4

Is the following quotation an accurate explanation of Roman Catholic dogma regarding Mary?

The reason that Mary is “full of grace,” the Church has said, is because of Ephesians 1:3-6 (Redemptoris Mater, no. 7-11). Here is how John Henry Newman puts it:

"Does not the objector consider that Eve was created, or born, without original sin? Why does not this shock him? Would he have been inclined to worship Eve in that first estate of hers? Why, then, Mary?

"Does he [the objector] not believe that St. John Baptist had the grace of God—i.e., was regenerated, even before his birth? What do we believe of Mary, but that grace was given her at a still earlier period? All we say is, that grace was given her from the first moment of her existence.

“We do not say that she did not owe her salvation to the death of her son.”"

(Source: Catholic Integral Complementarity, by Aimee Byrd)

5

The most authoritative explanation of the Immaculate Conception comes from Pope Pius IX's dogmatic definition of it in Ineffabilis Deus (1854):

We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that 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, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.

The answer to your question of "In what sense was she born without Original Sin?" is:

  • from "the first instance of her conception."
2

Newman's explanation is not the official statement of the dogma, but it is not contrary to it. I think he is trying to make the following points for those who might object to the dogma:

  1. The fact that Mary is without sin does not mean that she is a goddess. Eve was without sin before she fell, and she wasn't a goddess.

  2. The fact that Mary received grace from God before her birth should not be an objection because Scripture is clear that John the Baptist received grace while in the womb. God intervened in John's life after his conception, but before his birth. God intervened in Mary's life at the first instance of her conception.

  3. He wants to make it clear that Mary's Immaculate Conception is a work of Christ, just as is the salvation of the rest of us.

0

In what sense was Mary born without original sin in Catholic dogma?

First of all, let us look at the wording of Pope Pius XII's definition of the Immaculate Conception of Mary:

We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that 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 Saviour of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.

Declaramus, pronuntiamus et definimus doctrinam, quae tenet, beatissimam Virginem Mariam in primo instanti suae Conceptionis fuisse singulari omnipotentis Dei gratia et privilegio, intuitu meritorum Christi lesu Salvatoris humani generis, ab omni originalis culpae labe praeservatam immunem, esse a Deo revelatam, atque idcirco ab omnibus fidelibus firmiter constanterque credendam. Quapropter si qui secus ac a Nobis. - Immaculate Conception (Wikipedia)

As we can see, Mary was preserved from all stain of Original Sin at the very moment of her conception. Original Sin deprives the soul of sanctifying grace. Thus Mary's soul was preserved from all stain of original sin in her soul and she was born with sanctifying grace dwelling within her being.

Nature of original sin

This is a difficult point and many systems have been invented to explain it: it will suffice to give the theological explanation now commonly received. Original sin is the privation of sanctifying grace in consequence of the sin of Adam. This solution, which is that of St. Thomas, goes back to St. Anselm and even to the traditions of the early Church, as we see by the declaration of the Second Council of Orange (A.D. 529): one man has transmitted to the whole human race not only the death of the body, which is the punishment of sin, but even sin itself, which is the death of the soul [Denz., n. 175 (145)]. As death is the privation of the principle of life, the death of the soul is the privation of sanctifying grace which according to all theologians is the principle of supernatural life. Therefore, if original sin is "the death of the soul", it is the privation of sanctifying grace.

The Council of Trent, although it did not make this solution obligatory by a definition, regarded it with favour and authorized its use (cf. Pallavicini, "Istoria del Concilio di Trento", vii-ix). Original sin is described not only as the death of the soul (Sess. V, can. ii), but as a "privation of justice that each child contracts at its conception" (Sess. VI, cap. iii). But the Council calls "justice" what we call sanctifying grace (Sess. VI), and as each child should have had personally his own justice so now after the fall he suffers his own privation of justice.

We may add an argument based on the principle of St. Augustine already cited, "the deliberate sin of the first man is the cause of original sin". This principle is developed by St. Anselm: "the sin of Adam was one thing but the sin of children at their birth is quite another, the former was the cause, the latter is the effect" (De conceptu virginali, xxvi). In a child original sin is distinct from the fault of Adam, it is one of its effects. But which of these effects is it? We shall examine the several effects of Adam's fault and reject those which cannot be original sin:

(1) Death and Suffering.- These are purely physical evils and cannot be called sin. Moreover St. Paul, and after him the councils, regarded death and original sin as two distinct things transmitted by Adam.

(2) Concupiscence.- This rebellion of the lower appetite transmitted to us by Adam is an occasion of sin and in that sense comes nearer to moral evil. However, the occasion of a fault is not necessarily a fault, and whilst original sin is effaced by baptism concupiscence still remains in the person baptized; therefore original sin and concupiscence cannot be one and the same thing, as was held by the early Protestants (see Council of Trent, Sess. V, can. v).

(3) The absence of sanctifying grace in the new-born child is also an effect of the first sin, for Adam, having received holiness and justice from God, lost it not only for himself but also for us (loc. cit., can. ii). If he has lost it for us we were to have received it from him at our birth with the other prerogatives of our race. Therefore the absence of sanctifying grace in a child is a real privation, it is the want of something that should have been in him according to the Divine plan. If this favour is not merely something physical but is something in the moral order, if it is holiness, its privation may be called a sin. But sanctifying grace is holiness and is so called by the Council of Trent, because holiness consists in union with God, and grace unites us intimately with God. Moral goodness consists in this, that our action is according to the moral law, but grace is a deification, as the Fathers say, a perfect conformity with God who is the first rule of all morality. (See GRACE.) Sanctifying grace therefore enters into the moral order, not as an act that passes but as a permanent tendency which exists even when the subject who possesses it does not act; it is a turning towards God, conversio ad Deum. Consequently the privation of this grace, even without any other act, would be a stain, a moral deformity, a turning away from God, aversio a Deo, and this character is not found in any other effect of the fault of Adam. This privation, therefore, is the hereditary stain. - Original Sin (Catholic Encyclopedia)

0

In what sense was Mary born without original sin in Roman Catholic dogma?

The simple & direct answer can be found in the Dogma of Immaculate Conception.

But there was a problem in understanding the dogmatic definition as it did not specifically defined when does the merit of Christ was applied. We are not alone in this difficulty as even the Angelic Doctor St.Thomas Aquinas cannot fathom when in the following references;when was the "sanctification" begin?

ST. THOMAS AND THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION (EDITORIAL NOTE)

1.Whether the Blessed Virgin was sanctified before her birth from the womb?

2.Whether the Blessed Virgin was sanctified before animation?

3.Whether the Blessed Virgin was cleansed from the infection of the fomes?

4.Whether by being sanctified in the womb the Blessed Virgin was preserved from all actual sin?

5.Whether, by her sanctification in the womb, the Blessed Virgin received the fullness of grace?

6.Whether after Christ, it was proper to the Blessed Virgin to be sanctified in the womb?

https://isidore.co/aquinas/summa/TP/TP027.html#TPQ27OUTP1

In all the six articles above it implied that "sanctification in the womb" will removed or cleanse one soul of the original sin contracted at the moment of conception. But the Church teaches that Mary unlike Jeremiah & John the baptist was not conceived in sin.

"O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee"(Mary's revelation to St.Catherine Laboure).https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miraculous_Medal

If Mary was conceived without sin, it means She does not need "sanctification in the womb" of St.Anne as the definition of "orginal sin" was only a privation of sanctifying grace. Since Mary was conceived without sin the rational soul coming from God was not deprived of sanctifying grace as there's no barrier according to Church definition.

So, where does the merit of Christ applied to Mary in order to remove the original sin inherited by all mankind thru Adam's fault?

The Dogma of immaculate Conception speaks of Jesus and Mary as the New Adam & New Eve meaning they are created not in the order of nature but in the order of grace. Jesus humanity was assumed and his existence was not by virtue of human seed but of Divine Origin coming from the Abba Father.

496 From the first formulations of her faith, the Church has confessed that Jesus was conceived solely by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, affirming also the corporeal aspect of this event: Jesus was conceived "by the Holy Spirit without human seed".146 The Fathers see in the virginal conception the sign that it truly was the Son of God who came in a humanity like our own. Thus St. Ignatius of Antioch at the beginning of the second century says:

You are firmly convinced about our Lord, who is truly of the race of David according to the flesh, Son of God according to the will and power of God, truly born of a virgin,. . . he was truly nailed to a tree for us in his flesh under Pontius Pilate. . . he truly suffered, as he is also truly risen.147

How about Mary? she comes from the human seed of St.Joachim., therefore if the revelation of Mary to St.Catherine Laboure is that "she was conceived without sin" it only follows that "St.Joachim human seed" was not corrupted and the "marital act" between St.Joachim and St.Anne was also devoid of lust or concupiscence. This is a mystery.

The Dogma of Immaculate Conception teaches Mary was pure & immaculate meaning no blemish or stain.

It is written (Canticles 4:7): "Thou art all fair, O my love, and there is not a spot in thee!" But the fomes implies a blemish, at any rate in the flesh. Therefore the fomes was not in the Blessed Virgin.https://isidore.co/aquinas/summa/TP/TP027.html#TPQ27OUTP1

The Dogma of Immaculate Conception teaches the purity of Mary's flesh meaning her human nature was not in fallen or wounded state like all mankind;

Of a Super Eminent Sanctity

To these praises they have added very noble words. Speaking of the conception of the Virgin, they testified that nature yielded to grace and, unable to go on, stood trembling. The Virgin Mother of God would not be conceived by Anna before grace would bear its fruits; it was proper that she be conceived as the first-born, by whom “the first-born of every creature” would be conceived. They testified, too, that the flesh of the Virgin, although derived from Adam, did not contract the stains of Adam, and that on this account the most Blessed Virgin was the tabernacle created by God himself and formed by the Holy Spirit, truly a work in royal purple, adorned and woven with gold, which that new Beseleel[26] made. They affirmed that the same Virgin is, and is deservedly, the first and especial work of God, escaping the fiery arrows the the evil one; that she is beautiful by nature and entirely free from all stain; that at her Immaculate Conception she came into the world all radiant like the dawn. For it was certainly not fitting that this vessel of election should be wounded by the common injuries, since she, differing so much from the others, had only nature in common with them, not sin. In fact, it was quite fitting that, as the Only-Begotten has a Father in heaven, whom the Seraphim extol as thrice holy, so he should have a Mother on earth who would never be without the splendor of holiness.

The question is how can Mary's flesh or human nature coming from the seed of St.Joachim and generated thru the marital act of St.Joachim and St.Anne be transmitted free from original sin and all stain of sins.

The answer is. the merit of Christ Redemptive Sacrifice was applied in St.Joachim as he is the carrier of the "human seed" as revealed to Blessed Catherine Emmerich and the "marital act" was devoid of lust or concupiscence as revealed to St.Bridget

This Church approved private revelation or visions of Blessed Catherine Emmerich and St.Bridget supported the 8th century teaching of the Eastern Church Father a Doctor of the Church in the name of St.John Damascene;https://www.ccel.org/ccel/emmerich/lifemary.v.html

“O most blessed loins of Joachim from which came forth a spotless seed! O glorious womb of Anne in which a most holy offspring grew.” John of Damascus, Homily I (ante A.D. 749).

The Dogma of Immaculate Conception teaches eternal enmity between the Woman and the Serpent and it start with the "seed". Eternal enmity or absolute enmity means Mary was not touch by satan's influence beginning from the "seed or the unformed body".

Psalm 139:16 New International Version (NIV) 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

This psalmist identifies an "unformed body" in contrast to Jeremiah's "formed" body(Jeremiah1:5) and even to Book of Genesis narration as it stated "God formed Adam". Does this passage refers to Mary's existence in the form of "human seed" alone not yet united to the egg cell of the Woman?

Interpreters of the Sacred Scripture

The Fathers and writers of the Church, well versed in the heavenly Scriptures, had nothing more at heart than to vie with one another in preaching and teaching in many wonderful ways the Virgin’s supreme sanctity, dignity, and immunity from all stain of sin, and her renowned victory over the most foul enemy of the human race. This they did in the books they wrote to explain the Scriptures, to vindicate the dogmas, and to instruct the faithful. These ecclesiastical writers in quoting the words by which at the beginning of the world God announced his merciful remedies prepared for the regeneration of mankind — words by which he crushed the audacity of the deceitful serpent and wondrously raised up the hope of our race, saying, “I will put enmities between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed”[13] — taught that by this divine prophecy the merciful Redeemer of mankind, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, was clearly foretold: That his most Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, was prophetically indicated; and, at the same time, the very enmity of both against the evil one was significantly expressed. Hence, just as Christ, the Mediator between God and man, assumed human nature, blotted the handwriting of the decree that stood against us, and fastened it triumphantly to the cross, so the most holy Virgin, united with him by a most intimate and indissoluble bond, was, with him and through him, eternally at enmity with the evil serpent, and most completely triumphed over him, and thus crushed his head with her immaculate foot.[14]http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius09/p9ineff.htm

So, in the O.P question referring to John Henry Newman;

"Does he [the objector] not believe that St. John Baptist had the grace of God—i.e., was regenerated, even before his birth? What do we believe of Mary, but that grace was given her at a still earlier period? All we say is, that grace was given her from the first moment of her existence.

What do we believe of Mary, but that grace was given her at a still earlier period?

The answer is Yes, the graces and the merit of Christ Redemption was given earlier not in the womb of Anne according to St.Catherine Laboure but it was given and applied to the St.Joachim the pious Father of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the scriptures testified;

Douay-Rheims Bible

"Children's childre;6n are the crown of old men: and the glory of children are their fathers. (Proverbs17)

Jesus humanity was assumed and the seed does not comes from a human father but thru the Divine Abba Father, while the seed of Mary comes from a pious human father who was cleansed by the merit of Christ Redemption out pouring a "spotless seed".

Indeed the human nature of Mary comes from pure, virgin and immaculate clay untouch by satan;But this does not mean that Mary no longer need redemption, the Church teaches in CCC492 that "Mary was redeemed in a more exalted fashion" and that definition reveals that Mary was redeemed at the very seed of his human father.

“She is born like the cherubim, she who is of a pure, immaculate clay.” Theotokos of Livias, Panegyric for the feast of the Assumption, 5:6 (ante A.D. 650). https://www.scripturecatholic.com/blessed-virgin-mary/#II_Marys_Immaculate_Conception

The Dogma of the Immaculate Conception as defined;

“We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that 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, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.”[29]

The word "in the first instance of her conception", does not pertain to the conception in the womb of St.Anne but the conception in the "Eternal Thought" of the Abba Father in eternity. St.Maximillian Kolbe's teaching on Mary as the "Created Immaculate Conception" speaks of Mary conception in eternity as CCC492. The book of Fr.Michael Gaitley "33 Days to Morning Glory" expounded the mystery behind St.Bernadette revelation on Mary as "Created Immaculate Conception" and the Holy Spirit as the "Uncreated Immaculate Conception."

492 The "splendor of an entirely unique holiness" by which Mary is "enriched from the first instant of her conception" comes wholly from Christ: she is "redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son".136 The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person "in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" and chose her "in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love".137

Important consideration:

  1. To believe that Mary was sanctified in the womb of St.Anne before or even after animation would implied that Mary's human nature was in the fallen state therefore not pure,virgin & immaculate and this teaching will directly contradict the upheld teachings of the Church Fathers written in the Dogma of Immaculate Conception about the spotless purity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

  2. To believe that Mary's humanity comes from the corrupted seed of St.Joachim will also means Her flesh was not immaculate.

  3. To believe that the "marital act" of St.Joachim & St.Anne was tainted by lust or concupiscence meaning Mary's existence was touch by the malice of Satan runs contrary to the Dogma of Immaculate Conception in uphelding "eternal enmity" and also by the Council of Trent definition on the transmission of orginal sin.

  4. To believe that the "first instance of conception" refers to the womb of St.Anne and not the conception in the Heavenly Realm pointing to the "conception of the Eternal Thought of God in eternity" is not in harmony with the Dogma of Immaculate Conception teaching "eternal enmity", St.Maximillian Kolbe teaching on "Created Immaculate Conception" and St.Catherine of Laboure revelation that Mary does not need "sanctification in the womb of St.Anne".

All this mystery was illuminated by St.Catherine of Laboure, Mary was not conceived in sin,and affirmed by revelation of the Blessed Virgin Mary herself to St.Bernadette Soubirous saying "I AM the Immaculate Conception". Therefore, Mary was formed by the Holy Spirit in the order of grace a "new creature"(http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p122a3p2.htm) and specifically stated "that she be wholly borne by God's grace." as wriiten in CCC490.

"O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee."

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.