Friday, May 11, 2007

Maria Immaculata & Romans 3:23

MYTH
In Romans 3:23 St. Paul teaches that Mary sinned

In Romans 3:23, St. Paul, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, writes that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Protestants use this passage as incontrovertible proof that St. Mary was not free of sin. But St. Paul is not denying the sinlessness of the Mother of God (Theotókos) [Lk 1:43; Jn 2:1] here.

St. Paul really means that everyone needs Christ’s redemption from the curse of original sin. That includes St. Mary; her Immaculate Conception involved the redemptive graces of prevention and preservation because was preserved from the fomes of original sin and was entirely free of personal sin.{1} In her life our spiritual mother had not one impure thought. She committed not one venial sin or mortal sin! Hallelujah!

Jesus, God Incarnate,{2} is incapable of sin. Babies, retards, and senile people aren’t culpable for sin.

Looking at the original language in the Septuagint (LXX), we find that St. Paul uses the Greek word pantes. We know from context that this means “most” instead of literally all as in “every single one” (here it is permissible to depart from the strictly literal sense in accordance with Pope Leo XIII’s statements in his encyclical Providentissimus Deus){3} Jeremiah [Jer 1:5], St. John the Baptist [Lk 1:15,41], and St. Joseph [private revelations to Sister Mildred Mary Neuzil] were all conceived with original sin but were baptized in the womb and free of personal sin for their whole lives. St. Paul says “all” have died [1 Cor 15:22] but of course he knows that Enoch [Gen 5:24; Sir 44:16; 49:16; Heb 6:5] and Elijah (YHWH is God) [2 Ki 2:11] did not die but, unlike any other men, were translated into Heaven by God; Enoch was translated at age 365 [Gen 5:23]. Even our Lord died [Mk 15:42; Lk 23:54; Jn 19:31], as did our Lady [Pius XII’s Munificentissimus Deus 14,17-18,20-22,28,35,40].{4}

{1} Let the testimony of the Fathers enlighten anti-Mary, anti-Catholic Protestants:
St. Hippolytus, an antipope who was later reconciled with the Church and martyred, said in Orations Inillud, Dominus pascit me: “He was the ark formed of incorruptible wood. For by this is signified that His tabernacle was exempt from putridity and corruption.” St. Mary is the incorruptible wood.
In A.D. 244, Origen wrote in his work Homily 1: “The Virgin Mother of the Only-begotten of God, is called Mary, worthy of God, immaculate of the immaculate, one of the one.”
Writing in A.D. 370, St. Ephraim the Syrian (deacon and Doctor of the Church) said, “Thou alone and thy Mother are in all things fair; there is no flaw in thee and no stain in thy Mother” [Nisibene Hymns 27:8].
St. Athanasius, Patriarch of Alexandria and Doctor of the Church said, “O noble Virgin, truly you are greater than any other greatness. For who is your equal in greatness, O dwelling place of God the Word? To whom among all creatures shall I compare you, O Virgin? You are greater than them all O Covenant, clothed with purity instead of gold! You are the Ark in which is found the golden vessel containing the true manna, that is, the flesh in which divinity resides" [Homily of the Papyrus of Turin 71:216].
In A.D. 388, Bishop of Milan and Doctor of the Church St. Ambrose wrote, “Mary, a Virgin not only undefiled but a Virgin whom grace has made inviolate, free of every stain of sin” [Sermon 22:30].
In A.D. 4:15, St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo and Doctor Gratiae, wrote in Nature and Grace 4.2.36, “We must except the Holy Virgin Mary, concerning whom I wish to raise no question when it touches the subject of sins, out of honour to the Lord; for from Him we know what abundance of grace for overcoming sin in every particular was conferred upon her who had the merit to conceive and bear Him who undoubtedly had no sin.”
Proclus of Constantinople said, “As he formed her without my stain of her own, so He proceeded from her contracting no stain” [Homily 1].
In Homily VI:11, Theodotus of Ancrya beautifully expressed the truth of the Immaculate Conception: “A virgin, innocent, spotless, free of all defect, untouched, unsullied, holy in soul and body, like a lily sprouting among thorns.”
Jacob of Sarug stated, “[T]he very fact that God has elected her proves that none was ever holier than Mary, if any stain had disfigured her soul, if any other virgin had been purer and holier, God would have selected her and rejected Mary.”
“She is born like the cherubim, she who is of a pure, immaculate clay" [Theotokos of Livias, Panegyric for the feast of the Assumption 5.6].
Andrew of Crete said in A.D. 733, “Today humanity, in all the radiance of her immaculate nobility, receives its ancient beauty. The shame of sin had darkened the splendour and attraction of human nature; but when the Mother of the Fair One par excellence is born, this nature regains in her person its ancient privileges and is fashioned according to a perfect model truly worthy of God.... The reform of our nature begins today and the aged world, subjected to a wholly divine transformation, receives the first fruits of the second creation” [Sermon I, On the Birth of Mary].
In Marracci in S. Germani Mariali, Germanus of Constantinople described the Queen of Heaven as “truly elect, and superior to all, not by the altitude of lofty structures, but as excelling all in the greatness and purity of sublime and divine virtues, and having no affinity with sin whatever.”
Monk and Doctor of the Church St. John Damascene said, “O most blessed loins of Joachim from which came forth a spotless seed! O glorious womb of Anne in which a most holy offspring grew” [Homily 1].
{2} I have proven this from the Scriptures in my tome contra atheist Brian Holtz. The Son is the same essence as the Father: “All things whatsoever that the Father has are Mine; All Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine” [Jn 16:15; 17:10]. The Son was not created because He represents God in His substance and no created substance can do that because the essence of God cannot be known through any creature. That is the message of Col 1:15 and Heb 1:3, which calls Christ the perfect image who represents God’s very substance: “the splendor of His glory, and figure of His substance.” I told my good friend, a Jehovah’s Witness, why Jesus is God and therefore is not St. Michael the Archangel:
St. Michael does not rebuke demons but leaves that responsibility to the Lord [Jude 9], and Jesus is the Lord who fulfills that role [Mt 12:28; Mk 1:34]. Why does the writer [of What Does the Bible Really Teach?] call Jesus Lord in the penultimate sentence if the Lord is one [Dt 6:4] and Jesus is supposedly not God? Of course, he is forced to because he must submit to St. Paul's teaching that Jesus Christ is Lord [1 Cor 8:6]. Since Jesus Christ is Lord, the Father is Lord, and there is only one Lord [Is 45:5-6], then Jesus and the Father are truly one [Jn 10:30] in the sense of being consubstantial (of the same substance, of the same essence) and therefore just as the Father is God, Jesus is God. Since God was not created and Jesus is God, Jesus is not a creature! Since Jesus is not a creature and St. Michael is a spirit creature, Jesus is not St. Michael the archangel! Now, Jesus is omniscient, as is the plain meaning of Colossians 2:3's affirmation that in Jesus "are hidden all treasures of wisdom and knowledge." Since Jesus is omniscient and no angel is omniscient, Jesus is not St. Michael the archangel! The rhetorical question of Heb 1:5—"to which of the angels did He ever say: 'You are My Son; today, I have become Your Father'?"—has the answer "none." Heb 1:6 says, "Let all God's angels worship Him." Worship in the sense of latria is to be paid to God alone, not an angel who is a creature and not Creator, so Jesus is to be worshipped as God by all the faithful. Now the writer, by virtue of being a Jehovah's Witness, professes that Jesus is Lord by his participation in the divine dominion as God's first and foremost creature, but this does not suffice. Since God alone naturally (not by grace) possesses the glory of happiness, one cannot call any creature "the Lord of glory." God, "The Lord of mighty deeds, He is the king of glory" [Ps 23:10] and so when 1 Cor 2:8 says "had they known, never could they have crucified the Lord of glory," He who was crucified is God, and so Jesus is God, thus Jesus is not a creature, thus Jesus is not St. Michael the archangel.
{3} Pope Leo XIII said “The opinion of the Fathers is also of very great weight when they treat of these matters [the interpretation of Sacred Scripture] in their capacity of doctors, unofficially; not only because they excel in their knowledge of revealed doctrine and in their acquaintance with many things which are useful in understanding the apostolic Books, but because they are men of eminent sanctity and of ardent zeal for the truth, on whom God has bestowed a more ample measure of His light. Wherefore the expositor should make it his duty to follow their footsteps with all reverence, and to use their labours with intelligent appreciation. But he must not on that account consider that it is forbidden when just cause exists, to push inquiry and exposition beyond what the Fathers have done; provided he carefully observes the rule so wisely laid down by St. Augustine-not to depart from the literal and obvious sense, except only where reason makes it untenable or necessity requires; a rule to which it is the more necessary to adhere strictly in these times, when the thirst for novelty and unrestrained freedom of thought make the danger of error most real and proximate.”
{4} From the Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius XII: Munificentissimus Deus – Defining the Dogma of the Assumption (November 1, 1950) at the Vatican.va website:
14. Christ's faithful, through the teaching and the leadership of their pastors, have learned from the sacred books that the Virgin Mary, throughout the course of her earthly pilgrimage, led a life troubled by cares, hardships, and sorrows, and that, moreover, what the holy old man Simeon had foretold actually came to pass, that is, that a terribly sharp sword pierced her heart as she stood under the cross of her divine Son, our Redeemer. In the same way, it was not difficult for them to admit that the great Mother of God, like her only begotten Son, had actually passed from this life. But this in no way prevented them from believing and from professing openly that her sacred body had never been subject to the corruption of the tomb, and that the august tabernacle of the Divine Word had never been reduced to dust and ashes. Actually, enlightened by divine grace and moved by affection for her, God's Mother and our own dearest Mother, they have contemplated in an ever clearer light the wonderful harmony and order of those privileges which the most provident God has lavished upon this loving associate of our Redeemer, privileges which reach such an exalted plane that, except for her, nothing created by God other than the human nature of Jesus Christ has ever reached this level.
17. In the liturgical books which deal with the feast either of the dormition or of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin there are expressions that agree in testifying that, when the Virgin Mother of God passed from this earthly exile to heaven, what happened to her sacred body was, by the decree of divine Providence, in keeping with the dignity of the Mother of the Word Incarnate, and with the other privileges she had been accorded. Thus, to cite an illustrious example, this is set forth in that sacramentary which Adrian I, our predecessor of immortal memory, sent to the Emperor Charlemagne. These words are found in this volume: "Venerable to us, O Lord, is the festivity of this day on which the holy Mother of God suffered temporal death, but still could not be kept down by the bonds of death, who has begotten your Son our Lord incarnate from herself."(11)
18. What is here indicated in that sobriety characteristic of the Roman liturgy is presented more clearly and completely in other ancient liturgical books. To take one as an example, the Gallican sacramentary designates this privilege of Mary's as "an ineffable mystery all the more worthy of praise as the Virgin's Assumption is something unique among men." And, in the Byzantine liturgy, not only is the Virgin Mary's bodily Assumption connected time and time again with the dignity of the Mother of God, but also with the other privileges, and in particular with the virginal motherhood granted her by a singular decree of God's Providence. "God, the King of the universe, has granted you favors that surpass nature. As he kept you a virgin in childbirth, thus he has kept your body incorrupt in the tomb and has glorified it by his divine act of transferring it from the tomb."(12)
20. However, since the liturgy of the Church does not engender the Catholic faith, but rather springs from it, in such a way that the practices of the sacred worship proceed from the faith as the fruit comes from the tree, it follows that the holy Fathers and the great Doctors, in the homilies and sermons they gave the people on this feast day, did not draw their teaching from the feast itself as from a primary source, but rather they spoke of this doctrine as something already known and accepted by Christ's faithful. They presented it more clearly. They offered more profound explanations of its meaning and nature, bringing out into sharper light the fact that this feast shows, not only that the dead body of the Blessed Virgin Mary remained incorrupt, but that she gained a triumph out of death, her heavenly glorification after the example of her only begotten Son, Jesus Christ-truths that the liturgical books had frequently touched upon concisely and briefly.
21. Thus St. John Damascene, an outstanding herald of this traditional truth, spoke out with powerful eloquence when he compared the bodily Assumption of the loving Mother of God with her other prerogatives and privileges. "It was fitting that she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles. It was fitting that the spouse, whom the Father had taken to himself, should live in the divine mansions. It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross and who had thereby received into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had escaped in the act of giving birth to him, should look upon him as he sits with the Father. It was fitting that God's Mother should possess what belongs to her Son, and that she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and as the handmaid of God."(17)
22. These words of St. John Damascene agree perfectly with what others have taught on this same subject. Statements no less clear and accurate are to be found in sermons delivered by Fathers of an earlier time or of the same period, particularly on the occasion of this feast. And so, to cite some other examples, St. Germanus of Constantinople considered the fact that the body of Mary, the virgin Mother of God, was incorrupt and had been taken up into heaven to be in keeping, not only with her divine motherhood, but also with the special holiness of her virginal body. "You are she who, as it is written, appears in beauty, and your virginal body is all holy, all chaste, entirely the dwelling place of God, so that it is henceforth completely exempt from dissolution into dust. Though still human, it is changed into the heavenly life of incorruptibility, truly living and glorious, undamaged and sharing in perfect life."(18) And another very ancient writer asserts: "As the most glorious Mother of Christ, our Savior and God and the giver of life and immortality, has been endowed with life by him, she has received an eternal incorruptibility of the body together with him who has raised her up from the tomb and has taken her up to himself in a way known only to him."(19)
28. Thus, during the earliest period of scholastic theology, that most pious man, Amadeus, Bishop of Lausarme, held that the Virgin Mary's flesh had remained incorrupt-for it is wrong to believe that her body has seen corruption-because it was really united again to her soul and, together with it, crowned with great glory in the heavenly courts. "For she was full of grace and blessed among women. She alone merited to conceive the true God of true God, whom as a virgin, she brought forth, to whom as a virgin she gave milk, fondling him in her lap, and in all things she waited upon him with loving care."(26)
35. In like manner St. Francis de Sales, after asserting that it is wrong to doubt that Jesus Christ has himself observed, in the most perfect way, the divine commandment by which children are ordered to honor their parents, asks this question: "What son would not bring his mother back to life and would not bring her into paradise after her death if he could?"(38) And St. Alphonsus writes that "Jesus did not wish to have the body of Mary corrupted after death, since it would have redounded to his own dishonor to have her virginal flesh, from which he himself had assumed flesh, reduced to dust."(39)
40. Hence the revered Mother of God, from all eternity joined in a hidden way with Jesus Christ in one and the same decree of predestination,(47) immaculate in her conception, a most perfect virgin in her divine motherhood, the noble associate of the divine Redeemer who has won a complete triumph over sin and its consequences, finally obtained, as the supreme culmination of her privileges, that she should be preserved free from the corruption of the tomb and that, like her own Son, having overcome death, she might be taken up body and soul to the glory of heaven where, as Queen, she sits in splendor at the right hand of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages.(48)

Endnotes
11. Sacramentarium Gregorianum.
12. Menaei Totius Anni.
17. St. John Damascene, Encomium in Dormitionem Dei Genetricis Semperque Virginis Mariae, Hom. II, n. 14; cf. also ibid, n. 3.
18. St. Germanus of Constantinople, In Sanctae Dei Genetricis Dormitionem, Sermo I.
19. The Encomium in Dormitionem Sanctissimae Dominae Nostrate Deiparae Semperque Virginis Mariae, attributed to St. Modestus of Jerusalem, n. 14.
26. Amadeus of Lausanne, De Beatae Virginis Obitu, Assumptione in Caelum Exaltatione ad Filii Dexteram.
38. Oeuvres de St. Francois De Sales, sermon for the Feast of the Assumption.
39. St. Alphonsus Liguori, The Glories of Mary, Part 2, d. 1.
47. The Bull Ineffabilis Deus, loc. cit., p. 599.48. I Tim 1:17.

No comments: