Immaculate Conception: Clarifying What We Really Believe

There have been many misconceptions from Eastern Orthodox Christians. They attack our immaculate conception dogma without understanding it. They build up a false version of the dogma and knock down that version. I’m going to clarify what we do and don’t believe about the immaculate conception.

The “don’ts”:

1. The Catholic Church does *not* teach that Mary’s state is exactly that of Eve prior to the fall.

 

2. The Catholic Church does *not* teach that Mary had the original Grace that Adam and Eve had in which it bestowed on them not only supernatural gifts of original holiness but also *ALL* THE preternatural gifts of integrity, impassibility, infused knowledge, immortality (she had infused knowledge and integrity only).
3. The Catholic Church does *not* teach that Mary had a right to the same gifts that Adam and Eve enjoyed prior to the fall.
4. The Catholic Church does *not* teach that Mary having contracted no stain of original sin and Christ having contracted no stain of original sin to be the same thing. Since Christ’s had a virginal birth, he was born in the state that Adam was in prefall yet *chose* to suffer blameless passions and death. Mary was *preserved* from original sin yet she was born of a father and a mother. She still had flesh of sin. She was still the daughter of Adam. She still felt blameless passions, not because it was a choice of hers, but because she was human just like us. She suffered and she died (more on this later).
5. The Catholic Church does *not* teach that humanity has a *right* to the preternatural or supernatural gifts that Adam and Eve enjoyed prefall. That includes Mary. But it excludes Christ. Why? Because Christ was conceived by a virgin and Mary was not.
6. The Catholic Church does *not* teach that Mary didn’t need a Savior.
7. The Catholic Church does *not* teach that Mary’s privileges of integrity and infused knowledge come from her immaculate conception.
8. The Catholic Church does *not* teach that the preternatural gifts (impassibility, infused knowledge, immortality, integrity) were internal to original holiness. They were external. Meaning man was not *naturally* created that way but he was bestowed these gifts by God as an act of Divine will that man should have these gifts *externally*. These gifts are not intrinsic to man’s original nature but God freely gives them to man prefall and can choose to give them to anyone postfall (see Elijah and Enoch having original sin yet not tasting death).

Now the “Do’s”:

1. The Catholic Church *does* teach that Mary was preserved from contacting original sin in virtue of *the grace of Christ* which flows from the cross. This is not the same Grace that Adam and Eve enjoyed prefall. The grace of Christ does not restore a person to that original state that Adam and Eve had or else we would all be Adam and Eve prefall after baptism. This Grace of Christ deifies a person. Mary was full of this grace from the beginning of her existence. And therefore, it was this positive action which preserved her from the stain of original sin.
2. The Catholic Church *does* teach that Mary had a role to play in salvation and therefore she is co-redemtrix. Her roles are Divine Maternity and New Eve.
3. The Catholic Church *does* teach that Mary’s preternatural gifts of integrity and infused knowledge are directly tied to her role as coredemptrix (see #2 above). Each preternatural gift must be examined to see if it be necessary for her to have in order to carry out that role. Her integrity and infused knowledge helps her successfully carry out her role of Divine Maternity. She was not bestowed with having no blameless passions because God did not see that gift as necessary to carry out her role. In fact, He saw that it was necessary for her to suffer in order to carry out the role of Divine Maternity. He also did not see it necessary that she have the preternatural gift of immortality because to die would be to imitate her Son and so to enter into glory so it would be a good thing for her to die.

In summary, Mary was given privileges, but they did not flow from her immaculate conception. They flowed from God seeing it fit that those privileges will help her carry out her role as mother of God. Her immaculate conception is a privilege in and of itself in order for Mary to have the grace to be in union with God from the moment of her conception. This unity with God at every moment of her existence is there to prepare her and aid her for her role as mother of God. Every single gift/privilege that she receives is in context of her role as mother of God and cannot be separated from that. It is not tied to her Immaculate Conception. Why? Because the grace she receives flows from the cross, not from the grace that Adam enjoyed prefall which gives man original holiness when they’re born. The grace she received does not restore nature back to its original status. No human has a right to the gifts Adam and Eve enjoyed (not even Mary who was conceived without stain of original sin). Those gifts have been lost on man because we all suffer the punishments and consequences of sin. But Mary received a special grace to have *two* preternatural gifts that Adam and Eve enjoyed + virgin birth + assumption into heaven. Every gift is tied to her role as mother of God.

2 thoughts on “Immaculate Conception: Clarifying What We Really Believe

  1. Pingback: Church Fathers Against the Immaculate Conception? Refuting the Claims | Underground Catholicism

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