Skip to comments.The Early Church Fathers on the Immaculate Conception - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
Posted on 02/11/2007 2:54:59 PM PST by NYer
The Early Church Fathers believed that Mary was full of grace and thus sinless.
[Jesus] became man by the Virgin so that the course that was taken by disobedience in the beginning through the agency of the serpent might be also the very course by which it would be put down. Eve, a virgin and undefiled, conceived the word of the serpent and bore disobedience and death. But the Virgin Mary received faith and joy when the angel Gabriel announced to her the glad tidings that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon her and the power of the Most High would overshadow her, for which reason the Holy One being born of her is the Son of God. And she replied, "Be it done unto me according to your word" (Luke 1:38) (Dialogue with Trypho 100 [A.D. 155]).
Consequently, then, Mary the Virgin is found to be obedient, saying, "Behold, 0 Lord, your handmaid; be it done to me according to your word." Eve . . . who was then still a virgin although she had Adam for a husband for in paradise they were both naked but were not ashamed; for, having been created only a short time, they had no understanding of the procreation of children . . . having become disobedient [sin], was made the cause of death for herself and for the whole human race; so also Mary, betrothed to a man but nevertheless still a virgin, being obedient [no sin], was made the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race. . . . Thus, the knot of Eve's disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. What the virgin Eve had bound in unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosed through faith (Against Heresies 3:22:24 [A.D. 189]).
This Virgin Mother of the Only-begotten of God is called Mary, worthy of God, immaculate of the immaculate, one of the one (Homily 1 [A.D. 244]).
He [Jesus] was the ark formed of incorruptible wood. For by this is signified that His tabernacle [Mary] was exempt from defilement and corruption (Orat. In Illud, Dominus pascit me, in Gallandi, Bibl. Patrum, II, 496 ante [A.D. 235]).
Ephraim the Syrian
You alone and your Mother are more beautiful than any others, for there is neither blemish in you nor any stains upon your Mother. Who of my children can compare in beauty to these? (Nisibene Hymns 27:8 [A. D. 361]).
Ambrose of Milan
Come, then, and search out your sheep, not through your servants or hired men, but do it yourself. Lift me up bodily and in the flesh, which is fallen in Adam. Lift me up not from Sarah but from Mary, a Virgin not only undefiled but a Virgin whom grace had made inviolate, free of every stain of sin (Commentary on Psalm 118:22-30 [A.D. 387]).
He was conceived by the virgin, who had been first purified by the Spirit in soul and body; for, as it was fitting that childbearing should receive its share of honor, so it was necessary that virginity should receive even greater honor (Sermon 38 [d. A.D. 390]).
We must except the Holy Virgin Mary, concerning whom I wish to raise no question when it touches the subject of sins, out of honor to the Lord; for from Him we know what abundance of grace for overcoming sin in every particular was conferred upon her who had the merit to conceive and bear Him who undoubtedly had no sin (Nature and Grace 36:42 [A.D. 415]).
Theodotus of Ancrya
A virgin, innocent, spotless, free of all defect, untouched, unsullied, holy in soul and body, like a lily sprouting among thorns (Homily 6:11[ante A.D. 446]).
Proclus of Constantinople
As He formed her without any stain of her own, so He proceeded from her contracting no stain (Homily 1[ante A.D. 446]).
Jacob of Sarug
[T]he very fact that God has elected her proves that none was ever holier than Mary, if any stain had disfigured her soul, if any other virgin had been purer and holier, God would have selected her and rejected Mary[ante A.D. 521].
Romanos the Melodist
Then the tribes of Israel heard that Anna had conceived the immaculate one. So everyone took part in the rejoicing. Joachim gave a banquet, and great was the merriment in the garden. He invited the priests and Levites to prayer; then he called Mary into the center of the crowd, that she might be magnified (On the Birth of Mary 1 [d. ca A.D. 560]).
Please allow a few minutes to post the Scriptural Basis. Thank you!
In keeping with guidelines posted by the Religion Moderator, we are posting this thread (and future ones) a series on the Early Church Fathers, as a Catholic/Orthodox Caucus. Protestants are welcome to post comments but restraint from attacks, would be appreciated. This thread is posted to inform, support and defend the historic orgins of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
Exodus 25:11-21 - the ark of the Old Covenant was made of the purest gold for God's Word. Mary is the ark of the New Covenant and is the purest vessel for the Word of God made flesh.
2 Sam. 6:7 - the Ark is so holy and pure that when Uzzah touched it, the Lord slew him. This shows us that the Ark is undefiled. Mary the Ark of the New Covenant is even more immaculate and undefiled, spared by God from original sin so that she could bear His eternal Word in her womb.
1 Chron. 13:9-10 - this is another account of Uzzah and the Ark. For God to dwell within Mary the Ark, Mary had to be conceived without sin. For Protestants to argue otherwise would be to say that God would let the finger of Satan touch His Son made flesh. This is incomprehensible.
1 Chron. 15 and 16 - these verses show the awesome reverence the Jews had for the Ark - veneration, vestments, songs, harps, lyres, cymbals, trumpets.
Luke 1:39 / 2 Sam. 6:2 - Luke's conspicuous comparison's between Mary and the Ark described by Samuel underscores the reality of Mary as the undefiled and immaculate Ark of the New Covenant. In these verses, Mary (the Ark) arose and went / David arose and went to the Ark. There is a clear parallel between the Ark of the Old and the Ark of the New Covenant.
Luke 1:41 / 2 Sam. 6:16 - John the Baptist / King David leap for joy before Mary / Ark. So should we leap for joy before Mary the immaculate Ark of the Word made flesh.
Luke 1:43 / 2 Sam. 6:9 - How can the Mother / Ark of the Lord come to me? It is a holy privilege. Our Mother wants to come to us and lead us to Jesus.
Luke 1:56 / 2 Sam. 6:11 and 1 Chron. 13:14 - Mary / the Ark remained in the house for about three months.
Rev 11:19 - at this point in history, the Ark of the Old Covenant was not seen for six centuries (see 2 Macc. 2:7), and now it is finally seen in heaven. The Jewish people would have been absolutely amazed at this. However, John immediately passes over this fact and describes the "woman" clothed with the sun in Rev. 12:1. John is emphasizing that Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant and who, like the Old ark, is now worthy of veneration and praise. Also remember that Rev. 11:19 and Rev. 12:1 are tied together because there was no chapter and verse at the time these texts were written.
Rev 12:1 - the "woman" that John is describing is Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. Just as the moon reflects the light of the sun, so Mary, with the moon under her feet, reflects the glory of the Sun of Justice, Jesus Christ.
Rev. 12:17 - this verse tells us that Mary's offspring are those who keep God's commandments and bear testimony to Jesus. This demonstrates, as Catholics have always believed, that Mary is the Mother of all Christians.
Rev. 12:2 - Some Protestants argue that, because the woman had birth pangs, she was a woman with sin. However, Revelation is apocalyptic literature unique to the 1st century. It contains varied symbolism and multiple meanings of the woman (Mary, the Church and Israel). The birth pangs describe both the birth of the Church and Mary's offspring being formed in Christ. Mary had no birth pangs in delivering her only Son Jesus.
Isaiah 66:7 - for example, we see Isaiah prophesying that before she (Mary) was in labor she gave birth; before her pain came upon her she was delivered of a son (Jesus). This is a Marian prophecy of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ.
Gal 4:19 - Paul also describes his pain as birth pangs in forming the disciples in Christ. Birth pangs describe formation in Christ.
Rom. 8:22 - also, Paul says the whole creation has been groaning in travail before the coming of Christ. We are all undergoing birth pangs because we are being reborn into Jesus Christ.
Jer. 13:21 - Jeremiah describes the birth pangs of Israel, like a woman in travail. Birth pangs are usually used metaphorically in the Scriptures.
Hos. 13:12-13 - Ephraim is also described as travailing in childbirth for his sins. Again, birth pangs are used metaphorically.
Micah 4:9-10 - Micah also describes Jerusalem as being seized by birth pangs like a woman in travail.
Rev. 12:13-16 - in these verses, we see that the devil still seeks to destroy the woman even after the Savior is born. This proves Mary is a danger to satan, even after the birth of Christ. This is because God has given her the power to intercede for us, and we should invoke her assistance in our spiritual lives.
Awesome work, NYer. Thank you for the collection of resources to read and study.
When the dragon saw that it had been thrown down to the earth, it pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.
But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle, 11 so that she could fly to her place in the desert, where, far from the serpent, she was taken care of for a year, two years, and a half-year.
The serpent, 12 however, spewed a torrent of water out of his mouth after the woman to sweep her away with the current.
But the earth helped the woman and opened its mouth and swallowed the flood that the dragon spewed out of its mouth.
Beautiful picture. Do you know the name and the artist?
No. I googled it. :) It's supposedly from the church of St. John the Baptist.
You can view more of his works here by scrolling down a bit. You can also search within the pages that contain his work.
Wow. Well done, ELS! Thanks!
What a talented artist. Amazing.
Thanks for the response(s)!!!!
Note my new tagline, BTW!
As if "early Church Fathers" is significant name dropping compared to "Biblical reference to the immaculate conception" of which there's none.
Please remember that you are a guest in our Church, so to speak. So of us truly value reading and learning more about our faith without unpleasant comments from others.
Please respect the Caucus nature of this thread.
In one of his biographies, I read that a priest was called to his deathbed to administer the Last Rites. Bouguereau repented for some of his artwork and asked the priest to bless his feet, hands and eyes that had brought shame to God. (Wish I could find the original version).
The angels are amazing, but I don't like how the soul is depicted.
Maybe that is what Bouguereau was repenting for as per NYer's reply. ;-)
"Hail full of grace, the Lord is with thee." (St. Luke 1.28) The word "full of grace" - "kecharitomene" in Greek - means a plenitude of grace received in the past and continuing in the present - "Are-graced".
"It is permissible, on Greek grammatical and linguistic grounds, to paraphrase kecharitomene as completely, perfectly, enduringly endowed with grace." (Blass and DeBrunner, Greek Grammar of the New Testament).
"She is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin. ... God's grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil. ... God is with her, meaning that all she did or left undone is divine and the action of God in her. Moreover, God guarded and protected her from all that might be hurtful to her." (Martin Luther, Personal Prayer Book (1522), Jaroslav Pelikan, ed., Luther's Works (St. Louis: Concordia), vol. 43, 40.)
"I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel." (Genesis 3.15)
How could Blessed Mary be at enmity with the devil if she was at any time under his power through sin?
"It is a sweet and pious belief that the infusion of Mary's soul was effected without original sin; so that in the very infusion of her soul she was also purified from original sin and adorned with God's gifts, receiving a pure soul infused by God; thus from the first moment she began to live she was free from all sin." (Martin Luther: Sermon, 1527)