Immaculate Conception of Mary


#1

Hi all!

I am not yet a Catholic, but I do have this one nagging question for which I hope I might find some help. I still cannot get my head around the necessity for the doctrine of Mary being conceived without sin.

My initial objection always seems to be the same: if the reason for Mary being without Original Sin is that only in this way would Jesus be born without Original Sin, then in order for Mary to be born without OS, Anne should have been born without it as well. But by this line of logic, it would extend all the way back to a point where a denial of Original Sin is happening.

Please help, as I am unsure as to whether or not I fully understand the doctrine, much less how to understand explaining it.

Thanks very much! :slight_smile:


#2

Have you read this article?
catholic.com/library/Immaculate_Conception_and_Assum.asp


#3

This is a good site that explains it.


#4

Mary’s Immaculate Conception was an act of singular grace that God bestowed on her because she was to be the Mother of God (the Theotokos, God-bearer). It had nothing to do with her ancestors, except that she was of the House of David.

Just as God chose certain persons before their birth, such as Samuel and John the Baptist, he chose Mary before time began to be the New Eve. He knew mankind would fall and made provision for it, even before he created us.

What we are really discussing here is God’s grace and how he bestows it and why. As a totally free agent, God can bestow his grace on whom he pleases for whatever reason he pleases. Not that he would ever violate his own character in so-doing, but he knows what he is doing and why.

This issue goes much deeper than Mary, but goes to the heart of the “New Creation in Christ” that Paul talks about. Jesus, as the Second Adam redeemed us and gave us a new Mother of the new race (those redeemed by Christ) to replace fallen Eve with the Second Eve, Mary. She is the example of grace working perfectly in the human heart, mind and soul, and therefore a sign of hope for us who desire to live within the grace of God.


#5

This is not the reason Mary was preserved from Original Sin. Clearly it was not necessary for Mary to be free from Original Sin in order for Jesus to be free from it. Jesus is God.

Mary was **preserved **from Original Sin, in essence Mary was as we all were meant to be (and as Adam & Eve were created). The preservation was a singular grace given to her to live out her vocation of total dedication to, and union with, God.


#6

do tell


#7

My system blipped before I finished my sentence and posted… I must have tabbed or something… so I’ve edited my response to contain the rest of what I was going to say


#8

It’s been said many times in these forums and elsewhere, that is was not necessary for Mary to be free from original sin, but it was *fitting. *
To me that is a very simple, yet convincing point.


#9

Catholics believe that baptism removes the stain of original sin, and this is of God, so with Mary, God could have chosen to remove the stain of original sin at the moment of her conception.

As to why?

I heard once that it was fitting that Mary be free of sin when the angel (Gabriel) approached her and she chose life, because when Eve was approached by an angel (fallen angel) and chose death, she was free from sin.

As to the notion that she had to be free from original sin because Jesus was free from sin, that doesn’t make sense, because if a married couple both are baptized (cleansed from the stain of origianl sin), and then concieve a child right after that, before they have a chance to sin, well… that child is still born with the stain of original sin.


#10

It was not absolutely necessary but it was fitting that Mary be conceived without sin, as part of God’s plan to restore mankind in a manner similar to how it fell. Mankind fell by the disobedience of a previously sinless man and woman, Adam and Eve. It was part of God’s plan to restore mankind by the obedience of a sinless man and woman, Jesus and Mary.

Of course, the merits of Mary’s obedience were finite because she was a mere creature and the merits of Jesus’ obedience were infinite because he was also God.


#11

The Immaculate Conception is at its heart a Christological dogma.

When God became man, he took on our human nature in its fullness. He who was born of the Father before all ages was born of a woman in time. Everything that children get from their parents, Christ got from his mother. Since original sin is transmitted through inheritance, Mary had to be free of sin for the sake of Christ. She had to be a pure vessel for God.

Christ is so powerful a Redeemer, that he chose to save his mother from sin by giving her the special grace of sharing from the first moment of her existence in the fruits of his Redemption.


#12

That argument is not logical. Based on that argument, Mary’s mother had to be free of sin for Mary’s sake. This would follow all the way back to Eve.

Since God is so powerful, He allowed Jesus to be free of original sin in spite of Mary being human.

Theology based on guesses that it would be “fitting” is not theology necessary for belief by all under penalty of anathema.


#13

Welcome to the Forum.:slight_smile:

God could not provide Jesus with a singular, unfallen human nature and still have Jesus have some connection to the rest of us. However, by applying the merits of Christ to His mother “outside of time” (and so Baptizing her into Christ in advance), Jesus was able both to come from the line of Adam (through Mary) and take on an undamaged humanity like that of Adam (and Eve) before the Fall. Indeed, this was clearly God’s plan from the start, per Genesis 3:15, which places “the woman” (a New Eve) in opposition to the serpent, bringing the Messiah out of that, the Seed of the woman pitted against the seed of the serpent. Otherwise, Jesus would not have taken on a sinless and uncorrupted human nature, but our fallen nature, and so He could not have been the New Adam, but a fallen son of Adam like all the rest of us.

In this, one must also keep in mind that the sin which plunged humanity into darkness was that of Adam, not of Eve. Eve did sin first; but until Adam, as head of the human family, joined her in sin (instead of remaining faithful and interceding for her), humanity as a whole was not cut off from God, and this is the problem which the New Adam came to repair. And, since woman was not the cause of mankind’s final break with God, God takes the creation of woman and re-builds the human race from her (a New Eve - Mary), using her to bring the New Adam (the God-man) into the world which, in the very same dynamic, makes this New Eve’s sinlessness possible.

Regarding fittingness, both in scripture and theology, the argument from fittingness supports many doctrines. For example, Hebrew 2.10: “For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.”

Hebrews7.26: For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.

God is free to do anything in whatever manner He chooses, but the way He does things is always perfect and most fitting for what is to be accomplished. Thus, e.g., with the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary it was most fitting that His Son be conceived and born to a woman preserved from Original Sin.


#14

Hi Frances.

Thanks very much. :slight_smile:

God could not provide Jesus with a singular, unfallen human nature and still have Jesus have some connection to the rest of us.

I find myself wondering “why?” upon reading this. I’m not yet convinced that God could not have, as Protestants tend to believe, simply formed Jesus from the genetic material necessary while keeping Christ completely free from sin in the process. It is not necessary that a human being get “everything” from their parents; God chose to have Original Sin be the rule, yes, but I am more willing to believe at this point that he circumvented it for His own Son (because Jesus is God, making it necessary), while circumventing it for Mary is not necessary and thus, her existence should follow God’s own established rule for entirely human births.

Your usage of Genesis 3:15 is intriguing, and something I will consider. But this:

Otherwise, Jesus would not have taken on a sinless and uncorrupted human nature, but our fallen nature, and so He could not have been the New Adam, but a fallen son of Adam like all the rest of us.

is not provable. You seem, perhaps, to be more willing to believe that God would keep an entirely human being away from Original Sin directly more than He would keep His own incarnate self away from sin directly, which does not make sense to me at this point.

Regarding fittingness, both in scripture and theology, the argument from fittingness supports many doctrines.

Hebrews7.26: For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.

Notice here please, as well, that the very verse you quote could be used to support the Protestant position in a more direct way than your current proposition. I’ve emboldened the phrase I am speaking of directly.

I do agree that God does whatever is most fitting, but I also think it acceptable that God is very efficient and works whatever will bring about the most compassionate good while at the same time fulfilling His just and holy laws as much as possible.

Just a note for prior postings: I’ve read the article on CA, and I do think it does a fine job contextually, but I also think it is a little too dependent on already-conceived notions such as sinlessness before the age of reason - notions which I am not convinced of and need explanation as well if I am to give an implied interpretation over-against the more direct meaning of words in Sacred Scripture (i.e., with the word “all” in Romans 3:23). I think I might need more than “If, then…” statements in order to fully assent and know in my heart that I am doing whatever I can to make sure that I am following what is right by God.


#15

Everything that God has touch becomes Holy. Since Mary was to bear the Son fo God, it would only see fitting that God created Mary free from original sin, and preserved from committing sin.

For Jesus’ own flesh, blood, and bone is from a woman and not from Joseph. We know that Jesus is without any sin, and to think that Mary have sin in her would only indictate that Satan has conquer over the Mother of Our Lord.

I don’t think Satan can have power Mary by having her sin. God who created everything out of nothing can create Mary, the Mother of God free from sin. To say, she wasn’t it wouild only say that God can’t do it.

Mary is pure, and the only human being who knows Jesus in an imitate level. She is His Mother, she was there in the beginning in Jesus’ life and at his death, and resurrection. Mary, the Mother of God is always the faithful handmaid of the Lord.


#16

What is key in more fully and more deeply understanding any doctrine of the Catholic Church is the centrality of the Incarnation. So, the Virgin Mary being preserved from Original Sin was in view of the Incarnation of the Son of God. Why? Preserving her from Original Sin thus allows the Son truly to take on a fully human nature from a woman who herself had a fully human nature. By that I mean that sinfulness is a deformation of our human nature; it prohibits us from “being all that we can be”. :slight_smile: Further, because of her being fully human, she could freely say “yes”. And by that I mean that her “yes” would not have been tainted by any self-concern, any degree of sinfulness; she fully reverses the “no” of sinful Eve who gave her “no” in full freedom.

Adam and Eve, also fully human, had complete freedom of will in that sin was not already in play corrupting them, thus they were fully liable for the fall of themselves and their offspring. There were no mitigating circumstances in their free choice against God. The Holy Virgin, the New Eve, was likewise created immaculately so that her choice of ‘Yes” to God would also bear eternal consequences – she would become through her Son, the New Adam (Whose “YES” to the Cross gives new birth to the Sons of Adam joined to Him), the Mother of all the New Creation because of her completely free choice. As with the first Adam and Eve, there were no circumstances would turn aside the impact of either “Yes”, the first actually preceding from the latter.

. . . I think I might need more than “If, then…” statements in order to fully assent and know in my heart that I am doing whatever I can to make sure that I am following what is right by God.

Well, you see, this really gets to the crux of things, i.e., your approach to the Catholic Faith. While it is important that you come to an understanding of what it is the Church believes and practices, religious assent is more than coming to an agreement after one has crossed all the I’s and dotted all the T’s to one’s own satisfaction with what is asserted for our belief by the Church. Religious assent is part of faith. By that I mean, the gift of Faith allows one to make that assent because the mind has recognized by grace the authority of the revealer. So the judgment that gives one confidence in the witness or revealer moves one (by the will) to accept with the mind, i.e., assent to, whatever the revealer proposes for assent.

Now since this Revealer is Christ in and through His Church, then any difficulties will be far lessened re a particular doctrine if one accepts the authority of the Church to so teach because she is acting with Christ’s authority. Once one can “see” this authority all else will fall in place, or at least the mind will be at peace while seeking greater understanding through study and prayer. (To approach Faith elsewise is to remain essentially Protestant even if one enters into the Catholic Church.)

Regarding the Immaculate Conception, you may find these articles be helpful in that understanding:

catholic-legate.com/articles/icbridge.html

catholic-legate.com/articles/immacconcept.html

bringyou.to/apologetics/a116.htm

bringyou.to/apologetics/a115.htm


#17

Not at all. The makers of the Ark of the Covenant were human and sinful, but the Ark itself, the vessel of God’s presence and grace, of itself was so pure and holy that men died for touching it.

And it’s more than just ‘fitting’ really, it is necessary that there be a NEW Eve, created utterly sinless exactly as Eve was, but freely choosing obedience where Eve chose disobedience. Since sin didn’t just come through Adam but Eve too played her role, so Mary had her similar role to play in our redemption.

Remember too God promised enmity between ‘the woman and her seed’ and Satan. Clearly Eve was no enemy of Satan’s, nor really is any sinful human. Mary, however, if immaculate, and her seed Jesus, fits this prediction of Genesis.


#18

That is an entire argument based on sentiment and not on any biblical basis whatsoever.

God can miraculously keep Mary free from Sin, but cannot keep Jesus free from sin??? :eek:


#19

God can save us without sending his own Son to become human and sacrifice his life for humanity, but he doesn’t. God can zap his Son into existence as a full-grown adult with no human mother, but doesn’t.

It’s not about what God can or cannot do, but what he chooses to do. He chose to keep the Ark of the Covenant pure and untouchable in the OT, he chooses to keep Mary, the New Ark, pure and untouchable as well. He chose to undo Adam’s fall through the New Adam, Jesus. So he chose ot undo Eve’s contribution to the fall by creating her perfect counterpart in Mary.


#20

They died because they were told not to touch it. God struck them down, not the Ark. The Ark struck no one dead.

And it’s more than just ‘fitting’ really, it is necessary that there be a NEW Eve, created utterly sinless exactly as Eve was, but freely choosing obedience where Eve chose disobedience. Since sin didn’t just come through Adam but Eve too played her role, so Mary had her similar role to play in our redemption.

Again, more illogical conclusions. Mary was created utterly sinless? :eek: Where does that come from? Apparently it must be tradition, cause is sure aint biblical.

Fitting? The apostles, especially Peter were totally against the Idea of Christ dying on a cross. They did not think it was fitting! The Lord said “get thee behind me Satan”

Theology based upon what we think is fitting is not from God and certainly not binding upon the person.


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