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Ginny Kubitz Moyer :
166 article(s)

Ginny Kubitz Moyer is the author of the award-winning book Mary and Me: Catholic Women Reflect on the Mother of God. She lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area and blogs at randomactsofmomness.com.
September 17th, 2012

When Joseph finds out that Mary is pregnant, it must have been a terrible surprise. They were betrothed, but had not yet lived as husband and wife, so he knew the child was not his. (The Jewish wedding ceremony had two parts: betrothal, which was a binding exchange of consent in front of witnesses, followed a few months later by the bride moving into her husband’s home.) Joseph obviously reached the only conclusion he could reach, which was that Mary had been unfaithful to him with another man. And because a betrothal was binding, it could only be dissolved by death or divorce.
Joseph’s resolve to “divorce her quietly” (Matthew 1: 19) is an important detail. The penalty for adultery was death by stoning, so…

September 10th, 2012

First, let’s look at the broader context of the Mary/Joseph relationship. Church tradition maintains that Mary was a virgin at the time of the conception of Jesus, and that she remained a virgin her entire life, never having sex with Joseph. This belief is reflected in numerous early Church writings and can be found in the apocryphal Protoevangelium of James, as well as in the writings of Church fathers like Augustine.
So if Mary and Joseph never had sex, did they ever even kiss? It’s a great question, but the teaching of the Church doesn’t get that specific. Some Catholics might interpret Mary’s perpetual virginity to mean that they probably avoided kissing altogether, while other Catholics might argue…

September 3rd, 2012

Though it’s an intriguing idea, the Scriptures don’t give any evidence to support the theory that the shepherds later became disciples. Remember that about thirty years passed between their encounter with the infant Jesus and the beginning of his ministry, so it’s unlikely that the shepherds would be around for both events.
There’s also the issue of geographical distance; the shepherds were from Bethlehem, but the Holy Family settled in Nazareth. This makes it unlikely that the shepherds continued to be a part of Mary and Joseph’s life after their memorable meeting on the occasion of Jesus’ birth.…

August 27th, 2012

No. The Gospel of Luke tells the story of two disciples who encounter the risen Jesus on their way from Jerusalem to Emmaus. We know the name of one of the disciples (Cleopas), while the other is unnamed. There’s no reason to believe that it was Mary, though, who would be unlikely to be making such a journey in the first place and who would surely have been identified by name if she had, given the prominence that she has elsewhere in Luke’s Gospel.…

August 20th, 2012

Did Mary tell the apostles anything in the upper room?
Luke, the author of Acts of the Apostles, doesn’t mention any conversations between Mary and the apostles as they wait in the upper room. He specifically mentions her presence in 1:14, but aside from that, we don’t know anything about what they may have discussed as they waited.
It seems likely that Mary would have been treated with respect by the apostles. As the mother of Jesus, she would have been a terrific source of information about his early life if they wanted to know more. But all this is speculation, given that the Scriptures don’t give any record of their conversations.…

August 15th, 2012

What do other Christians believe about Mary (Baptists, Episcopalians, Lutherans, etc.)?

Christians believe that Mary was chosen by God to be the mother of Christ. In general, however, Mary plays a much less significant role in Protestant faiths than in Catholicism. In post-Reformation Europe, Protestants viewed Catholic devotion to Mary as excessive and non-Biblical. For many, that feeling has persisted over the centuries.

Though it’s hard to generalize, certain Catholic beliefs about Mary are rejected by most Protestants. These teachings include the Immaculate Conception (the belief that Mary was conceived without original sin), the Assumption, Mary’s perpetual virginity, and the role of…

August 13th, 2012

Mary’s words are recorded in four passages in the Bible. Three of the four passages are from the Gospel of Luke: the Annunciation, when she speaks with the angel (Luke 1:34 and 38); her visit to Elizabeth, when Mary sings the psalm of praise known as the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55); and the time that Jesus is lost in the Temple and Mary admonishes him (Luke 2:48).
We also find Mary speaking in the Gospel of John, during the story of the Wedding at Cana. She tells Jesus that there is no more wine (John 2:3) and then tells the servers, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5) — which, as someone once told me, is perhaps the best bit of advice in the entire Bible.…

August 6th, 2012

The Church does not teach that Mary will have a second coming as Jesus does. Here it’s probably useful to distinguish between “second coming” and “apparition.” When we talk about the second coming of Jesus, we’re referencing the belief that Christ will come again at the end of time. As the Catechism states, “When he comes at the end of time to judge the living and the dead, the glorious Christ will reveal the secret disposition of hearts and will render to each man according to his works and according to his acceptance or refusal of grace. “(CCC 682) Thus, Christ’s second coming is connected with the Last Judgment and the end of time.
That said, it has long been believed by Catholics that Mary can and…

July 30th, 2012

This custom has its roots in ancient symbolism, not in Mary. Throughout history and across different cultures, women have worn veils as a sign of modesty or purity. Mary is usually depicted with a veil because as a Jewish woman of the first century, she would have worn a veil anytime she went outside the home and was seen by those outside her immediate family.
Traditionally speaking, the custom of a bride wearing a veil also has its roots in the idea of modesty and purity. The veil was commonly seen as a symbol of the bride’s virginity (thus it was a big moment when the groom lifted the veil off the bride’s face for a kiss). But this symbolism did not begin with Mary.…

July 16th, 2012

Mary’s parents are St. Joachim and St. Anne. What we know about them comes from tradition and from apocryphal writings (writings that are in the style of sacred Scripture but are not believed to have been divinely inspired). The Protoevangelium of James (written around A.D. 150) describes them as a wealthy couple who were infertile for many years, leading Joachim to fast for forty days and nights in hopes of having a child. Mary’s birth was announced by an angel, leading to much rejoicing on the part of Joachim and Anne. The story also explains that Mary was consecrated to the Lord and went to live in the temple at the age of three.
It’s hard, from our perspective, to know how much of this is historically accurate.…

July 9th, 2012

We don’t know for sure. The Gospel is silent about Joseph’s life prior to his betrothal to Mary. The tradition that he was an older man and a widower comes from apocryphal sources, namely the Protoevangelium of James, written around AD 150. This text is not considered to be divinely inspired and thus does not have the same weight as Sacred Scripture, though it’s certainly possible that parts of it could be true. Wherever the truth lies, this nonbiblical view of Joseph as an older man has had a profound impact on artists over the centuries, many of whom depict him as having gray hair. But the Scriptures themselves don’t reveal anything about either Joseph’s age or his past marital status, so there is no way…

July 2nd, 2012

Mary didn’t know everything that would happen to Jesus. She was human, not divine, so she did not possess God’s knowledge. We know that she did know that Jesus was the Son of the Most High (remember that the angel told her that at the Annunciation), but she did not know the details of how his life would unfold. In the Gospels, when she encounters the unexpected, we see her pondering it (see Luke 2:51), which implies that she is processing the unknown.
Even though Mary didn’t know exactly how her son’s future would unfold, there is evidence that she did believe that he could do great things. The story of the wedding at Cana, in which the adult Jesus performs his first public miracle, shows that Mary trusts in what…

May 28th, 2012

In the Gospel of Luke, when Mary arrives at the home of her cousin Elizabeth, Mary proclaims a hymn of praise to God (Luke 1:46-55). The first part of it focuses on the greatness of God and what he has done in Mary’s life, while the second part talks about how God brings down the rich and powerful and lifts up the humble and lowly. The hymn finishes with a reference to God’s promise to the Israelites. These verses are often called the Magnificat because in Latin the first verse is “Magnificat anima mea Dominum.” It is recited each evening as part of the Liturgy of the Hours, the official daily prayers of the Church.
The Magnificat also provides a glimpse into Mary’s faith, character, and spirituality. Pope John…

May 21st, 2012

A few months back, the question of whether it’s okay to wear a rosary around one’s neck engendered a great discussion in the combox. In my article, I shared that I couldn’t find any formal prohibition against doing so, and readers contributed all sorts of fascinating insights about their personal feelings for or against this practice. (Commenters: thank you!).
So when I saw your question, I had to reflect on whether putting a rosary on the car mirror is any different from putting a rosary around one’s neck. And from a spiritual perspective, there doesn’t seem to be much difference. It all goes back to the vital question of why you are putting the rosary there, and whether you are treating the rosary as a sacramental…

May 14th, 2012

Question: Was Joseph a deadbeat dad? What happened to Joseph after Jesus’ birth?
Though the Gospels don’t say much about Joseph in general, there is clear Scriptural evidence that he was very present in Jesus’ young life. The Gospel of Luke tells the story of Mary and Joseph taking the baby Jesus to the temple to be presented, in accordance with the law of Moses (Luke 2:22-38). After that experience, Luke explains that the family returned to Galilee, settling in Nazareth (Luke 2:39-40).
The Gospel of Matthew tells the story of the flight into Egypt, when Joseph takes Mary and the baby Jesus into Egypt to escape Herod (Matthew 2: 13-15). In this story, Joseph assumes the role of protector of his wife and child,…

May 7th, 2012

When you look at the Annunciation story in the gospel of Luke, you can see that the angel’s message is pretty astonishing.
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:30-33).
I think that if most of us were in Mary’s position, it would take some effort to wrap our minds around what we had just been told. Moreover, as a virgin, Mary naturally has a hard time understanding exactly how she could become pregnant:…

April 30th, 2012

The Hail, Holy Queen (known as the “Salve Regina” in the original Latin) is one of the most well-known prayers about Mary. It is a prayer of petition, asking Mary for her prayers on our behalf. Various sources place its origins in the eleventh or twelfth century. In medieval times, monks and friars sang it at the end of the day, and it is currently one of the four prayers to Mary that make up a part of the Divine Office (the official prayers of the Church that are prayed at certain times of the day). The Hail, Holy Queen is also prayed at the conclusion of the rosary.
The prayer is:
Hail Holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To you do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To you do we send up our sighs,…

April 23rd, 2012

The Gospels make no mention of Elizabeth as Mary’s midwife (nor do they mention any other midwife, either). There is a local midwife who appears in the Protoevangelium of James, the apocrphyal text written about 150 AD; this text, though, doesn’t have the authority of Scripture, so it’s hard to look upon it as a completely reliable source, especially when its account of the birth of Jesus diverges in several ways from what we find in the Gospel infancy narratives.
It seems fairly unlikely that Elizabeth would have been Mary’s midwife, given that she is not mentioned at all in the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth. The Mary and Elizabeth relationship is given so much emphasis in the Gospel of Luke (see the…

April 16th, 2012

Even though Mary was the mother of the Son of God, she didn’t get a free pass in the diaper department. The Church teaches that Jesus was human in all things but sin. Thus, just like any other baby, he ate, digested, and yes, needed his diapers changed (or whatever passed for diapers in first-century Palestine). Unless Joseph was a dad who was radically ahead of his time, this stinky task would have traditionally fallen to Mary. It’s just one of the many ways that she, like any other mom, sacrificed her comfort to care for her child.…

April 9th, 2012

Obviously, the Bible doesn’t recount every conversation that Mary and Jesus had over the course of their lives. But we know that they do seem to have a difference of opinion at the Wedding at Cana, in John 2. When the wine runs out, Mary informs Jesus of this fact, as if to imply that he should do something about it (her words to the servers – “Do whatever he tells you” – make it pretty clear that she expects her son to intervene). Jesus, however, seems initially reluctant to take action, saying, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” In the end, of course, he does step in and turn the water into wine, thus saving the newlyweds from potential embarrassment.
Aside from this event,…

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