Was Mary Capable of Sin

Mary was born without original sin, her and John the Baptist being the only two without original sin since Adam and Eve. However, was it possible for her, like Adam and Eve, to turn her back on God through a new original sin? If so, this makes her perpetual sinlessness even more astounding. (I think that’s dogma, but I don’t know for sure.)

Also, is her perpetual sinlessness due only to being “full of grace” or in part also due to her fiat?

I ask these questions because a passage from C.S. Lewis’ Miracles seems ripe for exploration:

After the knowledge of God had been universally lost or obscured, one man from the whole earth (Abraham) is picked out. He is separated (miserably enough, we may suppose) from his natural surroundings, sent into a strange country, and made the ancestor of a nation who are to carry the knowledge of the true God. Within this nation there is further selection: some die in the desert, some remain behind in Babylon. There is further selection still. The process grows narrower and narrower, sharpens at last into one small bright point like the head of a spear. It is a Jewish girl at her prayers. All humanity (so far as concerns its redemption) has narrowed to that.

This wide view of history seems apt. I don’t want to take it too far, though.

Yes she was capable of actual sin, but with the assistance of God’s grace, she did not sin.

(By the way, awesome handle Elijah Bailey – if you are under 30 years old, then double awesome.)

If the angels, who do not have the stain of original sin on their souls, are capable of sinning, then the Blessed Mother was just as capable of sin.

John the Baptist was without original sin??

When did they say John the Baptist was without sin?:confused:


I have heard it said that John the Baptist was sanctified in the womb of Elizabeth at the time of the Visitation, but that is not the same thing as being without original sin. To be without original sin (immaculately conceived) is to be without sin from the first moment of one’s existence (conception).

Mary was capable of sinning, just as Eve was (who was also created without original sin). It’s just that Eve sinned, and Mary did not.

John the Baptist was not without original sin, or it’s the first I’ve ever heard of it.:confused::shrug:

Now that you mentioned it, I figured I should look it up. Lo and behold, quoth Jimmy Akin:

This is not something that the Catholic Church teaches, but it is what may be called a pious and probable belief among Catholics. …

It is commonly understood that the Holy Spirit does not fill those who are still in a state of original sin. As Catholics use the term, “original sin” refers to the privation of the sanctifying grace which unites us with God. A soul filled with the Holy Spirit seems unquestionably to be united with God and thus not deprived of sanctifying grace. Hence, it has not original sin as the term is commonly used among Catholics, just as every person who has been baptized or otherwise justified has not original sin as Catholics use the term. …

(N.B.B., If it is granted that John the Baptist was freed from original sin before birth, it does not follow that he was immaculate, as was the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is firstly because he may have been freed of original sin after his conception and before birth, whereas Mary was preserved from her conception from contracting original sin. And it secondly is because Mary was not only free of original sin, as is posited in the case of John the Baptist, but also utterly free of the stain of original sin, which includes more than just the deprivation of sanctifying grace. It also includes, for example, the later tendency to sin–concupiscience–to which we are subject in this life.)

Good call on the Immaculate Conception, though, and thanks for the compliment on the handle. Jehoshaphat!

As other posters have pointed out, yes Our Lady was capable of sin - but with help of God’s grace she overcame Satan and sin.

St. John the Baptist was certainly born without original sin…this can be demonstrated several ways:

  1. Sacred Scripture, the constant Tradition of the Church, and the Catechism all affirm that St. John was FILLED with the Holy Spirit even in the womb. Can one be filled with the Spirit and yet deprived of God’s sanctifying grace? I think not.
  2. The Church has, since ancient times, celebrated the birth of St. John the Baptist. We do not celebrate the nativities of other saints - we only celebrate holy events…St. John’s was already a saint (that is holy, infused with God’s divine grace) even at birth
  3. In the Byzantine Rite, the conception of St. John the Forerunner (Baptist) is celebrated as a feast. The various Eastern liturgical traditions are equal in dignity to our own Roman tradition. The Church worships as she believes - if part of the Catholic Church (our brothers and sisters of the Byzantine Rite) celebrate St. John’s conception as a holy, grace filled event, and have done so since ancient times, who are we to argue?
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