When I was a seminarian I was on a Lenten retreat in a monastery in a small town in Italy. The local stray dogs barked constantly. It was a disruption to me at first, but then I thought of a fable that can help us appreciate what it was like for Christ to become man and to die for us. (Fulton Sheen gives us a similar image in his book, Those Mysterious Priests.)
Wives do not mind asking for directions. They tell their husbands to stop, pull over, and seek help. Mothers are also good counselors. They encourage their children to obtain tutors, instructors, coaches. They look to problem-solve and not remain condemned to the futility of the present predicament. What could be a negative situation a woman, through her humility and sensibleness, turns into something positive. It is like that time when Mary Magdalen de Pazzi, a 16th century saint, dropped a small statue of Jesus in the chapel while dusting it. Picking it up unbroken, she kissed it, saying, “If you had not fallen, you would not have gotten that.”
The geographies in the Holy Land themselves are a sermon. Nazareth, where Jesus was raised, is in the mountains. Capernaum, where Jesus performed his ministry, is on the sea. While mountains are interesting for visitors and passersby, for permanent residents, the mountains are fixtures. The mountain in the distance might as well be a painting on the wall. It is inexorable and secure, and it is predictable. In Nazareth with Mary and Joseph, under the mountains, Jesus had a solid upbringing. He went to synagogue and worked in his father's wood shop. Perhaps he traveled with his father to the nearby towns for business, but he was always rooted in holiness and obedience. Jesus had stability. If we were to characterize this with a color, we would say Nazareth was the color blue. For blue, like ice, denotes resoluteness.
Mary's perpetual virginity is an article of our faith. We Catholics believe that our Blessed Mother was a virgin before and after the birth of Jesus. (The “brothers and sisters” of Jesus we hear about in the Gospels are, actually, his cousins or perhaps half-siblings.) Mary was given to no man so that she could be given to each of us. That is the significance of Mary's virginity.