I am talking to someone who I think is very close to converting to Catholicism. He is hung up on Mary being without sin. I told him that Mary needed Christ as well, just like the rest of us, but I am unable to explain exactly why. What can I say?
Well without Christ she wouldn’t be “saved!”
She wouldn’t have been asked by the Angel to bear the God-child, she wouldn’t have said “Yes,” She wouldn’t have brought Him up, or seen Him crucified. And, there would have been no Resurrection.
Simply put, we know that all that exists came into being through Christ (John 1:1-3). Thus, Jesus conceived of and created His own mother for the express purpose of giving Him His human flesh. No one else had ever been, or will ever be chosen for such a divine purpose.
Here is an insightful YouTube video that explains Mary’s role using some amazing scriptural verses - and just plain logic: youtube.com/watch?v=kUdYeYy3NQA&list=FLwzpBRhLKzV2z0BRTIai1sA&index=1&feature=plpp_video
Funny how this was asked at the same time a Scotus thread started. I highly suggest you watch this 10 minute video I suggested in the Scotus thread, catholic.org/video/watch.php?v=1886 as you’ll get your answer.
From this article on Duns Scotus in Wikipedia:
Perhaps the most influential point of Duns Scotus’ theology was his defense of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. At the time, there was a great deal of argument about the subject. The general opinion was that it was appropriate, but it could not be seen how to resolve the problem that only with Christ’s death would the stain of original sin be removed. The great philosophers and theologians of the West were divided on the subject (indeed, it appears that even Thomas Aquinas sided with those who denied the doctrine, though some Thomists dispute this). The feast day had existed in the East since the seventh century and had been introduced in several dioceses in the West as well, even though the philosophical basis was lacking. Citing Anselm of Canterbury’s principle, “potuit, decuit, ergo fecit” (God could do it, it was appropriate, therefore he did it), Duns Scotus devised the following argument: Mary was in need of redemption like all other human beings, but through the merits of Jesus’ crucifixion, given in advance, she was conceived without the stain of original sin. God could have brought it about (1) that she was never in original sin, (2) she was in sin only for an instant, (3) she was in sin for a period of time, being purged at the last instant. Whatever of these was more excellent should probably be attributed to Mary. This apparently careful statement provoked a storm of opposition at Paris, and suggested the line ‘fired France for Mary without spot’ in the famous poem “Duns Scotus’s Oxford,” by Gerard Manley Hopkins.
This argument appears in Pope Pius IX’s declaration of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.
From Ineffabilis Deus, issued by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854:
“We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.”
Both sinner and saint attain eternal life thro belief in Jesus:
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26a)
What an interesting video. It is well worth watching. The idea that Jesus would have been born even if Adam and Eve had never sinned is something that I don’t recall hearing before – and I’m a cradle Catholic who went to Catholic school back in the pre-V2 days when they were still Catholic.
The idea certainly makes sense. Would God’s ultimate act of creation – God becoming man – be conditional on Adam and Eve committing sin? So the sin of Adam and Eve didn’t change God’s plans at all. It just meant that now Jesus was going to have a pretty hard time of it.
These are all great responses. He is agreeing with me that Mary was at least sinless up to the point of Christ’s birth, but that there is a possibility that she sinned afterword and that the bible does not say that she didn’t. I feel like this is illogical. How do I explain that it is? I keep bringing up that Mary is in perfect enmity with the devil as explained in Genesis, which I think is working a little more, but he still doesn’t agree.
Are there any books about this issue that I can recommend? He is willing to read one. I was going to lend him “Hail, Holy Queen,” by Scott Hahn.
If Mary could be sinless up to the point of Christ’s birth then why would she start sinning afterwards? Her role as the mother of Jesus didn’t end with His birth. Furthermore, she is the spouse of the Holy Spirit (more on that in a moment).
I don’t have any book recommendations but here are my thoughts. The Catholic Church calls Mary the “new Eve” and “the spouse of the Holy Spirit” and “ever-virgin.” As the new Eve she was free from all sin, just like Eve was, but unlike Eve she remained obedient to God and thus remained free from all sin. Just as Eve’s disobedience gave us original sin, Mary’s obedience gave us the one who would redeem us from that sin.
She is the spouse of the Holy Spirit and ever-virgin. Why is this important? Because if Mary is not the spouse of the Holy Spirit then that would make Jesus a bastard. If she is the spouse of the Holy Spirit and she has relations with Joseph then that would make Mary an adulteress.
Mary needed Christ in order to be saved. She was conceived without the stain of original sin. All people are born with orginal sin and need to be saved. Mary, however, was saved from all sin, including orginal sin from the first moment of her conception. This is the Immaculate Conception - and this is when she was saved. She was saved before her birth. Just like she needed Jesus to be saved, we need Jesus to be saved.
Let me understand.
Your friend has difficulty reconciling a sinless Mary with his current belief of her being a sinner, and your response is that Mary needed Christ, just like the rest of us.
Frankly, I have difficulty reconciling your response with your friend’s questioning.
Mary was without sin, from her own personal conception, going forward. If not so, then Jesus could not have been conceived, without the “sin heritage.”
Mary and Jesus were capable of sin, but did not sin.
Did sinless Mary need a Savior?
Yes, since her sinless state was an act of Grace, from God, her Savior.
Did sinless Jesus need a Savior?
No, Jesus is the Savior.
Understanding the concept of a sinless Mary is no incentive to become a Catholic, however.