known this man, he broke up with me twice (1st time because he wasn't sure of this relationship, the 2nd time out of spiritual fear of condemnation by God).  I persisted both times and "won" him back to me.  He is a member of a Missionary Baptist church, and I am Catholic.  
My question is:  Are we both committing adultery?  Just him?  Just me?  Also, if he divorces his wife because of sexual infidelity to her, and marries me - is that still adultery for him and/or for me?   Thank you for your help
The Priest Reply
The simple answer to your question is yes, you would both be in an adulterous relationship and if the man leaves his wife to wed you he will still be in an adulterous relationship because of his bond to his wife (unless it could be proven that the marriage was invalid or the bond is dissolved by death). 
 
The bigger question is why would you want to be the source of pain for another woman. And why would you trust him to be faithful to you since he  has already demonstrated a willingness to be unfaithful? Why do you suppose his love for you is any different than that for his wife? 
 
Jesus warned us not to build our house on sand which is exactly what this relationship appears to have as its foundation. Real authentic love is willing to deny self the satisfactions it seeks when those will harm another, lack integrity or be less than honest. 
 
 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

ASK A PRIEST: Marriage

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Blog reader Al submitted this question to our blog:

Why is it that a priest can celebrate Mass anywhere, but a Catholic wedding HAS TO be in a church?

Here is the response from our priest:

When it comes to celebrating the Sacraments or exercising various ecclesial functions a priest is given authority or power to perform them by either the law itself or by a competent authority. So for example by virtue of his ordination the law gives the priest the authority to celebrate Mass at least privately anywhere unless that authority is revoked by violation of another law or by a Bishop or Pope (the competent authority.) Hence the place where Mass is celebrated can vary.
When it comes to witnessing the Sacrament of Marriage the law, that is canon law, gives the Bishop the authority to determine the place of Marriage. In the Diocese of Phoenix and in most US dioceses the place is normally a Parish Church or other “sacred place” such as a chapel or monastery. The Bishop’s thinking is that in order to retain the sacred character of marriage the most fitting place for it to be celebrated is a Church. The Bishop however for various reasons can dispense from that requirement. For example when the marriage is between a Catholic and a non-baptized person, a neutral setting may be preferable. In order for this to happen certain conditions need to be meet and approved by the Bishop.
To turn the question around, as a priest I often wonder why it is so strongly desired to have Weddings held outside?

Many questions arise every day–Struggles of faith, family and regret, or even simple curiosities of life and religion. It is always okay to ask those questions.

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ASK A PRIEST: Social Justice

Blog reader Al submitted this question to our blog:

Is it OK to support gays (fellow human beings) in their fight against social injustice while at the same time disagree with them from a religious standpoint that is being gay is an abomination

Here is the response from our priest:

We should always try to find common ground with anyone with disagree with, that is the true nature of tolerance. Whether we should work with someone on an issue of social justice depends on the issue.
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When it comes to those with same sex attraction the Church clearly teaches that all forms of discrimination should be avoided, so we could work with them if they are being discriminated against say in  fair housing. Does that include same sex marriage? No, the right to marriage by definition can only be between a man and a woman, so denying it to two persons of the same gender is not a form of discrimination.

Many questions arise every day–Struggles of faith, family and regret, or even simple curiosities of life and religion. It is always okay to ask those questions.

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ASK A PRIEST: Soldiers

Blog reader Al submitted this question to our blog:

Why is it that we pray for soldiers at war in Iraq Afghanistan etc.. , for their safety comes at the cost of others lives. Why in this case the political aspiration supersedes human life?

Here is the response from our priest:

When we pray for our military it does not mean we are praying against the enemy. But I realize that as you say a consequence of our military action may be the death of others. That is why a decision to use force must be morally justifiable, weighed against other options and done in a way that is proportionate to the threat involve and have a clear outcome for ending the aggression.
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Praying for our military personnel is an act of charity but it does not exclude us from praying for the well being of all people involved. Military action should be the last resort, knowing the potential for human suffering and death so that is why it is important that as reasonably as possible to ascertain that we are in fact disarming an unjust aggressor in order to justify the use of force.

Many questions arise every day–Struggles of faith, family and regret, or even simple curiosities of life and religion. It is always okay to ask those questions.

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