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In Luke's gospel, we read about Mary's consent to become mother of Jesus.

The question:was it a free decision? If so, what is the authoritative statement of the Church. What council or pope addressed this topic explicitly?

Attempts so far:

  • Each person has free will.
  • The presence of sin reduces the freedom. Thus, Mary's will is even more free.
  • Jesus has a human free will that is subordinated to his divine will in Gethsemane. So was the teaching of Maxim the Confessor. If Mary would be without free will, then Jesus from Nazareth would have a non-human formation.
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In Genesis, we could read the story of Adam and Eve. They have the free will to choose to eat the fruit of knowledge of good and evil. It was NOT the will of God for them to eat the fruit He has forbade them, but still Adam and Eve ate the fruit. It is clear that humans have free will to choose, and so Mary decided in her own free will to bear the child Jesus. God also knows EVERYTHING what will happen in the future. That is why prophets know things what WILL happen because it came from God. As humans, we DO NOT know what will happen, and so Mary was chosen by God since He knows she will bear the child. It's like this: God knows the world will end because it is written in the Bible (Revelations). But, people don't know when the world will end. So, we have the free will to choose heaven or hell (we are not FORCED to choose). However, God knows what we will choose. If Mary was chosen to bear Jesus, then she will bear Jesus.

4 Even before the world was made, God had already chosen us to be his through our union with Christ, so that we would be holy and without fault before him. (Ephesians 1:4)

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  • Can you please edit this to add some quotes/references to authoritative Catholic sources.
    – curiousdannii
    Jan 19 at 5:46
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In fact, there is nothing in the Gospels to suggest that the motherhood of Jesus was imposed on Mary. Her words of submission to the angel (Lk 1:38), her hurried journey to the house of Elizabeth (1:39), her loud calling of Elizabeth at the gates of the latter (1:42), their joyful exchange of greetings (1:40-45), the Magnificat (1:46-55) - all are indicative of the fact that Mary`s saying of “yes" to the Annunciation was out of her free will and from the depth of her heart.

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    Can you please edit this to add some quotes/references to authoritative Catholic sources.
    – Ken Graham
    Jan 19 at 7:50
  • I can't. And I wonder if Fathers of the Church ever faced such a question ! Jan 19 at 11:33
  • St Thomas Aquinas should be helpful.
    – Ken Graham
    Jan 19 at 16:06
  • Saint Alphonsus Liguori writes: When the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary God's great designs upon her, she, through love for obedience, would only call herself a handmaid: Behold the handmaid of the Lord. [Luke 1:38] "Yes," says St. Thomas of Villanova, "for this faithful handmaid never, in either thought or word or deed, contradicted the Most High; but entirely despoiled of her own will, she lived always and in all things obedient to that of God." Jan 20 at 5:46

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