17. Mary: Saved from Birth

Catholic Position

¶493 The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God “the
All-Holy” (Panagia), and celebrate her as “free from any stain of sin,
as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature”.
By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole
life long.

“Let it be done to me according to your word. . .”

¶494 At the announcement that she would give birth to “the Son of the
Most High” without knowing man, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary
responded with the obedience of faith, certain that “with God nothing
will be impossible”: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be
[done] to me according to your word.” Thus, giving her consent to God’s
word, Mary becomes the mother of Jesus. Espousing the divine will for
salvation wholeheartedly, without a single sin to restrain her, she
gave herself entirely to the person and to the work of her Son; she did
so in order to serve the mystery of redemption with him and dependent
on him, by God’s grace:

As St. Irenaeus says, “Being obedient she became the cause of salvation
for herself and for the whole human race.” Hence not a few of the early
Fathers gladly assert. . .: “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied
by Mary’s obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief,
Mary loosened by her faith.” Comparing her with Eve, they call Mary
“the Mother of the living” and frequently claim: “Death through Eve,
life through Mary.”

¶508 From among the descendants of Eve, God chose the Virgin Mary to be
the mother of his Son. “Full of grace”, Mary is “the most excellent
fruit of redemption” (SC 103): from the first instant of her
conception, she was totally preserved from the stain of original sin
and she remained pure from all personal sin throughout her life.

¶722 The Holy Spirit prepared Mary by his grace. It was fitting that the
mother of him in whom “the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily”
should herself be “full of grace.” She was, by sheer grace, conceived
without sin as the most humble of creatures, the most capable of
welcoming the inexpressible gift of the Almighty. It was quite correct
for the angel Gabriel to greet her as the “Daughter of Zion”:
“Rejoice.” It is the thanksgiving of the whole People of God, and thus
of the Church, which Mary in her canticle[104] lifts up to the Father
in the Holy Spirit while carrying within her the eternal Son.

¶491 Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that
Mary, “full of grace” through God, was redeemed from the moment of her
conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception
confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:

The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her
conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by
virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race,
preserved immune from all stain of original sin.

Scripture Says

2 Corinthians 5:21
21  For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.


Galatians 3:22
22  But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the
promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

Romans 3:23
23  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Romans 3:10
10  As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

Luke 11:46-47
46  And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men
with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the
burdens with one of your fingers.
47  Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.


Luke 11:27-28
27   And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain
woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is
the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked.
28  But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

Commentary

  • Again, Jesus is robbed of glory and honor that He alone deserves.
  • He is the only sinless One; He alone is qualified to be our substitute in life and death.