The Mother Of Christ by Father Vassall-Phillips Part 18

In the fourth century a heresy arose which denied that our Lady remained a Virgin after the Birth of her Divine Son, in opposition to the Catholic Doctrine that the Mother of God was Ever-Virgin partu et post partum. 1 This heresy soon faded away, repugnant as it was to the whole sense and tradition of Christendom. Before its extinction it was vigorously combated and denounced by great Saints and Doctors such as Epiphanius, Jerome, and Ambrose.

"Illustrious, then, is Mary," wrote St. Ambrose, " who bore aloft the standard of holy virginity, and raised on high for Christ the sacred flag of inviolable chastity. And yet, though all are invited to the practice of virginity by the example of Holy Mary, there have been some who would deny that she persevered as a virgin."

And St. Jerome stated the Catholic Doctrine concisely:

"The garden which was enclosed, the fountain that was sealed up, (Cant., iv. 12.) is a figure of the Mother of the Lord, Mother and Virgin. Hence in the Saviour's new sepulchre which was hewn in most hard rock, no one was laid either before or after. Yet, this perpetual Virgin is the mother of many virgins."

Addressing Helvidius who was the first to deny our Lady's Perpetual Virginity, the holy Doctor thus reproached the innovator:

"O, most ignorant of men, thou hast abandoned all the testimony of the Scriptures, and hast madly wronged the Virgin, copying the man of whom the story goes that, since he was unknown to the world, and was not able to think of any good deed whereby to bring himself into notice, he set Diana's temple on fire. When asked by the chief men of Ephesus what object he had in thus acting, he replied, ' To gain an evil notoriety, since I could not obtain a good one.' Thus the Greek tale, but thou hast set on fire the Temple of the Lord's Body, thou hast defiled the Sanctuary of the Holy Ghost, from which thou wilt have it that four brothers and a number of sisters came forth. Thou hast obtained thine object and become notorious by means of thy wickedness. 1 . . . Thou sayest that Mary did not remain a virgin. For myself, I claim more, that, through Mary, Joseph too was a virgin, that from a virginal marriage might be born the virgin Son."

1 Cf. St. Epiphanius, De Laudibus Maries, vii.; St. Ambrose, De I fist. Virg., vii. 52-56, viii., xi., xii., 79 ; St. Jerome, Comment, in Ezech., xliv., etc. John Cassian quotes St. Ambrose thus : " Behold the miracle of our Lord's Mother: a Virgin, she conceived, a Virgin,she brought forth, a Virgin was she when she conceived, a Virgin when pregnant, a Virgin after child birth, as it is said in Ezechiel : ' And the gate was shut, and it was not opened, for the Lord had passed through it.'" Quotations to this effect might be multiplied almost in definitely from the Ancient Fathers,