By TFP LA “Why Liberalism and Socialism Hate the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception so Much.” was the topic of the latest Ladies Talk and Tea.It was held in Lafayette, the heart of Acadiana. They may, however, be explained as meaning that our Lord corrected in her, not the inordinate motion of vain glory in regard to herself, but that which might be in the thoughts of others.” (III, 27, 4, ad 3). 51). "The Roman Catholic Dogma of Mary's Immaculate Conception," The One Mediator, The Saints, and Mary: Lutherans and Catholics in Dialogue VIII, ed. the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, a tradition in the early centuries of the church. Thomas Buffer (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1999), 226. Those who promoted the teaching of the Immaculate Conception came to be known as "immaculists" and those who were opposed as the "maculists." This is due entirely to the uniquely sanctifying power of Christ's sacrifice on the Cross, the pure gift of his mercy which is effective in our case in the forgiveness of sins. Thomas raises a further question whether Mary was free from the rebellion of the lower powers against reason (called the “fomes”), which with death is a punishment of original sin (III, 27, 3). 31 Duns Scotus, Ordinatio, III d.3 q.1, quoted by Carlo Balic, O.F.M., "The Mediaeval Controversy over the Immaculate Conception up to the Death of Scotus," in Edward O'Connor, C.S.C., The Dogma of the Immaculate Conception: History and Significance (South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press, 1958), 208-209. The Dominican Saint Pius V's reform of the liturgy lessened the solemnity of the feast but also allowed a wider celebration. to make us wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy As the Church reflected on Mary's cooperation in the Incarnation as well as her intimate relationship with Jesus as His Mother, the Church also began to appreciate and ponder the holiness of this woman who cooperated with God in the Incarnation. This is not a statement about how Mary was conceived. For instance, Augustine writes about Mary's sinlessness. In III, 27, 5, Thomas considers “whether, by her sanctification in the womb, the Blessed Virgin received the fullness of grace?” Thomas points out that the angel addressed her as "full of grace" (Lk. Schillebeeckx asserts that Mary cooperated with her own redemption in a greater manner than we do: As a consequence of this, her co-operation in her own redemption was incomparably greater than our co-operation in our redemption. with and through Christ, Mary was "eternally at enmity with the Therefore Mary needed a rational soul before she could be sanctified. 30 Duns Scotus, Ordinatio, III d.3 q.1, quoted by Carlo Balic, O.F.M., "The Mediaeval Controversy over the Immaculate Conception up to the Death of Scotus," in Edward O'Connor, C.S.C., The Dogma of the Immaculate Conception: History and Significance (South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press, 1958), 205. The Son's merits flowed back upon the mother, not in the irreversible temporality of history but in the sovereign mind of God the Creator who makes all creatures what they are. The Franciscan monks continued to preach According to Scotus, this is what Christ did: "The most perfect mediator exercises the most perfect act of mediation possible with respect to some person for whom he mediates; therefore Christ had the most perfect form of mediation possible with respect to someone for whom He was Mediator. "[25], William of Ware was convinced that it was better to make a mistake by attributing too much to Mary than not enough: "If I must err – seeing that I am not certain about the opposite position –I would rather err by excess in giving a privilege to Mary, than by defect, diminishing or taking from her a privilege which she had. Bernard asks them how can they introduce a celebration which the ritual of the Church does not know, reason does not assert, and ancient tradition does not commend. teaches that all Adam's descendents share his 4 Cf. head were inspired from a incorrect translation of Genesis 3:15 based on Mary does not differ from us because she possessed these gifts. woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, overcame our deceptive enemy. The proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception expresses the essential datum of faith. ad Paul. This argument is dependent on the Aristotelian theory that the human soul is only given after the sensitive and then animal soul has been implanted. 47 Edward Schillebeeckx, O.P., Mary, Mother of the Redemption (New York: Sheed & Ward,1964), 54. vii, Thomae Aquinatis Opera Omnia (Paris: Ludovicum Vives, 1873), d. xliv, q.1, a. iii, 529. therefore Thomas asserts that Mary never committed actual sin (III, 27, 4). Co, 1980), 135. The task of interpreting authentically the Word of God, of which Scripture and tradition make up a "single sacred deposit" has been "entrusted" to the magisterium, which "is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant" and can propose for belief as being revealed by God only what is "drawn from this single deposit of faith.'' Grace means freedom, strength, a pledge of eternal life, the predominant influence of the Holy Spirit in the depths of the soul, adoptive sonship and an eternal inheritance. On this basis, Thomas maintains that the weakness of the flesh was present in Mary after her sanctification in the womb but that it was fettered “by reason of the abundant grace bestowed on her in her sanctification, and still more perfectly by Divine Providence preserving her sensitive soul, in a singular manner, from any inordinate movement.” In the conception of Christ, she received a full freedom from this inclination to sin, as the full freedom passed from the Son to the mother (III, 27, 3). It was this openness and receptivity which became, at least at that level, the ultimate disposition of the Incarnation. Cornelius Bouman observes: From the fact that St. Anne's conception is called 'holy,' we are not entitled to conclude to the existence of the idea of the Immaculate Conception in the later Western sense. [30], In Scotus' arguments, he, at times, asserts the possibility that Mary's Immaculate Conception could be possible without stating that it is in fact so. The sentence against the first parents was accompanied by the Earliest Gospel (Proto-evangelium), which put enmity between the serpent and the woman: “and I will put enmity between thee and the woman and her seed; she (he) shall crush thy head and thou shalt lie in wait for her (his) heel” … from conception; therefore He alone is qualified to die in the place of Belief in the Immaculate Conception of Mary is a dogma of the Church proclaimed infallibly by Pope Pius IX in the papal bull Ineffabilis Deus on December 8, 1854. supernaturally conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the However, certain English theologians became proponents for the celebration of the feast, including Anselm the Younger of Bury (nephew of St. Anselm), Osbert of Stoke Clare of Westminister (d. 1170), St. Anselm's former secretary, Eadmer of Canterbury (d. 1124), and Warin of Worcester. Of the … A short answer is to be found in the affirmation that of all creatures, only Mary (and naturally her Divine Son Jesus) was conceived without the stain of original sin. This dry technical term of theology makes it sound as though some thing were meant, yet ultimately sanctifying grace and its possession do not signify any thing, not even merely some sublime, mysterious condition of our souls, lying beyond the world of our personal experience and only believed in a remote, theoretical way. In the 15th-century the Franciscan Pope Sixtus IV established a Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius IX solemnly defining the dogma of the Immaulate Conception, 8 December 1854. Nunquid Patribus doctores, aut devotiores summus? " 23 See Thomas U. Mullaney, O.P., "Mary Immaculate in the Writings of St. Thomas," The Thomist, XVII (1954): 433-468. Thomas speaks of a threefold perfection of grace in Mary. 50 "Preface of the Immaculate Conception," The Sacramentary (New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1974), 489. For that reason, she was enveloped from the beginning of her life in the redemptive and saving love of God. 5 Vladimir Lossky, In the Image and Likeness of God (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1974), 203-204. Since Mary was conceived by the intercourse of husband and wife she would have contacted original sin through them according to Augustine’s principle that original sin is transmitted by the concupiscence that takes place during marriage relations (III, 27, 2, ad4). Innocent XII on May 15, 1693, extended the feast to the whole Church with an office and octave. [11] He bolsters his argument that Mary had original sin with the premise that original sin is transmitted through concupiscence and affirms that only Jesus was conceived without sin, noting Psalm 51:7, "In iniquity I was conceived and in sin did my mother conceive me. possibly mean conceived without sin, for the very same word is used Certainly no-one John Macquarrie, an Anglican theologian, has illustrated the positive manner in which the Immaculate Conception needs to be understood: Instead of putting the dogma of Immaculate Conception in the negative form by stating that Mary was preserved from the stain of original sin, we may put it in an affirmative way and say she was preserved in a right relatedness to God. Thomas notes that in the usual order, "Power is made perfect in infirmity" (2 Cor. The second purification by the Holy Spirit was at the conception of Christ, when she was entirely freed from the rebellion of the lower nature (III, 27, 3, ad 3). Mary herself, a natural descendant of Adam, calls God "my savior" (Luke 1:47). "immaculate" conception. However, Thomas recalls Augustine’s words in (De Nat. Some Church William of Ware argues that God could create a sinless being: "What he could do, it was fitting that He should do so and from this it follows that He did do it; for the Son should honor the Mother"[24] These three verbs, "He could do," potuit, " it was fitting," decuit, " He did do," fecit were the basis of the line of thought arguing from fittingness. Thomas proposes that Mary received the gifts such as wisdom, miracles, and even prophecy, “as it benefited her condition of life.” He observes that she exercised wisdom in contemplation: "But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart." She would have been had she not been preserved."[31]. (Lk 1: 28). In England, the celebration spread under the influence of the monasteries. Please share feedback or suggestions with marianlibrary@udayton.edu. and stringent proof of the dogma can be brought forward from 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 original sin. [17] Nor was the question of Mary's relationship to the universal redemption sufficiently explained by those beginning to hold that Mary was free from original sin. 6 Andrew of Crete, Homily 1 on the Nativity, in Luigi Gambero, Mary and the Fathers of the Church, trans. Dominican Father Robert Christian outlines the the historical controversy over the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. 24 William of Ware, Sent. Thomas affirms that original sin is transmitted when the off-spring is animated (receives a human soul) and Mary could have been sanctified after animation (III, 27, 1, ad4). [10] Bernard proceeds to assert that Mary was born without sin and never committed sin during her life. Bernard "Ad Canonicos Lugdunenses, De Conceptione S. Mariae," Epistolo CLXXIV, 5; PL 182, 334. There is a difference between the Eastern and Western idea of original sin. 2 Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, 56. Bernard "Ad Canonicos Lugdunenses, De Conceptione S. Mariae," Epistolo CLXXIV, 1; PL 182, 333. 3] George H. Tavard, The Thousand Faces of the Virgin Mary (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1996), 195. The opening prayer explicitly ties Mary's Immaculate Conception to the Redemption: Father, You prepared the Virgin Mary to be the worthy mother of Your Son. 1:5) (III, 27, 6). The doctrine was not The Church struggled with the tension between the growing liturgical celebration of the feast of the Conception and the misgivings of theologians. Philip Schaff (Grand Rapids: Wm. words or writing or by any other outward means the errors he Speaking to the serpent, the Lord says: And I will put enmity [7], If the concupiscence of conjugal relations caused the transmission of original sin, then every child had original sin, except for Jesus who was born of a virginal conception. On September 17, 1438, at the thirty-sixth session, the Council declared that by a special act of prevention, Mary was never stained with original sin. During the Iconoclastic difficulties, the feast was probably restricted to monasteries, but by 850 it was generally celebrated in the East. argues that Thomas, born near Naples where the feast of Mary's conception had been celebrated for generations, originally held for the Immaculate Conception, but developed an attitude of caution under the influence of the Church in Rome which did not celebrate the feast.[23]. scriptural support. 36 Frederick M. Jelly, O.P. 2:19, and she exhibited prophecy, as in the canticle, "My soul doth magnify the Lord" (Lk. However, after the conclusion of the Schism, the Church accepted only the first twenty-two sessions, and the declaration was not adopted by the universal Church. Thomas observes, however, that the passage from the Song of Songs, "Thou art all fair, O my love, and there is not a spot in thee!" For It is the fullness of the understanding of the dogma, as it is explicitly expressed in "Lumen Gentium" and in the beautiful present Preface of the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, which sings of her as Mother of the spotless Lamb, and origin and figure of the Church, Spouse without wrinkle or stain. In calling attention to Mary's sinlessness, the Eastern Fathers prepared the way for an understanding of the Immaculate Conception in the West. He declares that “the sanctification, of which we are speaking, is nothing but the cleansing from original sin.” But sin can only be taken away by grace and grace can only exist in a rational creature. Therefore all Adam's From 1483, Pope Sixtus IV had left Roman Catholics free to believe that Mary was subject to original sin or not, after having introduced the celebration; this freedom had been reiterated by the Council of Trent. The second approach was by way of England. "[27] And also: "It is a more excellent benefit to preserve a person from evil than to permit him to fall into it and then deliver him from it."[28]. the moment of her conception. Bernard "Ad Canonicos Lugdunenses, De Conceptione S. Mariae," Epistolo CLXXIV, 5; PL 182, 334. You chose her from all women to be our advocate with You and our pattern of holiness.[50]. Among those who did not accept the feast, there was a conviction that Mary was either purified in the womb or (and further) purified at the time of the Annunciation. Thomas asserts that it is reasonable to believe the Blessed Virgin to have been sanctified before her birth from the womb. When Protestants claim that the doctrine was “invented” at this time, they misunderstand both the history of dogmas and what prompts the Church to issue, from time … The prevention of the malice of sin by anticipation is indeed in accord with the whole of Redemption, but it must at the same time be seen in a different light from the expiation of and the redemption from the actually present malice of sin.[44]. However, in certain locations, he does affirm the Immaculate Conception: "The Blessed Mother of God...was never at enmity [with God] whether actually on account of actual sins or originally – because of original sin. 28 Duns Scotus, Ordinatio, III d.3 q.1, quoted by Carlo Balic, O.F.M., "The Mediaeval Controversy over the Immaculate Conception up to the Death of Scotus" in Edward O'Connor, C.S.C., The Dogma of the Immaculate Conception: History and Significance (South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press, 1958), 208. 14 Carlo Balic, O.F.M., "The Mediaeval Controversy over the Immaculate Conception up to the Death of Scotus" in Edward O'Connor, C.S.C., The Dogma of the Immaculate Conception: History and Significance (South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press, 1958), 166. The Council of Trent chose not to define the Immaculate Conception but stated: This holy Council declares that it does not intend to include in this decree on original sin, the blessed and Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God; but that the constitutions of Pope Sixtus IV... are to be observed, under the penalties contained in those constitutions, which [the present council] renews.[32]. Consequently, she never knew that state which we call original sin, and which consists precisely in the lack of grace in men caused in them by the sin of the first man at the beginning of human history. 21 "Et talis fuit puritas beatae Virginis, quae a peccato originali et actuali immunis fuit." 8 Edward O'Connor, C.S.C., The Dogma of the Immaculate Conception: History and Significance (South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press, 1958), vi. 2 Luigi Gambero, Mary and the Fathers of the Church, trans. and Edward Shea, C.S.C., in Edward O'Connor, C.S.C., The Dogma of the Immaculate Conception: History and Significance (South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press, 1958), 312. His mother's sanctity was just as much the result of the shedding of Christ's blood as our feeble efforts to resist sin, or the longing for heaven which the thief on the cross experienced almost too late. Presently, the feast is a minor one in the Eastern Church. (III, 27, 4). B. Eerdmans Publ. In III, 27, 1, Thomas raises the question, “Whether the Blessed Virgin was sanctified before her birth from the womb?” He considers the objections to sanctification in the womb, noting that one cannot be born again who has not already been born, that if she was free of original sin she could have gone to heaven without the help of Jesus’ blood, contrary to Heb 10:19, and that original sin is related to one’s origin just as actual sin is related to one’s actions. Edward O'Connor has said that the Immaculate Conception "occasioned what was perhaps the most prolonged and passionate debate that has ever been carried on Catholic theology. He argues that the most perfect form of mediation would be to preserve another from sin. Evidently Therefore it was due to her to receive a greater fullness of grace than others” (III, 27, 5). The Roman Catholic dogma of the Immaculate Conception seems to break up this uninterrupted succession of Old Testament holiness, which reaches its fulfillment at the moment of the Annunciation, when the Holy Spirit came down upon the Virgin to make her fit to receive the Word of the Father in her womb. Lanfranc of Canterbury (1089) and Alexander Neckam, abbot of Cirencester, (1217) are known to have disapproved of the feast. But we are convinced that the Scriptures are able [9] He maintains that Mary was sanctified in the womb, as was John the Baptist, for which reason the church celebrates her birthday. The Immaculate Conception of the blessed Virgin, therefore, consists simply in her having possessed the divine life of grace from the beginning of her existence, a life of grace that was given her (without her meriting it), by the prevenient grace of God, so that through this gracefilled beginning of her life, she might become the mother of the redeemer in the manner God had intended her to be for his own Son. "” Thomas maintains that John the Baptist was sanctified in his mother’s womb according to Luke 1:15, "He shall be filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother's womb." would argue that all Christians are conceived without sin! The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception teaches that Mary, the mother of Christ, was conceived without sinand her conception was thus immaculate. Thomas also points out the “singular affinity between her and Christ” and the singular manner in which the Son of God, who is the "Divine Wisdom" (1 Cor. Frederick Jelly notes: "When even the Dominicans appealed for the privilege in 1843, doubtless on account of a definite invitation from the Holy See, and the difficulties of some of them that their oath of allegiance to follow the teaching of Saint Thomas Aquinas prevented them from pronouncing such a formula as "Immaculate Conception" were resolved, the last bastion of Roman Catholic resistance to the dogma disappeared. 1. 42 Edward Schillebeeckx, O.P., Mary, Mother of the Redemption (New York: Sheed & Ward, 1964, 50. Thomas points out that while grace is usually given through the sacraments to those who are already born, God does not limit His power to the sacraments (III, 27, 1, ad 2). Duns Scotus maintains that Mary has received a greater redemption from Christ rather than less redemption: Mary would have had the greatest need of Christ as Redeemer; for by reason of her procreation, which followed the common mode, she would have contracted original sin had she not been kept from it by the grace of the Mediator, and just as others are in need of Christ for the remission, by his merit, of sin which they have already contracted, so Mary would have been in still greater need of a Mediator preventing her from contracting sin.[29]. Church does not accept the doctrine. He also was a Franciscan and taught at Oxford and Paris. Albertus Magnus, Commentarii in III Sententiarum, vol. "Hence, if anyone shall dare -- which God forbid! This perspective derives from John Duns Scotus's remarkable insight. Lk. At certain moments of her life, Mary's response to God's initiatives has ramifications in the history of salvation: Even if Mary did personalize her exceptional objective state of being redeemed in a subjectively sublime manner through the whole of her life, it is nonetheless possible to distinguish, in her life as in Christ's, various climaxes which form the summit of her subjective acceptance of Christ's redemption. 3:15). Thomas asserts: “If the soul of the Blessed Virgin had never incurred the stain of original sin, this would be derogatory to the dignity of Christ, by reason of His being the universal Savior of all. 9 "...novam inducendo celebritatem, quam ritus Ecclesiae nescit, non probat ratio, non commendat antiqua traditio. understand that he is condemned by his own judgment; that he has Meritis, Bk II, Ch 38). Thomas concludes that Mary could not have been sanctified before animation for two reasons. Ironically, it was the Eastern Church which developed the concepts which brought about the understanding of the Immaculate Conception in the West. In Ineffabilis Deus, Pope Pius IX also Through His crushing Satan's head. The preface carries out the theme of Mary's relationship to the Church: You allowed no stain of Adam's sin to touch the Virgin Mary. Edward Schillebeeckx, O.P., emphasizes that Mary's Immaculate Conception is bound with Jesus' saving death: Mary was exempt from the universal stain of original sin. The Catechism refers to Luke 1:28 for In choosing disobedience, Adam broke his union with God, making it impossible to fulfill his nature. The Dogma of the Immaculate Conception is not merely a collection of miscellaneous essays on the subject. children need to be saved. The feast of Mary's Conception appears to have spread from the East into Western Europe in two directions. The And you shall bruise His heel. Thirteen European and American theologians treat the entire historical development and theological significance of a major Roman Catholic doctrine in The Dogma of the Immaculate Conception published (University of Notre Dame Press, 1958). Thus, during the whole of the time before the Message, Mary's holiness was a pure receptivity and openness towards God's potential gifts.[47]. The Church's Marian teachings served to clarify what the Church believed about Jesus. 29 Duns Scotus, Ordinatio, III d.3 q.1, quoted by Carlo Balic, O.F.M., "The Mediaeval Controversy over the Immaculate Conception up to the Death of Scotus" in Edward O'Connor, C.S.C., The Dogma of the Immaculate Conception: History and Significance (South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press, 1958), 207. The Augustinian Gregory of Rimini (d. 1358) challenged Duns Scotus' position arguing that if it were more perfect for God to redeem by preservation than God could have more perfectly redeemed the human race by preserving it all from sin. Thomas Buffer (San Francisco, Ignatius Press, 1999), 394-395; PG 87, 809 D-812 A. Today, from us and for us, Adam offers Mary to God as firstfruits, and, with the unpoisoned parts of the muddy dough, is formed a bread for the rebuilding of the human race....Today pure human nature receives from God the gift of the original creation and reverts to its original purity. [22] Thomas Mullaney, O.P. The restoration, in turn, becomes deification, and this becomes a new formation, like its pristine state.[6]. Ia, 118, 2 ad2. His actions were condemned in Avignon and in Paris. Let us It is her possession of them from the beginning, and incomparably, that is the sole difference between her and us.[40]. Like Christ himself, Mary was in no way exempt from the consequences of original sin, which she took upon herself, insofar as they were not sinful.[46]. 33 Frederick M. Jelly, O.P. Because of the lack of clarity regarding the nature of original sin, it is not clear whether Mary's purification at the time of the Incarnation meant that she was purified of the effects of original sin or of the sin itself. The Franciscans became the defenders of the Immaculate Conception while the Dominicans continued to assert Thomas' reservations. 3 Cornelius A. Bouman, "The Immaculate Conception in the Liturgy," in Edward O'Connor, C.S.C., The Dogma of the Immaculate Conception: History and Significance (South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press, 1958), 119. for all the church. Finally in 1854 Pope Pius IX issued a solemn decree, Ineffabilis 7:23, 25). Thomas points out that the sanctification of our total nature is the freeing of our whole human nature from the corruption of sin and punishment which takes place at the resurrection. Hence, Mary is sometimes called the Immaculata (the Immaculate One). original sin. 45 Edward Schillebeeckx, O.P., Mary, Mother of the Redemption (New York: Sheed & Ward, 1964), 79. Thus Augustine, in his sermon on Magdalene, says that there are two kinds of debts – those that are contracted and paid, and those that are not contracted, but could have been. instance, Augustine writes: "He [Christ], therefore, [21] However, in his commentary on the third book of the Sentences, after explaining that grace could not be given before the infusion of the soul, Thomas adds that neither could grace have been granted at the instant of the infusion of Mary's soul since Christ alone did not need redemption. 2 gifts, so that she is a “temple of the Holy Spirit. 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