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One Final Follow-Up on the Immaculate Conception

12/13/2012 Comments (21)

A reader writes:

It’s true that you can assume the Immaculate Conception from certain readings of the gospel, but the fact is, it is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible and for that reason it shouldn’t be made into dogma. It makes more sense that Mary was chosen because she herself, without any divine aid, was a very good and pure woman. We can’t just assume that she was born without original sin or that she hadn’t sin because there’s nothing in the text that says or alludes to that. Another problem I have with the Immaculate conception is that it makes Mary something of a robot. She didn’t sin because God made her that way, not on her own merits. Wouldn’t it exhalt Mary EVEN more that she was a good and pious woman by herself alone? Take care.

There are lots of things not mentioned explicitly in the Bible (such as the word “Bible”), which are nonetheless central to Catholic faith and practice, the sinlessness of Mary among them.

Nobody is, by himself or herself, a good and pure person without divine aid.  To fail to understand that is to fail to understand the gospel in its entirety.  “Apart from me, you can do nothing” says Jesus.  Exactly the point of the Immaculate Conception is that Mary is the most saved person who ever lived.  That’s why she says “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior”.

As to the claim that the IC "makes Mary something of a robot”: No.  It doesn’t.  It is Calvinism, not Catholic faith, that pits human freedom against the power of God.  For Paul and for the Church, it is sin, not grace, that enslaves.  “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” says Paul.  Mary’s sinlessness makes her not a robot but the freest person who ever lived (save only our Lord).

FInally, my reader really needs to familiarize himself with elementary teaching about Christianity if he thinks that it would exalt Mary or any believer to say that their virtues were due, not to God, but to themselves alone.  That is the sin of pride and is what made the devil the devil. 

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God—not because of works, lest any man should boast.” -  Ephesians 2:8-9

Filed under mailbag, mary, mother of the son

About Mark Shea

Mark Shea
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Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.