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Theologians Weigh in on the Virgin Birth

At the risk of someone else suggesting that I take my own advice, namely, that one should be reverently silent on the subject of the Virgin Birth, I am posting several significant articles on the subject. Both authors are eminent Mariologists. (See the bios).

Considering the context, I thought my point about reverential silence was clear enough. The fathers and magisterium affirm the miraculous quality of the Virgin Birth with many words of wonder and praise, but they remain silent as to its explanation, and never venture into physiological territory. Attempts to explain it end by explaining it away. That one should suggest that pain in childbirth implies nothing about Our Lady’s virginity, means that the doctrine is not clearly understood. Hence, in view of the recent attention generated by the AirMaria review and video, I am making a further effort to clarify the truth about this very important doctrine of the Church.

In the first article Father Peter Damian Fehlner, STD (bio) addresses the question, asked here in one of the comments, whether one sins by doubting or denying the Virgin Birth as it is traditionally defined.

Monsignor Arthur Burton Calkins, STD (bio) has kindly contributed several articles. The first is entitled “The Virginal Conception and Birth of Jesus Christ as Received and Handed on by the Catholic Church.” This important contribution was first published as a chapter from the book The Virgin Mary and Theology of the Body (Stockbridge, MA: Marian Press, 2005, 13-40), edited by Father Donald H. Calloway, M.I.C., who has graciously given permission to post Monsignor Calkins’ article here.

The second article by Monsignor Calkins, “The Virginitas in Partu,” is a clear exposition of the doctrine of the Virgin Birth with a view to clearing up theological and catechetical confusion concerning the matter. This piece was published originally in the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly Vol. 27, No. 1 (Spring 2004) 9-13 (it had previously been published in Vol. 26, No. 1 (Winter 2003) 10-13 with all 38 endnotes omitted).

Monsignor Calkins’ third article, “The Virginitas in Partu Revisited: A Response to Fr. Zimmerman,” follows up on the previous one, responding to the late Fr. Anthony Zimmerman’s published objections. This last article by the Msgr. was never published in the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly, so it debuts, appropriately enough, at this time.

I hope a thoughtful reading of these texts will lead one to a better understanding of the matter, and greater faith in the truth of the Virgin Birth. I thank the authors for their contributions.

Fr. Angelo M. Geiger, FI

Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner’s Reply to Question

Msgr. Authur B, Calkins, “The Virginal Conception and Birth of Jesus Christ as Received and Handed on by the Catholic Church”

Msgr. Authur B, Calkins, “The Virginitas in Partu”

Msgr. Authur B, Calkins, “The Virginitas in Partu Revisited: A Response to Fr. Zimmerman”

One Response to “Theologians Weigh in on the Virgin Birth”

  1. Fr. Maximilian Mary Dean Says:

    Isaiah (7:14) clearly promises a sign–a Virgin (parthenos) shall conceive and a Virgin shall bear a Son. The subject of the sentence is always a Virgin and thus He shall be called Emmanuel, God with us. Take away the Virginal conception by the power of the Holy Spirit (no earthly father) or the Virginal birth (not just without pain, but miraculous), then you take away the prophesied “sign” and thus He is no longer a divine Person (God with us), but just another human person like the rest of us.
    As light passes through glass without breaking it, so Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary. His birth “sanctified” Our Lady’s Virginity, in the words of Vatican II, Lumen Gentium Chapter 8. His virginal, miraculous birth draws our attention to the “sign”, to that burning bush which is aflame but not consumed.
    To conclude, as Jesus Risen from the dead passed through the door of the Cenacle without opening it, so He passed through the womb of Our Lady without opening it. Thus He is truly called “Emmanuel” and Mary is truly the Virgin Mother before, during and after birth.