Trying to defend Catholic belief in Mary

#21

In the dogmatic system of the Catholic Church the Mother of Christ appears next to Christ, the new Adam, not merely as the living earth of which He is formed, but, as the protoevangelium (Genesis 3:15) has given us to understand, she comes also into the foreground as the New Eve, i.e., a person who is connected with Christ through the most intimate and living communication, and who, in and by Him, presides over the whole universe, as Eve with Adam presided over the earthly world. With Christ she forms the cornerstone, the root as well as the crown of the supernatural order, and through her activity she has an intimate share in His work of redemption.

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#22

On the other hand, the mother of the Redeemer is the first and most perfect fruit of the redemption, through the personal richness of her supernatural life and through her activity. With regard to her dignity, virtue, and activity, she prefigures the grace of redemption, to be distributed to all other redeemed persons. In other words: Mary, the spiritual mother of each individual redeemed soul and of the Church as a whole, is the model both of the divine filiation of grace of redeemed persons and of the heavenly motherhood of the Church.

For all these reasons Mary occupies a place, essential and exalted, in the divine plan of the world as in the dogma and life of the Church. Mariology forms an organic part of dogmatics and it is treated as such in St. Thomas.

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#23

Yet, from both these points of view, Mariology has acquired a special significance through the contention of early and modern Protestantism against the Catholic doctrine of grace and the Church, with which the dispute about Mary’s privileges in question went hand in hand. That is why heresy instinctively attacked the Immaculate Conception of Mary together with the infallibility of the supreme head of the Church. It is quite correct for a Protestant scholar to think that Catholics glorify and defend in Mary our mystical conception of the Church as the mother and mediatrix of grace.

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#24

Mary’s exalted position in the dogmatic theology of the Church in the face of all heresies, forms the main idea of the old adage: Thou alone has destroyed all the heresies in the whole world, or, she alone has brought to dust every heretical depravity. This thought corresponds with the protoevangelium; the heresies are regarded as the seed, or the head of the serpent. Such expressions are found in the Fathers of more ancient times: e.g., “scepter of right faith” in Cyril of Alexandria, in a discourse delivered at Ephesus. This happened because of the fact that the old heresies attacked Christology and that through the well established position of Mary the clearest light was shed on all the aspects of Christology.

This not only applies to the more modern heresies, so far as, by denying the ancient doctrine of the godhead of Christ, they deny in general the supernatural order in Christianity, but also to the specific Protestant heresies about grace and the Church. So far as Protestantism still believes in the divinity of Christ, it regards Mary only as the earth from which the first Adam has been taken, and not as a person who has the closest, mutually spiritual relations with Christ. This fits in completely with the doctrine of the Reformation, according to which human nature in general is as a “lump of clay,” which was not changed through grace to its very essence and which could not cooperate in the reception of grace. According to the Catholic concept, however, Mary represents the living, passive, and active susceptibility to the regenerating grace. The Fathers acknowledge the significance that Mariology gives the doctrine of the Church to the extent that they delight to picture the latter in the image taken from the former.

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#25

Thanks for the explanations. I appreciate it.

cheddar

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#26

I heard a great anecdote from Kimberly Hahn that helped explain the Immaculate Conception and why Mary (like all of us) needs a Savior.

Kimberly (still a Protestant, in high school) was at a youth group meeting with a friend (and PK- preacher’s kid). As was usual for this group, people were giving incredible testimonies about how Jesus had saved them from drinking, drugs, debauchery, etc.

Kimberly was starting to feel a little uncomfortable with the way the discussion was going, but really couldn’t say much because, hey, isn’t this what conversion was supposed to be? However, she felt rather inadequate because she didn’t have a cool whiz-bang conversion story.

Just then, her friend stood up. He started testifying about how Jesus had gotten him out of drugs, etc. etc. and even worse! He was getting quite a few appreciative “Amen, brother!” cheers. Kimberly was shocked. This guy had consistently been a really good Christian, and he hadn’t been involved in any of the sins he was describing.

And then he paused, making sure the audience was hooked. “And how did Jesus save me from this horrible life of sin? He gave me a great mom and dad who raised me right so that I wouldn’t fall into all of that mess.”

Years later, Kimberly remembered the incident during her journey into the Church when she was trying to understand the Immaculate Conception. Yes, Jesus saved Mary. The graces of the cross were applied to her at her conception, though. Adam and Eve were created without sin, but chose evil. The New Adam (Christ) and the New Eve (Mary) were both conceived without the stain of original sin, and they both chose God.

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closed #27
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