I was listening to a talk by Fulton Sheen in which he explained that Jesus got something from Virgin Mary, namely a sinless humanity. If that is to be true then Virgin Mary must have got the same thing from her mother Anne. Then Anne must have…and so on. That doesn’t sound like good theology. How does the Church solve this problem?
Well, this is true only if we assume that Jesus could have entered existence in a state of sanctifying grace only **if **His mother had been conceived likewise; that is, His being born of a sinless virgin was in some way necessary for the Incarnation to occur in the way that it did.
As is often pointed out: the Immaculate Conception wasn’t necessary, but merely fitting.
Mary and Jesus are the only two human beings to be conceived without Original Sin (John the Baptist was born w/o Original Sin, but he was not conceived without it). Mary’s sinlessness was not inherited from her mother, Anne. Anne would have been born in sin. By the intervention of God, Mary was preserved from sin. God worked in Mary in a special way by applying the merits of the Paschal Mystery to her - before they occurred in human time. Therefore, Christ is still Mary’s Redeemer, but his saving work was applied to her early, so to speak, so that she could act as a pure and proper vessel to bring Christ into the world - She is the true Ark of the Covenant.
I’ve always found this argument (that it was necessary for Mary to be immaculate) to be unconvincing.
If God could prevent Mary’s human sin (despite her sinful parents), he could do the same for Jesus’ humanity.
Jesus is the new Adam, and Mary is the new Eve. I believe that Mary was conceived without sin because that’s how Eve was created. Mary was untouched by Eve’s sin, and, unlike Eve, chose to obey God.
What does that mean?
Do you have a link to the Fulton Sheen talk?
I could be mistaken, but I think its from his meaning of Christmas talk
According to the Gospel of Luke, when Mary, pregnant with Christ, visited her cousin Elizabeth, pregnant with John the Baptist, Elizabeth was “filled with the Holy Spirit and the child leapt within her womb”. The Church has always held this to be a form of baptism for John the Baptist (for one cannot be “filled with the Holy Spirit” without being in the state of grace). Therefore, while John the Baptist was conceived with Original Sin, during the Visitation, he received the Holy Spirit and was cleansed of sin before his birth. Thus, he was born without Original Sin.
This article explains it in better detail: