My friend, you just used the word, "witness." What those Fathers/Doctors stated was not a "witness," but a theological opinion, based on faulty reasoning. They did not OBSERVE (witness) Our Lady having no pains, and it seems awfully unlikely that she volunteered to the first Christians that she gave birth with zero pain.You misunderstood my use of the word "witness." I didn't mean that they were all crowding around Mary when she gave birth, or that they received some special revelation from Mary about it. What I meant was that, with their writings, they are witnessing to a particular belief and tradition regarding Mary.
There is no record of such a thing in the scriptures nor in the earliest Church Fathers.Don't speak so soon. There is in fact a substantial record on this point.
From the early Church fathers:
"[T]he report concerning the child was noised abroad in Bethlehem. Some said, ‘The Virgin Mary has given birth before she was married two months.’ And many said, ‘She has not given birth; the midwife has not gone up to her, and we heard no cries of pain’" (Ascension of Isaiah 11 [A.D. 70]).For more from Scripture, the scholastics, popes, councils, and catechisms of the Church, see The Virginity of Our Lady In Partu: The Painless, Miraculous Birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
"So the Virgin became a mother with great mercies. And she labored and bore the Son, but without pain, because it did not occur without purpose. And she did not seek a midwife, because he caused her to give life. She bore as a strong man, with will . . . " (Odes of Solomon 19 [A.D. 80]).
"Mary's virginity was hidden from the prince of this world; so was her childbearing, and so was the death of the Lord. All these three trumpet-tongued secrets were brought to pass in the deep silence of God." (St. Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Ephesians, 19; c. 107 AD)
"Of Him then His mother's burden was light, the birth immaculate, the delivery without pain, the nativity without defilement, neither beginning from wanton desire, nor brought to pass with sorrow. For as she who by her guilt engrafted death into our nature, was condemned to bring forth in trouble, it was meet that she who brought life into the world should accomplish her delivery with joy." (St Gregory of Nyssa, Homily on the Nativity 388 AD)
"How can death claim as its prey this truly blessed one, who listened to God's word in humility, and was filled with the Spirit, conceiving the Father's gift through the archangel, bearing without concupiscence or the co-operation of man the Person of the Divine Word, who fills all things, bringing Him forth without the pains of childbirth, being wholly united to God? ... It was fitting that she who saw her Son die on the cross, and received in her heart the sword of pain which she had not felt in childbirth, should gaze upon Him seated next to the Father." (St. John Damascene, Second Homily on the Dormition of the Mother of God)
"So far as He was born of woman, His birth was in accordance with the laws of parturition, while so far as He had no father, His birth was above the nature of generation: and in that it was at the usual time (for He was born on the completion of the ninth month when the tenth was just beginning), His birth was in accordance with the laws of parturition, while in that it was painless it was above the laws of generation. For, as pleasure did not precede it, pain did not follow it, according to the prophet who says, Before she travailed, she brought forth, and again, before her pain came she was delivered of a man-child (Isaiah 66:7)." (St. John Damascene, On the Orthodox Faith, IV, 14)
Instead, the Fathers/Doctors whom you mention apparently didn't WANT Our Lady to have suffered in giving birth, so they (mis-)reasoned that she could not have had pain. It is as though they approached the whole matter too "romantically" and not with reason.On the contrary, they have very good reasons for their belief in the painless birth of Jesus.
For one, they see it as following from her preservation from original sin, since one of the results of the original sin is pain in childbirth. I realize you think Gen 3:16 means that God simply multiplied a pain that would have already existed, but the analysis from Brant Pitre that I provided seems to refute that claim. You'll have to prove otherwise before you can sell me on that point.
Secondly, a painless birth follows from the theological notion of Mary as eschatological icon. If Mary experienced the first-fruits of Christ's redemption in her own Immaculate Conception as the New Eve, it is easy to see why they would believe that she would similarly be able to taste the fruits of the eschatological age described by Isaiah (66:7-8), when women would be delivered from the curse of Eve.
The fathers provide other reasons too, which you can read in the quotes I provided. According to St. Gregory of Nyssa, "For as she who by her guilt engrafted death into our nature, was condemned to bring forth in trouble, it was meet that she who brought life into the world should accomplish her delivery with joy" (Homily on the Nativity, 388 AD). According to St. John Damascene, it was fitting that the pain which is typically felt in childbirth would be for Mary reserved for Calvary, when she suffered with Christ to give birth to the Church.
I previously explained why a sinless Mary COULD have had pain, just as a sinless Jesus could have had, and did have, pain.I never said that Mary was incapable of pain. I just said she didn't experience the pain of childbirth.
As a mother who suffered both at her Son's birth and death, Mary is an excellent role model for mothers of today. She would not be as good a model if she did not suffer in giving birth.That doesn't follow any more than it would follow from her other unique prerogatives that she failed then to be a role model. Is she no longer a role model for us b/c she committed no sin? No. What about because she conceived by the Holy Spirit, or b/c she was a perpetual virgin, or b/c only she can say that her son was divine? All of these things make her unlike any other human being or woman, yet she doesn't fail for all these reasons to be an exemplar and role model for us. Well then, her painless childbirth should not disqualify her either.
The fact is that Mary is a role model for us because of these special gifts. They point to her as the realization of what we all hope to receive in Christ:
- perfect sinlessness (Immaculate Conception);
- purity, complete commitment to the Lord, life without pain (Perpetual Virgin);
- resurrection of the body, new life in heaven, crown of glory (Assumption);
- bearing Christ within us (Mother of God);
- bringing His salvation to all the world (Coredemptrix)