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January 24, 2007

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It's also interesting to note that the Immaculate Conception was declared dogma, 5 years before Darwin's Origin of Species. Whereas Darwin tried to point us back to some form of primoridial soup, the IC points us back to the garden. It shows us what we were created for, and what we will experience and more in heaven.

WRY

I see the I.C. as necessary to ensure that Jesus had a conception without sin.
Here's the thing: If Mary had original sin, then the human material she contributed to Jesus' existence would be 'carrying' that, and would have to to be 'cleansed' by the Holy Spirit. But if that happened, it could not be said that Jesus was totally without sin since the human material had had it and had been cleansed from it.
So we have to 'push back" the moment of sinlessness to Mary, so that when timie comes for the cojnception of Jesus the human material is 'ready.'
Now, this would leave only the question of when Mary became sinless; I believe the Orthodox say it was with the annunciation, so that more or less immediately before the 'human' material was contributed by Mary, she was made sinless that it would be sinless.
Knowing what we do about the formation period of eggs, however --- women get their entire lifetime supply before their own birth -- it would seem logical that in order for the 'Jesus egg' to be sinless, Mary herself would have had to be sinless from her own conception.
Admittedly we know nothing of Jesus' conception and the processes involved. But is my explanation reasonable?

Craig

I am not that smart so I have to keep things simple. Original sin, as seen in the Garden of Eden, is disobediance to authority. Now we know it is original as any parent of a 2 year old will tell you. They were not trained to be disobediant, they just are. The passion to be disobediant is raised again during the teenage years, again many parents will attest to this. Yet Mary, duting her teenage years (the age of rebellion), was completely obediant to God even in the face of death by stoning. This is the perfect example for all of us to follow. It certainly makes sence that the Son of God be brought to earth out of a pure and clean mother. All things are possible with God.

But is my explanation reasonable?

I don't think so. Wouldn't the logic of your theory then necessitate that St. Anne also be immaculate from her conception, and her mother too, ad infinitum?

John Henry

Last one was me.

Fr Martin Fox

This is for Mike, if he sees this:

I was an Evangelical for 10 years (I was raised Catholic, left, came back), and I recall that often the questions about certain aspects of the Catholic faith were in the vein of, is it necessary that Mary be conceived without sin, is it necessary to have the intercession of the saints, etc.?

Thus, many Evangelicals will reject particularly Catholic teachings because they don't pass the "necessity" test: God didn't need to do it that way, so the doctrine isn't credible.

Someone above sees the immaculate conception as "necessary," and I am not trying to start an argument, because we may indeed not really be disagreeing as much as it may seem . . . but I would argue that "necessity" is the wrong standard to apply, even if it is true: the better paradigm or "lens" through which to see some these matters is fittingness, and/or, through the "lens" of analogy: that is to say, seeing a particular doctrine or practice as having a likeness to others, having a "family resemblance." And one reason that makes sense is because the whole Faith has an organic quality about it -- it's a whole ("catholic"), held together by an organizing principle, like a living thing -- as opposed to how many view the Faith: as a series of propositions.

I would argue it was not, strictly speaking, "necessary" for Mary to be conceived without sin, although it may have been "necessary" in a way similar to the "necessity" of our Lord's sacrificial death: i.e., the Blessed Trinity had a free choice, at the creation, as to whether the world would be saved by the incarnation, death and resurrection of the Son, or some other way. The Trinity chose the narrative in which the Son would die for us; and thus he says, in the Gospels, it was "necessary" -- i.e., in the sense that he imposed that necessity on himself.

Likewise, one might argue that God created a world in which it was "necessary" that Mary be without sin. But even that I would hold back from. With all respect to the poster above, I see no reason God would have been constrained from entering the world as a man, even were he born of a woman with original sin.

However, it was altogether fitting that he do it as he did -- both for himself, but also as a form of generosity to his mother.

What we believe about Mary makes more sense to me when I consider that her Creator became her son, truly human -- and therefore, possessing a human heart. He had true devotion to his own mother, magnified by his appreciation, as God, of what his plan demanded of her.

When they were at the cross, he alone knew how much that cost her -- and that he had "done it to her." Truly, whose sufferings could be greater than that of a mother, beholding her son, to whom she had been perfectly devoted (and this Scripture makes very clear)? What agony for her! Surely Jesus could not fail to appreciate that, nor fail to reward it. Scripture is abundantly clear that God is never outdone in generosity toward those devoted to him.

So for me, every honor or gift to Mary makes sense as the gifts from a devoted, Divine, Son.

Finally, it should be noted that there is no honor, or gift given Mary -- per Catholic teaching -- that is not in some sense, given to all of us. That is, other than the singular, unrepeatable privilege of being the mother of the Word incarnate. She is Queen of heaven? But St. Paul describes crowns for all of us; she is assumed body and soul into heaven? But all will be raised up in a glorified body. She is conceived without sin? That is our hope as well.

Mary receives gifts that all hope for -- and so she receives a privilege, but also, she is a sign of hope for us.

Oh, one more thing: it does not make sense to me that Our Lord could be offended by the outpouring of love for her mother, from Orthodox and Catholic. Even if we were mistaken, how could it offend the God-Man, to see his own, beloved mother, treated with such love and affection? If your mother were greatly beloved by many people, do you take offense?

Here it is from Ineffabilis Deus:

Supreme Reason for the Privilege: The Divine Maternity

And indeed it was wholly fitting that so wonderful a mother should be ever resplendent with the glory of most sublime holiness and so completely free from all taint of original sin that she would triumph utterly over the ancient serpent. To her did the Father will to give his only-begotten Son -- the Son whom, equal to the Father and begotten by him, the Father loves from his heart -- and to give this Son in such a way that he would be the one and the same common Son of God the Father and of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was she whom the Son himself chose to make his Mother and it was from her that the Holy Spirit willed and brought it about that he should be conceived and born from whom he himself proceeds.[1]

(Unfortunately, the footnote for #1 is all in Latin. While I can pick out a word or two, I cannot translate it. Perhaps someone else can.)

bearing

What can be said about the interesting fact that the first Adam and Eve were husband and wife, whereas the new Adam and the new Eve were mother and son?

Dan Hunter

Mike,
The Great Franciscan Priest Blessed John Duns Scotus tells us that For Christ to have created The blessed Mother without stain of original sin was a greater feat than redeeming her after she was concieved.
Christ accessed His Salvific grace from His death on the Cross before the Blessed Mother was concieved in Anne's womb.And then He applied this grace to Her before Her conception,thereby freeing Her from concepted original sin.
God bless you.

DJ

Specifically, he grave her the gift of being immaculate and he assumed her to be with hi Son.

Typo's Jimmy? (2 of them)

======================================

Also, I agree with Fr. Fox's statement. Its hard to prove the "necessity" of Mary's sinlessness. My wife's mother (a protestant) always brings up this idea that original sin enters children from the father. Since the 'father' of Jesus is the holy spirit, he could have been born without sin while Mary was completely sinful.

whosebob

WRY wrote: I see the I.C. as necessary to ensure that Jesus had a conception without sin. Here's the thing: If Mary had original sin, then the human material she contributed to Jesus' existence would be 'carrying' that, and would have to to be 'cleansed' by the Holy Spirit ... it would seem logical that in order for the 'Jesus egg' to be sinless, Mary herself would have had to be sinless from her own conception ... is my explanation reasonable?

One problem with your exp. and similar ones is that standard Latin Catholic theology for the past thousand years does not view the stain of Original Sin as a "something," rather it is a lack of "something," specifically the absence of sanctifying grace in the soul. Accordingly, at the first instant of Mary's conception something wasn't removed (strictly speaking) from her humanity which would otherwise have been there; nor was it the case that she was conceived with something being absent (again strictly speaking) in her humanity which is otherwise present in the descendants of Adam and Eve. Rather, at the first instant Mary was conceived in her mother's womb, she **RECEIVED** something which other human persons don't receive until a much later time in their lives (e.g. when they are Baptized) -- that something was sanctifying grace, and she lived with and in that grace for the rest of her life on earth and now into eternity.

You might find the following article from the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia to be helpful: Original Sin.

The other "stains" of Original Sin -- what we generally term "concupiscence" -- are understood in standard Latin Catholic theology to be secondary effects of human beings living without something which God had always intended them to have, His Grace. Even when an infant is baptized just days after her birth, she has been living for about nine months without sanctifying grace in her soul (thanks to the sin of Adam and Eve), and that has caused disorders in her humanity which will persist even after Baptism through to the end of her life on earth.

Since the Blessed Virgin Mary was *never* without sanctifying grace in her soul, even for an instant, she therefore never suffered the secondary effects of such an absence, i.e. she did not suffer from concupiscence.

But back to your explanation -- perhaps now you can see why it is flawed, at least in terms of standard Latin Catholic theology. Even if Mary had not been immaculately conceived, there wouldn't have been a positive "something" in her humanity or her eggs which could have contaminated Jesus' humanity. Our Lord's humanity was immaculately conceived in the same sense that Mary's was -- his human soul was filled with sanctifying grace from the first moment it was created.

whosebob

I meant to note, too, that while Mary's I.C. doesn't seem to have been absolutely necessary in order for Jesus' humanity to have been conceived immaculately, certainly it was most fitting that she be prepared in this way to be the worthy mother of Jesus Christ, which is exactly the sentiment that the Church expresses in her Collect for December 8th:

Father, you prepared the Virgin Mary to be the worthy mother of your Son. You let her share beforehand in the salvation Christ would bring by his death, and kept her sinless from the first moment of her conception. Help us by her prayers to live in your presence without sin. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Esau

We had a similar conversation in another thread entitled "Immaculate Conception" in December.


I remember one remark that went:

For Mary as Ark, yet our Lord did not stay in her womb. He was born, laid in a manger, and walked the dusty, manure-covered trails of Judea and Galilee -- in sandals. He touched lepers. He came in contact with the unclean, daily.

This was an argument that I found particularly inane. Even an answer that was given in a Catholic Answers phone call had actually agreed with this reasoning to some extent; i.e., how about the fact that Jesus was born in the world of sinners? I can only assume that this person calling was presented with the typical amateur apologist argument that since nothing impure could enter into Heaven where God dwells; thus, Mary had to be pure as well since it would be where Jesus would dwell. Of course, the reply to this would be: then how come Jesus was born in the world of sinners?

The fact of the matter is that there's a difference between a baby being born in his mother's womb and the baby being born (and living) in a city, or a state, or a country, or on the very face of the earth, for that matter.

The fact of the matter is, when a baby is born in the mother's womb, the baby takes up the actual flesh of his mother.

It is particularly interesting to note that the very flesh that Jesus took of Mary when conceived in her womb happens to also be the actual flesh that was inflicted with such horrendous torment and suffering at the time of the crucifixion for our very Salvation and, even more significantly, remains a part of the Resurrected Jesus for all eternity.


In a later response, Tim J. had made the great comment:

God created Mary to be the mother of His Son.

He chose to create her without sin, because this was fitting for the one who would carry the Savior of all mankind in her womb, and who would pass on to Him her human nature.

To me, this served as a great summation. That is:

1. Chosen to create her without sin
2. Fitting for the One who would carry the Savior of All Mankind in her womb
3. The One who would pass on to Him her human nature

The latter was actually the point that I was trying to get across in my other post.

Personally, I still find it significant that Jesus, being born in Mary's womb, took on her flesh, and, thus, her flesh remains a part of Jesus (as we see in the resurrected Jesus in John 20:27) for all eternity -- Jesus, who is the second person of the blessed Trinity; the Word Made Flesh; Almighty God!

How more intimate with the Divine Creator can you get!?!?


I guess all in all, one way to put it as Jimmy and others have attempted to explain, is that the reason why God did what He did is because it was more fitting that our Savior be born from a sinless mother then from a sinful one.

Jesus could’ve been born from a sinful mother; if God wanted, he could’ve been born from a Prostitute.

But, that is not the most fitting mother for the Son of God, and so, because it was fitting – not because he had to – God chose to give Mary certain graces in anticipation of her son’s birth to make her a fitting mother for him, and, among those graces, was the grace that we will all one day have if we make it to Heaven, of being sinless.

She just got it from the first moment of her life whereas most of us get it at the last moment of our life; but he gave it to her early because it was fitting for her to have that gift as a Mother for the Son of God; and we don’t get it at the first moment of our birth because we’re not the Mother of the Son of God.

Ryan C

"What can be said about the interesting fact that the first Adam and Eve were husband and wife, whereas the new Adam and the new Eve were mother and son?"

Simply that while Eve took her flesh from Adam, Christ took his flesh from Mary. There is a wonderful inversion here that represents for us the humility and love of God.

Jimmy,

I'm wondering if it might be good in another post to address whether or not (and how) Mary suffered the consequences of original sin (ie death, passability) even though she was protected from original sin itself, and all actual sin.

Georgette

Jimmy,

What a great job you did answering, as always.

I was just looking at Mike's first video and as he was asking for answers in whatever medium, it occurred to me that there may be a really good opportunity to reach the many other YouTube viewers by posting your own video version of your answers to Mike at that site. Those who have viewed Mike's video may actually be waiting for a video answer to be posted there.

Esau

Georgette,
That's an EXCELLENT suggestion!!!

Not only that, it would also be a great way to evangelize and spread the reach of Jimmy as well as Catholic Answers!!!


Quite frankly, if Mike does convert (hopefully, we pray), I'd love to see both he and Jimmy Akin on The Journey Home. This conversion story would make for a great episode with Mike and Jimmy telling how all this came about and the process by which the conversion happened -- all because of the initial contact point: YouTube, of all things!

Pseudomodo

I think I prefer Bishop Sheen's explanation:

If you had a chance to make your own mother, wouldn't you make her the most beautiful mother in the world?

--Go Fulton!!

Esau

Talk about potentially saving souls on a massive scale -- by using the very medium that's already popular with so many folks out there.

It seems like the very thing JP II had talked to us about at Spacebridge when he discussed the necessity of utilizing advances in communication technology, in media, in order to evangelize and spread the Word of God.

Esau

Yikes!

My second message got cut off from my original message above regarding using YouTube.

Jimmy,
If you could, that would be so awesome if you could respond via YouTube to Mike for reasons I spoke of in the above post.

Whatever you decide to do though, I'm sure it'll make a difference regardless. God Bless!

Mark P. Shea

You know, Jimmy. What Mike needs is a comprehensive book on Mary that talks about the sources of Marian doctrine and practice, discusses the controversial Marian dogmas, and looks at Marian devotions, prayers to the saints, the Rosary, apparitions, and so forth. I know somebody who has written such a book! :)

You know, Jimmy. What Mike needs is a comprehensive book on Mary that talks about the sources of Marian doctrine and practice, discusses the controversial Marian dogmas, and looks at Marian devotions, prayers to the saints, the Rosary, apparitions, and so forth. I know somebody who has written such a book! :)

Finally! Where can I get a copy? I've been waiting for this book, for what seems like forever!

Barbara

Oops! My name disappeared again. The above post is mine.

Realist

Unfortunately, the concept of original sin (Augustine the prime mover with some earlier references) has necessitated the creation of the inane concept of Limbo. If Limbo goes to the myth pile as it should hopefully original sin will go with it.

BTW, my efforts to blame my teenage misbehavior on original sin never did work with my Mom. Something about my Baptism removing said sin when I was quite young.

Esau

BTW, my efforts to blame my teenage misbehavior on original sin never did work with my Mom. Something about my Baptism removing said sin when I was quite young.

Realist:
Just because original sin is removed by baptism doesn't mean that a person CANNOT sin.

By the way, don't distort Mike's learning on Catholicism with your already distorted realist Crossan propaganda.

Tim J.

That hobby horse is obviously LAME. Somebody shoot it and end the suffering... ours, that is.

bill912

Mike, if you see a post by Realist, just ignore it.

Shane

I think what WRY was getting at is that we receive our nature from our parents, so if Jesus had been born of a woman with a fallen human nature, He would have received that fallen human nature. I'm not 100% sure that this is accurate, but in any case, I don't believe that the arguement itself is flawed in the way that John Henry suggested.

Christ Himself is God, and He could have entered the world in any way He chose. However, the way He chose was to be like man "in every way except for sin." Now every man receives his nature from and shares his nature with his parents, and therefore Christ must have received His nature from and shared it with His. Otherwise, He would be in some way different from all other men. Therefore, by the Immaculate Conception, Christ receives His human nature from His mother in the way that all men do.

Some may object on the grounds that not all men have their mothers given grace in the way Mary was, and so this makes Christ different anyways unless, in the spirit of John Henry's statement, St. Anne was also given it in this way ad infinitum. Now it is proper (2,9) for human beings to enter life with a damaged nature, but only as a result of their lack of sanctifying grace, so it is not substantive, which in men is the absence of grace, but only accidental, as a result of that lack, which is itself substantive. It is also proper for men to have sanctifying grace given by the merits of Christ. Therefore, Mary being given this grace by the merits of Christ causes Christ to be different from other men accidentally, but not substantively.

I think that that makes sense, though I struggled trying to put my thoughts in to words, so I hope that you will understand what I mean.

Laura

Mike,
I'm praying for you that you have an awesome end to this journey you're on. Also, some other resources which you could take a look at are at the Catholic Answers web site which is posted on Jimmy's blog. just look for links pertaining to mary and the saints. Personally, my favorite description of Mary's sinlessness is one I heard from an apologist, I am completely blanking on the name, but he spoke of Christ coming to renew the law and of Christ as centeral to the new covenant with God. Therefore Mary was the arc of that new covenant and would be as pure as is possible. I think it just makes sense that God would do this for his mother and it's just a beautiful and as one commenter posted above, fitting.
Good luck Mike and God bless you

Esau

Mary was the arc of that new covenant

This reminds me of Scott Hahn.

Mike,
You might look into some of Scott Hahn's stuff as well. Tim Staples is a great apologist as well.

Of course, since you're in Jimmy's care, I'm sure you're well taken cared of since you happen to be in such good hands -- especially since he happens to be a great apologist himself.

WRY

Thanks Shane, for stating it much better than I did above. And thanks to whosebob as well for pointing out what seems to a problem with the point of view I put forward. Although at the same time I would note that the Catholic Encyclopedia would seem to give a little support to my idea when it says, speaking of Original Sin:
"Consequently the privation of this grace, even without any other act, would be a stain, a moral deformity, a turning away from God ..."
It would seem therefore reasonable to say that it would not be fitting for God to take flesh that had ever had a "deformity" or this sort.
I'm unlettered in these things, I should add. I just take them and believe them and try to reason them out best I can!

Mark P. Shea

Barbara:

Note that I only said "written" not "published". We're workin' on it! :)

WRY

John Henry said St. Anne might have had to be sinless from conception for my theory to work.
But here's one critical difference (under my theory) between Mary's conception and Jesus' conception: It is no violation of God's order to 'intervene' in making Mary sinless, since she is His creature. So St. Anne doesn't have to be sinless herself. But it would not seem fitting for God to 'intervene' in Jesus' conception in the sense of 'cleasing' from the stain of original sin, since Jesus is God and must be from every instance of His existence perfectly sinless in His humanity.
Of course this leaves aside the question of the status, pre-conception, of the human material that Mary contributed. But even if none of my other ideas hold I would agree with the other posters that it is absolutely fitting that God should have made Mary immaculate: therefore He did it.

Mike Mikolajczyk

Thank you very very much for the post, Jimmy. Excellent info. Basically, I've continued my reading, ordered a few more books, and after using multiple documents sent to me by email and through this blog, I've been able to understand and accept the doctrine. I have spoken to the church office nearest to me, and I attended the first Adult Inquiry meeting, which basically went over what RCIA is and established a few more meetings in the next few months. Basically, it is a primer before the RCIA class officially begins.

Once again, thanks are deserved by everyone who has helped me. I STILL want as much info as I can get, so the emails are still wanted and appreciated. Keep in touch,


Mike

Esau

AWESOME!!!

May God continue to shower His blessings over you, Mike, on your journey here to the Catholic Church!

A.Williams

Mike,

To be a good Catholic and Christian you need to be very strong and wholly devoted to the Truth, who is Jesus. Being a young man, and full of spiritual and intellectual enthusiasm is a very good thing. Really, it's a great gift of the Holy Spirit! But know also that the way of, and to, Christ, is still a challenge even for the greatest of men and saints!

I found my spiritual conversion to Catholicism in a different way from yours. I started by reading Greek philosophy..Socrates and Aristotle particularly. Although a Catholic all my life, I needed more in-depth knowledge about the actual 'meaning' in my life. This is where philosophy hit a dead end, because it could raise all the right questions, but answer very few of them. In somewhat of a disappointment, I went to a library, because I remembered in Catholic school that the teachers would sometimes mention 'saints'. And as I saw Greek philosophy grow ever more unable to answer my long sought questions, this rememberance of the "Saints" gave me a glimpse of hope. I was happy even with the name only!...I thought: "Everyone knows that saints are good!...even bad people!" And so I began to study the lives of various Catholic Saints, The "Life of St. Francis of Assisi", being the first.

And I was right. The canonized saints of the Catholic Church are a resource unparalleled for teaching a 'balanced' and highly 'devout' spirituality.

So, although I'm sure you have many other excellent books that people have recommended to you, I hope you still include books like "lives and sayings of the desert fathers", "Life of St. Francis of Assisi" and " Life of St. John Bosco" as just a few on your list to read some day.

Anyway, best with everything, and God Bless all of your spiritual studies and endeavors!

A.Williams

Mike,

To be a good Catholic and Christian you need to be very strong and wholly devoted to the Truth, who is Jesus. Being a young man, and full of spiritual and intellectual enthusiasm is a very good thing. Really, it's a great gift of the Holy Spirit! But know also that the way of, and to, Christ, is still a challenge even for the greatest of men and saints!

I found my spiritual conversion to Catholicism in a different way from yours. I started by reading Greek philosophy..Socrates and Aristotle particularly. Although a Catholic all my life, I needed more in-depth knowledge about the actual 'meaning' in my life. This is where philosophy hit a dead end, because it could raise all the right questions, but answer very few of them. In somewhat of a disappointment, I went to a library, because I remembered in Catholic school that the teachers would sometimes mention 'saints'. And as I saw Greek philosophy grow ever more unable to answer my long sought questions, this rememberance of the "Saints" gave me a glimpse of hope. I was happy even with the name only!...I thought: "Everyone knows that saints are good!...even bad people!" And so I began to study the lives of various Catholic Saints, The "Life of St. Francis of Assisi", being the first.

And I was right. The canonized saints of the Catholic Church are a resource unparalleled for teaching a 'balanced' and highly 'devout' spirituality.

So, although I'm sure you have many other excellent books that people have recommended to you, I hope you still include books like "lives and sayings of the desert fathers", "Life of St. Francis of Assisi" and " Life of St. John Bosco" as just a few on your list to read some day.

Anyway, best with everything, and God Bless all of your spiritual studies and endeavors!

A.Williams

Mike,

To be a good Catholic and Christian you need to be very strong and wholly devoted to the Truth, who is Jesus. Being a young man, and full of spiritual and intellectual enthusiasm is a very good thing. Really, it's a great gift of the Holy Spirit! But know also that the way of, and to, Christ, is still a challenge even for the greatest of men and saints!

I found my spiritual conversion to Catholicism in a different way from yours. I started by reading Greek philosophy..Socrates and Aristotle particularly. Although a Catholic all my life, I needed more in-depth knowledge about the actual 'meaning' in my life. This is where philosophy hit a dead end, because it could raise all the right questions, but answer very few of them. In somewhat of a disappointment, I went to a library, because I remembered in Catholic school that the teachers would sometimes mention 'saints'. And as I saw Greek philosophy grow ever more unable to answer my long sought questions, this rememberance of the "Saints" gave me a glimpse of hope. I was happy even with the name only!...I thought: "Everyone knows that saints are good!...even bad people!" And so I began to study the lives of various Catholic Saints, The "Life of St. Francis of Assisi", being the first.

And I was right. The canonized saints of the Catholic Church are a resource unparalleled for teaching a 'balanced' and highly 'devout' spirituality.

So, although I'm sure you have many other excellent books that people have recommended to you, I hope you still include books like "lives and sayings of the desert fathers", "Life of St. Francis of Assisi" and " Life of St. John Bosco" as just a few on your list to read some day.

Anyway, best with everything, and God Bless all of your spiritual studies and endeavors!

A.Williams

Sorry for the multiple mistake in the post above! It was unintentional.

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