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Divinitas: On the Marriage of Saint Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary




Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke


AUDIO From His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke

From the Introduction

I address a particular question of doctrine and, therefore, of catechesis, about which there is a significant amount of confusion and error in our time. I refer to the marriage of Saint Joseph and the blessed Virgin Mary, with particular reference to the mystery of the Incarnation. I address it , first of all, to teach the truth about the marriage of Saint Joseph and the blessed Virgin Mary, and to respond to a rather widespread confusion and error in the matter. At the same time, it is my hope that the method of my study of the question will be helpful in teaching other articles of the faith, especially those subject to confusion and error, and in responding to the questions regarding them. From the start, it is important to observe that the confusion and error regarding the marriage of Saint Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary is found not only among dissenters from solid doctrine but also among authors and members of the faithful who sincerely desire to know the faith and teach it with integrity but who are poorly catechized on the question.

The focus of my study is the text of Luke 1:26-38. It is the account of the Annunciation of Our Lord Jesus Christ which expresses the reality of the Mystery of the Incarnation. It is particularly rich and detailed, thanks to the contact with the memories of the Mother of God which Saint Luke clearly enjoyed. My study is directed specifically to the understanding of verse 34, that is, the response of the Blessed Virgin to the announcement of the Mystery of the Incarnation at the beginning of Archangel Gabriel’s dialogue with her.

The Archangel Gabriel, sent by God, appeared to the Virgin Mary, addressing her as “full of grace, making reference to the Mastery of the Immaculate Conception which stands in the strictest possible relationship with the Mystery of the Redemptive Incarnation. In other words, Mary is indeed totally filled with divine grace because she was privileged from the moment  of her conception to enjoy, in anticipation, the grace of the eternal salvation which her Divine Son, to be virginally conceived in her womb, would win for all men by His Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension. She enjoyed the singular favor of conception without any stain of original sin, in order that she might be the fitting vessel to receive God the son at His conception. Under her Immaculate Heart, in her sinless womb, God the Son became man through the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit.

As Mary was pondering the meaning of the Archangel’s salutation, Gabriel proceeded to declare:

Do not be afraid, Mary, for thou has found grace with God. And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of David His father, and He shall be king over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end.

Mary responded to the angel with the words: “How shall this happen, since I do not know man.”  The words in the English translation, “do not know man, ” are a precise, and I would maintain the best translation of the original Greek text.  The question is what do they mean?

  • Confusion in the Translation of the Greek Text into English
  • Confusion in Popular Presentations
  • Hebrew Marriage at the Time of the Annunciation
  • The Marriage and the Redemptive Incarnation