Mary conceived without sin

Hi guys! In our last Apologetics meeting, our topic was Mary and the Saints. One of the guys in my small group asked why it was necessary to believe that Mary had been conceived free of original sin, and why we couldn’t believe that she had simply been cleansed in the womb or at some other point in her life. He said he felt that Mary’s total freedom from original sin seemed to take away from her humanity some - and wondered how she could still have a fallen nature (ie the free will to sin, though he can believe she never chose to sin) if she didn’t have original sin. Do you have any ideas for explanations for him? Thanks!

[quote=Sandtigress]wondered how she could still have a fallen nature (ie the free will to sin, though he can believe she never chose to sin) if she didn’t have original sin.
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Adam did not have original sin to start, and yet he had the free will to sin. This observation could help your buddy. Adam surely is human!

Our fallen nature is not normally equated with giving us the free will to sin. It is more often equated with irregular desire, concupiscence, a certain dis-ability to know the truth clearly, etc.

[quote=Sandtigress]Hi guys! In our last Apologetics meeting, our topic was Mary and the Saints. One of the guys in my small group asked why it was necessary to believe that Mary had been conceived free of original sin, and why we couldn’t believe that she had simply been cleansed in the womb or at some other point in her life. He said he felt that Mary’s total freedom from original sin seemed to take away from her humanity some - and wondered how she could still have a fallen nature (ie the free will to sin, though he can believe she never chose to sin) if she didn’t have original sin. Do you have any ideas for explanations for him? Thanks!
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Well, the short answer to “why we are to believe” is because it is a dogma of the Church. And really, that is the best reason.

You know, I don’t understand why Catholics (or anyone else) seem to think that they are the first person to “see” some difficulty with a Church teaching. Hasn’t anyone informed this person that the Church never declares any dogma without exploring every angle and every objection? What? Does he think the Church just picks these beliefs out of the thin air? :whacky:

If you and others are going to have an apologetics group, you first of all ought to know what the Church teaches, and the best source for that is the Catechism: Virgin Mary. Also, there are many threads on this board dealing with this topic with this question as the springboard.

[quote=Della]You know, I don’t understand why Catholics (or anyone else) seem to think that they are the first person to “see” some difficulty with a Church teaching. Hasn’t anyone informed this person that the Church never declares any dogma without exploring every angle and every objection? What? Does he think the Church just picks these beliefs out of the thin air? :whacky:
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Good point. I was dialoguing with a Protestant the other day about how Athanasius, Jerome, and Augustine all clearly stated that Mary was a perpetual virgin. He replied, “Well the Bible says Jesus had brothers, so I’ll believe the Bible.” Come on, as if Athanasius and Jerome weren’t fluent in Koine Greek? Did Jerome forget to read sections of the NT when he translated it?!?! [/end off topic rant]

[quote=Sandtigress]Hi guys! In our last Apologetics meeting, our topic was Mary and the Saints. One of the guys in my small group asked why it was necessary to believe that Mary had been conceived free of original sin, and why we couldn’t believe that she had simply been cleansed in the womb or at some other point in her life. He said he felt that Mary’s total freedom from original sin seemed to take away from her humanity some - and wondered how she could still have a fallen nature (ie the free will to sin, though he can believe she never chose to sin) if she didn’t have original sin. Do you have any ideas for explanations for him? Thanks!
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Firstly, the doctrine was revealed by God. Thus, Catholics are bound to assent to it from the perspective of faith in the authority which revealed it.

Secondly, Eve was created in Original Justice, that is infused with sanctifying grace. Thus, she too was created without original sin. Yet, she still sinned. Consequently, it should be evident that just because Mary was created infused with sanctifying grace, that she too had freewill to sin.

I would explain original sin from the perspective of the gifts given before the fall, and the state of humanity after the fall.

Adam and Eve had gifts prior to their sin: natural gifts, preternatural gifts, and supernatural gifts. As a consequence of these gifts, Adam and Ever are said to have been created in Original Justice. After the fall, the only thing removed form them was the preternatural gifts (eg. freedom from suffering, freedom from death), and the supernatural gifts (eg. sanctifying grace). Their natural gifts remained unchanged, and are given to their progeny by natural generation. For their progeny, natural generation does not result in sanctification, however, including Mary. Sanctification would require God’s special intervention.

Thus Original Sin (the opposite of Original Justice) is the natural state of all mankind after Adam and Eve, due to natural generation. Nobody, not even Mary is given supernatural gift of grace through natural generation. That requires a special intervention by God. That intervention we call being “born again” or “born from above.”

God intervenes supernaturally on our behave when we are “born from above.” This results in supernatural grace being infused in you soul. We are then justified and made righteous by God’s grace. This happens for every Christian whenever God so chooses. We believe this occurs in sacramental baptism, but can occur extra-sacramentally as well. God can and has sanctified infants in their wombs. According to Jer. 1:5: “Before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee.” And of John the Baptist, Luke 1:15 says*: “He shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.*”

So, when did Mary become “born from above?” The Catholic Church insists that she was sanctified simultaneous to her creation, like Eve. This may have been to untie the knot tied by Eve as St. Irenaeus described in the 2nd century: “***Thus then, the knot of the disobedience of Eve was untied through the obedience of Mary.***” (ca. AD 189, )

to be continued…

continued…

Futhermore, God gives us a hint in the OT… (the following material written by Frank Chacon and Jim Burnam of San Juan Catholic Seminars:
(Beginning Apologetics 6: How to Explain & Defend Marian Doctrines)

The Ark was the holiest creation in the OT religion. It was sacred because it carried the stone tablets of the Law that God gave Moses on Mount Sinai. In Ex 25, God gave meticulous instructions for constructing the Ark. It had to be made incorruptible from acacia wood, plated inside and outside with pure gold. It must be kept free from all impurity and profanation. In 2 Sam 6:6-7, God struck Uzzah dead because he dared to touch the Ark.

From the earliest centuries, Christians saw the OT Ark as an OT type of Mary. The connection is clear. That Ark carried the written Word of God; Mary carried the living Word. Mary is the living Ark of the living Word. The Ark helps us to see the biblical basis for doctrines like the Immaculate Conception and Assumption, which are not taught explicitly in Sacred Scripture, but which are taught implicitly through OT typology. Mary, like the OT Ark was made pure (Immaculate Conception), stayed pure (Perpetual Virginity), and kept from corruption (bodily Assumption into heaven).

It is also significant that in Rev, after seeing a vision of the OT Ark, John immediately sees a vision of a woman (Mary), thereby further connecting the OT Ark to the NT Ark–Mary. The Feast of the Assumption dates back to the early centuries of Christianity. The liturgy of this feast is filled with OT readings which reference … the OT Ark. This indicates that the early Church understood Mary to be the New Ark.

Moreover, God’s chosen people in the OT used the Ark of the Covenant as a guide in their journey into the promised land (Num 10:33; Josh 3:3,6,11,14). Moses and his people also used the OT Ark of the Covenant in their battle against adversity (Josh 3:13-17) and against their enemies (Joshua 6). Likewise, you may find Catholics who place Mary (the new Ark) in a prominent place in their faith journey, turning to her frequently in their fight against evil. In the OT, the actions of Moses and God’s people did not prove they worshipped the Ark. Any effects the Ark had in guiding them and battling adversity came only from God. The same is true for Catholics who turn to Mary for her intercession. This practice, while not central to the Gospel message, does not detract from our love of the Lord and is not despised by our Lord. According to Luke’s Gospel, Mary’s soul magnifies the Lord and all generations will call her blessed.

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