Monday, December 08, 2008

the duel nature of Christ and the Immaculate Conception...


Many converts have problems with various Marian dogmas. It is a common obstacle, one that I myself have to hurdle from time to time. One such teaching was that of the Immaculate Conception. To be honest, I still struggle with it.

I often find myself wondering what the implications are for Her to be free from the stain of original sin at the moment of her conception... to be separate from humanity.

So I sometimes struggle to reconcile a certain deification of Mary, if you will, with this particular feast day. If Mary lacks that humanity than from whom did Christ inherit His humanity? He is fully human, fully Divine. If Mary is not fully human doesn't this challenge the Duality of Christ's nature?

It's just something I ponder from time to time.

*I'm sure I needn't remind commenters to reply charitably in the com-box.


ACEGC said...

"If Mary lacks that humanity..."

That's the crux of the issue--Mary doesn't lack humanity, in fact, she is as fully human as is possible without being Christ himself. We don't "deify" her by honoring her Immaculate Conception (which is attested to in Scripture, as I'll show in a second), but we merely acknowledge the glory and mercy of God--who could have chosen any way of letting his Son come into the world, but chose to give him the most fitting vessel possible.

In Luke's Gospel, the angel Gabriel greets Mary: "Hail, Full of Grace!" The word here which means "full of grace" is kecharitomene, which is a perfect passive participle of the verb charitoo, meaning "to fill or endow with grace." Being in the perfect tense, this means that Mary was graced in the past and continues to be that way--the grace which she enjoys was not just a result of the angel's visit.

Hope this helps, CC.

-CC (hah)

Charles said...

Dear CC,
Were not Adam and Eve fully human before the Fall?
This probably doesn't help, CC.
Blessings from yet another....
CC in CA

Christopher Michael said...

Mary does not lack humanity in lacking Original Sin. Original Sin is an accident attached to human nature; it does not belong to the substance of human nature. For example, (excuse the crudeness of my example) if I had a monopoly on the chair industry, and I only made red chairs, until one day I made a blue chair, would it be any less a chair because all the others are red? Of course not...
Just because every other human has contracted Original Sin, does not mean that to not have Original Sin is not to be human. Were Adam and Eve not human before the Fall? Of course not. They were every bit as human as us. Original Sin does not belong to the essence of what it is to be human, even though every human save two has had it. If it did, it would not be a good thing at all. It would make salvation impossible. I hope this helps?


Acolyte4236 said...

The issue is not if the Theotokos is "graced" in the past, but how far back that goes. Secondly, the issue is not whether she is impeccable or not, but what the source of that impeccability could be. In the case of CHrist, he is not a human person, but a divine person and so he has no begining. While the possibility to sin is not of the essence of human beings, it is necessary in the following sense. For human persons they have a begining and so for them, their righteousness has to come about through an act of their will, But since they have a begining, they cannot be created righteous. If Mary was conceived rightous or just, then it is not hers and she i snot morally praiseworthy. All humans persons who have a begining have a gnomic employment of their will.

Matthias said...

That is actually the problem the Eastern Orthodox have with the Immaculate conception.

Personally , I do not think the latin definition of Immaculate conception can even be used in the context of Eastern theology, since the definition of Original sin is different.

Simon-Peter said...

It's not just converts that have problems with it, but many cradle Catholics too, when they get down to it and think about what it all means.

Perhaps it is just one of those mysteries that just are, and no matter how hard we think about it, our understanding won't change. Considering the true meaning of everything in too much detail I think can lead to problems...or is that just being apathetic? I tend to think, lots of other people much clever and wiser than I am have thought these things through for hundreds of years, and so this became the answer to those debates. 'But why can't you think for yourself', I am asked. Well, I have done, and I agree with what 'they' said this time.

Slightly abstract, but that's how I like it.

Also, putting Mary on a sort of pedestal does not deify her in a sense, but as the incarnation demonstrates, you can't have Jesus without Mary. I don't think the Church, in it's teaching, takes that too far. I suppose one's devotion to Mary depends on one's devotion to Jesus if that makes sense?

God bless.

Simon-Peter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roman Sacristan said...

Mary was created by God without original sin (the merits of which came from the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross). However, that does not make her less human, and it also does not mean that she had no free will. She was not "God's little blue robot." She is the new Eve, in that both Mary and Eve were created without sin. But Mary, with her free will, chose not to sin and chose to do God's Will.

The Immaculate Conception can be difficult because the theology is much based on Blessed John Duns Scotus, who was very sublime in his writings, and who is often forced to play second fiddle to Saint Thomas Aquinas.

But, a good way to judge how much you should honor Mary is to just follow the example of her Son, Jesus Christ. How much has He honored and loved her? Well, He honors her as His Mother, He assumed her into Heaven, and has crowned her as Queen of Heaven and Earth. So, I'd say there's great reason to follow His example and honor her above all other creation, certainly remembering that she too is a creature and is infinitely less than God, but because of her immaculate purity and her fiat, she "is the highest honor of our race."

We don't worship or diefy her, but we give her great honor. And she only wants what God wants. Proper Marian devotion always leads us to her Son.

Roman Sacristan said...

I might also add, that original sin does not make us fully human, it makes us less human.

Jesus Christ is fully human and fully divine, yet he had no sin. Thus Mary can be fully human even though she had no original sin either.

Yes, original sin is a curse handed down throughout the human race, but it is not intrinsic to being human. I don't think you'd say that Adam and Eve were less human before their fall than afterwards. Wouldn't you say it'd be more human to have control of your passions and desires? Not having control over them makes you more of an animal than human.

Carolina Cannonball said...

Matthias, I'd be interested to know how the Eastern definition of Original Sin is different.

Mimi said...

As an Orthodox, I agree with Matthias.

In my "Bear of Little Brain" way, the Eastern understanding is that through the Fall of Adam, sin and death came into the world, but that Adam's sin was his own and is not a stain upon humanity. But, I am definitely not a Theologian, and if I botched it, the fault is mine and not Orthodox Theology.

Mimi said...

Later in my Bloglines, I found this excellent post from an Orthodox priest who probably explains it far, far, far better than me:

Acolyte4236 said...

Mimi is correct. For the Orthodox, there is no inherited guilt, not even analogically speaking. Mortality and corruption are inherited via a common nature.

The issue is not just free will, since free will in terms of choosing between alternative and plural goods is compatible with moral impeccability. The issue is that the moral state must find its source in the person and the person must choose it. If someone is created perfectly righteous without their choice, it is hard to see how they are morally praiseworthy. For persons like Christ who are divine persons, this is not a problem since he has no begining, even though he is the eternal source of his own moral standing. But for Mary, the matter is different since she is not a divine person and this is why the Orthodox teach positively that Mary in fact died, which Rome doesn't.

On the Roman account, if death implies guilt and Mary dies, then she can't be immaculately conceived, even though the tradition says pretty widely that she did.

Warren said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Warren said...

I posted something most definitely NOT charitable.
Then I deleted it.


A Simple Sinner said...

That is actually the problem the Eastern Orthodox have with the Immaculate conception.

No, wait a minute, WHICH is actually the problem some Eastern Orthodox (certainly not all) have with the Immaculate conception?

Personally , I do not think the latin definition of Immaculate conception can even be used in the context of Eastern theology, since the definition of Original sin is different.

I hear this proffered time and time and time again, but would like to be pointed to a clear essay on how these definitions are so fundamentally in contrast (possibly or probably irreconcilable)... Vague discussion of "Eastern Theology" and "Latin" terms in unhelpful. The East is HUGE (and not just Byzantine) and the use of geography harkening back to the Imperium betrays a certain mentality of the fly trapped in the amber of the Imperium.

Who speaks concisely for Orthodoxy on this?

As to CC contention that Mary was lacking humanity... This only seems to be the case if one embraces some fundamentally flawed ideal that sinning IS humanity.

Carolina Cannonball said...

Warren, I appreciate that.

Sinner, my fundamentally flawed thinking was/is that being free from original sin implicates a certain deification.

Also, Acolyte brought up another interesting point I wonder about from time to time: being created perfectly righteous without choice, makes it hard to see how that person can be morally praiseworthy.

If I am created free form all sin, then my perfection is of no moral merit of my own but solely of my Creator.

Again, this are just things I think about & wonder from time to time. I have my questions and doubts but I will continue to believe none the less because I accept that some things are not meant to fully comprehend... I don't dare to pretense such understanding on matters of The Divine.

Anonymous said...

weren't adam and eve created without sin and perfect? yet they sinned. mary would be praiseworthy because she didn't sin. she had a choice too, just like adam and eve. what do i know? just some house frau in middle america.

Carolina Cannonball said...

Cordelia, I agree with you and you know plenty.