Below is an interesting post from Catholic (convert) blogger,
author and apologist Taylor Marshall concerning the Immaculate
Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. A few days back I posted a piece Defending the Honor of Our Blessed Mother
in which I referred to some of the points made by Mr. Marshall by way
of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. What I find most interesting
is that it would seem to me that Mary’s redemption at conception is
reinforced by the fact that she remained a virgin throughout her life
and vise versa.
Arguments for the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed
The Catechism of the
Catholic Church beautifully states the doctrine of the
Immaculate Conception of Mary, that is, that Mary was herself conceived
without original sin:
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, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of
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”. 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”.
It is important to focus on the fact that Mary was redeemed
and that she was “redeemed in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the
merits of her Son.”
Rather than being redeemed later in life she was redeemed at
the moment in which she was conceived. There is one primary reason for
why Christ would save His mother in this way: Christ perfectly
fulfilled the Law and thereby fulfilled the commandment “Thou shalt
honor thy father and thy mother.” We know that Christ perfectly honored
His Father. He also perfectly honored His Mother. The most honorable
thing He could do for His mother was to redeem her “in a more exalted
fashion” as the Holy Father taught.
Is the Immaculate Conception Biblical?
Yes, but only if you accept typology as a valid interpretation of
Scriptural texts (i.e. a method used by the Apostles and Fathers to
interpret Old Testament people, things, and events as types
foreshadowing New Covenant realities). Below are three common arguments
used by the early Church Fathers, the Popes, and the Catechism of the
Catholic Church to justify Mary’s title as the Panagia or
“All-Holy.” The first is straight-forward, the latter two rely on
Mary is Full of Grace
[RSV]: “And he came to her and said, ‘Hail, full of grace, the Lord is
The term traditionally translated “full of grace” or “highly favored”
is κεχαριτωμένη or kecharitomene. This perfect
passive participle form denotes something
that happened in the past and continues into the present. She was
perfectly graced in the past and continues in that state. Luke 1:28 has
served as the locus classicus for the doctrine of
the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady.
Mary as New Eve Having Enmity with Satan
Gen 3:15 “And
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and
her Seed; He shall crush your head, and you shall strike at His heel.”
In this verse God addresses Satan. The Seed here is Christ. The Woman
is His Mother, that is, Mary. Thus Satan has perfect enmity with Christ
and with His Mother. The Catholic Church has interpreted this as
indicating the sinlessness of Christ and Mary. If either actually
committed sin, then they would not be at enmity with Satan but actually
a cooperator with Satan at times.
Mary as Ark of the Covenant
In the Old Covenant the Ark of the Covenant contained the
Word of God on stone. In the New Covenant, the Word made Flesh was also
contained – and that in the womb of the Blessed Virgin. The Catholic
Church has therefore understood Mary as the mystical Ark of the New
Covenant. This connection is made in the book of Revelation.
11:19-12:2 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his
covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of
lightning, voices, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail. And
a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with
the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she
was with child.
The Ark of the Covenant appears in Heaven and then in the next breath
(and next verse) St John describes a pregnant woman appearing in
Heaven. This Woman “contains” the Messiah.
The thinking goes that if Mary is the fulfillment of the Ark
of the Covenant, then she must be “all holy”. Remember that in the Old
Covenant a man was killed for touching the ark. It was holy. If the box
that held stone tablets was so restricted – so also would be the woman
who actually carried God Himself. And so she is all pure and all holy,
without the stain of sin.
How awesome is Our God?
And Jesus beholding, said to them: “With men this is impossible: but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)