“We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.” Ineffabilis Deus (December 8, 1854) Pope Pius IX on declaration of Mary’s Immaculate Conception
Mary’s Immaculate Conception
Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."
No one can deny that Genesis 3:15 is indeed a Protoevangelium – the first Good News! This is all about the Messianic prophecy - the triumph of Good over Evil.
Here now, the one who will crush the head of the Serpent is the Messiah the woman’s seed. Christ is the Messiah [Matthew 16:16] and Christ is Son of Mary the one he called “Woman, here is your Son” at the foot of the cross in John 19:26.
God says: "I will put enmity between you (serpent) and the woman" that is to say, between the Devil and the Mother of the Messiah – enmity between Satan and Mary.
Sacred Scriptures tell us that sin makes us enemies of God [Mt 12:30; Roman 5:8-10; James 4:4] and children of the Devil [John 8:44; 1John 3:10]. A sinner is not Satan's enemy, but his partner - even his "child". If Mary is a sinner, she would not be the devil's enemy [Gen 3:15]; she would have been the devil's daughter and the enemy of God-the enemy of her own Son! Then there would be no enmity or complete separation between her and Satan and thus, making God’s promise in Gen. 3:15 as an empty promise.
To believe in Mary’s Immaculate Conception is to believe that God's way is perfect. All the LORD's promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. Psalm 18:30
Luke 1:28 And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
In Luke 1:28, we read how Angel Gabriel salutes Mary as "full of grace". The Greek term here is kecharitomene, a perfect present participle of the verb charitoo, which denotes "grace". A perfect participle indicates an action completed in the past with existing results, and a present participle denotes continuous or repeated action. Grace excludes [Romans 5:20-21] and saves us from sin [Eph 2:5; 8]
So kecharitomene means "you who were (from the moment of conception) and continue to be full of and completed in grace".
This salutation again is not a simple greetings, it is an act of changing one’s name! (eg. Hail, king of the Jews is analogous with Hello, beautiful lady) but to Mary, Angel Gabriel used the name “Hail. Full of Grace”. for as his name is, so is he [1Samuel25:25]
Therefore, Mary's fullness of grace indicates a complete absence of sin.
Mary as the New Eve: When Eve was free from all stain of original sin, Adam named her “woman” [Gen.2:23], it is the same name given by Christ - the New Adam [1 Corinthians 15:20-22] to Mary: The New Eve. So it was clear that this New Eve begin her life sinless.
Mary as the New Ark of Covenant: The original ark was clearly a holy vessel. It was so holy only a few could touch it [Num 4:15, 2 Sam 6:2-7]. Made from purest materials and meticulously outlined [Ex. 25:10-22] a vessel that fit to God to dwell.
Christ the son of the living God, the living bread that came down from heaven. [John 6:51], high priest [Hebrew 9:11] and the Word of life. [1John 1:1] how could he dwell in an unholy vessel? "who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? there is not one" [Job 14:4]
Christ dwell for nine months in Mary’s womb, like the Holy Ark of Covenant "Holiness becometh thine house, O Lord" [Ps 93:5]. A sinless Mary – the New Ark of Covenant.
Common Arguments used by Non-Catholics to nullify this handed-down teaching from the Apostles:
In Luke 1:47 Mary calls God her "Savior". She admits she needed a Savior!
(1Timothy 4:10 Jesus is the Savior of all men)
We too, Catholics believe that Mary indeed need of a Savior! Neither the dogma of Immaculate Conception teaches otherwise. So, the issue here (Immaculate Conception) is not if Mary is saved or redeemed by Christ; rather, it is when and how.
Redeeming is either:
(1) God allow one to be born in sin and then He will purify the soul by subsequent application of the merits of Christ, or
(2) God could, by an anticipation of the merits of Christ, exempt a soul from any actual contraction of original sin.
Mary as a daughter of Adam was subject to the necessity of contracting the original sin like the rest of us. But by a special intervention of God, she was not allowed to be born in original sin to be afterwards redeemed; Mary was redeemed by God by prevention rather than by subsequent purification.
Here’s a wonderful analogy posted in Catholic Answers:
Consider an analogy: Suppose a man falls into a deep pit, and someone reaches down to pull him out. The man has been "saved" from the pit. Now imagine a woman walking along, and she too is about to topple into the pit, but at the very moment that she is to fall in, someone holds her back and prevents her. She too has been saved from the pit, but in an even better way: She was not simply taken out of the pit, she was prevented from getting stained by the mud in the first place. This is the illustration Christians have used for a thousand years to explain how Mary was saved by Christ. By receiving Christ's grace at her conception, she had his grace applied to her before she was able to become mired in original sin and its stain.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that she was "redeemed in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son" (CCC 492). She has more reason to call God her Savior than we do, because he saved her in an even more glorious manner! ("Immaculate Conception and Assumption.")
If Mary were without sin, she would be equal to God or a created being who doesn’t need God.
In the beginning, God created Adam, Eve, and the angels without sin, but none were equal to God. All souls in heaven are also without sin. And all of them like us, needed God.
Mary being sinless does not mean she doesn’t need God or she was God. Sinless is what God intends us to be.
But what about Romans 3:23, "all have sinned"?
Since the phrase is “all have sinned” and not “all are sinners” it is clearly pertain to a committed actual sins and not the original sins.
Now the question regarding Romans 3:23 require us to ask to whom the “all” refers:
(a) all are sinners) Does all human are sinful? Christ surely not a sinner [Hebrew 4:15].
(a) all are sinners) Does all human are sinful? Christ surely not a sinner [Hebrew 4:15].
(b) all have sinned) Have all people committed actual sins? What about infants? (although conceived with original sin, they do not commit personal sins until they reach the age of reason. [Rom. 9:11])?
Does the word “All” in Roman 3:23 refers to “no exemption”? If your answer is YES, then you must also have to believe that “all Israel will be saved” [Rom. 11:26] without exemption whether he/she is sinful as long as he/she belongs to the Church founded by Christ – the New Israel.
This would be the major problem for Scriptural one-liner. The true Children of Christ always look at the context and entire word of God. Now, are there exceptions to this claim that ‘all have sinned’? Obviously the answer is YES!
Christ himself (a New Adam) is sinless [Hebrew 4:15]. The fact that Christ – the New Adam had to be sinless an exception for the Mary – the New Eve can also be made. Read the above explanations on Genesis 3:15
If Jesus had to be born of a sinless mother in order to be sinless his Human Nature, Mary's mother, Anne - Anne's mother, and the mother, of the mother, of Anne all the way up would have to be immaculate, for Mary to be conceived immaculate?
Wrong! Jesus did not have to be born of a sinless mother in order to have sinless human nature. So even if Mary had been a sinner, Christ our God would not have contracted original sin from her.
Now, the key here is to distinguish the flesh (physical) from the spiritual.
Mary was naturally conceived and born of her parents. Remember that from the moment of conception, the soul is present; in her very conception Mary’s soul was preserved immaculate in the sense that she is free from any taint of original or inherited sin, derived from our first parents.
Mary was sinless, how could she die? Death is the wages of sin. "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord," (Rom. 6:23).
Christ was without original sin, yet saw death. Correct? It is natural to man to die.
If we are going to dissect the verse, Apostle Paul speaks of Death and Eternal Life.
Apostle Paul says “the wages of sin is death” but we all know that after our bodily life ceased (physical body (flesh)) died our soul is still alive, we are still spiritually alive.
So the Death that Apostle Paul mention is not Physical Death but Spiritual Death (eternal damnation) who failed to have eternal life due to the sin he/she committed.
Matt. 25:46, "And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Thus, the meaning of the text "the wages of sin is death" is referring to spiritual death which would be eternal damnation.
Mary is eternally alive in Heaven!
Mary in Luke 2:22-24 brought a sin offering to the Temple for her purification [Leviticus 12:8]. If she needed to bring a sin offering she must be a sinner.
Christ was baptized by John, and Johns’ baptism was repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 19:4); does this prove that Christ is sinful?
Christ was baptized to “fulfill all righteousness” [Mt. 3:14-15] and so with Mary to fulfill the Law of Moses
It was only became a Catholic Dogma in 1854; a newly invented teaching?
In 1661 (193 years prior the formal definition of Mary’s Immaculate Conception in 1854) Pope Alexander VII declared:
“Concerning the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, ancient indeed is that devotion of the faithful based on the belief that her soul, in the first instant of its creation and in the first instant of the soul's infusion into the body, was, by a special grace and privilege of God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, her Son and the Redeemer of the human race, preserved free from all stain of original sin. And in this sense have the faithful ever solemnized and celebrated the Feast of the Conception.”
Pope Alexander VII refers to belief in the Immaculate Conception as an ancient devotion of the faithful.
[Jesus] became man by the Virgin so that the course that was taken by disobedience in the beginning through the agency of the serpent might be also the very course by which it would be put down. Eve, a virgin and undefiled, conceived the word of the serpent and bore disobedience and death. But the Virgin Mary received faith and joy when the angel Gabriel announced to her the glad tidings that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon her and the power of the Most High would overshadow her, for which reason the Holy One being born of her is the Son of God. And she replied, "Be it done unto me according to your word" (Luke 1:38) (Dialogue with Trypho 100 [A.D. 155]).
Consequently, then, Mary the Virgin is found to be obedient, saying, "Behold, 0 Lord, your handmaid; be it done to me according to your word." Eve . . . who was then still a virgin although she had Adam for a husband — for in paradise they were both naked but were not ashamed; for, having been created only a short time, they had no understanding of the procreation of children . . . having become disobedient [sin], was made the cause of death for herself and for the whole human race; so also Mary, betrothed to a man but nevertheless still a virgin, being obedient [no sin], was made the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race. . . . Thus, the knot of Eve's disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. What the virgin Eve had bound in unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosed through faith (Against Heresies 3:22:24 [A.D. 189]). http://www.staycatholic.com/ecf_immaculate_conception.htm
That’s why in encyclical defining the dogma, Pope Pius IX states that:
Accordingly, from ancient times the bishops of the Church, ecclesiastics, religious orders, and even emperors and kings, have earnestly petitioned this Apostolic See to define a dogma of the Catholic Faith the Immaculate Conception of the most holy Mother of God. These petitions were renewed in these our own times; they were especially brought to the attention of Gregory XVI, our predecessor of happy memory, and to ourselves, not only by bishops, but by the secular clergy and religious orders, by sovereign rulers and by the faithful.
It was believed by ordinary Catholics, celebrated throughout the Church but not formally defined – That was before 1854.