Thursday, February 2, 2012

If Christ did not "open the womb" of his Mother, why was he presented in the Temple?

February 2nd, Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord”. (Luke 2:22-23)
The Church teaches, as a matter of dogma (de fide) which every Catholic must believe, that Mary was a virgin not only before birth and after birth, but also during birth. This dogma states that Mary, even during the very act of giving birth, remained a virgin – hence, the word “virgin” refers not merely to refraining from sexual pleasure, but also to physical integrity.
Mary, as ever-virgin, suffered no harm to the physical closure of her virginal womb when she brought forth the Savior. Rather, he came forth from her as he came forth from the sealed tomb and as he entered the closed upper-room. The Church Fathers and Doctors (as well as the great mystics) tell us that Our Lord passed through the virginal cloister of Mary’s womb as thought proceeding from intellect and as light passing through glass. [we have already discussed this in previous articles – here, here, and here (in this last, we show that Jesus is still human even though he was born miraculously)]
However, the above verse from St. Luke’s Gospel seems to be against the Catholic dogma of Mary’s perpetual (physical) virginity. It seems that the Evangelist is telling us that Jesus was presented in the Temple precisely because he had opened the womb of his Mother, violating her physical integrity. How can the Catholic answer this objection?

Was the presentation for Jesus’ sake, or ours?
It must be clear to all that Jesus was not presented in the Temple on account of his own need, but for us. It was not that Jesus needed to be consecrated to God through the observance of the Law, but rather that he humbled himself under the Law to redeem from the Law those who had been subjected to it.
Consider the words of St. Athanatius, who points out that our Savior was ever in the presence of his heavenly Father: “But when was the Lord hid from His Father's eye, that He should not be seen by Him, or what place is excepted from His dominion, that by remaining there He should be separate from His Father unless brought to Jerusalem and introduced into the temple? But for us perhaps these things were written. For as not to confer grace on Himself was He made man and circumcised in the flesh, but to make us gods through grace, and that we might be circumcised in the Spirit, so for our sakes is He presented to the Lord, that we also might learn to present ourselves to the Lord.”
No, Jesus was not presented in the Temple for his own benefit, but it was for our sake. It was not that our Savior was bound by the Law, but rather he willingly subjected himself to the Law so as to bring salvation into the world.
Why the first-born of the Jews was presented
If we consider why it is that the first-born son (i.e. every male that opens the womb) was presented in the Temple and consecrated to the Lord, we will quickly see that our Savior is not naturally subject to this precept.
St. Luke refers to Exodus 13:1-2,12-13: And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Sanctify unto me every firstborn that openeth the womb among the children of Israel, as well of men as of beasts: for they are all mine. […]Thou shalt set apart all that openeth the womb for the Lord, and all that is first brought forth of thy cattle: whatsoever thou shalt have of the male sex, thou shalt consecrate to the Lord. The firstborn of an ass thou shalt change for a sheep: and if thou do not redeem it, thou shalt kill it. And every firstborn of men thou shalt redeem with a price.
To this, St. Luke also adds a reference to the precept in Leviticus 12:6, that when the days of [the mother’s] purification are expired, she is to offer a young pigeon or a turtle dove in behalf of her child. Thus, St. Luke specifies that Mary and Joseph were to offer the sacrifice of a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons, in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.
However, when he ask why it was that these offerings were to be made, we see that the offering of the turtledoves or pigeons was a sin offering [cf. Leviticus 12:6]. It was for the sin in which the child was conceived that the parents had to make this offering to the Lord.
In regard to the reference to Exodus 13, in which it is specified that the first-born son who opens the womb must be redeemed – this is on account of the fact that the child had been spared slavery in Egypt through the death of the first-born son of all the people and animals in Egypt. Again, this is a mystical signification of the fact that the new-born son had to be freed from sin.
But, of course, our Savior did not incur any sin in his generation. Entirely free from all sin, our Lord did not require (for his own benefit) that a sin offering be made in his behalf, nor even that he be presented in the Temple (since he was always before his heavenly Father). Rather, it is for our sake that he underwent these things.
Did Jesus “open the womb”?
Now, it should be clear that the citation to Exodus, which references the “opening of the womb”, cannot be applied directly to Christ – at least not in the same manner as it is applied to other first-born sons.
If our Savior had “opened the womb” of his Mother according to the normal process of birth, then he would be subject to the Law – but this would be most unfitting, since then the sin-offering of Joseph and Mary would truly be on behalf of the Christ Child (who is without sin).
No, just as our Savior was not conceived in sin, so neither did he violate the virginal integrity of his Mother – but St. Luke refers to both Exodus and Leviticus for our sake, to show us that Christ did truly humble himself to be made subject to the Law, not on account of any impurity in his human nature, but for us.
St. Thomas Aquinas, following St. Bede the Venerable, St. Ambrose, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and all the other Fathers who commented on St. Luke’s reference to Exodus [every male that opens the womb], points out that “the opening here spoken of does not imply the unlocking of the enclosure of virginal purity; but the mere coming forth of the infant from the maternal womb.” [ST III, q.28, a.2]
Thus, if by “opening the womb” we mean a true and real birth – then yes, we may say, after a fashion, that Christ “opened the womb”. However, if by this we imply that the virginal integrity of the woman is ruptured – then no, we do not say that our Savior “opened the womb.”
Frankly, I cannot help but suspect ill motive on the part of those who would cite this verse as a “proof” that Mary lost her virginity while giving birth. Indeed, in every case to which the Exodus quote would apply, the woman’s womb would already have been opened through intercourse – and thus, no first-born son in Israel had every truly “opened the womb” (since the seal of integrity had already been ruptured by the son’s father). How bizarre it is that some will take this verse from Exodus out of context as though it is referring to a child virginally conceived who would then harm and indeed rupture the virginity of his mother by his birth!
Magisterial teaching on the virginity of Mary
The Church teaches that Mary was a virgin “in birth” (the Latin phrase is virginitas in partu). Consider the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “The deepening of faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Mary’s real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man.” (CCC 499) This paragraph of the Vatican II Catechism sites seven magisterial sources, from the Quamvis Patrum of Pope Zosimus (418) to the Cum quorumdam hominum of Pope Paul IV (1555).
Most notably, the Catechism continues with a citation of a dogmatic constitution from Vatican II: “In fact, Christ’s birth ‘did not diminish his mother’s virginal integrity but sanctified it.’” (CCC 499, Lumen Gentium 57)
Further, the post-Vatican II reformed Liturgy of the Hours explicitly professes that Mary remained a virgin in giving birth to her Son when, in the Advent antiphon for the mid-afternoon prayer time, the Church speaks in Mary’s voice saying: “Am I to give birth to my King who will not violate the cloister of my virginity?” [This is utterly lost in the English translation.]
This is the constant teaching of the Fathers of the Church and of the Popes and Councils. Indeed, it is worth noting that the Apostles’ Creed specifically names the virginity of Mary in relation to the birth of our Savior: “Born of the Virgin Mary”.
By his power as God, the Savior passed through the closed womb of the Virgin Mary as light passing through glass, as thought proceeding from intellect. He did no harm to the physical integrity of our Lady’s virginal cloister, but rather consecrated it!
It is this reality, that Jesus came forth from the womb of Mary without rupturing her virginity, which is the miracle of the birth of Christ. Pope Pius XII (in 1943) refers to this birth as “miraculous” in the encyclical Mystici Corporis, paragraph 110.
If Jesus was born according to the ordinary mode, then we may wonder what exactly would the “mystery” of the third joyful mystery be?! But Jesus was not born in the ordinary way, rather he was born in a marvelous and miraculous manner – for he passed through the walled enclosure of his Mother’s virginity causing neither rupture nor pain unto the Virgin.


A Sinner said...

"Indeed, in every case to which the Exodus quote would apply, the woman’s womb would already have been opened through intercourse – and thus, no first-born son in Israel had every truly 'opened the womb' (since the seal of integrity had already been ruptured by the son’s father)."

Your point here about Protestants or whoever using the Purification and "opening the womb" to "prove" Mary's virginal physical integrity was lost in the birth of well taken. Obviously, if "opening the womb" necessarily implied that, then no child ever did, then this would be a term that would ONLY make sense in the context of a virginal conception.

However, this very fact indicates to me what I pointed out in the earlier thread: the cervix and the hymen are two very different things, and the former has never had anything to do with any notion of virginity (morally or physically).

A woman's hymen will be broken by first intercourse. But the man doesn't "open the womb" in any sense, however; the cervix into the uterus is not opened by sex, and has nothing to do with virginity.

I would once again argue, then, that "opening the womb" (ie, stretching the cervix) and "physical virginity" are NOT mutually exclusive, because they simply refer to two totally different parts of the female anatomy.

Christ could have opened the womb AND left the physical seal of virginity intact, because the one is not equivalent to the other (as, indeed, the contradiction you point out regarding Protestants using "opening the womb" to deny the virginity in partu demonstrates).

I'm not asserting anything one way or another about the exact mechanics of the miraculous preservation of the virginity during the nativity of Christ. But I am saying that that preservation and "opening the womb" are two separate questions, and that if He didn't "open the womb" (ie, pass through/stretch the cervix) this would need to be a DIFFERENT teaching from the one about the physical virginity (which only indicates not breaking the hymen.)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your well explained discourse on Mary's perpetual virginity. As a former Protestant, I found this enlightening and believable. You have helped me finally 'get it' regarding this Church teaching. Thanks again.

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@anonymous, I'm glad that the article was helpful!
(please, in the future, remember to use a pseudonym -- it helps me to be able to respond to comments more easily) +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@A Sinner,
I'm sorry, but I think it smacks of impiety to speak so bluntly of the anatomy of our Blessed Lady.

In any case, your discussion of such matters doesn't even really fit to this article ... the point is that the Church Fathers hold that Jesus did not open the womb, and this passage of Luke does not say that he did open the womb.

Indeed, as stated above (and as you agreed), it is absurd to quote this verse as saying that the womb of Mary was opened during birth.

Now, if the womb was not opened (whatever we take that to mean), it is most certain that physical virginity remains.
Hence, there is no need to get into this extensive discussion of female anatomy ... the womb was closed and virginity was not harmed -- and whether or not an open womb would necessitate rupture of virginity is a mute point, because the womb was not open (else, our Savior would be naturally subject to the Law).

A Sinner said...

"Indeed, as stated above (and as you agreed), it is absurd to quote this verse as saying that the womb of Mary was opened during birth."

Well, what I agreed was absurd is quoting this verse to prove that the virginity was disrupted in partu.

Protestants claiming "opening the womb" necessarily implies loss of the virginity in partu makes no sense, as you said, because all the women (except Mary) in history would have lost their virginity at least 9 months before their womb was first opened, so the two things can't be taken as equivalent.

But my point was that this also makes the "opposite" argument less conclusive: we can't use the dogma of the virginity in partu to conclude anything, one way or the other, about whether the womb was "opened" because those are two separate things.

Catholics are clearly required to believe the virginity itself was preserved in partu. It is less clear (when it comes to the dogmatic minimum) that we are dogmatically required to believe that this occurred in a manner ALSO implying that the womb was not opened.

If it's the pious tradition, I'm fine with accepting it, especially if it goes back to the Fathers. But given that it's a detail that would be rather hard to know (even for Our Lady herself, unlike the question of the virginal seal itself, which would be rather more obvious to her)...

Well, I'll simply say that while I've seen dogmatic statements clearly securing the virginity in partu, I've not seen much definitively teaching the "non-opening of the womb" except in writings that seem to incorrectly assume that the latter would be required to secure the former (or even which seem to assume they are the same thing, anatomically, which they most certainly are not).

I'd call someone a heretic who believed the virginity was lost in partu. I wouldn't call someone a heretic who believed the womb was opened, as long as they still affirmed that the virginal seal was preserved.

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

@A Sinner,
Fair enough.
I intend to present the argument that her womb was not opened as a theological certainty (based especially on the tradition of the Fathers) -- while, as you say, that she was a physical virgin in partu, is a dogma.

Peace. +

Anonymous said...

from Bill Foley

I have spoken to a obstetrician/gynecologist in the past. He told me that any woman giving birth in a normal manner (opening the womb) could not remain a physical virgin.

A Sinner said...

"I intend to present the argument that her womb was not opened as a theological certainty (based especially on the tradition of the Fathers) -- while, as you say, that she was a physical virgin in partu, is a dogma."

And that seems a fair distinction.

A Sinner said...

"I have spoken to a obstetrician/gynecologist in the past. He told me that any woman giving birth in a normal manner (opening the womb) could not remain a physical virgin."

Well, no one is denying the preservation of the physical virginity was miraculous. The question I've seen people often dispute online is whether the "mechanics" of the miracle included opening the womb (birth pains often also get discussed) or whether the very manner of the miracle excluded that. I've heard it phrased, "Was the miracle a miraculous 'stretching'? Or was it a passing-through Mary's belly in the manner of a subtle-body, a 'teleportation,' etc?"

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

And, to be clear, it most certainly was NOT a teleportation.
None of the Fathers say it was teleporting ... none of the Doctors, none of the mystics.
All of them agree that Christ truly was born, which means that he came forth and passed through Mary's body.

Teleporting would mean that Jesus's body when out of existence in one place and then came back into existence in another place ... this is not the teachings of the fathers and has nothing at all to do with the idea of a "subtle-body" or passing like light through glass.

Just to be clear -- "Teleporting" is a silly idea and would end up meaning that Jesus wasn't really born at all.

Gregory said...

First off, thank you for your clear and informative discussion of the Virgin Birth. Excellent work.

As you point out in your explanation of the presentation in the temple, Jesus was not in any way "conceived in sin." I am wondering, though, what the Jewish mind would have understood that phrase to mean in common circumstances. Of course, as Catholics we believe that all are born with original sin, aside from our Lord and our Lady, but would the Jews have had a concept akin to original sin? Or was there a different understanding?

adoremus said...

I would futher the glories of God, in such a manner, that being full of grace, Mary also did not need to take the ritual bath, as St. John the baptist did not need baptism. Jesus cleared it all up. Let it be so that all righteousness be done. Is there actually someone out there who thinks that the way Jesus got into the womb, is not the way he came out? Next, they will say, he wasnt ever there!

Anonymous said...

what did you mean by "it was for the sin for in which the child was conceived?"


Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

It is not that the marital act is always sinful, but the child is conceived without original grace (which means he is in original sin).

Hence the sin "in which the child was conceived" does not refer to a sinful action (either on the part of parents or the child), but to the state of original sin to which all are subject (excepting Christ and [through a special grace] Mary).

Hope it is clearer now! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

While, to my knowledge, the Jews did not have a highly systematic or explicit idea of original sin (as does the Church), yet they certainly understood something of being conceived in sin -- and this doesn't refer to a sinful act on the part of the parents, nor on the part of the child; but to a state.
"For behold I was conceived in iniquities; and in sins did my mother conceive me." (Ps 50:7)

This is why a sin offering was made for the child. This is also why the people payed the tithe -- because they knew that they started off (from the beginning) in evil.
There can be no question of this point: The Jews did not believe that children are naturally united to God through grace, nor that children start off as friends of God and confirmed in the good. Rather, there is a clear sense that children start off with an inclination to evil and a tendency toward sin -- they are not conceived as God's friends, but as God's enemies. It is only through the sacraments (for the Jews, those of the Old Law) that children become friends and sons of God.

Peace! +

Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

While I understand your point, it is good to realize that the phrase - "Jesus came forth from the womb in the same way that he entered" - does not really make much sense.

Jesus didn't enter bodily into Mary's womb ... it's not as though he had a body and then miraculously passed through her womb to enter there and begin the process of pregnancy.
Rather, he took matter that was already within her body and made this into his body.

Now, of course, both were miracles ... but they did not occur according to the same mechanics ... in fact, it would be a heresy to say that he entered the womb in the same way he came out (because it would mean that he already had a body before coming into Mary's womb).

We need to be careful in how we speak ... lest we expose the faith to ridicule.

Brad said...

Hi, Father, may God bless you.

This topic reminds me of the similar one: why did our Lord bother to be baptized (groans all around). Because, as you and others have patiently explained, he went through all the laborious channels of human life so he could sanctify those channels! He came to be one of us. He was circumcised, he was this, he was that. He was sweaty, he was poor. He then lifted our in-common flesh into heaven!

I want to thank you for pointing out for me the relationship between the curse of the first born in Egypt and the subsequent offering of animals by Israelites later (even coins by Jews of today!) in their own land. Wow! To think how God sees us and how he orders everything. He did not forget the lives of the Egyptian children and animals who were caught up in the fracas of the Exodus (or any other worldly fracas). It shows how he takes no pleasure in death: death of the humblest of animals or any human, which is after all made in His likeness. And to also see the reverberations in Herod's slaughter of the Jewish innocents. History repeats itself, especially where sin is present.

You wrote: "Frankly, I cannot help but suspect ill motive on the part of those who [assert Mary lost her virginity at the Nativity]." I agree with you. A slur against her always betrays itself by its stink of the demonic. I do not call the people who coyly make the slurs demonic, but I do so call the bad spirit(s) who are behind the scenes rejoicing at any slurs toward the object of their disgust: the highly favored (jealous!) creature elevated over them, praise God. Venerable Mary of Agreda made this clear to me, as well as reading select exorcism transcripts (with caution). How can people who (claim to) believe in a woman being impregnated by the Holy Spirit then lose their courage nine months later and think that physical reality must by then kick in, must by then prevail over God's abilities to stave it off? If God chose miraculous means in March, then He didn't let it all revert to commonness in December!

Anonymous said...

Erlenbush, your love of mental gymnastics does you no credit on this one. There's nothing in scripure--deductive or inductive--to suggest this doctrine. Jesus opened Mary's womb, pure and simple, and only an unhealthy obsession with connecting purity to virginity would lead anyone to think otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Erlenbush, your love of mental gymnastics does you no credit on this one. There's nothing in scripure--deductive or inductive--to suggest this doctrine. Last time I checked you need all three legs of the "stool" of doctrinal authority to define something "de fide". Jesus opened Mary's womb, pure and simple, and only an unhealthy obsession with connecting purity to virginity would lead anyone to think otherwise.


Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

Two points:
1) The post was not meant to prove the virginity of Mary, but to show that this particular verse did not disprove her in partu virginity.

2) You are obviously far wiser than all the saints, mystics, Doctors, and Fathers of the Church ... certainly wiser than I ... indeed, you are one of those "super-apostles" of whom St. Paul speaks.
And, since you did not ask a question but only hurled insults ... I will happily set you aside.

But, btw, since you insist so much on the three legs of Scripture, Tradition, and magisterium ... why don't you give a Scripture passage, a Church Father, and a definition from the magisterium which says that Mary lost her virginity in giving birth?!

I have the Scripture: "The VIRGIN shall conceive AND GIVE BIRTH to a son"
The Tradition: "He was BORN of the VIRGIN Mary"
and the Magisterial teaching: Christ's birth "did not diminish his mother's virginal integrity but sanctified it." (Lumen Gentium, 57)

There is no other rational way to understand "virgin in giving birth" than to see that it refers to physical integrity ... since refraining from sexual pleasure while giving birth is no miracle.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Erlenbush, let me clarify a couple of things. First, sorry about the name confusion: I didn't think the first one went through so I send another message via the anonymous route, and I tend to go by Bill (William) but my first name's Joseph. Let's just keep it with Joe for simplicity. Second, as far as hurling insults, I intended no such thing! Your love of mental gymnastics is impressive, and quite necessary in many instances. I just don't think this is one of them. As far as I can tell, saying Jesus was born of the virgin Mary means that God was Jesus' father, and not a man, period. It seems to me that the early church decided to stretch this obvious meaning into all kinds of unnecessary dogma about perpetual virginity due to an imbalanced view of virginity's virtue (as compared with the married life). Why do I think that? Well just one example, in the early church it was frowned upon for married presbyters to have sex with their own wives, all in the name of "purity and virtue". Now if this doesn't reflect an imbalance (an an injustice to marriage) I'm not sure anything can. So just wanted to clarify that, and say keep up the articles...they're good sources of reflection.


Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

The "obsession" which the Church Fathers had with physical integrity and virginal purity is rooted in Scripture itself.

The particular instance you mention -- that the married priests would refrain from intercourse -- comes directly from the mandates of the Old Testament ... and there is nothing in the New Testament to indicate that there is any change.
Indeed, there is much to indicate that the same continued in the early Church ... and this is why a priest could not remarry if his wife died -- because he would not consummate a new marriage after receiving Orders.

If you are interested ... there was an article sometime earlier on this blog (posted by one of the earlier contributors, not me) which discusses the issue of celibacy in the early Church.

As far as Mary's virginity ... if all it meant were that she was a virgin when she conceived, then why would the Church specify "virgin during birth"?
Explain that to me ... how is "virgin during birth" different from "virgin before birth", if "virginity" just means not having sex?
Also, what exactly would be the "mystery" of the 3rd Joyful Mystery? How would it be anything different from the Annunciation?

Finally, the simple fact is that Mary's physical virginity in the act of giving birth was accepted more quickly than the Son's equality with the Father.
The fact that Jesus was born of a virgin without harming her virginity is a sign of his eternal birth of the Father (in which he did not split or divide or harm the divine essence).
That is why it is important to hold that Mary was a virgin in birth -- because the Son's temporal birth teaches us something of his eternal birth.

Well, the whole point of this article was simply to show that this verse from Luke's Gospel in no way contradicts the Church's teaching on the physical integrity of Mary's virginity.
That much, at least, should be clear enough.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

I find it amusing that on the Feast of St Agatha - Virgin and Martyr - Joe rails against purity and virginity and he shows his ignorance about the Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy and shows no familiarity with the Decretals of Pope Siricius - but, those with modern sensibilities are so much better than Holy Mother Church, Mary, and The Virgin Saint Martyrsartyrs.

Anonymous said...

What is the difference between the Annunciation and the Birth? How about the fact that birth is a miracle, whether or not the baby "passed as light through glass." That description suspiciously implies, to me, that Christ was not truly born of a woman at all. It also smacks of a Puritan fear/ hatred of the body and bodily functions.

What you describe is not a birth at all. Birth is incredibly physical. A woman of Mary's time would not have described it as "painful" but as "hard work." This work that women do is what sanctifies us.

You seem to be asserting that Mary did nothing but lay on a mound of hay while Christ ... what? Passed through her without touching anything? Christ humbled himself - why shouldn't that mean he was /born/ in a physical sense?

I'm asserting that she must have participated in her own sanctification in a physical way.


Father Ryan Erlenbush said...

You say that "birth is a miracle" ... meaning that every birth is a miracle ... and so Christ's birth was just as miraculous as any other.
This is absurd ... it is not what the Church means when declaring that the birth of our Savior was "miraculous".

I do describe a real birth ... and a physical birth.
That is precisely the miracle ... One physical body (Jesus') passed through another physical body (Mary's) without causing any rupture or harm.
If it wasn't physical, then it wouldn't be much of a miracle.

You say that "like light through glass" is Puritan ... I answer that I didn't know that St. Augustine was a Puritan! My goodness, where all the Church Father's Puritans?!
Well then ... That would mean that the Puritans are far more ancient than I have ever understood them to be!

And you say that "A woman of Mary's time would nto have described it as 'painful' but as 'hard work.'" -- What a fascinating statement. Could you provide some source? How do you know what a 1st century Jewish woman would think? Last I checked, there wasn't much record of women's psychology from those days.
Perhaps you are just asserting your personal opinion as a dogmatic fact?

Lastly, Mary did indeed participate in the miraculous birth of her Son ... she was certainly at prayer when he was born ... I think that she experienced the beatific vision of heaven at that moment.
She willed what God willed, as he wills it, because he wills it.

If you want a woman's perspective on this whole issue ... why not look to the revelations of St. Bridget?

Humility, my dear ... humility before the great mystery.
The Holy Spirit will give understanding, if only we believe.

a lay person said...

In the fall of man in Genesis, as part of the punishment for sin, Adam and Eve are told that they were made from dust, and to dust they shall return. Among other punishments, Eve is told that her labor pains during childbirth would increase. Since Mary is born without the original sin of Adam and Eve, then it only makes good sense that she is not buried in the ground to turn to dust, but is lifted to heaven at the point of her death.(Like Elijah). Because Mary has no original sin, she also would not suffer the punishment of labor pains associated with child birth. No pain because her womb is not opened. Because she has no open womb at Jesus's conception, or birth, then she remains a virgin...... it kind of makes good common sense to me.

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