Mary and sinlessness

But that is not what you wrote. You wrote that John was filled with the Holy Spirit when he leapt in Elizabeth’s womb. You exact words were:

Originally Posted by Della
“Well, almost. When John leapt in Elizabeth’s womb he was filled with the Holy Spirit. It’s why his is the only birthday, besides Jesus’ and Mary’s, the Church celebrates.”

That John was filled with the Holy Spirit sometime while in Elizabeth’s womb we know. But the exact time that occurred scripture does not say. Also, to say that the “Holy Spirit cannot dwell in the presence of sin” is an incorrect statement as it imposes a limitation on God who has no limits.

The Early Church Fathers and the liturgy of the Feast of St. John the Baptist both say that he was filled with the Holy Spirit when Mary visited Elizabeth who was filled with the Holy Spirit. when she greeted Mary, due to Christ’s presence in Mary’s womb. That is where we get this information. Remember, we are not just “people of the book” meaning that we only go by what we can find in the Bible. Rather, we go by Sacred Tradition, of which the Bible is a part, the Magisterium, and the Sensus Fidei of the whole Church (the sense of the faith or Doctrine that rises up from the whole body of the Faithful).

Also, to say that the “Holy Spirit cannot dwell in the presence of sin” is an incorrect statement as it imposes a limitation on God who has no limits.

John the Baptist was freed of original sin when the Holy Spirit entered his mother. That is what it means, no more and no less. You can look up another reference from the Catholic Encyclopedia (the emphasis is mine):

“And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant” — filled, like the mother, with the Holy Ghost — “leaped for joy in her womb”, as if to acknowledge the presence of his Lord. Then was accomplished the prophetic utterance of the angel that the child should “be filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother’s womb”. Now as the presence of any sin whatever is incompatible with the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the soul, it follows that at this moment John was cleansed from the stain of original sin.

What you say is definitely possible. BUT… Let’s not place the ECF’s on the same level as scripture. After all some of them were never canonized [Origen] and some lapsed into heresy [Tertullian]. So too, the Sensus Fidei does not rise to the level of divinely inspired scripture. At one time the Sensus Fidei held that Purgatory was a place where we were purified of the temporal effects of sin. But Purgatory was never a place at all.

Luke was inspired to write that Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Apparently the Holy Spirit did not inspire him to write about John being filled with the spirit at the same time. Maybe the Holy Spirit had a good reason to not so inspire Luke. Maybe at some point in time the church will formally define exactly when John was filled with the Spirit. But until that occurs I will stick to what the scriptures reveal.

Hold to whatever you want. It’s none of my business, and I don’t care for it’s no skin off my nose. :stuck_out_tongue: However, you cannot go around making claims that it “limits God” to state what the Church has taught for centuries–that John was filled with the Holy Spirit upon his mother being filled with the Holy Spirit. That is what I thought needed attention. And Scripture is not higher than Sacred Tradition, rather it is a part of it. Also, the Magisterium has the authority to determine what Scripture means, not individuals like you and me.

Okay, I’ll let you have the last word even if it isn’t quite correct.


Back to the OP it can be stated that it was fitting that Jesus prepared for His Incarnation by creating His mother to receive Him.

Thus Jesus saved Her by creating her completely full of sanctifying grace(divine life).

Being full of sanctifying grace she was thus fully capable of fulfilling God’s will in all things during her entire life.

Thus she never sinned.

:thumbsup: Yes, this is all we really need to know/accept to be one with the mind of the Church about Mary’s sinlessness.

I know the Orthodox do not believe Mary was conceived without sin, but they do hold that she was sinless after that. Just as a thought, could it be possible that by having Jesus in her womb, that He washed away her original sin? Much like how Jesus heals us when we receive Him in the form if the Eucharist?

That’s a nice thought but it’s not Church teaching. The Church teaches that Mary was preserved free from original sin at the moment of her conception, not after Jesus was incarnated in her womb. She was preserved from OS so her Divine Son would have no taint of Adam’s sin in his fleshly existence.

Well I know its not a Church teaching, I was asking why that line of thinking would be wrong.

When we sinful humans, even after Confession we’re still sinners, consume the Eucharist, do we taint Christ in this way? Or does He heal us through the Eucharist? Ive always been.told that Christ healed us. Why would He be tainted by a womans original sin? He’s God after all, He isn’t bound by our rules.

He does not heal us of mortal sin by us receiving the Eucharist only venial sins. Original sin is not actual sin, but it is the deprivation of God’s grace, the same as mortal sin, even though no one has actually sinned merely by being conceived. Did you want Jesus’ flesh to be incarnated from tainted flesh? If Jesus had cleansed Mary after his incarnation, he would have been incarnated of human flesh tainted by original sin. Mary had to be prevented from ever being tainted in the first place so that Jesus would not be tainted with original sin. It all has to do with Jesus’ Incarnation, and not so much Mary’s need to be cleansed. We all need to be cleansed one way or the other. God chose to cleanse Mary by not allowing her to be tainted in the first place.

Jesus is the conqueror of sin and death. Why would mere original sin taint Him? Again, if Jesus had been born of tainted flesh, that wouldn’t necessitate Him being tainted -He’s God and can therefore do anything. He is not bound by our laws or ways or even our reality.

You and I accept that he is God and can do anything, but the world doesn’t see it that way. God wanted to be certain no objections could possibly be made by Satan or man against the fullness Jesus’ two natures. He did this for our good, not because he couldn’t do it any other way. Besides, all this was thrashed out long ago by the theologians, saints and bishops of the Church. We accept this teaching because those given the authority by Christ have told us that Mary was immaculately conceived. It’s a dogma of the Church and that’s all we untrained Catholic laymen need to know.

Its a good point, and for the same reason why would He allow Mary to fall into the original state of sin be it ancestral or original?

The teaching is one of the same, the only difference is the CC via Duns Scotus considered it “most fitting” that she was preserved by a singular act of Grace and from all eternity.

In fact I believe Scotus suggested either God couldn’t preserve Her, or He chose not to. Either is a fated argument for the exact reason you mentioned.

Its plausible from Scripture Mary was preserved at the Annunciation also. All good points but what is most fitting?

Someone mentioned once John the Baptist lept for joy in Elizabeth’s womb, only then did the Holy Spirit enter her and John, cleansing John of original sin.

It makes sense that upon Mary saying yes to God, that once the Spirit entered into her womb that she, too, would’ve been cleansed in a like manner that John was cleansed.

The pattern repeats every time we sinners (of course one in mortal sin cannot receive the Eucharist and receiving it doesn’t heal the mortal sin, only compounds it - this isn’t exactly what I’m speaking about) participate in receiving the Eucharist at mass. God heals us once we accept Him into our bodies. He’s not demanding that we be entirely sinless (as far as I have been taught, one can in fact receive Communion with venial sin) in order to house His Flesh and Blood within us, but rather it seems we become holier when we do receive Him.

When the angel said “Hail Mary full of grace”, why does this signify that Mary was conceived without sin? I would think perhaps one could interpret that as meaning Mary was a very righteous woman, always in a state of grace, thus being “full of grace” ?

Considering Mary also had birth pains while Jesus was being born, an effect of original sin, it seems more plausible that the Orthodox understanding might bear some truth?

This is my understanding also. He was in the presence of God and blessed.

Your saying Mary preserved by Gods Grace in His own dwelling was contingent on Her yes? She was Full of Grace before the Angel entered time and confirmed it? Yes or no?

I follow, however Baptism would be more correctly what we are speaking of. Your right there’s many similarities with the Sacraments to contemplate.

Mary was blessed from all time, and its consistent with all the early church teachings and documents. As to the venial-mortal aspect and the need to be entirely sinless? At Mass when we say the Confiteor our venial sins are removed “before” we receive Communion. Contrition also comes to mind. Mary on Her path in sanctification increased also. In fact this is where East and West raised Her to Queen of Heaven higher than the Seraphim etc.

Sin is the absence of Grace. There were many righteous individuals in the OT, Abraham comes to mind immediately. Only “one” is the Mother of the Lord.

Where does it state Mary had birth pains in Orthodox teaching? If fact that is “contrary” to “all” early church father patristic writing

The Orthodox teaching is the Catholic Church teaching and from antiquity, there is only “:one” there is no such thing as a “different” teaching in orthodoxy. In fact Ancestral sin cannot be found “anywhere” in patristic writing. If you can prove to me such a novel idea existed “before” Augustine, I would be mighty impressed. So this division proposed I can’t actually understand what is suggestive but polemics here.

So in this sense there is no “wrong” but there is a “most fitting”?

Thorns, your profile states that you are Catholic, but what you are sharing here is certainly not Catholic doctrine. Are you perhaps young and not properly catechized?

Mary was conceived immaculately. Do you realize that the Church has a special feast day, a holy day of obligation, that we celebrate this truth in all solemnity? December 8th.

Your belief that the Spirit entered into her and cleansed her like John the Baptist is actually heretical. If you require further teaching, let us know, and we will gladly point you in the right direction. :slight_smile:

EDIT: In case I misunderstood your meaning, where you may have belileved that Mary was cleansed in her “MOTHER’S” womb, like St. John was cleansed in Elizabeth’s womb, that also is a wrongful understanding. She was never in need of cleansing, for from the moment of her conception, she was free from sin, and did not need cleansing at some future development in the womb.

Sirach, I am not claiming I believe this, I am asking why that line of thinking is inaccurate.

But, I dont know certain things about the Faith and I am here to ask questions and learn as I go.

It’s inaccurate because it was solemnly defined in an ExCathedra pronouncement by the Pope. As you may or may not know, there were only two of these ExCathedra statements made in our history, so they are infallible beyond a shadow of any doubt.

We may not understand this concept, but we must believe in it. It is a dogma of the faith. Not everything we are required to believe is understandable with our human minds, such as the Trinity, and Transubstantiation, etc. But we believe, as our Act of Faith professes, because if comes from God, “who canst neither deceive nor be deceived.”

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit