A few questions on Mary

Hi everyone! I recently posted a thread on how to explain some things to an Evangelical friend on the Non-Catholic Religions area, and I got really helpful answers. I have yet to put to use the help I’ve been given.

The questions I have however which I am worried about when I talk to him again, concern the Blessed Virgin. My friend questions our belief that she is sinless. “How do you know and are so sure that she was any different from us? I don’t see that anywhere in the Bible. She was a simple girl, and you Catholics put her on a pedastal.” That’s the gist of what he says to me. He refers to Romans 3:23 to show me that she was a sinner just like the rest of us. I have tried explaining to him but he then just sends links to Protestant websites that show “proofs” (pretty much showing that they’re in the Bible) of Mary being a sinner. One website mentioned how could Mary need a savior and all that if she was sinless. I tried giving answers to what the website says, but he didn’t really seem to get it.

And now the question has gone to my mind, what if he asks about after Mary was done raising Jesus? He might say “okay, Mary could have been sinless during her pregnancy and being the mother to Jesus, but what about after his death? How do you know that she was still full of grace?” And I’m fretting over that possibility. :frowning:

Here is a link about the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Mother: catholic.com/tracts/immaculate-conception-and-assumption

Mary had a sinless life, free from original sin. Mary never said no to God. Also, she is Queen of Heaven and Earth. Even after Jesus’ death, she was sinless.

August 15th is the Feast of the Assumption is when Mary died and was assumed into Heaven. Here is a link: ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/AOFMARY.HTM

From the article linked:

The Assumption completes God’s work in her since it was not fitting that the flesh that had given life to God himself should ever undergo corruption. The Assumption is God’s crowning of His work as Mary ends her earthly life and enters eternity. The feast turns our eyes in that direction, where we will follow when our earthly life is over.

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” - Romans 3:23

If we take this as literally as your Evangelical friend does, we might as well say Jesus sinned. But we don’t. We are sure Mary never sinned because it’s been an established doctrine in Christianity for the last 2000 years.

Ask him if he really thinks God would select just some random person in which to deliver His only Son to the world as Redeemer, or would it make sense that God would select and create someone completely unique and sinless to be the vessel for the birth of the Messiah?

She’s not “just anybody”. She is different from everyone else. She is holy, pure, sinless, and honored. Ask him if he would like it for you to say that his mama is whatever.
Ask him what Jesus will say on the last day when he looks into his Savior’s eyes, and tries to answer why he didn’t think His holy Mother was anything to care about?
Jesus will still love him of course, but he’ll have regret. He dismissed his advocate.

You can give him all the theological references in the world, but if they don’t buy into Catholic beliefs, it won’t do any good. Go to him on a human, and gut level.
She’s the MOTHER OF THE MESSIAH. That has to count for something.
Jesus could not be born of a common sinner. It just doesn’t compute.
Why not give her the honor she is due?
We do far more for the mothers of common acquaintances. But here we’re talking about Christ Himself.
Good luck!

Mary, a young girl, was praying when an angel of the Lord appeared to her and what did he say? Luke 1:26-28:in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!”

You can’t be full of grace and have something else in there, too!

How could anyone who not only bear, but also raised God be called an ordinary girl? :wink:

Moreover, Mary was one of the few people who remained with Lord till the very end. Why would we assume She would sin against Him after His Resurrection?!

How could anyone who not only bear, but also raised God be called an ordinary girl? :wink:


Hi, Camillus!
It is interesting because Scriptures does not say that the Blessed Virgin did not sin… yet, it does not say that she did sin.

What we do know from Scriptures is that when Moses approached the burning bush he was addressed by God:

5 And he said: Come not nigh hither, put off the shoes from thy feet: for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. (Exodus 3:5)

So why was God so concerned with a basic plot of land?

God made the plot of land Holy because He would Present Himself on that specific plot of land to Moses.

Could the Word, Who is God, then venture into a womb of a sinful woman?

Yet, we know from Scriptures that the Virgin Mary was not a round of the mill “young maiden:”

28 And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

35 And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

41 And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: 42 And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. 43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. (St. Luke 1:28, 35, 41-44)

How can your friend reconcile the two: a) super concern for a plot of land on which God will not dwell in (mix with/intertwine) and a woman’s womb where God not only will dwell in but take His human form and depend upon the woman throughout his childhood? How can the land be purified but the woman simply be call from amongst millions?

As I understand it the Greek term (New Testament was Written in Greek) kexaritomena translates to “full of grace,” why is the woman who is full of grace, who was espoused to the Holy Spirit, and gave birth to the Lord of the Universe remove herself from God’s grace?

Maran atha!


For Rom 3:23…have your friend read Luke 1:5-6. And in light of this passage, which states both Zechariah and Elizabeth as “blameless”…ask hin to explain the apparent contradiction…:wink:

So, is there contradiction in the Bible? Or is it a matter of interprtation?:wink:

Thank you so much for all of your replies! They’ve helped greatly. :smiley:

Hi, Pablope!
I don’t think that it is only a matter of interpretation but also, and most importantly, a matter of Revelation. Scriptures are not meant to limit God’s Authority or Omnipotence; rather, it is God’s Way of allowing us to Know Him, just a little.

The same Holy Spirit that Revealed that 'there is no one just, not even one," also Reveals that Joseph was a just man and that Enoch walked with God and he was taken by God.

Can an unjust man walk with God?

So if we were to understand that Enoch (and others) were just in God’s eyes that would certainly mean that God, through the Holy Spirit, cleansed them in Christ Jesus!

Maran atha!


"The Lord God said to the serpent,
. . .
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your seed and her seed;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:14a,15)

If your friend will allow that Genesis 3:15 is a prophecy concerning Jesus’ suffering (“bruise his heel”) but also his ultimate triumph over the devil (“bruise your head”) and devil’s works, namely, sin, death and the corruption of the grave, then perhaps your friend will also allow that the woman mentioned in the verse is Jesus’ mother, the Virgin Mary. Genesis 3:15 speaks of a divinely-ordained enmity between the devil’s seed and Mary’s seed, Jesus, and a similar divinely-ordained enmity between the devil and the Virgin Mary. The enmity between the devil and his seed and Jesus was manifested in Jesus’ obedience to God and in his sinlessness, throughout his life. Can the divinely-ordained enmity between the devil and the Virgin Mary mean anything less than that the Virgin Mary, “the handmaid of the Lord” (Luke 1:38), was also obedient to God and sinless throughout her life?

It is my understanding that the Greek word, kecharitomene, used by the angel when he addressed the Virgin Mary in Luke 1:28, means that there is every expectation that the divine favor Mary received in the past would continue into the foreseeable future. It would have been completely out of character for Mary, “the handmaid of the Lord” (Luke 1:38), to sin after the death of Jesus. Even though the Bible does not record the final days of St Paul’s life, we have no reason to think that, in his final days, he renounced his faith in Jesus Christ, as that would have been completely out of character for him. I think the Virgin Mary deserves the same benefit of the doubt when it comes to her final days.

P.S.: The identification of the devil with the serpent of Genesis 3 1-16 can be found in Wisdom 2:23-24 and Revelation 12:9; 20:2.

Hi, Todd!
Excellent comparisons (the Virgin Mary and St. Paul). There always seems to be so much that is lost when people refuse to view Scriptures through simple common sense (as St. Paul’s determination to live a celibate life and his call for others to emulate him)!

Maran atha!


Jesus was a good Jew who obeyed the Law of Moses perfectly, and a key component of the Law is known as the Ten Commandments. The first commandment that deals with our relationships with others states, “Honor your Father and Mother.”

As a dutiful Jewish son who obeyed the law perfectly, Jesus fulfilled this commandment by honoring His Mother. The Hebrew word for “honor” actually means “glorify”. So, Jesus bestows glory on his mother, Mary.

At the annunciation, the angel of the Lord called Mary “full of grace”. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God declares that “from now on all generations will call [Mary] blessed”. Consequently, we honor Jesus’ mother in our own generation.

The Catholic Church was not the first to honor and glorify Mary - Jesus was. We simply obey the word of God which calls us to “be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly beloved children.” (Ephesians 5:1)

That’s the gist of what he says to me. He refers to Romans 3:23 to show me that she was a sinner just like the rest of us. I have tried explaining to him but he then just sends links to Protestant websites that show “proofs” (pretty much showing that they’re in the Bible) of Mary being a sinner. {/quote]

For All Have Sinned
A Refutation of the Attack on the Immaculate Conception of Mary from Romans 3:23
(Based on a talk by Karlo Broussard on Catholic Answers Live on 2/11/08)

Many people reject the Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception and argue that Mary was not born sinless and that she did not remain sinless all of her life. In support of their position, they often quote a passage from Paul’s Letter to the Romans which declares, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

However, does this passage really prove that Mary could not have been without sin? And is this really what Paul intended to teach in this passage? Let’s take a closer look.

The primary question to be asked concerning Romans 3:23 is this: When the Bible uses the word “all”, does it necessarily exclude exceptions? The answer is “no” as several scripture passages suggest.

For example, Matthew 3:5 tells us, “People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan.” Does this mean that there were no places from which people did not go out to see Jesus? This is not likely. The author attempted to convey an idea that a large number of people went out to see Jesus by using hyperbole.

Similarly, 1 Corinthians 15:22 says, “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” Does this mean that every single person ever born will die? Well, the Bible tells us that Enoch and Elijah were taken up into heaven without dying, so we know that obviously not all die because these two exceptions exist. From this, we know that the Bible does not necessarily exclude exceptions when it uses the word, “all”.

Returning to Romans 3:23, we should ask further whether Paul intended to exclude exceptions when he used the word, “all”, or is he using it in a non-absolute way? To understand the context of Paul’s thought, we should look at Romans 3:10-12 wherein he quotes Psalm 14:2-3: “As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away; they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”

Does Paul really believe that there no righteous people? Of course not! The Bible tells us that Joseph was a just man (Mt 1:19), John the Baptist’s parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, were declared righteous (Luke 1:19), and Psalm 14 goes on to speak of “the company of the righteous” in verse 5 while Psalm 15 references those who walk blamelessly and do what is right. So, if Paul is using the word “all” to mean “absolutely no exceptions”, then he is using the word very differently from the verses he quoted from Psalm 14 and from other passages of scripture.

Finally, it is also reasonable for us to assume that Paul would agree that infants and those who are mentally deficient cannot sin personally—two additional exceptions to the concept of “all” having sinned.

Therefore, when Paul uses the word, “all”, it is obvious that he is not attempting to declare that every single individual who ever lives will be guilty of committing personal sin; rather, he is attempting to communicate with clarity the universality of sin and the idea that both Jews and Gentiles alike are sinners before God. He is not attempting to exclude the possibility of exceptions.

Thus, the word “all” in Romans 3:23 cannot be used to disprove the doctrine of sinlessness of Mary.

How Can Mary Be Sinless When She Rejoices in God, Her Savior?
A Catholic Understanding of Luke 1:47

The Immaculate Conception of Mary is one of the Four Marian Dogmas taught by the Catholic Church. Long-believed and formally proclaimed in 1854, this dogma teaches that Mary was without sin from the moment of her conception and remained sinless her entire life.

One argument frequently advanced by those who do not agree with the Church’s teaching is based upon Mary’s own words found in the Gospel of Luke: "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” (Luke 1:46-47) If Mary declares that she needs a savior, then she must have been a sinner—or so the reasoning goes.

The Catholic Church does not hesitate to profess that Mary needed a savior. Like all other descendants of Adam, she was subject to the necessity of contracting original sin. But by a special intervention of God, undertaken at the instant she was conceived, she was preserved from the stain of original sin and its consequences

Consider an analogy: Suppose a man falls into a deep pit, and someone reaches down to pull him out. The man has been “saved” from the pit. Now imagine a woman walking along, and she too is about to topple into the pit, but at the very moment that she is to fall in, someone holds her back and prevents her. She too has been saved from the pit, but in an even better way: She was not simply taken out of the pit, she was prevented from getting stained by the mud in the first place. This is the illustration Christians have used for a thousand years to explain how Mary was saved by Christ. By receiving Christ’s grace at her conception, she had his grace applied to her before she was able to become mired in original sin and its stain.

It was by the grace of God—and not the work of Mary—that she was saved from sin in a most perfect manner. By what is called “preservative redemption,” Mary was preserved from sin at the time of her natural conception. John the Baptist was sanctified in the womb prior to his birth (Luke 1:15), and Mary was sanctified at her conception. It is no difficulty that Christ distributed the grace of Calvary some forty-five years or so before it happened, just as he bestows it upon us two thousand years after the fact. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that this gift was given to Mary, making her “redeemed in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son” (492). She has more reason to call God her Savior than we do, because he saved her in an even more glorious manner!

If Jesus wished to save his mother from the stain of sin, what is to prevent him?

One of the most convincing arguments for me was thinking of Mary as the New Ark of the Covenant. As you probably know, the Ark in the Old Testament is where God’s Presence dwelt. And inside the Ark was manna, the Law, and Aaron’s staff. We know Jesus is God, and he dwelt inside Mary. He is the Bread of Life, the Word become flesh, and the Good Shepherd. So there is definitely a correlation between the Ark and Mary and Jesus. If you read in the Old Testament, the Ark was extraordinarily beautiful and holy. It could not even be touched, but carried on poles. So we read about a man named Uzzah is 2 Samuel 6 and in 1 Chronicles 13. He was helping to transport the Ark, and it started to fall, and he reached out and took hold of it with his hands. The Bible says that God struck Uzzah down (he died) because of his error. His mistake was that he assumed his hand was more holy than the earth that the Ark was in danger of falling on. That his hand was worthy to touch the Ark, where God’s presence dwelt. But Uzzah, like us all, was a sinner, and thus he couldn’t touch the Ark. How much more would Mary, who had God dwelling in her need to be sinless?

It’s so important to show that the doctrine of Mary’s sinless ess isn’t about Mary. It’s about Jesus. It’s fitting that since He is holy, he would choose a holy vessel to bear and raise him.

This is sooooo true.

I’d like to rephrase all of this in my own words, just to make the point once again.

Is it really unreasonable to believe that, if the Second Person of the Holy Trinity were to become incarnate as man, He would use a pure vessel to do so, and this vessel would consequently be held up in high esteem by the rest of humanity? Of course it’s not unreasonable. It’s the most reasonable thing in the world!

So the question becomes: why is this obviously reasonable approach so ardently denied by Protestants? Is it because of Biblical exegesis? Or is it because of the traditions of men?

She is the Mother of God! Just let that sink in. How on earth could such a person not be extremely, extremely special?

Mary’s virginity approves a Trinitarian proof the eternal and true dogma.

Correct…but in this case, with a protestant with the mindset the OP is dealing with, one has to take it one step at a time…in this case, try to punch hole in “interpretation”…this one there is an apparent contradiction between Rom 3 and Luke 1…so if you ask the protestant how can he explain it.

He will most likely say, there could be exemptions…so could Mary be also an exemption?

13 For great is thy steadfast love toward me;
thou hast delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.
14 O God, insolent men have risen up against me;
a band of ruthless men seek my life,
and they do not set thee before them.
15 But thou, O Lord, art a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
16 Turn to me and take pity on me;
give thy strength to thy servant,
and save the son of thy handmaid.
(Psalm 86:13-16)

3 The snares of death encompassed me;
the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
I suffered distress and anguish.
4 Then I called on the name of the Lord:
“O Lord, I beseech thee, save my life!”
5 Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
our God is merciful.
6 The Lord preserves the simple;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
7 Return, O my soul, to your rest;
for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
8 For thou hast delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling;
9 I walk before the Lord
in the land of the living.
10 I kept my faith, even when I said,
“I am greatly afflicted”;
11 I said in my consternation,
“Men are all a vain hope.”
12 What shall I render to the Lord
for all his bounty to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord,
14 I will pay my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.
15 Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of his saints.
16 O Lord, I am thy servant;
I am thy servant, the son of thy handmaid.
Thou hast loosed my bonds. (Psalm 116:3-16)

If your friend will admit the Messianic character of Psalms 86 and 116 and that sinless Jesus Christ is the ultimate “servant” of the Lord, whose soul the Lord “delivered from the depths of Sheol” (Psalm 86:13), “from death” (Psalm 116:8), then perhaps your friend will also be willing to admit that Jesus’ mother, the sinless Virgin Mary, is the ultimate “handmaid” of the Lord.

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