Skip to comments.Three Reasons the Church’s Enemies Hate The Immaculate Conception
Posted on 12/12/2006 10:51:32 PM PST by Coleus
The following text is adapted from a lecture Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira gave on June 15, 1973. It has been translated and edited for publication without his revision. Note, in this text, he uses the words Revolution and Counter-Revolution as he defined them in his book Revolution and Counter-Revolution. In this sense, the Revolution is a centuries-old process, motivated by pride and sensuality, and therefore egalitarianism and liberalism, that dominates the modern world and seeks to destroy Christian civilization. Counter-Revolutionaries are those dedicated to defeating this process and defending the rights of God. Ed.
One of the truly Counter-Revolutionary acts of Pope Pius IXs pontificate was the proclamation of the Immaculate Conception.
There are three reasons the definition of this dogma was especially Counter-Revolutionary and therefore hateful to the enemies of the Church.
First Reason: An Anti-Egalitarian Dogma
As you know, this dogma teaches that Our Lady was immaculate at her conception, meaning that, at no moment, did she have even the slightest stain of Original Sin. Both she, and naturally Our Lord Jesus Christ, were exempt from that rigid law that subjugates all other descendants of Adam and Eve. Thus, Our Lady was not subject to the miseries of fallen man. She did not have bad influences, inclinations and tendencies. In her, everything moved harmonically towards truth, goodness and therefore God. In this sense, Our Lady is an example of perfect liberty, meaning that everything her reason, illuminated by Faith, determined as good, her will desired entirely. She had no interior obstacles to impede her practice of virtue.
Being full of grace increased these effects. Thus, her will advanced with an unimaginable impetus towards everything that was true and good. Declaring that a mere human creature had this extraordinary privilege makes this dogma fundamentally anti-egalitarian, because it points out an enormous inequality in the work of God. It demonstrates the total superiority of Our Lady over all other beings. Thus, its proclamation made Revolutionary egalitarian spirits boil with hatred.
Second Reason: The Unsullied Purity of Our Lady
However, there is a more profound reason why the Revolution hates this dogma. The Revolution loves evil and is in harmony with those who are bad, and thus tries to find evil in everything. On the contrary, those who are irreproachable are a cause of intense hatred. Therefore, the idea that a being could be utterly spotless from the first moment of her existence is abhorrent to Revolutionaries. For example: Imagine a man who is consumed with impurity. When besieged by impure inclinations, he is ashamed of his consent to them. This leaves him depressed and utterly devastated.
Imagine this man considering Our Lady, who, being the personification of transcendental purity, did not have even the least appetite for lust. He feels hatred and scorn because her virtue smashes his pride. Furthermore, by declaring Our Lady to be so free from pride, sensuality and the desire for anything Revolutionary, the proclamation of the Immaculate Conception affirmed that she was utterly Counter-Revolutionary. This only inflamed the Revolutionary hatred of the dogma all the more.
Disputing the Doctrine: A Counter-Revolutionary Struggle
|Declaring that Our Lady was so free from pride, sensuality and the desire for anything Revolutionary, affirmed that she was utterly Counter-Revolutionary and inflamed the Revolutionary hatred of the dogma all the more.|
For centuries, there were two opposing currents of thought about the Immaculate Conception in the Church. While it would be an exaggeration to suggest that everyone who fought against the doctrine was acting with Revolutionary intentions; it is a fact that all those who were acting with Revolutionary intentions fought against it. On the other hand, all those who favored its proclamation, at least on that point, expressed a Counter-Revolutionary attitude. Thus, in some way the fight between the Revolution and Counter-Revolution was present in the fight between these two theological currents.
Third Reason: The Exercise of Papal Infallibility
There is still another reason this dogma is hateful to Revolutionaries: it was the first dogma proclaimed through Papal Infallibility. At that time, the dogma of Papal Infallibility had not yet been defined and there was a current in the Church maintaining that the Pope was only infallible when presiding over a council. Nevertheless, Pius IX invoked Papal Infallibility when he defined the Immaculate Conception after merely consulting some theologians and bishops. For liberal theologians, this seemed like circular reasoning. If his infallibility had not been defined, how could he use it? On the contrary, by using his infallibility, he affirmed that he had it.
This daring affirmation provoked an explosion of indignation among Revolutionaries, but enormous enthusiasm among Counter-Revolutionaries. In praise of the new dogma, children all over the world were baptized under the name: Conception, Concepcion or Concepta to consecrate them to the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady.
Pius IX: Bringing the Fight to the Enemy
It is not surprising that Pius IX so adamantly affirmed Papal Infallibility. Very different from those who succeeded him, he was ever ready to bring the fight to the enemy. He did this in Geneva, Switzerland, which then was the breeding ground of Calvinism, which is the most radical form of Protestantism. When Swiss laws changed to allow a Catholic Cathedral in Geneva, Pius IX ordered that a statue of the Immaculate Conception be placed in the middle of the city, to proclaim this dogma in the place where Calvinists, Lutherans and other Protestants denied it more than anywhere else. This is an example of Pius IXs leadership in the fight against the Revolution. It is therefore entirely proper that all Catholics entertain a special affection for the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, which is so detested by the enemies of the Church today.
To read another commentary on the Immaculate Conception, click here.
To read Fr. Saint-Laurent's commentary on the Immaculate Conception, click here.
To order your free copy of a picture of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, click here.
IMO, calling Jesus a "human being" or a "human person" is either Nestorianism or Arianism.
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
If "all" have sinned, is not Jesus included? Or must we come to understand that God's grace allows for exceptions and that we shouldn't take abuse the generality implicit some a "proof-texts?"
No but it's possible from what you wrote to assume he had one nature; the divine, which would by monophysite.
(From New Advent)
Nestorians: One person, two hypostases, two natures.
Catholics: One person, one hypostasis, two natures.
Monophysites: One person, one hypostasis, one nature.
I only mention it because protestants tend to read things into what are otherwise Orthodox Catholic posts, and they reinvent enough heresies as it is.
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
If "all" have sinned, is not Jesus included? Or must we come to the more realistic understanding (rooted in the historic deposit of the apostolic faith) that God's grace allows for exceptions and that we shouldn't abuse the generality implicit in some "proof-texts?"
We know from Scripture that Jesus did not sin. The same can not be said for Mary.
No wonder we keep bumping elbows on the dance floor of life!
That's why I said 'as stated by Catholics', and in fairness it is essentially reagrded as superfluous, and extra as opposed to wrong.
As far as Orthodox folks who confess a 'presanctification' like the Immaculate conception, generally these are Uniates, or former Uniates. (For instance Latin educated Peter Mohliya who was Patriarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.)
Certainly the Orthodox do not take exception with the Immaculate conception for anything like the reasons Protestants do (Sola Scriptura etc). And the Orthodox understanding of the Sin of Adam is a lot closer than either side often admits to the Roman understanding of it.
May I be so bold as to suggest it will probably be one of the easier theological issues to resolve...
Thanks for posting this.
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(For perspective the Orthodox understanding of original sin, the sinlessness of Mary, and why we dont profess the immaculate conception )
Sinlessness of Mary
How exactly does the Orthodox Church view the sinlessness of Mary? In the Liturgy it is said, "One is Holy, One is Lord, Jesus Christ, to the Glory of God the Father" and in other places that Jesus is the only sinless one. Also, in reference to 1 John 1:8 where it says, "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." How can these be reconciled? Is the Theotokos all-pure, all-holy, all-blameless because of her deification through her Son, so that she is those things because her Son is, as we are holy, pure, etc. through our union to Christ?
Also, how is it that she is referred to as the only refuge for sinners, and various phrases like this? Isn't Christ our only refuge and the salvation of sinners?
This is the main stumbling block I have with Orthodoxy right now. There seems to be varying beliefs within the Orthodoxy on the Theotokos. Didn't St John Chrysostom teach that Mary had sinned at least once? When I read the earliest Church Fathers there seems to be little focus on Mary apart from the Christological issue of whether she was the Mother of God, or only of Christ. Doesn't the teaching that Mary was sinless from birth state the same general concept, that Mary is more than the rest of humanity, as the Immaculate Conception (apart from the idea of original sin) except that it moves the moment of the supernatural grace of God to birth from conception?
I am not trying to answer my own questions, but am simply not understanding how these contradictions, at least seemingly, can be resolved.
While I would love to be able to fully answer your question, it is far beyond the scope of an e-mail, especially because full understanding of the Orthodox position, based on the tenor of your question, on the Virgin Mary requires a thorough explanation of some of the secondary issues to which you refer, such as original sin, the Immaculate Conception, supernatural grace, etc. As such, I would highly recommend that you meet in person with the parish priest at the Orthodox Church you have been visiting -- he will no doubt be glad to answer the question at some depth.
I can say, in short, that the Orthodox Church believes that Mary, as a human being, could indeed have sinned, but chose not to. In the Roman Catholic understanding, it seems that Mary, who according to Roman doctrine had been exempted from the guilt of original sin [the Orthodox do not accept that humans share the guilt of the first sin but, rather, only the consequences] before all eternity, and thus could not have sinned. This is where the complexity comes in on a number of levels and which puts your question beyond the scope of an e-mail.
Jesus Christ is Mary's Savior, as well as ours, as testified in her own statement in St Luke -- the Magnificat -- where she says, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior." If Mary had been "sin-proofed," so to speak, from all eternity, the Orthodox would argue as to why she would need a Savior.
Mary is the "new Eve" who said "yes" to God where the first Eve said "no." She did have a choice, and you may wish to ask your local parish priest to share with you the text of the Kanon from Matins for the Great Feast of the Annunciation, in which you will see a beautiful dialogue between Mary and the Archangel Gabriel in which she debates whether or not to accept the archangel's news, only in the end accepting that which he announced.
While much that the Orthodox say of Mary "sounds" similar to that which is taught by Roman Catholicism, there are serious differences on many levels. You are correct in saying, however, that the Orthodox Church does not seem to have such a highly developed mariological tradition as the Christian West; it is, at least in my experience, only in recent times, with the growing interest in Orthodoxy especially among many evangelicals, that we have had to delve so deeply -- and sometimes deeper than we should -- into the role of Mary. Sometimes our answers seem somewhat lame, but in reality there is only so much one can say before one must acknowledge that, while there are certain things we simply cannot fully understand about this, reasoned faith, as defined in St James, becomes the only recourse.
"Do you disagree with what I said?"
"IMO, calling Jesus a 'human being' or a 'human person' is either Nestorianism or Arianism."
I think I disagree. I think there are ways in which these phrases are correctly used in modern English which include Jesus.
For now, I think I'd like to avoid the phrase "human person," because although I think it's defensible when used in one sense, it's easily confused with specific theological terminology that is used to describe the Trinity.
However, in the sense ordinarily given to the phrase "human being," it seems clear that Jesus is a human being. A human being is an individual member of the species homo sapiens, from the moment of conception on. At least, this is what I tell my kids when we're marching for life in January. ;-)
Jesus clearly qualifies.
Of course, at death, the soul is separated from the body, and I believe that at that point, it's considered somewhat inaccurate to call the disembodied soul a "human being." However, for most of us, that'll get tidied up on the Last Day. For Jesus, though, He's already obtained of His glorified Body, and thus, still retains His entire humanity, is still a human being.
A human being is a human soul giving form to a human body. Jesus clearly qualifies.
Of course, Jesus is at the same time God, the Second Person of the Trinity. But in saying that Jesus has two natures, Divine and human, we say that He is human (as well as Divine). One nature is not subsumed into the other. Jesus is not God with some human nature subsumed into His Divine nature. He is both fully God and fully man, each unmixed from the other. It seems almost a tautology, almost a grammatical identity to say that a man is a human being. He's also a Divine being. That's the whole point of the Incarnation. Jesus is at once both Divine and human, God and man.
I agree that one can make heterodox interpretations of the phrase, but I think that's sort of inherent in the whole Incarnation business.
Just my two cents.
Here we go, AGAIN.
At a guess, I would say it means advocating for the legitimacy of God's claims on us.
All the above from the main article of this thread.
Mod, is this what you meant when describing "inciteful?"
Today I will be a Calvinist in the tradition of Calvin; a Lutheran in the tradition of Luther.
You can't just "avoid" it.
Orthodox theologians reject the application of the term "human person" to Jesus; it's not just my opinion. He's not a "human person", he's a divine person.
You have to then argue that Jesus can be a "human being" without being (!!) a "human person". I suppose that's possible, since the term "human being" doesn't have much of a theological pedigree.
A human being is a human soul giving form to a human body. Jesus clearly qualifies.
If that's your definition, I would agree with you, insofar as you've stated it.
In metaphysical terms, what you've just said (I think) is that any *person* having a *human nature* is a "human being". In that case, Jesus is definitely a human being. (He's a person -- "an individual substance of a rational nature" -- and he has a human nature.)
But if you use "human being" as synonymous with "human person", then He can't be. As I say, the term "human being" isn't a theologically precise term of art. (It's an English expression anyway; how would it translate into Latin or Greek?)
Oh, it gets worse, even more puzzling. There are seemingly intelligent people who for years did not believe it and even argued against it, and had theological educations to help them do so, and then they thought and prayed and prayed and thought and came to believe it!
It's clearly a plot.
St. Paul is speaking hyperbolically here. Jesus didn't sin. Babies haven't sinned (because they can't). Persons who are severely mentally disabled haven't sinned (again, they can't).
If you look at the context of the verse, what St. Paul is saying is not an observation on the universality of sin, but an observation on the universal need for a Savior. And if we understand it that way, Mary is not exempt from that universal need.
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