Grace, Freewill, Our Lady


#1

Hi,

I’ve been reading Handbook of Christian Apologetics by Kreeft and Tacelli. One of the questions addressed is why God couldn’t just determine everyone to freely choose good over evil. They commented that it would be a meaningless self-contradiction for there to be a world of free choice-that is, the possibility of freely choosing good or evil-and at the same time no possibility of choosing good or evil. To ask why God didn’t create such a world is like asking why God didn’t create colorless color or round squares.

Now my response to this would be what about the Blessed Virgin Mary? God predestined her to be full of grace and never commit a sin. Why couldn’t God have done this with everyone?

Thanks


#2

God predestined Mary to be Full of Grace, but this doesn’t mean she had no Free Will.

Adam and Eve had no original sin, but they still chose to disobey God. Mary was freed from Original sin and given grace, but she still could have resisted that Grace and personally sinned.

Humans are given enough grace to come to God, and gain forgiveness of sin, but that grace can also be resisted.


#3

Knowing everything that will ever happen could make it insanely boring for God. He had to instill us with free will so he could actually enjoy a surprise once in a while.

Can you imagine how boring it would be never to have a surprise, and everybody and everything always does exactly what you want them to do?


#4

[quote=AlanFromWichita]Knowing everything that will ever happen could make it insanely boring for God. He had to instill us with free will so he could actually enjoy a surprise once in a while.

Can you imagine how boring it would be never to have a surprise, and everybody and everything always does exactly what you want them to do?
[/quote]

Interesting thought, but I would gather suprise has little to do with God allowing sin, suffering and death. And since God is omnipotently present, God really can’t be “surprised”. Your thoughts??? Thanks and God bless.


#5

[quote=slinky1882]Interesting thought, but I would gather suprise has little to do with God allowing sin, suffering and death. And since God is omnipotently present, God really can’t be “surprised”. Your thoughts??? Thanks and God bless.
[/quote]

OK, here’s my next theory. Life is one giant game of peek-a-boo. We go away, we come back. He loves me, He loves me not.

We sin so we can be redeemed. Sinning splits us apart from God, then we are reattached in a different way. Prodigal son – going away, reuniting. Genesis: man detaches from parents, attaches to wife. A separation, then reuniting.

Christ was abandoned by the Father, then raised in glory.

Cells divide and grow.

Parents go to work and take their kids to school and reunity.

We go to sleep and say “bye bye” to the world for renewal, then wake up again and say “hello.” Peek-a-boo!

Without division there can be no reuniting. No prodigal son story. No celebration of the lost returning.

Without sin there is no forgiveness. The one who is forgiven the most loves the most. Without sin, can there be love at all – and what would we call it since there is nothing to compare it to? Love is the yearning for that which is separated to reunite.

A seed dies and falls to the ground and grows to produce 100 fold fruit.

Death and life. Hidden and revealed. The world is God’s great big peek-a-boo game.

This is why we have to be like a child to enter the kingdom of heaven. A child will shriek with joy at times while playing peek-a-boo.

Alan

P.S. When we create, we cut things apart and put them back together. God created by separating: light from dark, dome (sky) to separate waters, water separated from land. When we separate and reunite we are sharing in God’s creative power, maybe? Just think if Adam and Eve hadn’t tried to be like God they wouldn’t have played the peek-a-boo game either with their nakedness or … wait a minute; they weren’t really playing the game. They hid and God had to come looking for them. That’s where they let the game to foul. They must have taken the game too seriously.


#6

[quote=Axion]God predestined Mary to be Full of Grace, but this doesn’t mean she had no Free Will.

Adam and Eve had no original sin, but they still chose to disobey God. Mary was freed from Original sin and given grace, but she still could have resisted that Grace and personally sinned.
[/quote]

Mary was and is free but that doesn’t mean she was or is capable of sinning. The capacity to sin is actually a sign of a lack of perfection in freedom. Both Mary and Christ were and are incapable of sinning. Also all the saints in heaven and the angels in heaven after being given the beatific vision are all incapable of sinning yet they are not less but more free because of it. With regard to Mary’s incapacity to sin, Fr John A Hardon, SJ, explains:

"Was the Blessed Virgin free from stain because she did not offend God, or because she was impeccable and incapable of sin? The latter is common teaching in Catholic Tradition, while distinguishing it from the impeccability enjoyed by Christ. His may be called absolute and derived from the union of his human nature with the divinity. He could not sin because he was God, and God is infinitely holy. Mary could not sin by reason of an inherent quality, which some place midway between the state of souls in the beatific vision and that of our first parents before the fall.

“Concretely this quality may be identified with perseverance in grace as regards grave sin, and confirmation in grace for lesser sins. In either case, however, her incapacity for sin differed radically from that of Christ. Where his was based on the fact that he is a divine person, hers was an added prerogative. It was absolutely necessary that he could not sin, since God is sinless. It was a free gift of God’s mercy that Mary could not sin, but only because she was protected by divine favor.” (pp. 159-160 of The Catholic Catechism)


#7

Was the Blessed Virgin free from stain because she did not offend God, or because she was impeccable and incapable of sin? The latter is common teaching in Catholic Tradition

Check that out. It’s 7:00 am and I’ve already learned something new. It’s going to be a good day.


#8

Let’s turn from what Father Hardon says to what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says (bold added to action words):

411 The Christian tradition sees in this passage an announcement of the “New Adam” who, because he “became obedient unto death, even death on a cross”, makes amends superabundantly for the disobedience, of Adam.305 Furthermore many Fathers and Doctors of the Church have seen the woman announced in the *Protoevangelium *as Mary, the mother of Christ, the “new Eve”. Mary benefited first of all and uniquely from Christ’s victory over sin: she was preserved from all stain of original sin and by a special grace of God **committed **no sin of any kind during her whole earthly life.306
494 At the announcement that she would give birth to “the Son of the Most High” without knowing man, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary responded with the obedience of faith, certain that “with God nothing will be impossible”: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word."139 Thus, giving her consent to God’s word, Mary becomes the mother of Jesus. Espousing the divine will for salvation wholeheartedly, without a single sin to restrain her, she gave herself entirely to the person and to the work of her Son; she did so in order to serve the mystery of redemption with him and dependent on him, by God’s grace:140

As St. Irenaeus says, "**Being obedient **she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race."141 Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert. . .: "The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith."142 Comparing her with Eve, they call Mary “the Mother of the living” and frequently claim: "Death through Eve, life through Mary."143

It would seem that the Church would have us believe that Mary made a choice to serve, obey, be faithful to, and be obedient to God. You would have us believe that God forced His will on her, and she had no choice (i.e., was in-capable). This would appear that she was **capable **of choosing to say “no”…or am I missing what you are saying?

RyanL


#9

[quote=Brown10985]Now my response to this would be what about the Blessed Virgin Mary? God predestined her to be full of grace and never commit a sin. Why couldn’t God have done this with everyone?Thanks
[/quote]

Mary was not predistined. God in his foreknowledge of how she would chose cleansed her through the anticipated redemption earned by Jesus on the cross of Original Sin at her conception . She had free will and was allowed by Gabriel to choose whether or not she would be the mother of Jesus. That is why she is held up to us as a model for choosing to follow God’s will. It would be rediculous to do this if she did not have that ability to chose. God knows well ahead of what course our lives will take, but having that knowledge and forcing someone into certain choices are two different matters.


#10

[quote=RyanL]Let’s turn from what Father Hardon says to what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says (bold added to action words):
[/quote]

The Catechism of the Catholic Church doesn’t contradict what Fr Hardon taught. Rather it is your contorted interpretation that contradicts what Fr Hardon in whom Pope John Paul II expressed his confidence, encouraging him in his work as a catechist, taught. And it is not Fr Hardon’s mere opinion but as he put it the “common teaching in Catholic Tradition.” The impeccability of Mary is also btw mentioned in the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Being incapable of sinning doesn’t mean that one is forced to do anything as being “forced” implies an external compulsion. God is incapable of sinning yet He is not forced to do anything. The same is true, though in a different way, of the saints and angels who enjoy the beatific vision in heaven. The same was also true of Christ and Mary while they were on earth. (In Christ’s case actually it is held that he possessed the beatific vision from the moment of the Incarnation)


#11

[quote=rwoehmke]Mary was not predistined.
[/quote]

“The Father of mercies willed that the Incarnation should be preceded by assent on the part of the predestined mother, so that just as a woman had a share in the coming of death, so also should a woman contribute to the coming of life.” (CCC 488)

But predestination does not obliterate free will:
“To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore he establishes his eternal plan of “predestination”, he includes in it each person’s free response to his grace.” (CCC 600)


#12

[quote=tuopaolo]The Catechism of the Catholic Church doesn’t contradict what Fr Hardon taught. Rather it is your contorted interpretation that contradicts what Fr Hardon [taught]
[/quote]

Tuopaolo,
That’s fine for you to say, but unless you can logically show me where I am wrong, you have not presented a case.

[quote=tuopaolo]]Fr Hardon,] in whom Pope John Paul II expressed his confidence, encouraging him in his work as a catechist, taught. And it is not Fr Hardon’s mere opinion but as he put it the “common teaching in Catholic Tradition.” The impeccability of Mary is also btw mentioned in the Catholic Encyclopedia.
[/quote]

Again, the Catechism says one thing, Fr. Hardon says another. I don’t care who, the Holy Father included, endorses him. If he is teaching contrary to the Church, he is wrong. The Holy Father [pick a century] has been wrong before - the only guarantee is that he won’t be wrong when teaching infallibly in a binding matter of faith and morals, which is most certainly not what an endorsement of Fr. Hardon is. Also, just because Fr. Hardon claims this is the “common teaching”, does not make it so.

[quote=tuopaolo] Being incapable of sinning doesn’t mean that one is forced to do anything as being “forced” implies an external compulsion. God is incapable of sinning yet He is not forced to do anything. The same is true, though in a different way, of the saints and angels who enjoy the beatific vision in heaven. The same was also true of Christ and Mary while they were on earth. (In Christ’s case actually it is held that he possessed the beatific vision from the moment of the Incarnation)
[/quote]

God (including the person of Christ) is forced, by the nature of who He is (pure Truth), into being incapable of sin. God created us with choice, and we have that choice as earthly people. Mary was not God, so she was not forced into the incapacity of sin. She had a choice, and she chose the will of God. She was not bound by anything - she was not forced. Her concent was hers alone to give.

Again, if my logic is in some way twisted, please explain it using official Church documentation where appropriate. And no, the Catholic Encyclopedia doesn’t count. Stick to the www.vatican.va documentation and/or the Catechism.

Peace and Love be with you always,
RyanL


#13

You guys may be speaking about our Lady, but you are treading the old familiar ground of the inscrutable mystery of predestination and free will. As far as I can see, the answer to the question, was Mary predestined to never sin or did she freely choose to not sin, is yes. Just like the answer to the age old question, are we predestined to salvation or do we freely choose salvation, is yes.


#14

[quote=John_Henry] As far as I can see, the answer to the question, was Mary predestined to never sin or did she freely choose to not sin, is yes. Just like the answer to the age old question, are we predestined to salvation or do we freely choose salvation, is yes.
[/quote]

I understand what you are saying, but I have to disagree. The issue is whether or not a person born sinless, and perhaps one with the beautific vision (which it’s not clear that our Blessed Mother had before her fiat), has the ability to sin. To support my case, I look to the Catechism and the Bible, specifically Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve were sinless and walked with God, yet still had the ability to chose to sin. Mary undid the knot bound by Eve by her free and willing choice to follow God.

Truthfully, beyond the writings of Fr. Hardon, I’m not really certain where Toupaolo is basing his arguments - this is why I have asked him to clarify and explain where I’m getting it wrong.

Thank you, however, for your effort to “mend fences”. If I am mistaking his argument, please help me understand what he is saying (open invitation to anyone…).

RyanL


#15

[quote=RyanL]Tuopaolo,
That’s fine for you to say, but unless you can logically show me where I am wrong, you have not presented a case.
[/quote]

It’s not a question of showing you that you are wrong because there’s nothing to show wrong in the first place as you haven’t presented anything to support your contorted interpretation. But let’s go with each part you bolded:

“**committed **no sin”

So what? The fact that she committed no sin does not mean that she was capable of sinning. Christ also committed no sin. He was not thereby capable of sinning.

"responded with the obedience of faith"

Again Christ also responded to the Father’s call with the obedience of faith. That doesn’t mean he was thereby capable of sinning.

"giving her consent"

Again Christ consented to all that the Father willed. That doesn’t mean that he was capable of sinning. Being incapable of sinning also doesn’t mean that one is unable to give and withhold consent as one can give and withhold consent to many things that have nothing to do with sin.

"she gave herself"

This is the most ridiculous part of your argument. The Father gives Himself eternally to the Son – but that does not mean that the Father is capable of sinning. The Son likewise, including in His created humanity, gives himself in thanksgiving to his Father, but that does not mean that the Son is capable of sinning.

"in order to serve"

This is also a very ridiculous argument. Christ in Scripture says He came in order to serve – this doesn’t mean He is capable of sinning.

"Being obedient"

Scripture also speaks of Christ as being obedient – it doesn’t mean Christ is capable of sinning.

I don’t care who, the Holy Father included, endorses him. If he is teaching contrary to the Church, he is wrong. The Holy Father [pick a century] has been wrong before - the only guarantee is that he won’t be wrong when teaching infallibly in a binding matter of faith and morals, which is most certainly not what an endorsement of Fr. Hardon is. Also, just because Fr. Hardon claims this is the “common teaching”, does not make it so.

If you want to think of yourself as knowing better than Fr John A Hardon, Pope John Paul II, and the Catholic Encyclopedia, then there’s probably nothing that could convince you otherwise.

God (including the person of Christ) is forced

No, God is not forced to do anything.


#16

[quote=tuopaolo]Mary was and is free but that doesn’t mean she was or is capable of sinning. The capacity to sin is actually a sign of a lack of perfection in freedom. Both Mary and Christ were and are incapable of sinning. Also all the saints in heaven and the angels in heaven after being given the beatific vision are all incapable of sinning yet they are not less but more free because of it.
[/quote]

Lucifer and a third of the angels in heaven did indeed sin, even though they were in the presence of God and lacked Original Sin.


#17

[quote=Axion]Lucifer and a third of the angels in heaven did indeed sin, even though they were in the presence of God and lacked Original Sin.
[/quote]

Lucifer and the fallen angels never possessed the beatific vision. The good angels only received the beatific vision after they passed their test.

Lacking original sin doesn’t have anything to do with anything.


#18

tuopaolo,

First, you have failed to address the main thrust of my argument, only snipe from the sides. Second, you still have presented no argument other than “you’re dumb”, which really is no argument at all. If Adam and Eve, who were without sin and walked with God as creatures with their creator, were capable of sinning, how is it that the Blessed Mother was not? Again, please include what you base this on other than Fr. Hardon. How, exactly, do you know that Mary possessed the Beatific Vision prior to the Annunciation?

RyanL


#19

[quote=tuopaolo]God is not forced to do anything.
[/quote]

This is theologically wrong. God is forced to be who He is by His very nature. He cannot be other than He is - He cannot be Lie, as He is Truth. He is forced by His own nature to be Truth.


#20

[quote=RyanL]If Adam and Eve, who were without sin and walked with God as creatures with their creator, were capable of sinning, how is it that the Blessed Mother was not?
[/quote]

The Blessed Mother was not just without sin. She had an inherent quality (by grace) that Adam and Eve did not possess. Fr Hardon already explained this and I invite you to read it again, paying attention to the portion I underlined:

"Was the Blessed Virgin free from stain because she did not offend God, or because she was impeccable and incapable of sin? The latter is common teaching in Catholic Tradition, while distinguishing it from the impeccability enjoyed by Christ. His may be called absolute and derived from the union of his human nature with the divinity. He could not sin because he was God, and God is infinitely holy. Mary could not sin by reason of an inherent quality, which some place midway between the state of souls in the beatific vision and that of our first parents before the fall.

“Concretely this quality may be identified with perseverance in grace as regards grave sin, and confirmation in grace for lesser sins. In either case, however, her incapacity for sin differed radically from that of Christ. Where his was based on the fact that he is a divine person, hers was an added prerogative. It was absolutely necessary that he could not sin, since God is sinless. It was a free gift of God’s mercy that Mary could not sin, but only because she was protected by divine favor.” (pp. 159-160 of The Catholic Catechism)

How, exactly, do you know that Mary possessed the Beatific Vision prior to the Annunciation?

Um I never said that Mary posssessed the Beatific Vision prior to the Annunciation (or for that matter after the Annunciation).

Since you dismiss the Catholic Encyclopedia, Pope John Paul II, and Fr John A Hardon, I doubt you’ll listen to Pope Pius IX but I’ll give it a shot:

“Therefore, far above all the angels and all the saints so wondrously did God endow her with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured from the treasury of his divinity that this mother, ever absolutely free of all stain of sin, all fair and perfect, would possess that fullness of holy innocence and sanctity than which, under God, one cannot even imagine anything greater, and which, outside of God, no mind can succeed in comprehending fully.”

This is from Ineffabilis Deus within which was defined the Immaculate Conception

newadvent.org/library/docs_pi09id.htm

If Mary at the moment of the Immaculate Conception possesed a “fullness of holy innocence and sanctity than which, under God, one cannot even imagine anything greater, and which, outside of God, no mind can succeed in comprehending fully” than that means she was holier at that moment than the saints and angels in heaven who are incapable of sinning. But if Mary were not also incapable of sinning, then those saints and angels who are incapable of sinning would be holier than Mary in that respect. So therefore, Mary was incapable of sinning, being not only holier than all the angels and saints in Heaven, but also so holy “under God, one cannot even imagine anything greater, and which, outside of God, no mind can succeed in comprehending fully.”


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