Mary and pre-destination


#1

I recently read a short book by Thomas Aquinas (it was against the Muslims and various other things). In this book, Aquinas describes how the fact that God can see everything (past, present and future) does not deny free-will. Aquinas describes it something like this:

If you are walking on a circular track, then you can see a little way ahead of you, but you only have a vague awareness of what is going on behind you. Now a person who is standing on a hill in the middle of the track can see everything happening on the track. This is God, who can see the whole track, but the person on the track can only see a little bit into the past, but really has no idea what will happen in the future.

My question is, how does free-will apply in the case of Mary? She must have had free-will, and so chose to do everything that she did. But what chance that she would spend her entire life sinless, in order to bear the Son of God? Did God just sit around waiting for an appropriate person to come along, or did the Immaculate Conception somehow ensure that Mary would be sinless her entire life?

Actually I think I may have just worked it out, but I would like to see what everyone else has to say about this. Thanks!


#2

Well, the Messiah could have come at any time and been born of any number of women, but Mary was chosen. I live in horror that she may have been the only possible person who, if given the advantage of no original sin, WOULD have chosen God perfectly in every instance of her life. I mean, Eve blew it. I sincerely doubt i would have stayed sinless with every grace that God gave Mary. But then i see saints like Maria Goretti and think that maybe for some reason unknown to us all, that was just perfect timing and Mary was one of a few whom he could have picked. Maybe her station in life was just more humble. A fun question to ponder, but i’m sure all will be revealed when we are all united to our loving God in heaven.


#3

Agreed.

My understanding is that God waited until the time was right, which included accounting for the prayers of those who were anticipating the redeemer.

Galatians 4:4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent his Son, made of a woman, made under the law:

I don’t think we can say this ensured her sinlessness, because Adam and Eve were created sinless and still sinned.

hurst


#4

Being in a full state of grace was the reason Mary never sinned. I have read it’s similar to the state of grace we will be in in Heaven, its not like anything we experience on earth as we have all been touched by original sin; even though we are baptized, the effects (pain, temptation, etc.) are with us.


#5

How could Mary be a human being without having free will? I don’t understand your question.


#6

Some distinctions should be kept in mind here. First of all, in heaven we will not be able to sin anymore. Secondly, in heaven we will possess the glory of beatitude. Thirdly, we will not suffer. But Mary did suffer, and we even honor her sorrows.

But Jesus was tempted in the desert, and suffered pain in his passion. Also, Jesus taught that He had to suffer before He entered into His glory.

I think this shows that being sinless does not prevent us from suffering. It can be due to the sins of others.

When someone sinless suffers, though, there is a greater good being accomplished, just as when we who are sinful suffer for something we did not deserve in particular.

1 Peter 2:20 For what glory is it, if committing sin, and being buffeted for it, you endure? But if doing well you suffer patiently; this is thankworthy before God.

hurst


#7

live in horror that she may have been the only possible person who, if given the advantage of no original sin, WOULD have chosen God perfectly in every instance of her life.

Why do you live in horror? I live in awe at this. I believe that it is probably the case that out of all the possible histories of the world, at least those after a Fall, only Mary had potential timelines where she would have chosen God perfectly and cooperated with his grace at every moment of her life. And even then, she probably would have sinned some if not for special graces and providential priviledges given (ie, an Immaculate Conception, being the Mother of God, etc)…

It shows how special she was, even as just a human, and how depraved we all are and dependent on God’s mercy and grace.


#8

Matt I guess I was trying to play devil’s advocate and ask how free-will works in the case of Mary, from the point-of-view of not taking free-will for granted. In other words, how would you explain how Mary had free-will to a Presbyterian?


#9

Free will works the same for Mary as it does for any other human being. The difference between Mary and the rest of us children of Adam and Eve is that Mary was born without concupiscence. Mary was like Adam and Eve before they sinned, in that Adam and Eve also possessed the preternatural gift of freedom from concupiscence when they were in Paradise.

In other words, how would you explain how Mary had free-will to a Presbyterian?

Heck, most Presbyterians don’t even believe you and I have free will. I wouldn’t expect them to grasp the subtleties of being the Mother of God living in the fallen world without concupiscence.


#10

According to Catholic teaching, the grace of Mary’s Immaculate Conception did not eradicate the possibility of her sinning. Even with grace (like Eve), she could have freely chosen against God’s will.

Thus, Mary was sinless but even with the grace of God, had the possibility of sinning throughout her entire life.


#11

[quote=awalt]Being in a full state of grace was the reason Mary never sinned. I have read it’s similar to the state of grace we will be in in Heaven, its not like anything we experience on earth as we have all been touched by original sin; even though we are baptized, the effects (pain, temptation, etc.) are with us.
[/quote]

According to Ludwig Ott’s *Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, *this is incorrect. Mary did indeed have the possibility of sin. The grace of God that she received was not irresistible. I’ll look up the reference later.


#12

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