Mary: Conceived without sin

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse unto thee!

One of our most popular intercessory prayers as Catholics, yet for others perhaps the hardest to grasp.  People say: Only Jesus was sinless!  This cannot be!  Brings back shadows of the time Zechariah disbelieved the will of God when he was told his wife would conceive and bear a son: John the Baptist.  And we know what happened to Zechariah don’t we?  For those that don’t: because Zechariah disbelieved God’s will, he was struck dumb.  In the case of Mary and Jesus, many people are under the mistaken impression that it was having a sinless nature that made Him unique.  It was not sinlessness that set Jesus apart from Mary.  What made Jesus unique is that He was and is the one and only example we have of a hypostatic union of 2 full and distinct natures, one fully human, the other fully Divine.  Both natures were present in their full measure.  In the case of His human nature, this means that his human nature was unblemished by the stain of original sin.  That is what is really meant when we say Jesus possessed a fully human nature.

In Luke 5:37 we have this verse:

And no man putteth new wine into old wine-skins; else the new wine will burst the skins, and itself will be spilled, and the skins will perish.

The Jewish people in those days stored wine in skins taken from the flesh of an animal.  So Jesus not only uses this to relate Himself to the people, but to relate the true nature of His Mother.  This passage refers to Jesus Himself because His Blood is the new wine by which we are saved (“Take this cup and drink from it, for this IS my blood…..”) and so that would thus make His skin, His flesh, new and unblemished.  But just as the Jewish people got new wineskin by taking it (from the flesh of another animal) so did Jesus take His skin, His wineskin as it houses the new wine, His Blood by which we are saved, from an outside source, His Mother, Mary.  So it would logically follow then that Mary’s flesh would, by the Grace of God, in anticipation of her agreeing to say “yes” to being chosen as the Virgin Daughter of Israel through whom God would give to us His only begotten Son, have been made untouched by the stain of Adam and Eve’s original sin.  And thus it is in Mary we find the fullness of that which we seek by dedicating ourselves to Christ.

As the old adage goes “No Mary, no Jesus….Know Mary, Know Jesus.”

I don’t know if this helps people to understand better our dedication to Our Lady, but there you have it.  We accord Our Lady not with the honor we accord to God and Christ (we call this honor “latria”) but we do accord her with an honor above that given to the saints (we call this one “dulia”) because she’s QUEEN of the Saints.  The word we have that describes the honor we accord our Blessed Mother is “hyperdulia.”

And we honor Mary with that title rightfully.  For Jesus is the head of Christian faith.  And we the faithful make up the members of the body of Christian faith.  In the natural world, no mother can give birth to a living head that has no body nor to a living body that has no head, for such creatures are, as St. Louis Marie DeMontfort states, “monsters in the order of nature.”  So it is the same in the order of Grace.  Mary could no more give birth to the head of our Christian faith without then giving US new birth as members of His Body.  If all she did was give birth to the living head (Christ without giving US new birth, then we would be as St. Louis again asserts: “monster in the order of Grace”

This is a longer dissertation than I had planned on.  However I love the Blessed Mother of Christian Faith with all my heart, imperfect as my heart is, stained by the most vile of sins, as any child would love his natural mother.


2 comments on “Mary: Conceived without sin

  1. squirrely1 says:

    I believe that Mary was absolved from original sin at the moment of conception with Jesus…..I think she was a regular person born into Original sin up until that point and it was the divine who prepared her to be the vessel for Jesus at that moment. And then after she still needed her Savior like everyone else. This is what I have come to believe! 🙂

  2. Joseph says:

    Trapped you are my foolish colleague in Christ. Mary needed Jesus. the Church has never asserted otherwise. You and I both know this. We both know that Jesus is God. Neither of us disputes that. What is God therefore obliged to do? You recall that God gave Moses 10 commandments (even though some jokes assert that it was 15 but Moses broke a tablet falling down the mountain…:-P)

    What we also know to be true is that God would not have given us commandments that He Himself would not honor

    One of these is to honor thy father and thy mother. We do this in the best way we know how. Unfortunately we are not possessed of a fully divine nature. So that prevents us from honoring our parents the way we’d REALLY love to… fixing it so that they didn’t incur the tumor known as original sin in the first place.

    Jesus, however, being God, and honor bound by the same commandments He gave to us through Moses, is fully capable of honoring His mother in the best possible way, a way we only wish we could. He honored Mary the best way He knew how and in accordance with what we both know to be true about His abilities as God. That Jesus, being God, reached across linear time to honor her by preserving her from original sin. So yes Mary was sinless, but she needed Jesus in order to be created as sinless, and because of Him that she was. That is the paradox which you stated. And that is the paradox upon which Church teaching regarding Mary is based. I knew you’d figure it out….;-)

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