Can you help me understand the perpetual virginity of Mary?

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I have been a protestant christian since the age of 16 (currently 47.) I searched for God always, through a difficult childhood and without significant guidance, except for my grandmother’s prayerbook. I have always felt there was something “incomplete” about the faith as presented by the church I belonged to. Not incorrect, simply incomplete. I am now studying the Catholic catechism and feel that the Catholic church may be what I’ve been searching for. I do, however, have a few sticky questions.

The most difficult, for now, is the perpetual virginity of Mary. I have always venerated Mary. She was chosen and blessed by God and was obedient to His will as no other woman could have been. However, the scriptures are full of references to her as the wife of Joseph. Joseph was told not to “know” her until after Jesus’ birth. Matthew 1:24,25 states “Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her “firstborn” Son…” The clear implication of this verse is that Mary was virgin only until after the birth of Jesus. Clearly, Mary is “full of grace” and greatly blessed. However, I am having enormous trouble getting my faith around the statement that she was perpetually virgin in light of the black and white teachings of scripture, which, from what I understand, superscede Tradition. Can you help me?


The first set of links should be helpful for understanding Mary’s perpetual virginity. The second set explains the role of the Bible and tradition in the teachings of the Church. If you have any further questions or concerns that are not answered by these links, please contact Catholic Answers directly. You are in my prayers!
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