Cardinal Franzelin on the Virgin Birth

Peter_Paul_Rubens_AnnunciationThere is no end of people today who argue that in the text in Isaiah: “Behold, a Virgin will conceive and bear a son,” the term “Virgin” merely means a young woman. This is not a new or clever argument, but is answered in the Church’s tradition. The best analysis I have seen, however, is Cardinal Franzelin, a peritus at Vatican I, whose work I present on this subject:

De Verbo Incarnato
Romae, 1902
Thesis XV, II

1) We ask in what way is the revelation that is consigned to the Scriptures disposed in regard to this chapter of doctrine. The principle place pertaining to this is the prophecy of Isaiah (Is. VII:14): “Behold a Virgin will conceive and bear a son, and his name will be called Emmanuel … which means God is with us,” as is added in Matthew’s Gospel (I:23). In Hebrew this is literally: “Behold a Virgin, herself pregnant and giving birth to a son, and she will declare his name (matter, being) ‘God is with us.’”

a) The prophecy refers to Christ and his Virgin mother; for it is clear from the nature or rather more from the divine and human natures of the son. Emmanuel is certainly a name, which no man in the Scriptures is said to have born, it was not imposed from the will or external circumstances, but denoted by a name through the biblical use of speech and its intimate nature which is preached. (cf. Is. IX:6) Meanwhile this also was omitted, the son Emmanuel (Is. VIII:8) is hence said to be he whose land is Israel, I say the promised messiah. [1] For this reason, the conception and birth of this Emmanuel should be declared to be above the laws of nature, on which we will speak a little later. Therefore, St. Matthew I:22-23, that argument alone suffices which he eloquently teaches that the prophecy pertains to Christ and his miraculous conception and birth. For that reason, both the Holy Fathers and all Christian interpreters understand this prophecy.

b) The mother of the Emmanuel is certainly called a Virgin, and with an article  παρθένος, to which the quality designated by this noun fits in a singular and excellent mode. For in six places, where besides this name is found, and the meaning present is no other than a Virgin: Genesis XXIV:3; Exodus II:8; Ps. LXVII (Heb. 68):26; Cant. I:3; VI:7; Prov. XXX:19.[2] Nay more, lest a very serious matter be reduced to the trifles of grammarians, the determination of the true sense of Isaiah in no way depends from the exclusive meaning of the name considered in itself; for in this place the mode is of a solemn announcement demands a singular prodigy, so necessarily the meaning of a virgin, lest the prayer would be inept. For this reason, the Jews even to the controversies against Christians (as it is clear from the Septuagint and from the manner of citing of St. Matthew), all Christians even to the birth of rationalism, understood the prophecy to be about Christ and his supernatural, miraculous conception from a Virgin. Lastly, again the very interpretation of the Evangelist (Matth. I:22, 23) is sufficient to prove this by itself.

c) With these being fixed already, the words: “Behold, a Virgin will conceive” necessarily must be understood in the sense composed both with Isaiah and most evidently with St. Matthew, where either from the Evangelist or from the appearance of the Angel to St. Joseph the prophecy is declared. But now, if this is conceded, no also the other word “and will give birth” necessarily must be understood in the same sense. Therefore both with Isaiah and Matthew, A virgin remaining a Virgin is said not only to conceive but also to give birth. Therefore, the most holy mother was revealed just as was  παρθένος. A Virgin through excellence before the conception and in the conception of the Emmanuel, so remained in the same integrity even in birth. What we say in the major and minor proposition, is clear in the first place from the words themselves, especially as and what is read in St. Matthew: “behold a Virgin herself (which the prophet looks to in the present) pregnant and giving birth.” Besides these words were advanced by Isaiah after he offered the choice to the king of a sign completed above the order of nature. When the king refused to ask for it, the prophet intended to prophecy a characteristic prodigy: “for that reason (because you refuse to ask) the Lord himself will give you a sign (worthy by his omnipotence and infinite wisdom); behold a Virgin, etc.” After dividing the sense, not only would he announce no miracle, but something common and obvious with solemnity of words, which would be unsuitable for a prudent man, much more a prophet; but in the composed sense, which words alone are advanced, he announces something contradictory according to the laws of nature, “a Virgin, pregnant and giving birth,” which, therefore, could be effected by the almighty alone, and duly is a miracle corresponding to the solemnity of the prophetic oration. Therefore, with Matthew it is thus proved that he was not only conceived, but also born virginally. The Evangelist enunciates two distinct facts, the conception without the work of man through the power of the Holy Spirit, and the birth of a son; both however are said to have come to pass, that the prophecy would be fulfilled about a Virgin pregnant and giving birth. Therefore with the witness of the Evangelist, just as the prophecy foretold a pregnant Virgin by a supernatural mode of conception without the loss of inviolate virginity, so the prophecy foretells the supernatural mode of birth in regard to the Virgin giving birth without wound to the same virginity.

It is certain, therefore, from revelation of a most intact virginity preserved even in birth is from the Scriptures themselves. That the very thing by reason could not be arranged in a dissimilar way from the narration of St. Luke; both because the words of the angel to the Virgin (Luke I:31) “Behold, you will conceive in the womb and bear a son,” are themselves an application of the prophecy of Isaiah, and therefore the name and quality of a virgin ought to be understood, and because solicitude for the blessed Virgin for preserving her virginity (v. 24: “how shall this be?”) is related to the whole thing which preceded “You will conceive and bear a son;” and also therefore, even the power of the Holy Spirit and the overshadowing of the most High (v. 35) in the response of the angel is extended to the preservation of her virginity in both, that is not only in the conception but even in birth.

[1] If we were to give, the son of king Achaz could absolutely be called in these very words: “thy land o Emmanuel,” certainly could not be meant of another among the sons of the king, unless he was going to succeed in rule. But this was certainly Ezechias, and he was not going to be born of time but was still a new adolescent at least in those years, as St. Jerome adverts, or duly more increased with the passing of years.

[2] In the last place some reckon it comes about that the name in Hebrew, in itself does not provide the meaning of virgin, but of any young girl. But even if by chance the noun there will mean abstractly a young girl for the Hebrew as well as for the Septuagint, Syriac and Latin interpreters, certainly it retains the meaning of virgin; for it means an unmarried girl, diligently guarded, to which it is clear no man has gone into her, unless someone procures for himself a very secret way by arts of deception. Thus: “There are three difficult things and the fourth I am altogether ignorant of (The Hebrew has there are three more wonderful things to take, and the fourth I know not): the way of the eagle in heaven, the way of the snake over the rock, the way of a boat in the midst of the sea, the way of a man in adolescence.” (In Hebrew the words can be read: the way of a man to a virgin.).

Interview 025 — Pope Boniface VIII and the decline of the medieval Papacy


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Today Boniface of Unam Sanctam Catholicam rejoins us to talk about his blogger namesake, Pope Boniface VIII, his life and how politically he ushered in the end of the Medieval Papacy and the prestige it enjoyed from great Popes like Innocent III an Gregory VII, and more to the point, the beginning of the dissolution of Christendom. We also discuss the authority and implications of his famous Bull Unam Sanctam, and the positive aspects of Boniface VIII’s papacy in the establishment of Jubilee years.
NB: This was originally recorded on the feast of Christ the King on the Traditional Catholic Liturgical Calendar, but is actually published closer to the Feast of Christ the King on the 1970 Calendar.

If you like this or any of our podcasts, interviews, etc., which are provided for free, please consider donating as little as a $1. God bless you. paypal_btn_donateCC_LG

Books

The Rending of Christendom: Primary Source textbook
Philip the Fair and Boniface VIII

References

Unam Sanctam
1911 Catholic Encyclopedia Article on Boniface VIII
Sicilian Vespers
Agevin = Supporter of Charles of Anjou (i.e. French)
Guelphs and Gibbelines
Papal Interdict
Excommunication
Papal Legates
Edward I
Philip IV, “the Fair” of France
Analysis of The Bull Unam Sanctam
Inauguration of the Jubilee year

We also mentioned St. John Fisher a little bit. Here is a book treating the history and times of St. John Fisher in great detail, where you can see the discussion of Praemunire and many of the things that begin in Boniface VIII’s time in great detail:

John_fisher_Reynolds_frontSt. John Fisher: Reformer, Humanist, Martyr by E.E. Reynolds

Interview 024 – Constantine Molitor on the Persecution of the Church in Germany under the Third Reich


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Priests lined up in Dachau, with the triangle denoting they are clergy.

Priests lined up in Dachau, with the triangle denoting they are clergy.

Today we are joined from Germany by Constantine Mollitor who gives the real story of the persecution of the Catholic Church by the Third Reich. In great detail, Constantine dispels the myth of “Hitler’s Pope” and other assorted nonsense with the real details of the Church’s resistance to, as well as persecution by the Nazi regime. Apart from the political and historical details of how the Nazi state broke up Catholic life in Germany, Constantine also shares the many stories of German priests sent to Dachau or other labor camps for upholding the Catholic Faith.

If you like this or any of our podcasts, interviews, etc., which are provided for free, please consider donating as little as a $1. God bless you. paypal_btn_donateCC_LG

Books

The Kings Depart: The Tragedy of Germany, Versailles and the German Revolution
Hitler’s War by David Irving (NB: Constantine did not recommend this book, but I did because of its erudition. You can ignore that Irving is a famous holocaust denier [though he was walked some of that back], because none of that is taken up in the book which was written before he went down that path and is only based on primary sources).
The Myth of Hitler’s Pope by Rabbi David Dahlan
Priestblock 25487: A Memoir of Dachau

German Books:

Kreuz und Hakenkreuz by Fr. Neuhaeusler
Erich Klausner (by Walter Adolph)
Geheime Aufzeichnungen (by Walter Adolph)

References

NB: Some links are to wikipedia, which is provided as a basis for research and acquiring more info, not as an end all and be all source of information, usually because it was one of the only pages available in English.
Jewish Groups oppose the Beatification and Canonization of Pius XII
860,000 Jews saved by Pius XII
Rosa Luxemburg
Karl Liebknecht
Freikorps
Bolshevik takeover
Dietrich Eckart – Thule Society
Munich Putsch, 9 November 1923/ Beer Hall Putsch
Reichskonkordat
Quote from Mit Brennender Sorge:
“When, in 1933, We consented, Venerable Brethren, to open negotiations for a concordat, which the Reich Government proposed on the basis of a scheme of several years’ standing; and when, to your unanimous satisfaction, We concluded the negotiations by a solemn treaty, We were prompted by the desire, as it behooved Us, to secure for Germany the freedom of the Church’s beneficent mission and the salvation of the souls in her care, as well as by the sincere wish to render the German people a service essential for its peaceful development and prosperity. Hence, despite many and grave misgivings, We then decided not to withhold Our consent for We wished to spare the Faithful of Germany, as far as it was humanly possible, the trials and difficulties they would have had to face, given the circumstances, had the negotiations fallen through. It was by acts that We wished to make it plain, Christ’s interests being Our sole object, that the pacific and maternal hand of the Church would be extended to anyone who did not actually refuse it.
If, then, the tree of peace, which we planted on German soil with the purest intention, has not brought forth the fruit, which in the interest of your people, We had fondly hoped, no one in the world who has eyes to see and ears to hear will be able to lay the blame on the Church and on her Head. The experiences of these last years have fixed responsibilities and laid bare intrigues, which from the outset only aimed at a war of extermination. In the furrows, where We tried to sow the seed of a sincere peace, other men — the “enemy” of Holy Scripture — oversowed the cockle of distrust, unrest, hatred, defamation, of a determined hostility overt or veiled, fed from many sources and wielding many tools, against Christ and His Church. They, and they alone with their accomplices, silent or vociferous, are today responsible, should the storm of religious war, instead of the rainbow of peace, blacken the German skies.” nos. 3-4

Cardinal Schulte, Bishop Klein, Archbishop Bertram condemned Nazi brutality in 1933
Cardinal Bertram (German, but readable with Google Translate)
Cardinal Faulhalber Archbishop of Munich-Freising, asked Hitler to release political prisoners in Dachau.
Catholic priests in Dachau.
SS members required to defend their honor in a duel
Nazi harassment of the Church: forbidding sermons, restricting processions, restriction of Masses
Anti-Catholic propaganda in SS Weekly newspaper Das Schwarze Korps
Der Stürmer, published by Julius Streicher.

Alleged alliance of Jews, Jesuits and Freemasons
Nazicartoons copy

Anti-Pacelli (Pius XII) political cartoons
nazicartoon1

Push for pan-denominational secular schools by the Nazis
Nazis eliminated Catholic schools by decree
Expropriations of Religious Houses
Nazi destruction of the Catholic press in Germany
Mitt Brennender Sorge
Nazi reaction to the encyclical
Maronite Catholic filmmaker jailed for making movie critical of Islam (in the US)
Nazis always hostile to Cardinal Pacelli
Praise for Pius XII by Jewish groups immediately following his election
Dutch Bishops condemned persecution of the Jews in Holland, and Nazis responded by deporting more Jews as well as Catholics of Jewish decent.
SS paratroopers planned to kidnap Pius XII in 1945.
Erich Klausner, killed for being a political Catholic
Blessed Jakob Gapp, Priest tricked by Nazis pretending to be Jews in need sent to concentration camp
Fr. Neururer martyr for marriage; warned a woman from marrying a local Nazi boss in Tyrol because he was divorced with no annulment. Died at Buchenwald: German; English
Fr. Häfner priest in Bavaria, made a Nazi party member publicly condemn his own divorce
Ordination of Blessed Karl Leisner in Dachau.
Carmelite convent removed from Auschwitz after protest from Israel
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
Bl. Titus Brandsma (pg. 3 of the document)
Other Jewish-Catholic Martyrs of the concentration camps
Beatified martyrs of the Communist persecution in Spain (in Spanish)
Lubeck Martyrs (Lutheran pastor was not beatified).
St. Maximillian Kolbe
St. Maximillian Kolbe accused of Anti-semitism for preaching Catholic teaching on Jewish conversion
The Play the “Deputy” shaped the negative perception of Pius XII, supported by the Soviets.

Interview 023 – Charles Coulombe on the English Civil War

Edgehill_english-civil-war

The Battle of Edgehill

Part 1

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Part 2

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Noted author and historian Charles Coulombe joins us again (You may recall him from Interview 20) to move a little further back in time to the layout of the modern world. 150 years before the French Revolution the English killed their king and made a revolution that changed our world, seemingly irrevocably. Charles traces the history of the conflict of the Three Kingdoms (England, Ireland and Scotland) from Henry VIII to the open war between King and Parliament that resulted in the supremacy of the state and the end of Tradition. Join us for a fascinating journey through figures as fascinating as King James I, George Villiers, Charles I, Henriette Marie, and most fatefully, Oliver Cromwell.
NB: This was originally recorded in late October, but I have been too busy to get this up as soon as I would have liked. My apologies to Charles who graciously gave his time for this interview.

If you like this or any of our podcasts, interviews, etc., which are provided for free, please consider donating as little as a $1. God bless you. paypal_btn_donateCC_LG

Resources

The English Civil War: Papists, Gentlewomen, Soldiers and Witchhunters by Diane Purkiss
The English Civil War
Cromwell
Edgehill
Marston More
Naseby
Prince Rupert: The Last Cavalier (fantastic book, if you only read one read this one).

Video
The English Civil War
Battlefield Britain: Naseby
Cromwell in Ireland (which we could not cover)
Cathedral: Rebellion at St. Giles

Ghost armies at Edgehill

Interview 022 – Calvin was Wrong on the Mike Church Show


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Today I was interviewed for the Mike Church Show in his series “The Modern Wrong World made Right”, where we discuss the Reformation and my translation of St. Robert Bellarmine. We begin with a discussion of the Reformation and the stage before Bellarmine gets on the scene, and the arguments in Books 1-3 of On the Roman Pontiff.

Mike Church Website

Mediatrix Press

De Romano Pontifice in English

 

Interview 021 – Colin Corcoran on Death, Marriage and Family


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Today we are joined by Colin Corcoran, of “The Catholic Husband“, to share his conversion experience, as well as his thoughts on the struggle of Catholics in the trenches to fully live the sacrament of Matrimony in the difficult times. This is especially timely as the Synod continues to roll forward in Rome.

Interview Notes:

Chapters of Colin’s book “Beyond

 

Why no synod coverage?

From a reader:

“I am somewhat alarmed that you haven’t had any discussion or podcast on the Synod, or on Pope Francis in general. Why is your voice conspicuously absent?”

Even socially people ask me what I think about the synod. My answer: Nothing.

There is a reason for this. Firstly, why am I not covering the synod? Apart from the fact that I am too busy with work and my children, in general I am just not interested in what is little more than a media circus. In the first place, there are many groups with correspondents in Rome, or providing coverage from such people. There is precious little that I can add. You’ve seen Cardinal Burke and Bishop Athanasius Schneider, and they have given scathing commentary on the instrumentum laboris for this Synod. What can I add to it? I’m not there, I don’t have access to sources who know what is going on, and others are doing a good job.

More importantly, I am resisting the trend in the blogosphere and traddom of becoming an “authentic commentator.” In all reality, I am just a guy with opinions, and largely so are others, no matter how correct they may be. I know of people who are losing the faith over this, or less importantly but no less destructively, sleep, increasing stress, becoming angry. There is simply no reason for this. In a just sense, I do get angry over what manifest heretics like Cardinal Kasper are trying to do to the Church. But I do not let it disturb my faith. St. Paul tells us: “Irascimini, et nolite peccare: sol non occidat super iracundiam vestram.” (Be angry and do not sin: Let not the sun set on your anger.) The first part is a quote from Psalm 4, which we sing every night in Compline in the Benedictine breviary. St. Paul is acknowledging that we can be angry, but we need to be in control of it, or we should not be disturbed. St. Thomas observes that anger is a perfection that helps you overcome difficult things, but is disordered after the fall so that it lashes out in all directions, rather than being directed at difficult things.

The fact is, there is nothing I can do to change the Synod but pray. More importantly, however, there is nothing the Synod can do to change the faith.

Firstly, a Synod does not have doctrinal authority, unless the Pope should elevate its status to that of a local Council and promulgate it as part of the ordinary magisterium. Even if Pope Francis were to do this, there is nothing he can do to eviscerate the tradition on marriage, namely what the Church has always and everywhere believed. This is documented in the Fathers, the Medievals, the Schoolmen, the Manuals, and ecumenical Councils (preeminently Trent). The Pope is not able to change these teachings, or abridge them.

Secondly, the Pope cannot affect the moral effect of Catholic teaching, whatever comes out of the Synod in the way of praxis, or the practical effects of his change to Canon law.

Thirdly, as has been revealed in other places, the outcome has already been decided. There has long been a plan to force the Kasperite thesis through. So while others are melting down over the goings on at present, I am already planning the response to the inevitable change in “praxis” that is somehow divorced from “teaching”, which itself is a novelty and frankly impossible state of things. That is to adhere to the Tradition, and treating novelty the same way the Church fathers treated it: as if it were heresy to be avoided. I will adhere to the Fathers, the Schoolmen and the Manuals, and work on translations of what is not already in English, time allowing. The fact is, the ramming through of what is being prepared will probably cause a schism, if not more widespread confusion. The task at hand, is not to let the sun set on our anger, but to prepare and advocate the course of real reform. This is the Traditional Catholic response. In the 15th century, reforming theologians and canonists advocated reforms that would not be realized until the mid-16th century. This means they died and others picked up their torch, and also died, until after the Council of Trent when reforms began to be realized. Will it take 150 more years? Salva nos Domine! Nevertheless, we need to be planting seeds with prayer, not merely reacting. We need to lay down the challenge with truth, and continue to do so while Christ works in His Church.

We can see this in St. John Fisher, who was himself a reforming bishop, and did his utmost to be a true shepherd of his flock. When refuting a Lutheran, Velenus, he made the following remarks:

Perhaps some may say, “Nowhere else is the life of Christians more contrary to Christ than in Rome, and that, too, even among the prelates of the Church, whose conversation is diametrically opposed to the life of Christ. Christ lived poverty; they fly from poverty so far that their only study is to keep up riches. Christ shunned the glory of this world; they will do and suffer everything for glory. Christ afflicted himself by frequent fasts and continual prayers; they neither fast nor pray, but give themselves up to luxury and lust.
They are the greatest scandal to all who live sincere Christian lives, since their morals are so contrary to the doctrine of Christ, that through them the name of Christ is blasphemed throughout the world.” This is perhaps what an adversary might object. But all this merely confirms what I am proving. For since the Sees of other Apostles are everywhere occupied by infidels, and this one only, which belonged to Peter, yet remains under Christian rule, though for so many crimes and such unspeakable wickedness, it has deserved like the rest to be destroyed, what must we conclude but that Christ is most faithful to his promises since he keeps them in favour of his greatest enemies, however grievous and many may be their insults to him?
Convulsio calumniarum Ulrichi Minhoniensis quibus petrum numquam Romae
1522

Fisher was martyred by the tyrant Henry VIII, not knowing what reform would befall the Church. This is the path for the true reformer, to stay united to truth, passed on by Christ to His apostles, which they passed on to their successors, even to us. God’s providence cannot leave the Church without a remedy.

[The Quote was taken from “St. John Fisher: Humanist, Reformer, Martyr“, a reprint of EE Reynolds’ in depth historical treatment of the saint, now back in print from Mediatrix Press.

See also another helpful discussion in this vein from Boniface at Unam Sanctam.