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In a response in another thread, one individual mentioned that the virgin Mary was “the perfect non-divine human being.”

Is this an accepted Catholic belief?

If it is, what need was there for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ? Jesus was born without the stain of Original Sin. According to Catholic belief, the Immaculate Conception also preserved Mary from the stain of Original Sin. Jesus was absolutely sinless. According to Catholic belief, Mary never sinned either (isn’t this what “perfect” implies?).

Why, then, didn’t Mary qualify to be our savior instead of Jesus? What need was there for God the Father to send His Son Jesus Christ when He could have asked Mary to offer herself for the sins of the world, since Mary was “the perfect non-divine human being”?

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In a response in another thread, one individual mentioned that the virgin Mary was "the perfect non-divine human being."

I am that individual, and by perfect, I meant sinless. Which is perfect in God's eyes.Matthew 5:48

Is this an accepted Catholic belief?

Yes.

  • "If anyone shall say that a man once justified can sin no more, nor lose grace, and that therefore he who falls and sins was never truly justified; or, on the contrary, that throughout his whole life he can avoid all sins even venial sins, except by a special privilege of God, as the Church holds in regard to the Blessed Virgin: let him be anathema." - The Council of Trent, Canon 23.

  • It was she (Mary), the second Eve, who, free from all sin, original or personal, and always more intimately united with her Son. - Pope Pius XII in Mystici Corporis, 110

  • In consequence of a Special Privilege of Grace from God, Mary was free from every personal sin during her whole life. - Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma by Ludwig Ott

Why then didn't Mary qualify to be our savior instead of Jesus?

Because Mary was not sinless on her own. Everything that is perfect in Mary comes from God. Mary would not be sinless if Christ did not die on the cross. In other words, God acts outside time, so at the moment of her conception, God used the grace of redemption merited on the cross to protect Mary from original sin by a single act of grace.

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, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin. - Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus (1854)

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    If Mary was not sinless on her own, that would make her a sinner - doesn't that make her exactly the same as any other believer in Christ? Sinless because of Christ's death on a cross? – Ian Apr 29 '14 at 12:38
  • I remember discussing how original sin would make her not sinless and I was informed of a story (less known to Protestants) which described her conception as unique as well. Maybe you want to add that to this answer? – The Freemason Apr 29 '14 at 12:47
  • To @Ian : Mary not being sinless on her own does not make her a sinner. From Catholic perspective she was protected from sin at the moment of conception. And all thru her life she did not sin because she was not conceived in sin. – Jayarathina Madharasan Apr 29 '14 at 13:59
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    Are there are Catholic writings that state that Mary was preserved from every sin, not only original sin? I'd appreciate it if you could include those as well. – user900 Apr 29 '14 at 21:14
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    @Mushy The Bible says ALL have sinned. You've allowed for one exception (Jesus) and provided a reason. But can you be certain that God did not make one more exception? And it's not just because Mary was chosen to be the mother of Jesus, but because God did specific things to make her sinless. – DJClayworth May 1 '14 at 1:12
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What Jayarathina Madharasan wrote is correct, but I'd like to add another aspect of the Catholic view of the situation. Any offense agains the infinitely good and holy God requires an infinite atonement, and that requires a divine being, not a mere human, to make the atonement. So the redemption of the human race could not be accomplished by Mary, who is, despite all her perfections, a creature. It could be accomplished only by God Himself, becoming one of us to redeem us.

  • "So the redemption of the human race could not be accomplished by Mary, who is, despite all her perfections, a creature" - so it would then be an error to call her "co-redemptrix"? – bruised reed Apr 29 '14 at 19:44
  • Maria co-redemptrix is not a formally-defined dogma, although Irenaeus (before 200AD) referred to Mary as "cause of our salvation" because she bore Christ. It is in that way that without Mary there would be no salvation. – Andrew Leach Apr 29 '14 at 21:49
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    @AndrewLeach: Mary bore Christ, making her the "cause of our salvation." Adam is Mary's ultimate ancestor, which means he too must be a "cause of our salvation." – user900 Apr 29 '14 at 23:18
  • @H "O happy fault! O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!" @b It has not been held either to be in error or not in error. And my opinion is neither here nor there. – Andrew Leach Apr 30 '14 at 6:01
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    The discussion here provides a good idea why the Church has not made an official decision on "co-redemptrix": the term can be understood in different ways, some of which are in accordance with Catholic doctrine and others of which are not. I'd hope that, if the Church ever makes an official decision, it would provide a clear statement of the exact sense in which it intends the term to be understood. – Andreas Blass Apr 30 '14 at 14:14
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Is this an accepted Catholic belief [that Mary is the perfect creature]?

You must be careful when you say 'perfect.' If 'perfect' refers to the quantity of grace and holiness, then it may be said indeed this is Catholic belief. But that Mary is the 'perfect' creature may be more difficult, since the angelic nature is a much, much higher nature and far more glorious than the human nature.

However, we don't know how much fundamental nature (what it means to be, minimally, angel or human for example) and supernatural grace interact and work together to make a finaly 'perfect' creature as a whole. It could well be that the blessed Virgin Mary is the greatest creature because, although far below the ranks of the mighty angels by being human, could far exceed them in grace and honor—which one can definitely say is Catholic even if not dogma strictly speaking (Eastern Christianity, such as the Orthodox, would also affirm this uniqueness of the mother of God).

For example, Jesus Christ is (present tense) also a man. But He far exceeds the angels in dignity, grace, might, etc., per Hebrews 1, even though according to the same Scriptural testimony, He was made human—lower than the angels. So we see that indeed it can matter what or who you you are or what role you play or perogatives you enjoy in addition to being human that determines your actual greatness.

Traditionally for Catholics, being the mother of God Himself is both literally true (Mary is literally the mother of the Word made flesh, who is the same Word who existed before His birth; Jesus is literally Mary's Son) and obviously the greatest prerogative ever given to a creature. Making her the greatest creature in this better usage of the word 'greatest' or 'perfect.'

Pope Bl. Pius IX in his Bull Ineffabilis Deus (the document wherein for the first time it was defined officially and finally that Mary was conceived [specifically] without sin) wrote in its introductory paragraphs:

Therefore, far above all the angels and all the saints so wondrously did God endow her with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured from the treasury of his divinity that this mother, ever absolutely free of all stain of sin, all fair and perfect, would possess that fullness of holy innocence and sanctity than which, under God, one cannot even imagine anything greater, and which, outside of God, no mind can succeed in comprehending fully.

Why then didn't Mary qualify to be our savior instead of Jesus?

Because Mary is not God. Man brought on hell by comitting an offense against someone of infinite dignity, namely God. But whereas he is able to offend an infinite God, he is not able to satisfy for that offense, because it is of infinite gravity.

This is because of the nature of the person in the respective cases.

In the case of sin, we are concerned with God's capacity to be offended (i.e. the capacity of the sin to be of infinite gravity).

In the case of propitiation for sin, we are concerned with man's ability to make up for an infinite offense.

As you can see, all God needs to do is be God; and sinning is easy for man. But as you can also see, man does not have the ability to do an infinitely good act. Only God, who is non-finitely Good itself, can always do only good. Thus, a Saviour must always be God as regards the problem of sin.

However, in becoming Incarnate, the Word made flesh (God, and so of infinite dignity), can propitiate God for the sins of men by undertaking a great Penance, that of the Cross. The suffering He endured pleases God so much that on its account, He is willing to allow others to benefit from its fruit, even though they don't deserve it. This is what the Mercy of God is. It is never ignoring sin or punishment even once, but rather gifting those who accepted such the satisfaction payment made by His Son.

Also, it is purely because Jesus stepped into creation and prevented the doomed hellish fate of all men that a Mary even exists, both at all (because God didn't have to allow Adam to live, but had forbearance for Christ's sake alone) and Mary as she actually came to be and is now known. This makes it impossible for a Mary to exist without a Saviour: hence she cannot even potentially qualify as a Saviour.

But as said above, no creature can propitiate for sins against an infinite God ultimately (I'm not talking about priests and such, who as intercessors appropriate God's mercy—they simply cannot effect mercy from God, they have to tap into it from elsewhere, namely doing what He says, which we learn in the New Testament, was a way to not go to Hell until He who made such forbearance possible actually came).

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