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Sean Smith wrote:

Hi, guys —

I've been reading and struggling with the idea of Mary being sinless both:

  • before and
  • after Christ's birth.

  • I can see her being celibate, but sinless?

That's a tough one for a Baptist.

Sean

  { Can you help a Baptist who accepts Mary's celibacy but has a hard time with her sinlessness? }

Mike replied:

Hi Sean,

The best I can do is give you a cradle Catholic answer. For others unfamiliar with this Teaching, it states:

The most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin.

In the same way the Ark of the Covenant was immaculate so it could hold the
Ten Commandments, so Mary, who gave birth to God-incarnate — Jesus, was immaculate.

Mary was not saved on her own merits. She was saved preemptively or in anticipation of the merits of Jesus' Death on the Cross.

If you and your wife went to Church on a rainy Sunday and your wife's mother said that because it's raining you should probably take the car, you could either:

  1. Take the car and get there dry, or

  2. You could walk and, thinking you could get there dry, accidentally have some muddy water splash up on your Sunday bests. That said, you could still wash the mud and dirt off from your pants and her dress respectively, and arrive at the church clean as a whistle for services.

In both cases, you arrive clean as a whistle. In the first case, your mother, in anticipation of the bad weather, saved you from getting mud and dirt on your clothes.

In the second case, the mud and dirt (original sin) was washed away (through Baptism) by your efforts before you reached the Church.

What I've tried to give you is an earthly analogy of the Immaculate Conception which took place in the womb of Mary's mother: St. Anne.

Many mistakenly think the Immaculate Conception took place at Christmas, when Mary gave birth to Jesus; it did not. Catholics refer to the Christmas event as Mary's Virgin Birth because she remained a Virgin, before, during, and after the birth of Jesus. It was no ordinary birth — it was the Miraculous birth.

This teaching does not change the fact that the Blessed Virgin Mary was completely human.
This includes her free will to choose good or evil.

  • Make sense?

Take care,

Mike

Mary Ann replied:

Hi, Sean —

Everything is by grace. Mary was preserved from original sin, because her flesh would be the flesh of the Lord, and sin could never touch Him. His human nature was to be a New Adam but her sinlessness was not of her own accord; it was from Christ and because of Him.

As for actual sinlessness (from actual sins), Mary was full of grace. By grace, she cooperated fully with God's plan. She experienced temptation, suffering, uncertainty, and fear, but she did not sin. She chose to make her life a fiat to God's will. Fiat means Amen, let it be done. That is an act of faith.

Baptists should love Mary, the model of faith!

Mary Ann

Victor, a visitor to our site said:

Hi Sean!

As God, Jesus created His own Mother. It stands to reason that He would have created her physically and spiritually beautiful.

As the author of the Decalogue, He would have fulfilled His Own Commandment to honor her — fully and completely. While Mary had free will she was full of grace and therefore protected from sin.

There is no way that Jesus could have fulfilled the Old Testament Commandment to honor
His mother and allow her to be under the power of Satan, even for an instant.

Victor

Ann replied:

Mike,

Having come from a Protestant background, I can sympathize with the person asking the question.

Somewhere, I remember reading that Mary's sinlessness was comparable to Eve's:

Eve was full of grace too ... until she sinned.

Realizing this helped me to accept Mary's sinless state, and paved the way for me to understand her as The New Eve, as Jesus was The New Adam.

— Ann

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