Skip to comments.Essays for Lent: The Immaculate Conception
Posted on 03/25/2012 7:53:32 PM PDT by Salvation
The Immaculate Conception
by Sebastian R. Fama
In 1854 Pope Pius IX affirmed the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. He wrote, in part, "We declare, pronounce and define, that the doctrine which holds that the most blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, was preserved immune from all stain of sin, by a singular grace and privilege of the omnipotent God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ " (Ineffabilis Deus).
The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is consistent with the teachings of Scripture. In fact it is foretold in Genesis 3:15 where God says to Satan, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heal." The seed of the woman is Jesus; so the woman is Mary. The seed of Satan is sin. If the enmity between Mary and Satan were not the same as the enmity between Jesus and sin they would not have been included in the same sentence. The word enmity appears only once and it is applied to both situations. If there is a complete enmity between Christ and sin there must be a complete enmity between Mary and Satan. If Mary were to sin she would be cooperating to some degree with Satan and there would be no complete enmity.
Some claim that the woman is Eve or the nation of Israel. Eve does not qualify because she was a sinner. Likewise it couldn't be the nation of Israel, as the Israelites were at times famous for their rebellion against God. There are others who identify the woman as the Church. This would seem to be the most unlikely choice as Jesus is the seed of the woman. This means that the woman came first. Clearly Jesus came before the Church as He was the one who established it.
The New Testament is consistent with the Old. Luke 1:28 records the angel Gabriel addressing Mary: "Hail full of grace." Note that Gabriel does not address Mary by name but by the title "Full of Grace." The Greek word kekaritomene (kεcaritωmέnη), which is translated as "Full of Grace," means, among other things, much graced or imbued with special honor. Could this refer to the special honor of bearing the Savior? It cannot, because the word kekaritomene is a perfect participle, which simply means that it refers to something that was completed in the past. At this point Mary had not even been asked, nor had she as yet accepted, the role of bearing the Savior.
It is by the grace of God that we avoid sin. To be full of grace would be a prerequisite to being sinless. However, being sinless does not make Mary equal to God. Remember that Adam and Eve were created sinless and that did not make them equal to God.
The early Church viewed Mary as the second Eve. Both were born without sin, the first would fail; the second would triumph. The early Church fathers called Mary "all holy," "all pure," "most innocent," "a miracle of grace," "purer than the angels," and "altogether without sin." These quotes all come from the first three centuries of Church history. So the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception could not be a later invention as some allege.
Does this mean that Mary didn't need a savior? Not at all, we can be preserved from sin or we can be saved from sin. Mary was preserved from sin. On a smaller scale we are sometimes preserved from sin. By the grace of God I have never killed anyone. I was preserved from a particular sin. There are murderers who have turned to Christ and no longer have the desire to kill. They were saved from a particular sin.
But what about Romans 3:23: "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God?" Do you suppose that the word "all" includes severely retarded adults or babies who die at birth? Of course not. Paul is not speaking in the absolute terms that some assume he is. The meaning of this verse lies in its context. Who is Paul talking to? What is the issue being discussed? In the first three chapters of Romans, Paul is telling the Jewish Christians that they have no advantage over the Gentile Christians. In effect he is saying it doesn't make a difference, you are all in the same boat. Jews and Gentiles have all sinned and fallen short. Mary's sin offering in Luke 2:22 does not present a problem either, as it refers to ritual uncleanness and was purely external.
Martin Luther, the father of the Protestant Reformation and the chief proponent of Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone), said the following in a sermon: "But as the Virgin Mary was herself born of a father and mother in the natural way, many have been disposed to assert that she was also born in original sin, though all with one mouth affirm that she was sanctified in the maternal womb, and conceived without concupiscence." (On the Day of the Conception of the Mother of God).
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For Further Study
The Early Church Fathers on Mary's Immaculate Conception (Free)
Books - Introduction to Mary by Mark Miravalle and Hail, Holy Queen by Scott Hahn and Mary and the Fathers of the Church by Fr. Luigi Gambero.
CD - Hail, Holy Queen by Scott Hahn and The Gospel Truth About Mary - Volume 1 by Tim Staples
DVD - Footprints of God: Mary with Stephen Ray
LAND OF MARY IMMACULATE [Ecumenical]
Mary as the New Eve - St. Irenaeus
Mary - the Immaculate Ark of the New Covenant [Catholic Caucus]
THE LIFE OF BLESSED JOHN DUNS SCOTUS, Defender of the Immaculate Conception [Catholic Caucus]
An Unfathomable Marian Richness [Catholic Caucus]
Catholic Biblical Apologetics: The Immaculate Conception of Mary
History of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception - December 8 [Catholic Caucus]
Preserved Sinless from the Moment of Humanity (Dogma of the Immaculate Conception) [Catholic Caucus]
I Love that Woman! My Unworthy Reflections on The Immaculate Conception [Catholic Caucus]
Father Marquette's Devotion to the Immaculate Conception (Catholic Caucus)
St. John Neumann and the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception (Catholic Caucus)
Our Jewish Roots: The Immaculate Conception [Ecumenical]
And It Was Night. The Real Story of Original Sin [Ecumenical]
I Love that Woman! My Unworthy Reflections on The Immaculate Conception
Mary Immaculate: Patroness of the United States [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
Catholic/Orthodox Caucus: The Immaculate Conception: A Marvelous Theme - Novena Starts Nov. 30
THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION - Satan's Mighty Foe(Catholic Caucus)
Ark of the new covenant
Historian reveals how Pius IX decided to proclaim dogma of Immaculate Conception (Catholic Caucus)
The Immaculate Vs. the Proud
Immaculate Conception Novena -- starts November 30th [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
Blessed John Duns Scotus Champion Of Mary's Immaculate Conception (CATHOLIC CAUCUS)
The Crusade of Mary Immaculate - St. Maximilian Kolbe (Catholic Caucus)
The Early Church Fathers on the Immaculate Conception - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
Three Reasons the Churchs Enemies Hate The Immaculate Conception
Her saving grace - the origins of the Immaculate Conception
Mary Is a Model Who Works With Us and in Us
U.S. Catholic bishops to renew consecration of nation to Immaculate Conception
Catholic Meditation: To the Immaculate Conception on this Election Day
Saint Bernadette of Lourdes (Sermon from 1934)
My visit to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
On Solemnity of Immaculate Conception - "In Mary Shines the Eternal Goodness of the Creator"
The Belief of Catholics concerning the Blessed Virgin: the Second Eve
Pope makes pilgrimage to Mary statue in Rome, marking the feast of the Immaculate Conception
Pope: Mary the Immaculate Conception... (text of BXVI speech)
"Tota pulchra es, Maria, et macula originalis non est in te" (The Immaculate Conception)
The Immaculate Conception Essential to the Faith
"Who Are You, Immaculate Conception?"
TURKEY Ephesus: The Feast of the Immaculate Conception at Marys House
Coming Dec 8th. Feast of the "Immaculate Conception"
Why the Immaculate Conception?
Catholic Encyclopedia: Immaculate Conception (The Doctrine and Its Roots)
The Immaculate Conception of Our Lady December 8
Mary's Immaculate Conception: A Memorable Anniversary
Ineffabilis Deus: 8 December 1854 (Dogma of the Immaculate Conception)
Why do we believe in the Immaculate Conception?
John Paul II goes to Lourdes; reflections on the Immaculate Conception
Your Praises We Sing--on the Dogma of the Proclamation of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8th
Eastern Christianity and the Immaculate Conception (Q&A From EWTN)
Memorandum on the Immaculate Conception [Newman]
The Immaculate Conception and the Assumption show God’s pure love for women and for mothers. Unbearable beauty.
So true. Unfortunately many are doomed who fail to believe it.
Essays for Lent: Justification
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For the record
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Sometimes people look at the 1854 date and get confused about the teaching on the Immaculate Conception. Just in case someone wanders into this thread with a confused mind:
Christopher Columbus sailed the blue in 1492. The names of his three ships were the Nina, the Pinta, & the Santa Maria.
The full name of the Santa Maria be: La Santa Maria de la >Inmaculada Concepcion.
Don’t have to read/speak Spanish to translate that name.
Thanks for that amazing fact!
‘Unfortunately many are doomed who fail to believe it.’
With respect, why would you say this? Salvation comes through Jesus. I ask because maybe I am misunderstanding the intent. I have lurked on a lot of Catholic threads recently since attending a Catholic funeral and realizing how little I knew about the Catholic faith. I am not trying to debate but am asking a sincere question.
Don’t thank me. I think King Ferdinand & Queen Isabella are responsible for Christopher Columbus sailing to New World (& Of course: the hand of God). The maybe-myth was that Isabella had to sell off some of her jewelry for the financing of the trip.
The Knights of Columbus take their name from Columbus. Christopher Columbus (being Italian = eye-talian) is VERY VERY Catholic & the Monarchs are too (present tense, >who am I to deny someone Heaven). They wanted to bring salvation through Jesus Christ to ALL the people encountered on the voyage of discovery. Priests were brought along & were an important part of the voyage.
The secular historians write about Columbus as though he was >just looking for the ‘spice islands.’ Actually, Christopher Columbus was VERY VERY successful as I am now staying up & watching The Pope on his visit to Mexico.
God Bless you for home schooling your kids.
In the Catholic Church, only certain people are allowed to teach with authority. As an analogy, I can tell you about the laws of the USA >BUT only a Judge has actual authority about the law.
But since a Priest is not here & I don’t know if Salvation will answer you, here goes:
The Roman Catholic Church is >The Body of Jesus Christ. When the Church speaks to all of us with the >authority of the Church, it is something God >obligates us to believe. A Protestant would assent to “Jesus is Lord” as something we are obligated to believe. I, as a Roman Catholic, am obligated by Faith to believe in God & >all that Holy Mother the Church teaches me about God.
God decides who gets into Heaven & God decides >fault. For God to find fault, it has to be 1. wilful, 2. with full knowledge, & 3. serious matter.
This is from Pope Paul VI “The Credo of the People of God” which is an explanation of the Nicene Creed. (August 10, 1968.)
#23. “We, believe that the Church is necessary for salvation, because Christ who is the sole Mediator and Way of salvation, renders himself present for us in His Body which is the Church. But the divine design of salvation embraces all men: an those who without >fault on their part do not know the Gospel of Christ and His Church, but seek God sincerely, and under the influence of grace endeavor to do His will as recognized through the promptings or their conscience they, in a number known only to God, can obtain salvation.”
Remember Willfulness & Full knowledge? I am a >Roman Catholic so when Holy Mother our Church speaks to me, I >know it is really from God’s lips to my ears. I will stand in judgment before Jesus Christ as a Roman Catholic. For other people see the explanation on fault by Pope Paul VI.
In case someone reads my comment: “as a Roman Catholic, I am obligated to believe in God & all that Holy Mother Church teaches me about God.”>
The Roman Catholic Church does NOT NOT NOT teach that the Virgin Mary is God. My statement MUST be read as meaning: “I am obligated to believe God chose to have >His mother Immaculately Conceived.”
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth in the Bible addressed the Virgin Mary, “the mother of my Lord.” (That & the Magnificat is why the Virgin Mary is called the Blessed Mother of Jesus Christ +She is!)
The question ALL of us must ask about the Immaculate Conception is “what would >we do?” (A variation of >what would Jesus do?):
You are waking along with your mother on the path of life. You see a mud-puddle (SIN) & you >know your mother will fall into the mud-puddle (sin).
Do you reach out & 1. prevent your mother from falling into the puddle (sin) or do you 2. let your mother fall (sin) & >then reach into the puddle & save her afterwards?
Roman Catholics are OBLIGATED to believe that Jesus Christ >Honored his mother as required by the 10 commandments & prevented His mother from falling into >original SIN at conception. That is the point of the Immaculate Conception. Jesus is Lord & as true man & as True God is WITHOUT sin.
Jesus loves his mother. We ALL need to pray for the folks calling the Virgin Mary a sinner as they will stand before Jesus Christ on Judgment Day. He just might ask, “Why were you talkin’ trash about my momma?”
I believe that a lack of belief in the Blessed Virgin Mary is a sin against the Holy Spirit. Perhaps I am wrong. But those sins against the Holy Spirit are very serious.
How would your best friend take it if you dissed his mother?
Then think of Jesus and how he dislikes people dissing HIS mother.
Thank you for your explanation. Blessings!
Do you know the difference between a doctrine and a dogma?
OK, which is the Immaculate Conception?
Thank you for your explanations. While I do not agree, I now understand Salvation’s original statement about being doomed.
The reason I do not agree is that the Bible say Jesus is the only Way to the Father. I do not think that someone’s belief about Mary could cause them to be doomed. If it did then Jesus wouldn’t be the only Way.
Good links, thanks.
The Assumption of the BVM was an early belief, going back to the time of the Apostles and the Church Fathers. I read some works of the early Anglo-Saxon missionaries, and one of them made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and visited the place of the Assumption—that was not long into the second millennium.
There was considerable delay making the Immaculate Conception a formal dogma, presumably because it wasn’t thought necessary. Even in the early days of the Reformation, Luther and others continued to have great respect for the Virgin Mary, and it was only later Protestants in the sixteenth century who began to think it fashionable to denigrate the Mother of Jesus, because anything that Catholics believed must be wrong.
There was some pretty crazy stuff during the Interregnum in England—including several crazies who claimed to be Jesus in His Second Coming. But kneejerk disrespect for Mary was not a common idea among any of the various Protestant denominations for the first hundred years or so of the Reformation. It was a later development.