Brock Mackin wrote:

Hi, guys —

My question concerns the idea of Mary's pre-emptive salvation.

  • If she was granted a special grace by the Holy Spirit which allowed her to be conceived free of original sin and therefore live her life free of personal sin, how could she be said to have had free will?
  • If she didn't have free will, does this undermine the significance of her willingness to carry the Christ?


  { Does Mary's special grace of pre-emptive salvation contradict her free will? }

John and Mike replied:

Hi, Brock —

In the same way Adam, Eve and even Satan were all created with out sin, all of them had free will.

They chose to rebel; Mary did not. Grace and sinlessness do not undermine freewill, rather they allow for a more perfect exercise of it. We, who have been baptized, are regenerated but still have a tendency to sin. We also have free will, but our free will is still effected by our tendency to sin. It will always be this way until we are six feet under the ground ... buried.
That is why we are so quick to fall over and over again.

Mary, on the other hand, had perfect free will as she was never a slave to sin. In a sense, God gave Mary the same opportunity to say Yes to Him and No to Satan, as Eve had. Both Eve and Mary were sinless, both Eve and Mary were tempted but the Catechism goes on to tell us:

CCC 511 The Virgin Mary "co-operated through free faith and obedience in human salvation" (LG 56). She uttered her yes "in the name of all human nature".

(St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica III, 30, 1).

By her obedience she became the new Eve, mother of the living.

The Early Church Fathers often said that Mary's Yes to God undid Eve's Yes to Satan .

She was also called the Second Eve by many of the same Fathers of the Church.

Hope this helps,

John DiMascio and Mike Humphrey

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