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Mary’s Immaculate Conception

Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary was formulated with absolute precision and for all time in the Bull of Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, on December 8, 1854. The essential words of the definition are these:

The most blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception, was by the singular grace and privilege of almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin. This doctrine is revealed by God and therefore must be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful. (1)

As is evident from the terms of this proposition, there are two constitutive elements in the definition: 1. a declaration of the privilege itself of the Immaculate Conception; 2. a statement of the certitude of that privilege.

1. Declaration of the Privilege

In order the better to understand what is contained within this singular privilege of Christ’s Mother, one may examine the component parts, or “causes” of the Immaculate Conception. These are:

a) Material cause, or subject. Obviously, the subject of the Immaculate Conception is the person of the Blessed Virgin Mary, considered in the first instant of her conception in the womb of her mother. A human begins to be, in the true sense, at the moment the soul is created by God and infused into the fetus, and this is the moment of animation. That is called Mary’s “passive conception.” Passive conception is the terminus of the parents’ generative act, which act is, by way of contradistinction, called “active conception.” (2)

Before the human fetus is informed by a rational soul, the conception is known as “inchoate,” while from the instant of the animation of the fetus, the conception is “consummated.” (3) It is solely when the fetus is consummately conceived that a person has come into being. At precisely what stage of fetal development the soul is created and infused by God has always provided theologians with material for subtle discussion, but modern writers commonly favor the opinion that it takes place at the very first moment of fecundation. The definition of the Immaculate Conception offers no intimation as to the official teaching of the Church on the point.

Surely it would be untenable to argue in favor of any sanctification of Mary prior to the animation of the fetus, for until the moment of the substantial union between soul and body there is not yet a person, and hence no possible subject of grace. Only a rational person can be sanctified. The privilege accordingly affects uniquely the person of the Virgin, and not merely the soul nor merely the virginal body of the Mother of God. The initial sanctity of Mary concerns exclusively her personal conception achieved in sanctifying grace. Her freedom from the stain of all sin is identified with her being and her personality. (4)

b) Formal cause, or object. This aspect of the privilege of the Immaculate Conception concerns the fact of the preservation of the Virgin from all stain of original sin. The definition directly denies that she contracted the guilt of Adam’s curse, and so indirectly it affirms, because of the diametrical opposition between sin and grace, that she possessed sanctifying grace from the first instance of her personal existence. Original sin, according to the settled teaching of the Church, is the deprivation of grace inflicted upon the posterity of Adam as a consequence of his personal sin; it is a radical enmity between a sinful mankind and the Creator. (5) Therefore, directly to exempt Mary from this essential effect of original sin is indirectly to affirm that she enjoyed an original sanctity through grace, with its accompanying adoptive filiation as a child of God. She was ever on terms of perfect friendship with God. (6)

Similarly, the privilege of the Immaculate Conception is expressed negatively when it is stated that Mary was always without original sin. It is expressed positively when it is stated that she always had sanctifying grace. While in the words of the very definition of the doctrine the formula employs the negative statement, yet in other cognate sections of the Bull Ineffabilis Deus the positive aspect receives due emphasis. A like duality of expression of the Virgin’s sanctity, two sides of the one coin, appears in the writings of the Fathers of the Church and of later theologians, wherein sometimes is emphasized the negation of all sin, while again is stressed rather the positive fullness of grace. (7)

The angels and our first parents, prior to the angelic and human falls from grace, were immune from any sin, actual or original. But their immunity is to be distinguished from that proper to the Mother of God, for she was preserved immune. As will be seen in greater detail later, the immunity attributed to her was divinely provided for in view of the merits of Christ, which were applied to her in an exceptional and unique manner. She was redeemed. (8) The grace which adorned the angelic nature, like that granted to Adam and Eve, was “owed” to them in the hypothesis that God had decreed the elevation of the angels and of our first parents to the supernatural order. Having so to speak “obligated” Himself to give the means by which alone such an elevation could be realized, God accordingly constituted the angels and the first man and woman in a state of sanctifying grace. (9) But in the case of Mary, although in fact she was, in virtue of the privilege of the Immaculate Conception, constituted in grace from the first moment of her existence, nevertheless as a lineal descendant of Adam’s infected nature, she would have been conceived in sin, had not God intervened to preserve her. (10) This miraculous preservation will be considered at length in a subsequent part of this article.

Finally, the immunity of the Blessed Virgin Mary from the stain of man’s primal sin is specifically different from the freedom possessed by her divine Son. (11) He had no human father according to the flesh, for the active principle of His carnal generation was the overshadowing action of the Holy Spirit, in virtue of which His Mother conceived Him. (12) Since no seed of Adam begot Christ, there can be no question of tainted human nature in any way infecting Him. Surely the Redeemer of mankind needed no redemption!

c) Efficient cause of the privilege of the Immaculate Conception is God, or rather His great love for the woman destined to be the Mother of the Incarnate Word. This divine benevolent love motivated God to preserve Mary from the stain of all sin, in view of her sacred Maternity and through the merits of Christ her Son. This wondrous immunity effected by God’s love and special providence still numbered Mary among the redeemed, but with the unique modality of redemption that might better be called “preredemption” or “redemption in a more sublime manner” than that accorded to all other children of Adam. While in the case of the rest of mankind the merits of the Savior are applied in suchwise as to free them from the guilt of original sin already contracted at their conception; in Mary’s case, on the contrary, the fruit of Christ’s redeeming life and death was applied in suchwise as to preserve her from ever contracting Adam’s guilt. Accordingly, this gratuitous concession on the part of God did not infringe at all on the formality of the Savior’s redemptive role. (13)

While the redemption obtained by other humans is properly described as “restorative” or “liberative,” that of Mary is simply known as “preservative,” and is incomparably of a nobler kind.

In this light it is evident that the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception does not derogate from the universality of Christ’s Redemption, for Mary, although immaculately conceived, was still redeemed by her Son, whose theandric life and piacular death contain the meritorious cause of His Mother’s singular grace. It was the difficulty of a seeming derogation from the universality of Christ’s redemption which had prevented theologians prior to the Franciscan, Duns Scotus (+ 1308), from affirming the truth of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. It is the particular glory of Scotus, in regard to the entire doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, that he demonstrated not only the nonrepugnance of the dogma in the context of mankind’s original sin, but its nonrepugnance as well in the context of Christ’s universal Redemption. Other theologians denied that Mary was conceived in grace because they were persuaded that to admit it would be to detract from the honor due Christ. It remained for Scotus, on the contrary, to show that by denying the Immaculate Conception one indeed would derogate from the excellence of Christ insofar as He is a perfect Redeemer. (14)

d) Final cause, in the sense of the ultimate reason for the Immaculate Conception, was that Mary might be a fully worthy instrument for the accomplishment of the Incarnation. (15) As to the dogmatic definition itself, its ultimate reason was, as the Bull declares, “the honor of the most holy and undivided Trinity, the adornment and dignity of the Virgin Mother of God, and the exaltation of the Catholic Faith and Christian religion.” (16)

2. Certitude of the Privilege

The Bull Ineffabilis Deus defines that the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is

“revealed by God and therefore must be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful.” (17) Since this truth is, according to the words of the Sovereign Pontiff, a revealed one, it follows that it must be formally contained in the deposit of divine revelation, and not merely contained virtually therein as a theological conclusion the minor premise of which is human reason. While Pope Pius IX seems to indicate that the doctrine is formally revealed, still he does not specify whether that revelation has been made to us in an explicit manner by God, that is to say, in an express and direct manner, or whether it has been revealed only implicitly, that is to say, indirectly and obscurely. That question the Pontiff left to the deliberations of theologians, (18) restricting himself to declaring that the Immaculate Conception is a truth revealed by God. That something is in fact contained in the deposit of revelation is one thing: the way in which it is contained is another thing. Since God can reveal a truth explicitly or implicitly, it follows accordingly that this truth itself can likewise be included in revelation either explicitly or implicitly. (19)

According to the principles of the Catholic Faith, all revealed truth is enveloped in Scripture and Tradition, and one must accept, “with like pious affection and reverence” the two sources of revelation. (20) Hence the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is not merely deduced from revelation without actually being revealed; nor is it some dogmatic fact in some way only connected with a revealed dogma to which it stands related; nor is it a new doctrine. The truth of Mary’s Immaculate Conception is undeniably one given by God to the Apostles in revelation, and delivered by them to the Church. (21) The certitude of the doctrine is rooted not merely in the authoritative teaching office of the Catholic Church, making use of Scripture and Apostolic Tradition, but the writings of the Fathers and later theologians, together with the common consent of the vast body of the faithful, all offer irrefragable testimony to that certitude.

Adversaries of the Doctrine

Only non-Catholics stand opposed to the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. Among them must be numbered the schismatic Greek “Orthodox” Church, the “Old Catholics” founded by Dollinger late in the nineteenth century, Protestants of all sects, Rationalists, and divers other groupings. All these object to the doctrine itself, maintaining that it is no part of the Christian religion, and so reject the definition as contrary to revealed truth. As grounds for refusal to accept the Immaculate Conception, spokesmen for the objectors allege the same difficulties offered by adversaries prior to the solemn definition in 1854. This contrary position is expressed succinctly in the question of the Protestant theologian Harnack: “If this truth is a revealed one, when was it revealed and to whom?” (22)

Tenor of the Bull “Ineffabilis Deus”

In his solemn pontifical document, Pope Pius IX defined the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception to be of faith for Catholics in virtue of his supreme power as Vicar of Christ, but at the same time he acknowledged that the definition reflected the universal mind of the Church’s hierarchy and of the Catholic faithful, for their opinion had been asked for and found favorable. The Sovereign Pontiff, by way of preamble to the definition proper, stated that God from all eternity chose a Mother for His Son, and because He loved her more than He loved any other creature He, therefore, endowed her with the gift of freedom from all stain of sin, a gift most becoming to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Pope reminded the Catholic world of the enduring attention which the Church down through the centuries had devoted to the development of the doctrine, even to the extent of having instituted a feast of the Conception and in other ways encouraging the piety of the faithful toward a cult of the unique privilege of Mary. The doctrine was favored by popes prior to Pius IX, and Alexander VII explicitly declared that the Immaculate Conception might safely be defended as Catholic truth. (23) A similar opinion was consistently held by various religious communities and eminent theologians, as well as by many synods throughout the world. The Pope further mentioned in the Bull Ineffabilis Deus that the cogency of the favorable testimony of the most ancient sources in the Oriental Church contributed in no small measure to the advance in the way toward definition.

Pius IX singled out the force of the argument derived from the writings of the Fathers of the Church who so greatly exalted the sanctity and dignity of the Mother of God, referring to her immunity from sin and applying to her apposite sections of Scripture, especially the references to “the woman” in Gen. 3:15, and the salutation of the angel to Mary narrated in the Gospel of St. Luke 1:28. The traditional writings of the most renowned Fathers described Mary’s plenitude of grace as a kind of climax of all God’s miracles in the order of grace. This conviction of Mary’s high holiness and immunity from the stain of sin was shared by the generations of simple faithful as well as by the Catholic clergy of the ages, all of whom found pious consolation in venerating the Immaculate Mother of God. Countless petitions were addressed to the Holy See requesting a formal definition of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.

In concluding his Bull, Pius IX spoke of his own efforts with regard to the doctrine, pointing out that once elevated to the Chair of Peter he longed most ardently to promote the honor of Mary in every way possible and to enhance her cult by making her singular prerogatives more widely known. To the achievement of this end the Pontiff added that he had instituted a special commission of cardinals to examine the questions connected with the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, and had dispatched letters to the bishops of the world in this connection in February, 1849. In reply to these Papal inquiries, the bishops confirmed the universal piety of their people toward this privilege of the Blessed Virgin, annexing their own petitions that the Immaculate Conception be defined by the Roman Pontiff. The special commission of cardinals had returned a like decision.

Accordingly, being unwilling further to delay a solemn pronouncement, and after consultation with a consistory of the cardinals, together with much private and public prayer imploring the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Pope determined to declare and define that the doctrine of Mary’s Immaculate Conception is one of faith.

Finally, the Supreme Pontiff affirmed his joy and gratitude that it was granted to him to offer this honor to the Mother of Christ, trusting that she would continue by her patronage to aid the Church yet more in its divine work. He exhorted the faithful to increase their veneration and piety toward “the Virgin conceived without sin.” (24)

Argument from Scripture

Support for the dogma of the Immaculate Conception as found in the sacred writings of the Old and the New Testament is neither abundant nor coercive. (25) Although this truth is contained implicitly rather than explicitly in Scripture, yet when the indications therein comprised are carefully examined in the lucid context of Tradition and authority, it becomes manifest how intimately Mary’s immunity from all sin is joined to the inspired account of God’s plan for man’s redemption. As the sharp lines of a valley below may become apparent only when the climber stands upon a summit, similarly the profound content of God’s word awaited the clarification of the passing centuries. (26)

Pertinent texts both in the Old and the New Testament are classically considered either as principal or as ancillary. The former are clearer and more forceful and so lead more immediately to a support of the doctrine; the latter are less cogent. The characteristic of the Old Testament: foreshadowing the brightness of the New Testament and representing subsequent figures through types and prefigures, is quite evident with regard to the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. (27) The eminent Martin Jugie has observed that there are some twenty-four places in Scripture which have been cited as favoring the dogma, and that these various allusions have perhaps been subjected to the least critical analysis of all proofs of the doctrine. (28)

I. Principal Scriptural Proofs

A. In the Old Testament

The abiding enmity between the serpent, the devil, and the woman, Mary, as

developed in the exegesis of the text of Gen. 3:15: “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel,” is commonly offered in support of the Immaculate Conception. Whatever differences may exist among Scripture scholars as to the correct interpretation of this important passage, there can be no serious doubt but that the Blessed Virgin is “the woman” mentioned. (29) Nor can any construction placed upon the famous ipsa pronoun used by the Vulgate, derogate from the force of this text, since the essential notion of Mary’s utter freedom from any diabolical dominion is sufficiently indicated in the phrase, “I will put enmities….” (30) The Blessed Virgin is the woman whose radical opposition to all that Satan stands for demands a perfect immunity from sin, specifically from original sin, and the reference to her is in a literal sense. (31) The enmity described requires that Mary be finally a complete victor over the devil and his snares, and this she would not have been if for one instant she had been subjected to Satan through the slavery of sin. The crushing of the serpent’s head can mean nothing else than a perfect immunity from his evil stain. (32)

The New Eve, the Mother of the Messiah, and Lucifer, the author of sin, are in every way enemies, with the conquest divinely assured to be Mary’s. At no time were these hostile forces as allies; at no time was the Virgin Mother a vanquished satellite of God’s proud rival. Sanctifying grace alone establishes man in God’s friendship and, by the same token, constitutes him Satan’s bitter foe. The absence of that grace from the soul, effected by sin, ranges one in the ranks of the Prince of darkness by removing one from a share in the divine nature, the essential function of God’s grace. Had there been an instant, however brief, when Mary’s soul was stripped of grace, then Scripture could not properly refer to Mary as one who vanquished the very personification of evil. Whether Eve be considered as a type of the Blessed Virgin, or whether the woman described is Mary in a more literal acceptation, there is had a clear antithesis between good and evil, as between the state of God’s Mother and Eve after the Fall; as between Christ the New Adam, and the old Adam, enmeshed in sin. (33)

The conjoint victory of the Redeemer and His Mother over the devil is the divine reply to the common defeat of the first parents through the wiles of the serpent and their own malice. It is a perfect parallelism and one that has traditionally been invoked to prove the Immaculate Conception. (34) Mary’s triumph was in virtue of her Son’s. (35) The most solid support of Mary’s unique prerogative is thus based on one and the same divine decree, establishing her predestination to a singular grace together with the absolute and universal primacy of her Son. (36)

Neither Christ, the Seed of the woman, nor the woman herself, could for even a moment be overcome by evil, for then the victory would not be entire. The probative force of this argument in support of the Immaculate Conception is, when thus understood, considered as strongly suasive in the conclusions presented by the Pontifical Commission for the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, constituted by Pius IX, and reporting its findings on July 10, 1852. (37)

B. In the New Testament

When the angelic messenger Gabriel greeted the Virgin who was divinely destined to be the Mother of the Savior, he spoke words manifestive of a tremendous miracle and mystery in the order of grace: “And the angel being come in, said unto her: ‘Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: Blessed art thou among women.'” (38)

While of itself this salutation, considered in text and context, is not a complete and explicit proof from Scripture of the immunity of Mary from original sin, yet it is undeniably an implicit or equivalent statement of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. (39) “Full of grace” can mean nothing other than “entirely replenished with God’s love” — “in nowise deficient.” And the phrase “the Lord is with thee” must similarly mean that Mary was never without Him and that the devil was never with her, as he indeed would have been had she been conceived in sin. (40)

When subjected to philological analysis the sense of this important text adds immensely to the general force of the scriptural argument, for how could Mary have been filled with God’s grace in the strict rigor implied in plenitude, and yet have been without that grace at some moment of her existence? The message of the Annunciation can mean only that the Virgin possessed as perfect a degree of grace as would be possible for a mere creature, and that this unparalleled sanctity is complete both as to its proper intensity and as to its extension in time. The English rendering “Hail, full of grace” is from the Greek original… and the past participle… correctly signifies not merely the preterit quality of what is modified by it, but implies as well unvarying continuity.

A paraphrase of the first four words of the angelic salutation might well be: “Greetings to you who are so adorned with divine gifts and supernal goods, so replete with God’s love and friendship that its very fullness is contained in you.” In other words, such an immensity of grace was infused into the soul of the Mother of God that no other human can be compared to her by reason of this holiness, and this unique privilege has always been hers. It is also noteworthy that Gabriel is not described as exclaiming, “Hail, Mary, full of grace,” but simply as saying, “Hail, full of grace.” Thus the “full of grace” is used in a substantive manner, as a title peculiarly her own, her God-given name, somewhat the same as she spoke of herself to Bernadette at Lourdes, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” As proper to her alone, this appellation “full of grace” is not some extrinsic designation; rather it is her property in a radical and intrinsic sense at all moments of her existence. There was no period of time, however so brief, in which she was not “full of grace.” (41)

To this initial greeting the archangel added “the Lord is with thee”…. Correlated with what has immediately preceded, these words indicate an unqualified and simple union of Mary, the beloved one of God, with the Lord. No reference is contained either in the text itself or in the context to any temporal limitation; rather the sense is entirely a general one: whenever Mary was, then God was with her and she with Him in His grace. (42) Had she, on the contrary, been even for the most infinitesimal period of time under the domination of sin, there would have been some interruption of this communion with God, and accordingly the archangel’s universal declaration of her grace would have been itself faulty. Either the words contain an affirmation of the Immaculate Conception or else they are meaningless.

The final phrase of the salutation regarding the sanctity of the Mother of the Messiah — “Blessed art thou among women” —means that she is not only blessed in herself, but blessed in comparison with all other women. This Hebraism bears the connotation of a superlative degree of blessedness, so that, by antonomasia she is the blessed one of all women as a consequence of the divine Maternity and its concomitant grace. (43) This utterly unique office carries with it a correspondingly unique infusion of grace, a blessing that is an essential link in the chain of causality that will reach its culmination in the Redemption, blotting out the curse visited upon mankind by the sin of the first parents. This scriptural reference manifests how fitting it is that she whose own gracious life was the divinely chosen instrument for the Incarnation, should herself be totally free from the very fault her Son came to remove. As will be seen elsewhere in this article, this divine Maternity is always the point of reference in treating the reasonableness of the Immaculate Conception. (44)

The basic antithesis between the blessing of God and His curse, with reference to the immunity from original sin, appears frequently in Scripture. It is a familiar note. (45) This curse, a fundamental alienation from God’s friendship, is the consequence of the primal sin and as such is its chief penalty. As the one sin of Adam is the unique and ultimate cause of the blight visited upon all men descended from Adam by carnal generation, and is on that account called by antonomasia “the sin,” similarly its concomitant punishment is called “the curse.” Conversely, Mary, who is by antonomasia called “blessed,” must be herself immune from that sin which caused that curse. She cannot be both so completely blessed and yet be, at any moment, subject to the very opposite of blessing: God’s curse.

Additional support for this antithetical parallelism is found in the words of God addressed to the serpent: “Because thou hast done this thing, thou art cursed….” (46) As this malediction falling upon the devil was the outcome of his sinful deceit, so the blessing bestowed upon Mary was the reward of an immunity from all sin. As the author of sin was cursed, contrariwise she who co-operated so intimately in the divine plan of salvation is crowned with divine blessing. The same inference is readily deduced from the greeting of Elizabeth to Mary at the Visitation: “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.” (47) The Virgin is called “blessed” in somewhat the same way as her Son, observing, of course, a due analogy of proportion between the relative plenitude of grace in each case. The implication is therefore clear that Mary was always entirely free from the baneful curse identified with original sin.

The probative force of these cited passages of the New Testament, while affording a highly effective argument of convenience in favor of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, is rather suasive than apodictic. According to some very competent scholars, the argument taken from these chief texts in favor of the doctrine is not as strong as that of the Protoevangelium. (48) Be that as it may, the clearest proof from the inspired books would seem to be derived from understanding the Old Testament as the type and foreshadowing of the New Testament; the latter is the perfection of the former, just as Mary is the new and sinless Eve. (49) What is said of “the woman” in Gen. 3:15 finds its fulfillment only in Mary. (50)

II. Ancillary Scriptural Proofs

A. In the Old Testament

There are a number of texts in the Old Testament traditionally cited, with varying degrees of appositeness, as supporting the freedom of the Mother of God from the stain of Adam’s sin. They are of minor moment as compared with the principal passage of Genesis. Among the more notable examples of these might be mentioned: “Thou art all fair, O my love, and there is not a spot in thee” (51) — “Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled” (52) — “the Highest himself hath founded her” (53) —”For wisdom will not enter into a malicious soul, nor dwell in a body subject to sins.” (54) Perhaps the best cognate text is “the most High hath sanctified his own tabernacle.” (55)

These and other like texts are employed in an accommodated sense by the Church’s liturgy when the Blessed Virgin is the subject of the prayer, and specifically for the feast of the Immaculate Conception in the Roman Missal and the Breviary. Since the manner in which the Church prays is a criterion of its belief, it follows that the use of these various sections of Scripture is a forcible argument in favor of their actually referring to Mary’s privilege in the order of grace. Because these excerpts from the Old Testament, although in themselves of minor significance, do not place temporal limits to her sanctity, and indeed because several of them intimate that her holiness was established already from the beginning, it may legitimately be concluded that the tenor of the texts is fully consonant with the precise sense of the Immaculate Conception. The application of them to Mary’s immunity is in accordance with the secondary and indirect literal sense of the passages. (56)

B. In the New Testament

The best example of a subsidiary text in the New Testament used to strengthen the general argument in support of the revealed quality of the Immaculate Conception, is that of Apoc. 12: the vision of the woman clothed with the sun, and of the great dragon who is her persecutor. Authors are not agreed as to whether the woman mentioned is the Church, or Mary, or perhaps both. (57)

Accepting the opinion, sufficiently probable, that sees the woman as the Virgin, it can be said that her being “clothed with the sun” is an affirmation of her soul’s grace, since grace is often compared to the light of justice and she is enveloped in radiant light. The stain of sin, on the other hand, is a certain deprivation of splendor marring a soul that is enslaved to anything contrary to the brilliance offered by the light of faith and reason. (58) Sin is a work of darkness because sin results in a stain; sin is found in an act not illumined by the light of reason informed by grace. Such a want of splendor cannot exist in one who is “clothed with the sun.” Moreover, the struggle between the woman and the serpent, destined to end in his defeat, would not have been an unbroken combat if she had, for a time however so brief, been conquered by him.

The devil originally made his effort to overcome Mary when he seduced the first parents, from whom the infection of sin passed down to their posterity, and would indeed have engulfed Mary except for her special preservation through the causality of the Incarnate Word. His humanity taken from Mary and from the earth, became the instrument that turned aside the tide of sin lest it sweep His Mother into the bitter waters flowing from a poisoned source. This is the interpretation of verses 15 and 16 of chapter 12 of Apocalypse:

And the serpent cast out of his mouth after the woman, water as it were a river; that he might cause her to be carried away by the river. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the river, which the dragon cast out of his mouth.

The total context of chapter 12 is, more than anything else, an exaltation of Mary’s spiritual Maternity, but it furnishes a confirmation as well as an interpretation of the enmity between the woman and the serpent narrated in the Protoevangelium contained in Genesis. (59) Mary was protected from falling under the serpent’s influence through the redemptive act of Christ, becoming a satisfying victim for mankind in accordance with the prophecy of Isa. 53:6. The piacular death of the Savior had a special efficacy for the Mother of the Messiah, and this is why the serpent, the dragon, in the words of Apoc. 12:17: “… was angry against the woman: and went to make war with the rest of her seed….”

This passage in the last of the inspired books thus is a classical argument, of perhaps a lesser weight, to confirm Mary’s immunity from original sin. It is the fulfillment of the promise contained in the first of the inspired books, for this promised relief on behalf of a suffering human race is accomplished, according to St. John, in the Mother of Christ and in her seed: the sacred humanity, and each person, the Virgin and her Son, enjoyed freedom from all sin. This conjoint sinlessness, Christ’s natural to His divinity, Mary’s special to her humanity, was a requisite to their conjoint victory over Satan by their sufferings. The doctrine of the Coredemption thus becomes a valuable asset in a proper understanding of the meaning of the Immaculate Conception. “She joined her own heroic sufferings to those of her beloved Son for the salvation of mankind, and the eternal Father was pleased to accept them for that purpose in subordination to those of the unique Redeemer.” (60)

Argument from Tradition

I. Force of this Argument

The question as to whether or not a particular truth is actually contained in the deposit of divine revelation, while obviously related to the question of the profession of that truth by the Church, is nevertheless of a different order. The former is of the objective order: it is (or is not) a truth irrespective of what steps have been taken by the magisterium of the Church to render an authoritative statement on the point at issue. The latter is of a subjective order, for a public acceptance of a doctrine by the Church makes explicit and personal what was hitherto implicit and impersonal. While it is undoubtedly true that often these two orders do in fact parallel each other, and tend more and more to do so in the measure that the implicit content of revelation is made consciously explicit, still it is not necessary that such parallelism be always realized. One need not suppose that he will find in the subjective order all the content of the objective order. (61)

In keeping with this preliminary principle, and by way of application of it to the special question of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, it is well to remark that whether there was or was not an explicit belief in the doctrine from the earliest days of the Church is not something that can be resolved a priori. Rather it is a question of historical fact to be determined by a perusal of the sources, wherein alone can be discovered such evidence as will afford a reply to a factual question. In this connection we may fittingly invoke the philosophical axiom which affirms that objective evidence is the ultimate criterion of truth, joined to the judgment of the Church as to what truth is divinely revealed.

The word “dogma” has the meaning of something fixed and determined in doctrine, and to merit this title a proposition must be indeed revealed by God, and as such proposed by the Church to the faithful as a truth to be believed. Once so pronounced, it becomes immutably established. The transition of a truth from the objective order to the subjective: from implicit to explicit levels of knowledge, does not mean that any new thing has been revealed, for revelation terminated for all time with the passing of the last of the Apostles. To the Church has been committed this deposit of total truth, and the office of Christ’s Church is to guard and to interpret it. While there can, therefore, be no increase in what is contained in that treasury, yet there can surely be an elucidation of obscure truths with the passing of the centuries. The seed can, in a propitious climate, produce its fruit, and this climate is sometimes created by the rise of heresies which can alone be refuted by a firm declaration by the Church; sometimes it is created by controversies among theologians; or again by a development of a special piety on the part of the Church’s faithful. In all these instances it must be held that the Holy Spirit is at work, guiding and enlightening the teaching function of the Church. There is never a change in doctrine. There are advances in the same line of truth.

In applying this central notion to the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, it becomes evident in the light of investigation that this dogma was not at first expressed in technical and precise terms, but was universally believed as a part of her great purity and holiness, and that with the unfolding of the centuries, it became more distinctly Mary’s prerogative. A careful and recent study on the problem of the evolution of this doctrine has stressed that in the case of the Immaculate Conception the growth of explicit belief is to be attributed rather to the inherent power of the doctrine than to exterior forces at work. The truth of the Virgin’s immunity from the stain of original sin was “endowed with a victorious vitality which was nurtured by divine solicitude.” (62)

Whatever may have been the inherent tendency of the doctrine, it cannot be gainsaid that immense impetus was given the development of its explicit modality by the forces of controversy, particularly in the stages prior to the final definition. In the first ages of the Church there were no doubts raised, since the reality of the Immaculate Conception formed, together with the divine Maternity and its necessary sanctity, one complex mosaic. It was not until the twelfth and thirteenth centuries that the question was thrown into issue in the schools of theology, and by about the middle of the sixteenth century scarcely anyone any longer called the Immaculate Conception into doubt. (63)

The value of the argument from tradition, based on the writings of the most distinguished ecclesiastical writers, together with the emphasis placed on the sanctity of Mary in the liturgy of the Church, affords a very precious adjunct to the scriptural evidence in favor of the Immaculate Conception. Indeed, independently of the interpretation and comment of the Fathers, the inspired texts remain of limited force in this respect. (64) For this reason, the current of tradition must be painstakingly examined in order to discover in what way and with what degree of unanimity the various streams of Catholic thought formed the universal conviction that Mary was conceived in grace. Founded ultimately upon revelation, written and oral, and coupled with the public prayer of the Church, these sources prepared the way for the formal definition of the Immaculate Conception. The historical and liturgical development of the doctrine is conveniently divided into chronological periods.

II. Period of Implicit Faith—Up to the Council of Ephesus (431)

a) Parallelism Between Eve and Mary

This oft-repeated comparison between the first woman, the sinful Eve, who was seduced by the serpent, and the Second Eve, the blessed Mary, whose vital role in man’s redemption made her the “Socia” of the Savior, is rooted in a similar antithesis between Adam and Christ. Thus St. Paul declares, “For as by the disobedience of one man, many were made sinners; so also by the obedience of one, many shall be made just.” (65) The juxtaposition of the two women, one vanquished by Satan, the other victorious over him, flows as a natural corollary to the disobedience of the old Adam and the perfect submission of the New Adam, the just Redeemer.

Perhaps the first to invoke this beautiful antithesis was St. Justin (100-167):

While still a virgin and without corruption, Eve received into her heart the word of the serpent and thereby conceived disobedience and death. Mary the Virgin, her soul full of faith and joy, replied to the angel Gabriel who brought her glad tidings: “Be it done to me according to thy word.” To her was born He of whom so many things are said in the Scriptures. (66)

Similar passages appear in the writings of St. Irenaeus (130-202) (67) and Tertullian (160-240). (68)

The contrast between the two women implies a double comparison, one of likeness; one of unlikeness. Eve and Mary are indeed similar insofar as both were stainless as they came from the hand of God, each was integral, each without corruption, each a virgin. (69) They are unlike insofar as Eve, by her disobedience and pride, became an instrument for the downfall of the human race, while Mary, humble and obedient, was found worthy to assist in the salvation of the world through her office as Mother of Jesus. If taken in an unqualified sense (and the general tenor of the antithesis warrants it), then Mary’s utter freedom from corruption argues a corresponding freedom from original sin. St. Irenaeus would seem to interpret the high holiness of the Virgin as contrasted to Eve’s betrayal into the snares of the serpent: the complete conformity of the all-pure Mary to the will of God effectively untied the knot of sin introduced by Eve. (70) This contrast would be imperfect and its chief characters would be inadequately in opposition if Mary had herself been stained by the sin of the first parents. From a broader view there would be a distortion of perspective if the Mother of the Messiah were held to have fallen under the primitive curse, since together with her Son she forms a team that is destined to achieve a conquest over the evil resulting from the transgression of its counterpart: Adam and Eve.

b) The Sanctity of Mary in a General Sense

Among the Fathers the theme of Mary’s exalted holiness appears very frequently and with considerable elaboration, and nearly always with the purpose of thereby enhancing the dignity of the Son, and defending the reality of His earthly life, suffering, and death. Many of these truths of the Savior had been called into doubt by the early heresiarchs, and one mode, and a forceful one, to combat errors concerning the Son was to emphasize truths about the Mother. (71) The conviction of the writers relative to her holiness is founded, necessarily, in revealed truth which became more explicit with the passing of time. (72) In denying that she herself had ever sinned, the Fathers placed her merit in a distinct class above the rest of humankind, and no eulogy was too great to describe her, nor were any words adequate to convey the measure of her holiness. She was “most pure”; “inviolate”; “unstained”; “unspotted”; “blameless”; “entirely immune from sin”; “blessed above all”; “most innocent.” (73) If she was free from sin without qualification, then why not also from original sin?

Assuredly, this freedom excluded deliberate venial sin, and hence with greater reason it should exclude the deprivation of grace implied in original sin, for while venial sin is more voluntary, nevertheless, simply as sin and with its conjoined ignominy, the consequences of original sin are more serious and more unbecoming to the Mother of Christ since it would put her at odds with God. (74) As St. Anselm stated (and he reflects the common mind of the writers on this point): “It was fitting that the Virgin should be radiant with such purity that under God no other can be greater.” (75)

The argument for the immaculate quality of the soul of Mary receives a rather strange support from a species of the doctrine of traducianism, prevalent in some quarters in the early centuries. This taught that human souls were generated by the parents along with the body, and thus in some way the offspring received their souls from the parents. Corporeal traducianism taught that the soul derived from the material element of the parents, and Tertullian, while a Montanist, proposed this heretical theory to explain the origin of the soul. (76) Spiritual traducianism taught the origin of the human soul to be from the soul of the parents. Even St. Augustine seems to defend this doctrine, but he admits that his opinion is obscure. In either case, if Mary herself had been stained by sin, her Son would, in some way, have been affected in His own soul by the taint that marred His Mother’s person. In this connection St. Hippolytus institutes a comparison between Christ and His Mother, developing, with considerable complexity, the need for perfect innocence on the part of Mary because of the supreme sanctity of Him whom she begot. He compares the Messiah to an ark of incorruptible wood, formed from the stainless stock of Mary who gave to Him His humanity and who knew no corruption herself. This writer’s use of the same phrase to describe the sinlessness of Mother and Son is a bold parallelism, and contains a forceful implicit affirmation in Mary’s complete freedom from the stain of all sin.

Since the “incorruptibility” of Jesus must include, of course, immunity from original sin, and since His soul (in the opinion of Hippolytus) was derived from hers, she too, must have been immaculate. (77)

One of the most direct and unqualified testimonies for the Immaculate Conception to be found among the early ecclesiastical writers is that of St. Ephrem of Syria (+ 373). In his Carmina Nisibena he categorically declared, in his poem addressed to Christ, “Thou and Thy Mother are alone in this: you are wholly beautiful in every respect. There is in Thee, Lord, no stain, nor any spot in Thy Mother.” (78) This use of the accommodated sense of Cant. 6:7, affords a clear affirmation of the exemption of Mary from all sin, rooted in the fact of the divine Maternity. Further to single out the exclusiveness of this prerogative of the Blessed Virgin, in the context of this phrase of her freedom from spot or stain, St. Ephrem emphasizes that she alone, of all mankind, possesses such a privilege. Thus exalted above all mere creatures in the order of grace, her pure soul came immaculate from the hand of God, “like Eve before the fall, endowed with the fullness of grace, by reason of her anticipated motherhood of the Son of God.” (79)

The firm stand of the Syrian Church regarding the utter sinlessness of the Blessed Virgin, as evinced in the writings of such renowned figures as St. James of Sarug (452-519), who denied that there was the slightest defect or stain upon the soul of Mary, reiterated substantially the teaching of St. Ambrose (333-397) who has Christ to say of His Mother: “Come… receive Me in that flesh which fell in Adam. Receive Me not from Sara, but from Mary, a virgin incorrupt; a virgin by grace; entirely free from every stain of sin.” (80) In a celebrated passage of St. Augustine (354-430) the Doctor of Grace appears to enunciate a principle upon which might be predicated an argument that Augustine taught, in an implicit fashion, Mary’s Immaculate Conception. He states: “(Concerning the Virgin) I wish to raise no question when it touches the subject of sin, out of honor to the Lord, for from Him we know what abundance of grace to overcome sin in every way was conferred upon her who undoubtedly had no sin.” (81) Logically, the idea of the Immaculate Conception is contained herein, but for reasons of prudence relative to the Pelagian polemic on the transmission of original sin, Augustine evidently did not consider it prudent to place the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception in a precise formula. (82)

It cannot, of course, be successfully maintained that the truth of Mary’s immunity from all stain of Adam’s sin was at all explicitly taught by these and many other similar early writers of the Church. For closeness to the doctrine and for clarity of expression, implicit affirmation of the Immaculate Conception is perhaps found most vividly stated in Augustine. Surely the continuity of unqualified endorsements of Mary’s holiness in general provides a very solid and entirely legitimate conclusion that the writers intended, in some way, to make the Immaculate Conception an integral part of their teaching. (83)

c) The Divine Maternity

The early Church Fathers are strong in their defense of the motherhood of Mary and of the incomparable sanctity which accompanied it. By her God-given grace she merited to be the Mother of the Savior, an unique honor that would never have been realized had there not been, on her part, an intimate union with her Son through the grace and charity in her soul. The Virgin perfectly pure in body and soul, she first bore Him in her heart before she conceived Him in her womb: “She alone is called ‘full of grace’ since she alone obtained a grace none other can claim: to be filled with the very Author of grace” (84)—”Consider the holy Mary, who was of such great purity that she merited to be the Lord’s Mother.” (85) Such statements are typical, for it is only to be supposed that the fact of Mary’s being the exalted Mother of the Redeemer would be acknowledged by even the earliest writers, and with unanimity, as the center, the key of all the admirable privileges of nature, of grace, and of glory possessed by her. Considered in itself, the Maternity could be, absolutely speaking, without the personal holiness of the mother, since the divine Maternity is mainly a grace given for others (gratia gratis data). As such it is not directly sanctifying (according to some) and does not necessarily demand utter sinlessness on the Mother’s part. But the dignity of her office in the light of the sublime dignity of the Son of God, could scarcely allow that she who bore the Incarnate Word would be other than completely stainless herself. (86) This awareness formed a basic theme in the profound stress placed by the writers on the Virgin’s exceptional sanctity. It is a further reason to see the Immaculate Conception woven into the warp and woof of the pristine Mariology of the Fathers and lesser apologists.

III. Period of Incipient Explicit Faith—from the Council of Ephesus (431) to Eleventh Century

During the period of time covered by the middle of the fifth century up into the eleventh century, the belief in the total sinlessness of the Virgin among the great body of the faithful, by the writers of this era and by the teaching Church, became considerably more explicit. Nevertheless, due to the denial of original sin by the Pelagians, a heresy condemned in 418 at the Council of Carthage, the writers who opposed Pelagius, Celestius and Julian, Bishop of Eclana, seem in some fashion to have denied Mary’s immunity from Adam’s sin. This denial stems, perhaps, from an overly literal interpretation of these early writings, and a failure to weigh duly the polemical exigencies of the epoch. It was held that Christ alone was free from original sin and that all other children of Adam inherited it. (87)

This insistence on the universality of the taint is attributable to the tendency to attach the disorder inherent in the generative act to the transmission of original sin. The element of inordinate concupiscence characteristic of active generation was believed to carry over necessarily into passive generation. Post-Augustinian Western writers were measurably influenced by this doctrine, and it rather effectively prevented what might well have been the logical conclusion to their general teaching on Mary’s exalted sanctity: that she received from God a special dispensation that exempted her from the consequence of Adam’s sin. (88) The well-established “all-holy” quality of the Mother of Christ, formulated and developed with such amplitude in earlier times, and assuredly emphasized between the Council of Nicaea (325) and the Council of Ephesus (431), (89) offered abundant material for the conclusion that Mary was conceived in grace.

The Church in the Orient appears to have escaped largely from the stream of post-Augustinian thought that checked the writers in the West from a willingness to concede Mary’s utter freedom from all sin. While prior to the Council of Ephesus, before the divine Maternity was unequivocally defined, many of the Eastern theologians appear to have spoken of imperfections in the Virgin, and even of positive faults. Such assertions can hardly be reconciled with a support of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, and are probably the direct result of the authority of Origen (c. 185-254). This apologist interpreted the words of the prophet Simeon, “And thy own soul a sword shall pierce…” (90) as indicating that Mary was under some sin, and had to be in order to be herself redeemed. This unfortunate (or perhaps fortunate) error had a profound influence on subsequent Oriental writers, and only St. Ephrem (c. 310-378) and St. Epiphanius (+ 403) seem to have escaped succumbing to the renowned authority of Origen. (91) After the Council of Ephesus, reflection on the consequences of the divine Maternity led to definite conclusions concerning the entire purity of the Mother of God. The dissenting voices of certain of the Eastern writers who held that the Virgin did contract original sin and was delivered of its stain only at the moment of the Annunciation, never gained any measure of wide acceptance among the better authors. (92) The latter, in the course of time, formulated the Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception in surprisingly clear terms, although these often took the form of statements in the positive sense of her unrivaled sanctity, rather than in the negative sense of a simple rejection of original sin from her. (93)

A. The Immaculate Conception in the Doctrine of the Eastern Church

I. Theological Argument

a) Fifth Century

The Third Ecumenical Council, that of Ephesus (431), declared Our Lady to be the Mother of God (Dei genitrix) and thereby served as an important stimulus to the development of the doctrine of her singular sanctity and unique prerogatives, both from the theological and the liturgical aspects. The condemnation of Nestorianism, the heresy that denied the genuine sense of the Incarnation, set the stage for an ever more explicit belief in the Immaculate Conception. While references to Mary’s immunity from original sin are not wanting even earlier, (94) few of them equal in clarity of expression the teaching of Theodotus, Bishop of Ancyra in Galatia (+ 430):

“In place of Eve, an instrument of death, is chosen a Virgin, most pleasing to God and full of His grace, as an instrument of life. A Virgin included in woman’s sex, but without a share in woman’s fault. A Virgin innocent; immaculate; free from all guilt; spotless; undefiled; holy in spirit and body; a lily among thorns.” (95) In a similar vein of praise of the Savior’s Mother, St. Proclus, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ 446), compares the action of God in preparing a dwelling place for the Word to the work of a potter who would not fashion for himself a vessel of tainted clay. Hence, whatever might stain the purity of the Incarnate Word must first be removed from her who was destined to bear Him. “He came forth from her without any flaw, who made her for Himself without any stain,” wrote St. Proclus. (96) And again: “Mary is the heavenly orb of a new creation, in whom the Sun of justice, ever shining, has vanished from her entire soul all the night of sin.” (97)

Similarly, Hesychius of Jerusalem (+ c. 450) extolled the incorruptibility, immortality, immunity from concupiscence, impeccability, triumph over Satan, and the coredemptive mission of the Mother of God. (98) These qualities of Mary, in relation to the Immaculate Conception certainly appear as causes in relation to an effect; as parts in a whole of sanctity connoted in immunity from original sin. Other Eastern writers, such as Basil of Seleucia (+ 458) (99) and Antipater of Bostra, a near contemporary, (100) reflect this same theme of unparalleled holiness.

b) Sixth Century

As in the preceding century, the writers of the Orient repeat in the sixth century the special care God manifested in preparing the soul of Mary as a becoming instrument of the Incarnation and Redemption: perhaps no author of this period is more explicit than St. Anastasius I (+ 598), a stanch defender of the dignity of the Blessed Virgin, and whose writings declare, in equivalent terms, the privilege of the Immaculate Conception. (101)

c) Seventh Century

By the seventh century the doctrine of Mary’s freedom from original sin had become well elaborated, and while the future would hold a yet more explicit statement of it, nevertheless, it may be fairly concluded that from this century on there was in reality no controversy on the substance of the teaching. (102) St. Sophronius (+ 637), Patriarch of Jerusalem, devoted much attention to the fullness of Mary’s grace, writing of its incomparably illustrious quality; of its perpetuity; of its uniqueness since no one else received like it for no one else was “prepurified.” (103) In his “Synodal Epistle,” approved by the Sixth Ecumenical Council, he described Mary as “holy, immaculate in soul and body, entirely free from every contagion.” (104) Similar praise of the Virgin’s entire holiness can be found in other authors of this period, for example, in the work of St. Modestus (+ 634), another patriarch of Jerusalem. (105)

d) Eighth Century

The outstanding figure of this epoch may properly be considered St. John Damascene (c. 675-749), whose writings on the prerogatives of Mary mark him as a vigorous exponent of her Immaculate Conception. If he did not expressly teach the doctrine, nevertheless his whole treatment of Mariology points the way to it, and indeed presupposes it as an essential element in the composite of her graces. (106) This Doctor’s exposition of the nature and consequences of original sin is thoroughly in keeping with the Catholic tradition and the definitions of the Church. Adam, by his transgression of the divine precept, brought harm both upon himself and upon all humans carnally generated from his infected line. In our first parent we are all sinners since he was the head of the human race, and the consequences of that sin are visited upon the children as well as the state of sin itself. Not only was there a loss of sanctifying grace, but together with its forfeiture were lost those gifts which depended upon grace as effects depend upon their cause: freedom from death and ills of soul and body; freedom from concupiscence, from malice, from ignorance. Averted from God, mankind inclined in disorder to material and sensible goods.

When the Blessed Virgin is contrasted with this dreary portrait of fallen human nature, conceived in sin and engulfed with the dire results of the fall, St. John Damascene delineates her figure as far removed from everything connected with the primal sin. She alone is full of grace; free from all concupiscence; never for a moment was her face turned from a steady gaze upon the Creator; she submitted to death only in order to resemble her Son. In no place is original sin attributed to her, and although evidently the phrase “Immaculate Conception” is not employed, yet the exemption implied in it must be included in the absolute purity and sinlessness and grace associated in every way with her who was destined to be the Mother of the God of infinite holiness. (107)

This predestination of Mary was a special decree of Divine Providence: from all eternity God had loved her and chosen her as the Mother of the Son, and because of this sublime office she was promised a life more excellent in the order of grace than human nature itself warranted. Should she, who was thus a most special object of God’s loving solicitude, have ever for a moment been displeasing to him? (108)

This position is further stressed when we see an intimate connection between Mary’s conception in the womb of St. Anne and her initial grace therein. St. John Damascene writes of the Virgin as “the earth’s most divine bud”; (109) “the germ of justice”; (110) “the divine grace in her whom St. Anne was privileged to bear.” (111) He explains, in effect, that a person is conceived without stain only if, under God’s grace, a stainless seed has been the instrumentality for that conception. This was the case, and uniquely so, in the daughter of Anne and Joachim. (112) In a parallel passage the Doctor calls Mary “the most holy daughter of Joachim and Anne, hidden from the fiery dart of Satan, dwelling in a bridal chamber of the spirit, preserved without stain as the Spouse and Mother of God.” (113) From what stain other than original sin could Mary have been preserved? And why would Satan have sought, through fear, to harm her, except because she was his enemy through the perfect abundance of her grace?

Just as she was immune from original sin, so she was not subject to the disorders of its guilt in the matter of carnal concupiscence: utterly pure in mind (114) and body. (115)

As Adam was in his innocence, with the whole intent of his intellect devoted to contemplation of things divine, (116) similarly Mary repelled any movement toward any vice. (117) The penalty of death, so directly the consequence of Adam’s fall, is exacted of every offspring of the first parent who inherits his fault. Christ the Redeemer could not be subject to death since He was sinless and death comes through sin. (118) In the case of the Blessed Virgin, St. John Damascene declares, she also was not subject to the universal law of death, but submitted to it out of loving conformity to the chosen lot of her Son, “the Lord of nature who did not refuse to experience death.” (119) Thus her death indeed resembled that of sinful man, but was not associated with the humiliation of punishment for sin, for “in her,” the Saint exclaims, “the sting of death, sin, has been extinguished.” (120) The evidence is forceful that Damascene taught substantially the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. (121)

e) Ninth Century

Witnesses in the Eastern Church at this period are numerous in support of what must be considered a very widespread, if indeed not universal, acceptance of Mary’s immunity from original sin in the Orient. (122) St. Tarasius (+ 806), Patriarch of Constantinople, speaks of Mary as “predestined from the creation of the world; chosen from among all generations that she might be the immaculate domicile of the Word . . . the immaculate oblation of human nature.” “This Virgin,” the author adds in the same context, “is immaculate by her excellence.” (123)

Epiphanius, in his sermon on the life of the Blessed Virgin, affirms her entire immunity from concupiscence, a freedom joined to original justice. (124) Joseph Hymnographus (+ 833) describes Mary as immune from all sin; wholly pure and immaculate; entirely without stain. (125) Georgius Nicomediensis whose theological opinions parallel in most matters those of his friend and contemporary Photius, the father of the Greek schism, exempts the Mother of Christ from all stain of sin and from the consequences of the fall of Adam. (126)

f) Tenth Century

The continuity of belief in the immunity of Mary from the hereditary stain is manifest during this century among authors of perhaps less renown than those of the preceding century, but whose statements in the sources are equally uncompromising where the Mother of God is under consideration. Euthymius (+ 917), a patriarch of Constantinople, held, together with Petrus (+ c. 920), Bishop of Argo, that Mary was liberated from the infection of original sin from her conception in the womb of St. Anne. (127) A contemporary, Joannes Geometra, wrote that the Mother of the Savior “was conceived in joy,” and “joy” he understood, as the context shows, as synonymous with sanctifying grace. (128) In his celebrated hymns he yet more clearly affirmed that Mary had no sin as other men do, (129) but rather that she came into the world in the state of original justice, a “new creation” who was the supreme work of God and the personification of ideal beauty. (130)

These and like expressions among these writers convey a very distinct idea of the Immaculate Conception, often enclosing it in positive formulas by insisting on the fullness of her grace; its unbroken continuity; its resemblance to the condition of Adam prior to sin; its entirely unique character. She needed no reconciliation to God since He had already intervened in a singular fashion in order to sanctify His Mother in her very conception. Such is the tenor of these pertinent texts.

2. Argument From Liturgy

a) Relation of Liturgy to Faith

The value of liturgical worship as an index to the beliefs of the Church and the faithful is founded in the axiom “the law of prayer is the law of faith”—lex orandi est lex credendi. This liturgical worship consists in the public performance of an act of worship of God in forms laid down by the Church, in the name and on behalf of the whole Christian people. It is thus the social exercise of the virtue of religion, and manifests in a very definite fashion the religious creed of those who participate in it. The liturgy expresses itself in the forms of prayer and various ceremonies of the Church, particularly in the Sacrifice of the Mass and in the recitation of the Divine Office, and the liturgical books such as the Missal, the Breviary, the Ritual, among others, contain a rich fund of Catholic doctrine. Whatever names may be attached to these sources (as in the Eastern Church the Euchologion does the work of the Missal, the Pontifical, and the Ritual of the Latin rite), the basic idea is the same: the people pray as they believe and as the Church teaches them. It may very well happen, as it seems to have happened in the case of the Immaculate Conception, that the great body of the faithful tend to develop in their devotions an awareness of a truth not yet universally agreed upon by theologians. (131) But such a devotional development, while important in assaying a trend in the sensus communis fidelium, is not strictly speaking a part of the Church’s official prayer.

b) Liturgical Development in Eastern Church

The liturgical celebration of the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin preceded, as might be reasonably expected, the feast of her Conception, although in the order of time the latter mystery would naturally be prior. The evidence is convincing that Mary’s Nativity merited a special day in the liturgy of the Orient already by the middle of the sixth century, or certainly by the seventh, and shortly afterward there is testimony of the celebration of the feast of St. Anne’s Conception. By this was meant Anne’s active conception of her daughter Mary. (132) A homily on this feast was composed by John of Euboea, a contemporary of St. John Damascene. (133) By the time of Photius the feast was observed universally in the Greek Church, a conclusion easy to reach by a perusal of the widely read homilies of George of Nicomedia (+ 917) and the import of the Menologium compiled in 984 by the edict of Emperor Basil II, acknowledging the feast of the Conception as celebrated on December 9. (134)

As analyzed by Jugie, the object of this feast includes the heavenly message that Mary would be conceived, through a miracle in the natural order, in the sterile womb of Anne, as well as the recognition of the exceptional graces that accompanied the Virgin’s passive conception. The most noteworthy element of this liturgical celebration is the emphasis placed upon the passive conception by the hymnographers and orators who referred to the significance of the feast. Among the Greeks and the Slavs, especially in the Middle Ages, this day of “the Conception of the Mother of God” was one of solemn observance, providing occasion for panegyrics on the sanctity of Our Lady, extolling her immunity from all stain, even from the first instant of her existence. (135)

The firm conviction among the Catholics of the Orient that Mary was ever holy and completely so, a conviction that was consistently reflected in the theological and liturgical movements of the Greek Church, was not altered by the schism begun under Photius in 867 and consummated under Michael Cerularius in 1054. This sad estrangement from the center of Catholic truth did not retard the development of Marian theology from the eleventh to the fifteenth century, which continued certainly up to the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453. Indeed, one might truthfully assert that the Byzantines were strangers to the controversy on the Immaculate Conception that raged in the West. (136) And almost all the (unedited) sources of this later period agree with the earlier edited material in formulating expressly or in equivalent terms the doctrine of Mary’s total immunity from all stain of sin. (137) It is but another evidence of the dreary consequence of the East’s separation from the See of Peter that the modern Orthodox Church has forfeited its allegiance to Mary’s singular prerogative. The polemical and negativistic mentality which has for centuries characterized the Oriental Christians has obscured, to a large measure, the glorious past of the devotion in the East to the Mother of God. (138)

B. The Immaculate Conception in the Doctrine of the Latin Church

From the Council of Ephesus (431) until the middle of the eleventh century is the epoch of preparation for explicit belief in the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. The dogma was during this era in a stage of incipient explicit profession. (139) In the West the development was less rapid than in the East, due perhaps to the incursions of the barbarians as an historical cause, and to an anti-Pelagian reaction as a theological cause. Many authors feared to press too eagerly the immunity of Mary from all sin, lest they seem thereby to lend credence to the errors of the Pelagians on grace and original sin. But cogent evidence is available to support the argument that adequate basis for the Immaculate Conception is discoverable in the writings of the noted theologians of this period, even though it be simply incipient belief that is contained therein.

a) Fifth Century

St. Peter Chrysologus taught that Mary was destined to holiness because of the divine Maternity, and that this sanctity was with her from the beginning of her existence. (140) St. Maximus of Turin (+ c. 470) writes of the Virgin as “a worthy dwelling of God by virtue of her original grace,” and without this grace she would not have been the Mother of the Incarnate Word. (141) Sedulius, noted as a writer of hymns, institutes a comparison between Mary all pure and the tainted nature of the rest of men, for she is “as the tender rose bloom amid sharp thorns.” (142) St. Fulgentius, Bishop of Ruspa (+ 533), contrasts the sinfulness of Eve with the perpetual sanctity of Mary. (143) And in a commentary on the angelic salutation, he explains with considerable preciseness, the significance of “full of grace,” making it practically equivalent to what is now understood to be immunity from original sin. (144)

b) Sixth, Seventh, Eighth Centuries

The line of growth in the development of the teaching on the Immaculate Conception continued during these centuries with much the same impetus as in earlier times, with an augmenting insistence on the initial quality of Mary’s grace. St. Venantius Fortunatus, Bishop of Poitiers (+ 609), called the Virgin “a new creation,” the “just seed” promised by God to Jeremiah the Prophet. (145) St. Ildephonse of Toledo (+ 666), in a (doubtfully authentic) work on the privileges of the Blessed Mother, stresses the unbroken continuity of her grace, made firm by “an eternal covenant*’ with God. (146) Pseudo-Jerome likens Mary to a cloud which never knew darkness but was ever engulfed in light. (147) Ambrose Autpertus (+ 778) declares that the Mother of God was “immaculate, because in nowise corrupt,” and never subject to the snares of Satan. (148) Paulus Warnefridus wrote that Mary was never “spiritually deserted” by the grace of the Word. (149) These citations are illustrations, chosen from among numerous others, of the constant affirmation of such an eminent holiness in Mary as would postulate at the same time freedom from the stain of original sin and its consequences.

c) Ninth and Tenth Centuries

In these last two centuries before the commencement of the controversy in the West, there is found a continuation of the trend of theological thought developed previously. Haymon, Bishop of Alberstadt (+ 853), accommodated to Mary’s conception the sense of the passage in Ecclus. 24:14: “From the beginning, and before the world, was I created…” concluding that only her unbroken sanctity could render her fit to be the Mother of God. (150) Paschasius Radbertus (+ 860) deduces that Mary brought forth her Son without any pain or any corruption because she herself was without any guilt or corruption, but rather was fully blessed; (151) she was exempt from all contagion of man’s first progenitor. (152) In the same vein St. Fulbert (+ 1028) wrote that God the Father chose her soul and body as the dwelling for His Son, and therefore made it perfectly pure from all that is evil and of sin. (153)

d) Eleventh to Sixteenth Century

This wide period includes the time of controversy in the West concerning the truth of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, and its effective termination with the general acceptance of the Scotistic position. The influence of St. Anselm (1033-1109) on his contemporaries and upon the writers posterior to his era would be difficult to exaggerate, and the inference is strong that Anselm did not lean toward acceptance of Mary’s Immaculate Conception for the simple reason that he could not see how Mary’s conception in grace could be properly reconciled with the universality of the Redemption wrought by Christ. (154) And yet there was celebrated, certainly contemporaneously with Anselm, the feast entitled The Conception of Mary, the purpose of which was to honor the perfect purity of the Mother of God. (155) This feast was observed on the eighth or ninth of December, and, according to Baronius, it began in England about the end of the tenth century. (156) The simple piety of the faithful readily accepted it, and certain revelations and miracles were commonly associated with the feast, widely celebrated by about the middle of the eleventh century, or somewhat later. (157)

Theological backing for the feast, based upon the vast deposit of Mariological literature of the preceding centuries, was not by any means wanting, even at about the time the question of the propriety of the feast was being agitated. Eadmerus, a friend of St. Anselm, defended the orthodoxy of the feast of Mary’s Conception, declaring that the Mother of God was indeed removed from the common law of inheritance of the first sin, otherwise God’s wisdom would be inoperative. (158) This exclusion of Mary from the law of sin was, according to Eadmerus, from the ‘Very beginning of her creation.” (159) This author even appears to have taught that this privilege was in the manner of a preservation, for if God prevented the good angels from personal sin, why would He not preserve His own Mother from the consequences of another’s sin? (160)

e) St. Bernard

Whatever authorities may be thus invoked in favor of the celebration of a feast honoring the conception of Mary as a legitimate and sufficiently traditional liturgical observance, the historical fact is that the power and influence of St. Bernard (1091-1153) was, despite his great love for Mary, aligned with the forces that opposed such a feast. He formulated his objection in a celebrated letter to the Canons of Lyons. (161) Probably this stand of Bernard was a providential one, for it set off a controversy about the Immaculate Conception that ultimately resulted in the universal acceptance of the doctrine of Mary’s immunity from original sin. It is disputed among students of Bernard’s letter whether the saint intended simply to oppose the introduction of the feast as inopportune and not approved by Rome, or whether he intended to take issue with the doctrine itself of the Immaculate Conception. More probably his objection was against the doctrine as then understood. (162)

It must be remembered that at the time St. Bernard wrote, the notions concerning conception, animation, the time of the infusion of the soul, the nature of concupiscence and its relation to original sin, were neither as clear nor as well settled as they later became, especially in the course of the controversy. The feast about which the Doctor complained had for the object of its cult the seminal conception of the daughter of Anne and Joachim, and this conception, in the physiological teaching of the era (and accepted as correct by theologians), preceded animation. Bernard did not believe (as indeed one cannot) that something (the person of Mary) could be sanctified before it existed. And this interpretation prevailed among most of the later Scholastics. (163) The Acta of the feast under dispute emphatically indicated that the object of the feast was precisely the conception of the seed. (164) Moreover, it was believed by Bernard and other renowned theologians that in some way sin was connected with the generative act of the parents. This would disallow sanctification as concomitant with generation. Accordingly, since Mary could not be sanctified before she was conceived, nor when she was conceived, the only conclusion must be, in the mind of Bernard, that Mary was cleansed from original sin afterconception but before birth. (165)

St. Bernard’s position carried great weight with the writers who came after him. They followed his doctrine whenever they wrote about the question of sanctification before animation, (166) holding too that the soul was infused (animation) from forty to eighty days after seminal conception. (167) Even allowing for this difference between the opinion of the writers of those days and the opinion that subsequently prevailed, that animation is simultaneous with conception, nevertheless the Scholastics did not all admit Mary’s sanctification in the instant itself of animation. Indeed, St. Bonaventure declares: “… teneamus, secundum quod communis opinio tenet, Virginis sanctificationem fuisse post originalis peccati contractionem.” (168)

In substance, then, when the better known Scholastics examined the question of the Virgin’s mode of conception, it was not discussed whether she was immaculately conceived, but whether her sanctification occurred before the infusion of the soul into the flesh, by some sanctification of the flesh itself. The freedom of the soul from the stain of original sin would be the necessary consequence, it was felt, of such a carnal sanctification. Or, further, it was discussed whether the sanctification took place after the infusion of the soul, removing from her soul that stain of sin to which union with un-sanctified flesh necessarily subjected it. The first view: sanctification of the flesh before the infusion of the soul with the consequent preservation of the soul from sin, was unacceptable, both because inanimate flesh is not susceptible of sanctification, and also because such a preservation as would follow, if that sanctification were possible, would exempt Mary from the universal law of sin and the need for redemption. The accepted opinion was that not only did conception of the flesh take place in sin, but that the soul itself in its infusion into the unsanctified flesh, was contaminated by sin.

It was not yet understood that the soul could be sanctified simultaneously with its infusion. (169) Of course, St. Bernard was prepared to conform his opinion to that of the Church, should he have been required to do so. (170)

f) St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) treated the question of the Immaculate Conception only incidentally, as cognate to his consideration of the sinlessness of Christ. (171) He followed the teaching of St. Bernard, and so perhaps it might be held that his unwillingness to admit Mary’s immunity from sin from the first moment of her conception was due to the failure of the schools to develop an accurate notion of the moment of conception and animation. Some exponents of St. Thomas have endeavored to establish that the Angelic Doctor virtually held for the Immaculate Conception, and would certainly have taught it if “conception” had been treated completely by him. (172) But most students of St. Thomas are quite prepared to admit that the Angelic Doctor simply denied Mary’s freedom from original sin. (173) The “Thomistic School” of theology has produced not a few defenders, for centuries, of the Blessed Virgin’s singular prerogative. Long before the definition of the Immaculate Conception as an article of Faith, many Dominicans pledged themselves to a defense of it when taking their degrees in the schools of Europe. (174)

g) John Duns Scotus

It is one of the great glories of the Franciscan Order to have produced the Subtle Doctor, John Duns Scotus (1270-1308), whose forceful defense and brilliant clarification of the truth of the Immaculate Conception prepared the way for its ultimate definition. He showed that the reasons for sanctification of the person of Mary after animation could be possible and was fitting, and that actually “after” animation in reality means only that the sanctification followed the infusion of Mary’s soul in the order of nature, but not in the order of time. That is to say, that the freeing of Mary from the stain of sin required, as a necessary precondition, the creation and infusion of her soul, but that in terms of time the sanctification and the animation were simultaneous. Scotus brought the argument to the level where alone the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception could be properly formulated and theologically (and philosophically) accepted by all. (175) His distinction between priority in time and priority in nature adequately took care of the objection of St. Bernard. (176)

The objection against the immunity of Mary from original sin based upon the universality of its stain, as stated by St. Paul in Rom. 5:12: “Wherefore as by one man sin entered into this world, and by sin death; and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned” and the consequent universality of Christ’s Redemption, had offered the greatest stumbling block to an acceptance of the Immaculate Conception. (177) The core of Scotus’ answer to this classical difficulty consists in his development of the office of Christ as a perfect Mediator and a perfect Redeemer, and thus it would pertain to Him as most fitting to preserve His Mother from the stain of all sin, not merely from all actual sin, but from original sin as well. To deny this, Scotus taught, would derogate from Christ’s excellence. Indeed, in virtue of the Incarnation and Redemption it was even more fitting that the merits of Christ should preserve His Mother from original sin than from actual sin, for it was to atone for the former especially that the Savior endured His Passion. (178) Hence Christ redeemed His Mother by preservative redemption, not by restorative redemption as in the case of all the rest of mankind. (179) Moreover, Christ, not Adam, is the moral and spiritual head of the human race, for He is the source of all its grace. Because of the sin of Adam mankind became subject to the power of Satan, with the exception of Mary. She was not subject to the devil since God had already decreed, according to Scotus, that the Word should become flesh through Mary, and so, as Christ was decreed before Adam, it must follow that Mary was included in the same decree as her Son. (180) Although Scotus himself did not explicitly teach Mary’s predestination before the prevision of Adam’s sin, this doctrine would seem to follow from his theory on the absolute predestination of Christ. (181)

Of course, Duns Scotus taught that the Blessed Virgin had her origin from the carnal seed of Adam as his natural daughter, and hence she would have contracted original sin unless preserved by the foreseen merits of her divine Son. (182) And Scotus believed it to be a much greater tribute to the power, wisdom, and goodness of God that He should preserve His Mother from all sin, including original sin, rather than that He should cleanse her from it. “Either God was able to do this, and did not will to do it, or He willed to preserve her and was unable to do so. If able to and yet unwilling to perform this for her, God was miserly towards her. And if He willed to do it but was unable to accomplish it, He was weak, for no one who is able to honor his mother would fail to do so.” (183) As the most perfect of all merely human creatures, the Mother of God should have received the most perfect redemption through grace: a redemption that preserved her, not one that healed her only.

Although the great Franciscan Doctors prior to Scotus, St. Bonaventure (184) and St. Anthony, (185) did not admit, at least clearly so, the doctrine of Mary’s freedom from original sin, the Franciscan School after Scotus propounded the doctrine even more emphatically than he. (186) Up to the first half of the sixteenth century, the Dominicans continued opposed to the doctrine. (187)

h) Papal Pronouncements

In the course of the succeeding centuries the controversy continued among the various schools of thought, chiefly as between the Franciscans and the Dominicans, but after the heated sessions of the Council of Basle (1431-1438) the sovereign pontiffs declared with increasing emphasis the mind of the Church. No official affirmation of Rome’s stand appeared before the Constitution Cum praeexcelsa (188) (1477) of Sixtus IV, wherein the Pope commended the celebration of “the wondrous Conception of this Immaculate Virgin.” (189) This was followed within a few years by the Constitution Grave nimis (1483) of the same Pontiff, in which the Holy Father clearly distinguished the meaning of Mary’s Immaculate Conception in nearly the same terms as were employed nearly four hundred years later by Pope Pius IX. (190) Although this declaration of Sixtus IV was, of course, not a definition, nevertheless in it the Pope stated that he reproved those who denied the Immaculate Conception. (191)

While the Council of Trent (1545-1563) did not define the dogma, yet it unequivocally stated in its famous decree on original sin that it did not intend to include the Blessed Virgin within the meaning of that decree: “This same Holy Synod declares that it is not its intention to include in this decree, where there is question of original sin, the blessed and Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God. Rather the Constitutions of Sixtus of happy memory are to be observed….” (192)

After Trent the opposition to the Immaculate Conception became greatly moderated, and even those who previously had been against it either changed their view or else discontinued any serious attacks on the complete orthodoxy of the doctrine. One of the most zealous and brilliant defenders of the doctrine during this period was the Dominican Ambrose Catarino. (193)

Pope St. Pius V (1504-1572) condemned the error of Baius wherein the latter had stated that the Mother of God was subject to original sin, (194) and in the Constitution Quod a nobis (1568) the Pontiff put the feast of the Immaculate Conception in the calendar of the Roman breviary.

Alexander VII in the Constitution Sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum (1661) described with remarkable exactitude the sense of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, in words similar to those later used in Ineffabilis Deus. (195) Pope Clement XI, in the Constitution Commissi Nobis (1708), instituted the feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, as a holyday of obligation. (196)

The Sixth Provincial Council of Baltimore in 1846 declared Mary Immaculate to be the Patroness of the United States, and confirmation of this dedication was furnished by Pope Pius IX on February 7, 1847, less than eight years before the solemn definition of the dogma. (197)

The Theological Argument

Any doctrine that contributes so richly to the spiritual, liturgical, and intellectual life of the Church as does the doctrine of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, quite properly would be expected to have abundant theological reasoning in its favor. (198) Among the various arguments traditionally invoked in support of the dogma, despite the diversity of their force, all may be reduced to two general classes: (1) the possibility of the doctrine (a) on God’s part; (b) on Mary’s part; (c) on the part of mankind — (2) the fittingness of the doctrine (a) on God’s part; (b) on Mary’s part; (c) on the part of mankind.

I. The Possibility of the Doctrine

a) On God’s Part

Strictly speaking, only that is impossible for God which implies a “metaphysical contradiction.” Thus even God obeys the principles, for example, of sufficient reason and of identity. God can do whatever does not include some inherent repugnance, simply because He is utterly omnipotent. With regard to the Immaculate Conception, while this required a miracle in the order of grace, it is surely not impossible that God would preserve a human person from incurring the penalty of Adam’s sin, if He so decreed. This was a unique exception granted to her because of her office as the Mother of the God-Man. Since the laws governing the dispensation of grace are formulated by God, He can accordingly relax the operation of such laws as He deems fit. (199)

It does not matter whether one consider the possibility on the part of any one of the three divine Persons, for all acts of God which take effect outside the divine nature are common to each of the three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (200) This mystery does not derogate from the dignity of the Father, who must prepare a human nature as a fit channel for the Incarnation. Nor do the prerogatives of the Incarnate Word suffer any diminution, nor is His essential sanctity affected by the great grace accorded His Mother. As the second Person of the Trinity He is substantially sanctified with the full holiness of the Godhead, and born into the world as man, He has the absolutely unparalleled distinction of being born of a woman who was without any stain of sin and a virgin. Christ’s immunity from sin was by natural right as proper to the divine nature, and since He was not of Adam’s seed, He can in no manner be considered as even under the law of original sin. Mary had her immunity by way of privilege. This privilege enjoyed by her did not diminish the efficacy of Christ’s redemptive act, but instead exalted it, since the Immaculate Conception was in virtue of her Son’s merits which preserved her in a more sublime manner than other humans enjoy. (201) Finally, the possibility on the part of the Holy Spirit cannot be impugned, for in His role of Sanctifier He is able to cleanse Mary’s soul from sin in any way and at any time He so elected, just as He is fully able to preserve her entirely from contracting any stain of sin in the first place.

1. On Mary’s Part

No impossibility can be alleged insofar as Mary is concerned, for as a creature she is subject to the Creator according to His will, and therefore she can be used by God to help in the achievement of His designs and thereby to manifest His power, wisdom, and goodness. (202) As seminally descended from Adam there was some relationship to sin established by this very fact, but that she did not ever actually incur this hereditary taint was indeed extraordinary and miraculous. While it was in itself extraordinary and unique that she should have been immune from original sin, yet in virtue of her office as Mother of the Messiah and of her total subordination to the decrees of God in that regard, there was assuredly no impossibility on her part. And in a sense her Immaculate Conception might be termed ordinary precisely so far as she herself is concerned: merely another tremendous gift in the totality of her elevation over all the accustomed ways of God’s dealings with mankind. This singular privilege remains in itself inferior to her divine Maternity, since the former was on account of the latter. (203) Exalted above all the rest of men by her preservative liberation from the law of sin, she was further exalted above all angels by the privilege of becoming the Mother of God-made-Man.

c) On the Part of Mankind

While it is a divinely revealed truth that in Adam “all men have sinned,” (204) still this “all” need not be so rigorously understood as to disallow any exception whatsoever, as is plainly evident from similar uses of the inclusive sense of certain words: “…every man is a liar… ” (205) “…there is none that doth good.” (206) Hence, while the Virgin Mary is a member of the human race and as such was in some way associated with the disabilities incumbent upon mankind, nevertheless this fact raises no insurmountable obstacle to her being exempted from the common lot of other children of Adam, if God so willed to exempt her.

2. The Fittingness of the Doctrine

a) On God’s Part

If all the just are children of God in virtue of their individual share in the divine life through sanctifying grace, (207) then Mary is, to a pre-eminent degree and because of the divine Maternity, (208) God’s most beloved child. The nature of her mission required that. (209) She is the first-born of all mere creatures and to her may properly be accommodated the words, “I came out of the mouth of the most High, the first-born before all creatures.” (210) Chosen from all eternity for her sublime role, as Mother of the only-begotten Son of God, whatever honored her, necessarily honored Him, and whatever would lessen her dignity would, in some manner, reflect unfavorably upon her Son. Had she been affected by sin and so subject to the devil, she would scarcely have been worthy to be the Mother of God: each one is given grace according to the need of that to which God has chosen one. (211)

God the Father associated Mary to Himself in the generation of the Son in time, and the analogous relationship thereby resulting called for a very high share in the infinite purity and holiness of God. It is incongruous to suppose that He who from all eternity was begotten in the bosom of the heavenly Father should assume a human nature in the body of a woman who at any time had been marred by sin’s guilt. The same divine Person is the Son of God and the Son of Mary, and as she was similar to God in generating the Word, so she ought to be similar to God in sanctity, in that measure possible to a mere human. (212)

If the propriety of Mary’s immunity from original sin be examined in the light of Mary’s relationship to the Word, an equally cogent argument is derived. Had the Son chosen to be His Mother one unworthy of that exalted dignity (and original sin would make one unworthy) then such a selection would be attributable either to a want of wisdom on the part of the Son, or to an inability to provide otherwise. Obviously, neither of these alternatives is possible in view of the infinite knowledge and power of the Son. Therefore, Mary must have been sanctified from the first instant of her existence. (213)

The filial piety of the Son toward His Mother would assure that the amiability of Mary in the eyes of God should never suffer any interruption nor be any less than possible. Had she, even for the briefest interval of time, been under original sin, she would not have been constantly lovable to the Father. Rather she would have been an object of His wrath. The Word Himself obeyed the command of God, “Honor thy mother,” and this He would not have done had He, although able to preserve His Mother from the stain of sin, not done so.

Christ came to take away the sins of the world, and so He was destined to be segregated from sin (214) and from all dishonor flowing from a personal relationship with sinners: “For it was fitting that we should have such an high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners…” (215) Had His own Mother been a sinner, this revealed truth would be difficult to reconcile with her condition, for her stain would be, in some way, to His dishonor. (216)

Christ was a perfect Mediator, fulfilling to the highest degree the office of atonement and reconciliation decreed for Him by the Father: “For there is one God, and one mediator of God and men, the man Jesus Christ.” (217) Physically, Christ is between the two extremes of divinity and humanity: distinguished from each and yet having something in common with each. Morally, the perfection of mediation is attributed to Christ, because the Word became Incarnate to reconcile mankind with God. As Man, the Son of Mary, Christ’s suffering and death merited reparation for all, for His human actions and sufferings have a redemptive value in that they are proper to the Word, who sustains and directs the assumed nature. Christ, therefore, is Mediator according to His human nature which He received from the Virgin, without, of course, being independent of His divinity. This perfect mediatorship of Christ postulated that His Mother be preserved from sin, since He would effect in her behalf whatever was needed for the excellence of her person: she was the first fruit of His redemption. (218)

Additional support for the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is found in Mary’s own coredemptive life. As Mother of the Incarnate Word, she participates subordinately in the mediation of Christ with God, and is also Mediatrix between Christ and men. While her Mediation consists principally in praying in order to obtain for us the application of the fruits of the Redemption, yet she is not restricted to this office, because as associated with Christ, she co-operated with Him in the work of the Redemption, contributing according to the measure of God’s will to the acquisition of the fruits of salvation. (219) While this function could, absolutely speaking, be carried on without freedom from the stain of original sin, it is far from fitting that it should have been so.

The prerogative of exemption from the sin of Adam placed Mary under the highest obligation to Christ the Mediator, since to be preserved from that sin is the greatest good the Redeemer could bestow. If no one had been thus perfectly redeemed, then no one would be perfectly indebted to Christ. Mary is Christ’s debtor more truly than the rest of mankind because she is more perfectly innocent than any other. (220) And she is so holy because her redemption, her share in Christ’s merits, is so excellent. Other humans are freed from the power of darkness; she never knew anything except the light of a supreme creatural sanctity.

The intimate union between Mary and the Holy Spirit further shows the entire fittingness of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. It is, by analogy, like the union of spouses, for He “overshadowed” her and she conceived by Him. (221) Just as every spouse expects to find unblemished purity in his beloved, similarly the Spirit of God would take care to preserve His spouse from any spiritual detriment: from sin of any kind. How better might the great love of God be manifest than by giving Mary such singular grace as would require her having been conceived with a fullness of grace? As the daughter of God the Father, and Mother of God the Son, and as spouse of God the Holy Spirit, it is thoroughly befitting that the Virgin be endowed with the greatest purity conceivable under God. (222)

b) On Mary’s Part

As Hugh of St. Victor poetically expressed it, Mary was the clay from which the Second Adam, Christ, was molded. She is the tree upon which flourished that divine fruit, and the perfection of the Savior points unmistakably to the perfection of the source of His human life, for a tree is known by the fruit it produces. (223) Mother and Son ought to be, as nearly as possible, alike, and anything that might stand in the way of their similarity should, if possible, be removed. Original sin would be an obstacle to such a resemblance and hence fittingly it should never have stood between them.

According to the eternal decree of God, Mary was destined to be a new Eve who, together with Christ and in subordination to His redemptive role, would repair the injury inflicted upon the human race by the first parents. (224) To accomplish her mission of opposition to Satan and his wiles and the consequences of his seduction of the first Eve, the Virgin should have been in nowise subject to the devil, and in nowise displeasing to God. Rather it was becoming that she share in the fullest degree in that divine grace which, under Christ, she would instrumentally win for and convey to other humans. (225) Arguments in favor of Mary’s immunity from original sin based on her mission as the Mother of the Savior and Coredemptrix with Him of mankind, are among the most cogent that can be adduced to support the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. She was singularly graced because of her utterly unique place in the divine scheme. (226)

If Mary lacked the initial sanctity implied in the immunity from original sin, it would be difficult, if not indeed virtually impossible, to explain adequately her other privileges in the order of grace. Just as the divine Maternity is the radical principle of all her other gifts, (227) so too is the Immaculate Conception a cause of her fullness of grace and complete sinlessness. Considered even in a general sense, Our Lady’s grace exceeds the grace of all other creatures, nearly to the extent of being inconceivably great. (228) But had she been conceived in original sin, the limits of her grace would be very manifest. Her exemption from the stain of this sin is, therefore, a necessary part of the vast ocean of grace constituting the sanctity of the Mother of God. Without her prerogative of immunity, all her other privileges assume a vague, disconnected, and unreal quality. (229)

Sanctity may be considered either from its negative aspect: moral cleanness—absence of stain offensive to God—freedom from more or less serious deorientations from one’s last end; or it may be considered from its positive aspect: the firm conjunction of the soul with God—the application of one’s faculties to the love and service of God. (230) In the case of original sin there is had a privation of sanctifying grace in the soul from the moment of its very creation as it comes from the hand of God. Because it is destined to inform a body that is carnally descended from Adam by way of seminal generation, it is consequently denied the original grace that would have been present except for the sin committed by the physical head of the human race. This want of habitual grace, this denial of a share in the divine life, this refusal of heirship to the human person is called “the stain of original sin.” While the essence of this sin has never been defined, (231) nevertheless it is the settled doctrine of Catholic theologians, following the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas, that original sin is the privation of original justice, (232) and that it is in the corporal seed of man as an instrumental cause. (233) The Mother of Christ was free of this sin and its stain in virtue of sanctifying grace that enveloped her soul from the instant it was created. There is no medium between the state of sin and the state of grace: the sin is directly removed by the grace. Hence when it is stated that she was without any sin, the negative aspect of her holiness is declared.

But this includes, implicitly, the positive element of the presence of habitual grace in her soul. (234)

An additional argument for the fittingness of Mary’s Immaculate Conception is found in the fact of her Queenship over the angelic world: “Queen of Angels” is a glorious title, and it applies to her in the order of grace and not in the order of nature. Naturally she is inferior to them; supernaturally she is exalted above them. God preserved the good angels from the rebellion of sin. Would He not similarly, and with even greater reason, preserve His Mother from the stain of any sin? If she had not been exempted from the guilt of original sin, then she would hardly be superior to the good angels who are sinless, and would be subjected to the malign power of the chief of the fallen angels. This would be an incongruity of unthinkable proportions. (235)

Further, there were some humans other than Mary who were born without original sin, as Jeremiah and John the Baptist. But Mary’s excellence is of a higher order than that of either of these, and accordingly it is fitting that the mode of her sanctification be higher than cleansing in the womb, namely, a total preservation from sin by her Immaculate Conception. (236)

The freedom enjoyed by Mary from the consequences ordinarily associated with original sin, her immunity from disordered motions of the flesh; (237) from even the slightest deliberate fault; her Maternity without anguish; the noncorruption of her body upon the completion of her mortal course; (238) her virginity together with her motherhood — these wonderful privileges, presupposing first of all the divine Maternity, have their root in the privilege of the Immaculate Conception and are a complement of it. While her corporal virginity cannot be directly attributed to the Immaculate Conception, yet they are fittingly associated. Her virginity of soul finds a counterpart in her virginity of body. If God suspended, by a miracle, the operation of the natural laws of human generation so that a virgin gave birth, then with greater reason might it be inferred that He would make a special provision for her in the order of grace. Such a dispensation is both to God’s and Mary’s honor and glory, and it is fitting in a pre-eminent way that she who begot Him who is all just, should herself be totally just. (239)

c) On the Part of Mankind

The becomingness of the Immaculate Conception insofar as mankind is concerned, stems from the proposition that such a divine arrangement is a culmination of God’s gifts to our race. Having determined to give His only-begotten Son as a Victim for our sins, and therefore having willed that His Son should assume our sinful nature, it would seem fitting also that He create some human who would be perpetually innocent, never a captive of the devil. Such a person would be the Immaculate Mother of the Son, co-operating with Him in the sublime work of redeeming her fallen fellow men. Such a one would serve as a perfect model of holiness although entirely human herself. She who would thus be an example for humans yet pilgrims on earth would at the same time shed luster upon the glory of the blessed in heaven, for their Queen’s dignity would be enhanced by a perpetual fullness of grace. Thus her whole human family, the Church militant, and suffering, and triumphant, can truly say of this unique Mother of God: “Thou art the honored one of our people.” (240)

The Position of the Blessed Virgin Relative to the Law of Original Sin

Adam, on account of his transgression of the divine precept, (241) committed a grave sin of pride and disobedience, the guilt of which has been communicated to all his posterity who form, together with their father Adam, a human solidarity. The common origin of all mankind from this infected seed makes all men to share in a common sin, even as they would have shared in a common heritage of justice, had the first parents not fallen. (242) Adam was our head, and in his sin we have all sinned (243) and accordingly have forfeited our claim to initial sanctifying grace and the gifts which accompanied it: freedom from concupiscence, from suffering, from ignorance, from death.

With regard to Mary and her Immaculate Conception, the question presents itself under the form of her obligation to incur this stain of sin. Was she subject to this general law of inheriting sin? It is not asked, of course, whether she contracted sin, but whether she should have contracted it, and in what sense must that possible debt of contracting be understood. The solution of this problem reflects upon the dignity of Mary, and effects a logical reconciliation of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception with the universality of Christ’s Redemption.

One must distinguish on the one hand the “debt” to contract original sin, and on the

other hand the actual contracting of it. It is, in other words, the distinction between what should be and what actually is, as we might say of someone who has been exposed to a particularly contagious disease, “he should be sick in consequence,” but to the amazement even of doctors, he is not in reality infected by the germ in question. All are agreed, at least since the definition of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, and indeed well before the Bull Ineffabilis Deus virtually no Catholic held otherwise, (244) that Mary never actually was touched by the stain of any sin whatever. But whether or not the Blessed Virgin ought to have contracted original sin, that is, whether or not she had a debt of contracting it, has for long been a matter of controversy among theologians. (245) This discussion, never having been settled by any official statement of the Church, and being left open by the terms employed in Ineffabilis Deus, is properly a matter of divergent speculation among theologians. The controversy had its beginnings in the fourteenth century, and by the sixteenth century there were considerable discrepancies in the terminology relative to the debitum, and there were various schools of thought on the correct position to take concerning Our Lady’s relation to such a debt. At the basis of the controversy were two distinct but related problems: the predestination of Christ and His Mother, and the exact nature of original sin. (246)

In its most general sense, the debt of contracting original sin is an obligation, a necessity, an exigency of a human person’s being subject to an initial privation of sanctifying grace. This obligation is rooted in the universal law of solidarity existing between the common carnal head of all mankind, Adam, and each of his progeny descended from his seed. The seed of the first man thus becomes a baneful heritage for all his posterity. (247) That much is clear. But less evident is the question as to precisely how this obligation arises. Does it arise from the mere fact of carnal generation? Or does the necessity of our incurring original sin arise rather from the law of God directly operating, to the operation of which human generation is simply a conditio sine qua non? Stated in other words: does the law requiring our being conceived in sin operate as a cause of our incurring that sin even apart from the fact of human generation as a necessary condition? Or do the law and the fact of human generation from an infected line together constitute the cause for the transmission of original sin?

The solution to these questions has prompted most theologians to make a distinction between a “remote” and a “proximate” debt. If the law of God which places all men under the obligation to incur original sin depends upon generation merely as a conditio sine qua non in order for the sin to be contracted, then one would hold that the Blessed Virgin was under a remote debt to contract that sin. It would be remote in the sense that God, while excluding Mary from the law of sin, would nevertheless leave her under the conditioning obligation of incurring sin for the reason that she had a human nature derived from Adam through seminal generation.

If, on the contrary, one considers that the law and carnal generation taken together comprise a joint cause for the transmission of sin, then Mary would have a proximate debt of contracting original sin. It would be proximate in the sense that God would include her in the law of sin, but exclude her from the application of that law.

The remote debt is also termed “conditioned” debt, since under it sin would follow absolutely from the law and conditionally from seminal generation, that is to say, immediately from the law and mediately from human generation. It is also called a “potential” debt (248) because, even if one be excluded from the law of inheriting sin, nevertheless, because of the fact of seminal generation necessarily rendering that law operative, one would actually incur the sin unless again one were exempted by God from the operation of the law.

Proximate debt is also called “absolute” debt because of the law’s being one with the fact of seminal generation, in suchwise that the act of generation is not merely a condition which enables the law to operate. Rather it is the law operating. In this notion, original sin follows absolutely upon the fact of seminal generation, unless it happen that the law is divinely prevented from the actual application of its effect. (249)

I. Opinions of Theologians Relative to the Debt of Original Sin in Mary

Some theologians hold that the distinction between the remote and proximate debt is useless because Mary was certainly a daughter of Adam, and since the law of contracting original sin is identified with the derivation of human nature from Adam, to exclude her entirely from the law would be to deny that the Virgin was a child of Adam. And this would, in effect, assert that she in no sense needed to be redeemed, even preservatively. (250)

a) Proximate Debt

According to the opinion which teaches that the Blessed Virgin had the proximate debt of contracting original sin, she was included in the law of transmission of sin in such a way that she ought to have contracted it, not only by reason of her human nature as derived from Adam, but also by reason of her person. She had, if this be held, not only a natural debt, but even a personal debt of incurring the sin of our first parents. (251) In the theory of the proximate debt, the divine law was decreed in such a manner that original justice was so conferred on Adam that he would either keep it or lose it for himself and his posterity, including Mary. Thus she, as all other humans, ought to have been deprived of conception in grace because of Adam’s sin. But, this opinion continues, she actually did not suffer this privation because she was preserved by God: in her case the law did not apply. (252) According to this view, the preservation of the Blessed Virgin was accomplished, not by excluding her from the law of the transmission of original justice (which was a universal law without exception), but from the application of the law. The theory that Mary had a proximate debt of contracting sin is held by not a few ancient and contemporary theologians. (253)

b) Remote Debt

In the opinion favoring a remote debt in the Virgin, Mary was entirely exempted from the universal law of original sin because the law was never intended for her. (254) She had a remote debt of incurring original sin only insofar as she had a human nature derived from Adam. Therefore, this debt was only a natural one, not a personal one on her part, because she, as a person, was never subject to the law: she was preserved entirely from being subject to the law in virtue of the merits of Christ the Redeemer. In this theory, original justice was so bestowed on Adam that under the law of its transmission he would keep it for all those naturally begotten of him, and if he lost it by sin, he would lose it for himself and all his posterity except the Mother of the Savior. (255) Hence, in consequence of this law, even under Adam’s sin, Mary ought not to have been subject to the privation of grace. True enough, the opinion adds, as a natural offspring of our father Adam, she should otherwise have been included in the law, yet in fact God excluded her from the law of original sin in virtue of the foreseen merits of Christ. (256)

c) No Debt Whatever

The theologians who hold the opinion that there was no debt at all in the Mother of the Savior explain their position by declaring that Mary was constituted a distinct order from the rest of mankind: she was simply outside the order of sin, either original or actual. Many distinguished Spanish scholars have supported this theory. (257) According to this doctrine, Mary was neither included in the law of the transmission of sin from Adam, nor excluded from it. Sharing with Christ a wholly separate decree, she was above and beyond any sinful order. The divine decree concerned effected the absolute predestination of the Mother of the Messiah antecedently to God’s prevision of the fall of Adam, and so that decree was without any relation to the condition of the parents from whom she was generated. Authors of unimpeachable authority support this view, which seems to add to the dignity of the Virgin. (258) This school advances the argument that God both foresaw the fall of Adam and also willed that Adam represent the entire human race even in his sin, yet He did so with the single exception of Mary. Hence the Blessed Virgin was not only immune from sin itself, but even from any obligation whatsoever of incurring sin. (259)

St. Alphonse di Liguori regarded this opinion as probable, explaining that since God deigned to distinguish His Mother from the common lot of men by so many graces, that it can be correctly believed that He did not include her will with Adam’s in any fashion. (260)

A recent and clear defense of the position that denies any debt in Mary considers sin, as indeed it is, as a privation of something (sanctifying grace) that should be. (261) If one speaks of a debt to something negative, one must understand it differently from a debt or obligation to something positive. Considering debt from a positive aspect: that which should be present in Adam’s posterity is original justice, for if Adam had remained faithful to the divine precept, all his offspring would have received grace at conception in virtue of a title as descendants of Adam. In this way, original justice is the real debitum. Mankind’s loss of this title through Adam’s sin is not of itself original sin, which consists rather in the privation of original justice. The title to sanctification is regained through Christ’s Redemption, for He is the New Adam. The phrase “original justice” may mean either grace at the moment of origin of the soul, or it can mean justification because of one’s origin. Original sin would thus involve a double negation: first, the loss of title to grace because of one’s descent from Adam; second, the absence of grace at the moment of conception.

Thus, the want of grace when a human is conceived is a privation and a fault, but a fault for which the person infault is not at fault. Rather it is Adam who is at fault, since through his infidelity the grace that should have been present in the human soul is not present. Redemption does not restore original justice in the sense of justice by reason of origin, not even in the case of Mary. Justification is not through any incorporation in Adam, but through incorporation in Christ.

Applying these notions to the Mother of Christ, it would follow that there are various different ways in which God might have preserved Mary from incurring original sin. He might have given her grace in “simple gratuity” at the moment of her conception, or else in virtue of some “title,” such as because of her divine Maternity of the Redeemer. If the grace had been given in virtue of simple gratuity, Mary would not have been truly redeemed, for such a gift would not have been in view of the merits of Christ.

It can be said that there was a debt in Mary if two conditions would be verified. One that she lost her title to grace in Adam’s sin; the other, that God decreed not to give her grace at the moment of her conception. The title lost in Adam only made sin for her a possibility, not a necessity, and accordingly this possibility of original sin in turn makes redemption by Christ possible. But in view of the fact that God would not give grace to any child of Adam at the moment of conception except through the merits of the Redeemer, it follows that redemption would be necessary to preserve one in fact from contracting original sin. As a daughter of Adam it is true that Mary lost her title to grace at the moment of conception precisely in virtue of her origin, and therefore although sin was not necessary if God so decreed, nevertheless redemption was necessary.

Mary needed grace if sin were not to stain her soul, and to Christ is she indebted for her sanctification. But did she similarly have a necessity to incur sin by reason of a debt in Adam’s sin? She was surely “indebted” to her first parent for the possibility of her contracting sin, insofar as he surrendered one title she might have had to original grace.

“Mary lost one title to the grace of an immaculate conception but she gained another. The very fact that the Ineffabilis Deus cites Mary’s relation to Christ the Redeemer as her title to grace at the moment of conception, a title she possessed as it were from all eternity in the plan of Divine Wisdom, is it meaningful to speak of a need, a necessity, an obligation to contract sin? . . . Mary never seems to have had any genuine debitum. It was grace, not sin, that she should have had.” (262)

In substance, it might be pointed out in this connection, that it is in virtue of the merits of Christ that both Mary and all the redeemed have another title to grace in place of the title lost by Adam’s sin. It is the title, of course, from the Savior’s Redemption. There is this vastly important difference, however, between Mary and ourselves: we have the title to be restored to grace in virtue of Christ’s merits, whereas by God’s special decree with regard to His Mother, she had the title in virtue of her Son’s merits to be preserved, not merely from actually incurring original sin, but even from the obligation or debt of incurring it.

The Immunity of Mary from Concupiscence

I. Nature of Concupiscence

The consequences of original sin, in addition to the chief loss, that of sanctifying grace, include the forfeiture also of certain immunities enjoyed by our first parents, freedoms that we ourselves would have possessed had Adam not sinned. These immunities are from concupiscence (called the “fuel of sin”—fomes peccati), from death, from malice in the will, from darkness of the intellect in ignorance, from sufferings of all kinds. Man is naturally subject to inherent disabilities of this kind, and the function of the preternatural gifts which were joined with sanctifying grace and rooted in it, was to relieve man of such disagreeable impediments to a full and completely happy life. By the sin of our first parents we were made subject to the penalty of their loss. These gifts are not regained when the soul is restored to sanctifying grace through justification, the disabilities remaining in the person, with greater or less force, throughout life. (263)

The most noteworthy of these penalties is that of concupiscence, which is from Adam’s sin and leads us to sin, so much so that St. Thomas describes original sin as consisting materially in concupiscence. (264) Insofar as holiness is concerned, the wound of concupiscence plays a greater part than do the other penalties, precisely because of its proclivity to make actual sin a dreadful reality in human life. It is not formally or properly in the body, but rather in the lower powers of the soul, which we call the “sensitive” faculties, having a profound influence on the body. While it is therefore materially in the body, formally it is in the soul. The entire human person is infected by concupiscence because of our deriving a corrupted nature from our first parents: “nature infects the person.” (265)

The movement of the sense appetites, which was controlled easily and connaturally by our first parents so long as they retained grace and the accompanying gifts, became so disordered in consequence of original sin that these passions are in a state of revolt against man’s higher faculties. This rebellion, while not entailing a complete corruption, leads sense desires to assert their demands contrary to the dictates of man’s rational appetite, the will. The immoderate tendency of the lower potencies of man to seek their adequate sensible objects in opposition to the higher faculties, results in concupiscence “in first act” (in actu primo) or “in second act” (in actu secundo). Concupiscence in actu primo is the radical state of the sense appetites, their condition of being always proximately disposed to act contrary to reason. In actu secundo, concupiscence consists in the actual motions themselves of the appetites. (266)

Man’s soul was essentially rectified and oriented to God by the gift of sanctifying grace, and this supernatural elevation of the soul and its faculties was perfected in the preternatural order by the gift of integrity, which rendered sense subordinate to spirit even as spirit was, through grace, subordinated to God. The subjection of the superior part of the human composite effected by grace, once removed by sin, the loss of the gratuitous subjection of the inferior part followed as a necessary part of the punishment visited upon man by the Creator. (267) Thus in a formal sense, original justice consisted in habitual grace; in a material sense, it consisted in the hierarchy of integrity within man.

The inherent proneness of mankind toward an unreasonable satisfaction of sensible desires of whatever kind, called in actu primo by theologians, may be “released” by God simply when He permits the normal baneful effects of original sin to take their course in the human person; or it may be “bound” through the special providence of God preserving one from the inroads of concupiscence, although the “fuel of sin” is allowed to remain; or finally it may be “extinguished” by being totally removed from the subject by a special act of God. When concupiscence is thus extinguished there is realized an habitual and immovable disposition in the subject by which the inferior powers never move against reason, their proclivity to do so being completely taken away. (268)

Concupiscence in actu secundo, the very movements of sense appetites, may be “indeliberate,” when there is no question of the will’s consent to the movements provoked, and therefore indeliberate motions are without any direct moral reference. These motions may be “semideliberate” when they occur with imperfect advertence or imperfect consent, and ordinarily are venial sins. Or finally, concupiscence in actu secundo may be “deliberate” if it is joined to full advertence and consent, and where grave matter is in question mortal sin results. (269)

2. Relation of Mary to Concupiscence

The fundamental principle to be borne in mind with regard to the position of Mary in relation to the wound of concupiscence is this: Our Lady was constituted in an unique state of grace, and in virtue of this most special condition she was related to all the preternatural gifts characteristic of the state of innocence. (270) To what extent the Bull Ineffabilis Deus may be considered as excluding concupiscence from Mary is controverted among theologians. (271) There can scarcely be any question with regard to the Blessed Virgin’s being subject to any concupiscence in actu secundo in any form, since such disordered motions are intimately associated with the stain of original sin and too immediately related to actual sin: actual concupiscence is the “motion of sin,” as St. Thomas expresses it. (272) The suggestions of sudden movements of the flesh, springing from the violent inclination of our flesh toward sensible objects, were found among the saints, all of whom were conceived in original sin. In Mary there was no trace of such motions, even in a material sense. Thus it does not suffice to assert simply that Mary never consented to disordered carnal activity; she never in fact experienced the slightest actual revolt in her lower nature. (273)

Concerning the question of Mary being subject to concupiscence in actu primo, there has not always been such complete unanimity among theologians, at least with reference to the time when even this radical form of concupiscence was removed from the Mother of God. In the doctrine of the Scholastics, whose teaching prevailed generally up to the era of the definition of the dogma in 1854, the wonderfully integral nature of the Blessed Virgin knew a “bound” concupiscence from the moment of her first sanctification (either at the moment of her conception or else subsequently while in the womb of Anna) up to the moment of her second sanctification (when the Word assumed flesh), when all concupiscence was totally extinguished. (274) This is the position of St. Thomas Aquinas, who explains that the fomes peccati remained in Mary according to its essence after her justification, but that insofar as any actual operation of concupiscence was concerned the fomes was impeded. At the instant of her conceiving the Son of God, all concupiscence was totally removed. (275) Later theologians, at least since the date of the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, teach that there was never in Mary the slightest trace of disordered sense appetite, for the plenitude of grace possessed by her was such that her entire sense life was always perfectly in accord with the dictate of her immensely graced will.

(276) This interpretation appears more generally consonant with the honor of Christ whose flesh is of the most pure flesh of Mary; with the fact that, being totally immune from all stain of original sin, she ought therefore to be similarly free from one of its chief consequences; and since this immunity was had by our first parents, then fittingly it may be claimed for her. (277) It should be remembered that Mary’s freedom from concupiscence is not a result of the Immaculate Conception, at least directly. It is attributable to the graces that accompanied the singular prerogative of the divine Maternity. (278) But insofar as her immunity from concupiscence is related to her being conceived in grace, modern theologians acknowledge an extirpation of all disordered sense tendencies as concomitant with Mary’s initial grace. This element in her sanctification is a negative thing: the removal of the “stain” of sin effected by the infusion of grace into her soul at the instant of its union with the body, and this is sometimes called her “first perfection.” Her “second perfection” became a reality at the instant of the Incarnation, by which she received consummate grace, itself capable of yet great augmentation. (279) Her first perfection, the Immaculate Conception, predisposed her to the second, serving as a means for the Word to come among men. (280) And since the Word’s flesh was hers, all inordinate carnal tendencies should have been removed, and were removed even in a radical sense, at the first moment of Mary’s existence as a person. (281)

In the Bull Ineffabilis Deus it is said that the Mother of God was free “from all stain of original sin.” (282) While it is not entirely certain that it was thereby intended to declare Mary’s freedom as well from concupiscence, nevertheless it may be said that concupiscence is truly part of original sin in those not yet justified, and so in Mary’s case the use of “all” in the definition may have a special value. (283) Aside from any consideration of the possible quality of concupiscence in the state of pure nature in man, a condition that has slight relevance to the actual economy of mankind’s fallen and redeemed nature, it should be affirmed that where there was never original sin, there was never concupiscence. Such was Mary’s prerogative. (284)

The Relation of Mary to the State of Original Justice

Our first parents were constituted by God in a state of innocence, and this condition existed more probably from the first moment of their existence, although some theologians have taught that this elevation did not take place until some time after God made man. (285) This establishment of Adam and Eve in such a perfect condition of supernatural and natural being, in which their natural powers were perfected by the preternatural gifts, is called the state of “original justice.” It implies the presence in their souls of sanctifying grace by which they were children of God and sharers in the divine nature, together with infused virtues of faith, hope, and charity. They likewise possessed immunity from certain disadvantages natural to the human composite: freedom from the necessity to die, from disorder in the sense appetites, from the illness and sorrows of life, from darkness of mind and from malice of will. (286) This totality of innocence and wondrous gifts was entirely a gratuity on the part of God, in no manner owed to man. (287) God could have allowed man to remain simply in the state of pure nature, with natural means to a natural end. But He did not; in His liberality He gave human nature sanctifying grace as the formal element of original justice, and added the blessing of integrity, completing and elevating man’s natural perfections. All this would have been transmitted to Adam’s posterity as their heritage, had he not forfeited original justice by his originating sin, communicated to us as original sin through infected human nature. (288)

The extraordinary grace accorded Mary in the divine plan of our Redemption as the Mother of the Messiah presents the problem of comparing her status with that of original justice enjoyed by our protoparents. Specifically in light of her Immaculate Conception, removing as it did all stain of original sin, can it be properly affirmed that Mary was constituted in the same situation as Adam and Eve: a condition of primitive innocence? Theologians are not agreed. Some contend that the Mother of God was entirely a new Eve, endowed with all grace and privileges of first innocence, even to the extent of having a title to personal immortality. That she actually died, this opinion holds, is simply because of her role of Coredemptrix. And had she not died, Christ would Himself have endured something that is a characteristic human experience which His Mother would not have known. (289) Still other writers deny that such was Mary’s state. (290)

In substance, the determination of the Blessed Mother’s position in this regard may turn on her relation to her Son as her Redeemer, who has restored her to a singular level of sanctity because she was destined to be His Mother in the Incarnation. She needed His merits in order to be the recipient of God’s grace, the formal element of her holiness. (291) Consistently with the opinion supporting a debt in Mary, it would follow that the grace given the Blessed Virgin was not in virtue of the primitive elevation of man, but in virtue of a new and special elevation through Christ. (292) She was neither in the state of original justice, nor in a state of (personally) lapsed but redeemed nature. Her state was totally unique and proper to her. (293)

Even if Mary had been placed simply in the state of original justice through some special decree of God, it would not be necessary to conclude that she would thereby have some or all of the gifts that constitute integrity, for the possession of sanctifying grace, however so exalted in degree, does not postulate the presence of the immunities that make up integrity. The participation in divine life which is grace is quite separable from the immunities from death, suffering, and the rest. (294) The grace of the Immaculate Conception, a grace “of Christ” contrasted with the grace “of God” received by our first parents, did not constitute Mary in the condition of first innocence. Nor did she, on account of that grace, have any strict title or claim to the preternatural gifts. (295) Having been lost through the fall of Adam, they could subsequently be enjoyed by one whose role in God’s plan was such that the presence of the gifts, or of some of them, would be fitting and quasi-necessary in view of some special destiny of that individual. Mary’s divine Maternity meets this requirement, as well as her office of Coredemptrix. (296) Similarly, because of her propinquity to Christ, the source of grace efficiently according to His divinity and instrumentally according to His humanity, and because she gave Him that humanity, therefore Mary’s grace was supreme as compared to that of any man or angel. (297) With this grace she received all the theological virtues, since she was still a pilgrim despite her office, and also the moral virtues, except penance which concerns sorrow for sin. The Gifts of the Holy Spirit were hers, of course, and actual graces beyond estimation.

(298) But all these incredible manifestations of God’s solicitude for the sanctity of His Mother did not remove from her such human infirmities as her Son deigned to take upon Himself. (299) As He, she was acquainted with suffering and death and the manifold trials of soul and body to which each human is, in this time of probation, subject. But whatever would truly be out of place in the Mother of the Savior, whatever would lessen that dignity or be suggestive of sin, must be rigorously excluded from her. In addition, therefore, to her freedom from concupiscence, we should acknowledge her immunity from ignorance and from any debility in the irascible appetites, from all malice of will or error of intellect. (300) Mary is, under Christ, God’s gracious Masterpiece. In the words of the Franciscan Doctor, St. Bonaventure:

Mary the Virgin is the advocate of sinners and the glory and the crown of the just. She is the spouse of God, the abode of the Trinity and the most special resting place of the Son. (301)

This article was excerpted from J. B. Carol’s Mariology, Vol. 1, Bruce, 1955.


(1) D.B., No. 1641.

(2) Cf. B. H. Merkelbach, O.P., Mariologia (Parisiis, 1939), p. 105ff.

(3) For a thorough treatment of the species of conception, cf. G. Alastruey, Mariologia (Vallisoleti, 1934), Vol. I, p. 180ff.

(4) Cf. Ephrem Longpre, O.F.M., Exposition du Dogme de L’Immaculée Conception, in Deuxieme Congres Marial National (Lourdes, 1930), p. 81.

(5) DTC, Vol. 7, cols. 845-846.

(6) Cf. Charles Gonthier, Marie et le Dogme (Paris, 1920), pp. 26-33.

(7) Cf. C. Passaglia, S.J., De Immaculato Deiparae semper Virginis conceptu (Romae, 1855), Sec. I, 2, 3. Cf. also Sedulius, In Carmina Paschalia, lib. 2, v. 28, PL, 19, 596; Opera Augustini, appendix, PL, 8, 1101; Opera Angustini, sermo 123, PL, 5, 1990; Ivo, In serm. de Nativit. Domini, PL, 162, 570. For Eastern thought on this, cf. S. M. Le Bachelet, L’lmmacolata Concezione (Roma, 1904), Parte I: L’Oriente. Specifically for Spain, cf. I. M. Oller, Espana y la Inmaculada Concepcion (Madrid, 1905), passim.

(8) Cf. DTC, Vol. 7, col. 847.

(9) Cf. S. Thomas Aquinas, S. Th., I, q. 95, a. 1.

(10) Cf. Martin Jugie, A.A., L’Immaculée Conception dans L’Ecriture sainte et dans la tradition orientale (Rome, 1952), p. 11.

(11) Cf. S. Thomas Aquinas, S. Th., III, q. 31, a. 7.

(12) Lk. 1:35.

(13) Cf. B. H. Merkelbach, O.P., Mariologia, p. 108.

(14) Cf. Carolus Balic, O.F.M., De debito peccati originalis in B. Virgine Maria (Romae, 1941), p. 88.

(15) Cf. the cogent argument of Scotus on this point in Sebastianus Dupasquier, O.F.M.Conv., Summa Theologiae Scotisticae, Vol. 3 (Patavii, 1706), p. 244. Cf. also Vincent Mayer, O.F.M.Conv., The Teaching of the Ven. John Duns Scotus (on the Immaculate Conception), in Franciscan Studies, Vol. 4 (New York, 1926), pp. 39-46.

(16) D.B., No. 1641.

(17) D.B., No. 1641. Cf. Ludovicus Lercher, S.J., Institutiones Theologiae Dogmaticae, Vol. 3 (Oeniponte, 1934), p. 338.

(18) Cf. Martin Jugie, A.A., op. cit., p. VIII.

(19) Cf. DTC, Vol. 7, col. 847.

(20) D.B., No. 1787.

(21) Cf. B. H. Merkelbach, O.P., op. cit., p. 109.

(22) Cf. Gabriel M. Roschini, O.S.M., Mariologia, ed. 2, Vol. 2 (Romae, 1948), p. 23.

(23) Cf. Armand Robichaud, S.M., The Immaculate Conception in the Magisterium of the Church, in Marian Studies, Vol. 5 (Washington, D. C., 1954), pp. 118-120.

(24) Cf. Paul F. Palmer, S.J., Mary in the Documents of the Church (Westminster, Md., 1952), pp. 81-89.

(25) Cf. Narcisco Garcia Garces, C.M.F., Titulos y Grandezas de Maria (Madrid, 1952), p. 384 ff.; Scoti-Guarrae-Aureoli, Quaestiones Disputatae de Immaculata Conceptione B. V. M. (Ad Claras Aquas, 1904), p. VII.

(26) Cf. Jean-François Bonnefoy, O.F.M., Le Mystere de Marie selon le Protevangile et l’Apocalypse (Paris, 1949), passim; F. Ceuppens, O.P., Theologia Biblica, Vol. 4: De Mariologia Biblica (Romae, 1948), pp. 70, 208.

(27) Cf. G. Alastruey, op. cit., p. 182.

(28) Cf. Martin Jugie, op. cit., p. 41.

(29) Cf. Francis X. Peirce, S.J., Mary Alone is “the Woman” of Genesis 3, 15, in The Catholic Biblical Quarterly,Vol. 2 (Washington, D. C., 1940), No. 3, pp. 245-252; Antonine De Guglielmo, O.F.M., Mary in the Protoevangelium, in The Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 14, 1952, No. 2, pp. 104-115; J. Coppens, Le Protevangile, in Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses, Vol. 26 (Louvain, 1950), p. 35.

(30) DTC, Vol. 7, col. 859. Cf. Francis J. Connell, C.SS.R., Historical Development of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, in Studies in Praise of Our Blessed Mother, ed. Fenton-Benard (Washington, D. C., 1952), p. 94.

(31) Cf. P. F. Ceuppens, O.P., De Mariologia Biblica, ed. 2 (Romae, 1951), pp. 16-17; Tiburtius Gallus, S.J., Interpretatio Mariologica Protoevangelii (Romae, 1949), passim; G. Arendt, S.J., De Protoevangelii habitudine ad Immaculatam Deiparae Conceptionem (Romae, 1904). See Father E. May’s paper in J.B. Carol, Mariology, Vol. 1.

(32) Cf. Sebastianus Dupasquier, O.F.M.Conv., op. cit., p. 237; Raymundo Martinez y Ferrer, De utilitate et ratione sufficienti ad dogmaticam definitionem (Interamnae, 1853), p. 61; Vasco Bertelli, L’interpretazione mariologica del Protoevangelo (Gen. 3, 15) negli esegeti e teologi dopo la Bolla “Ineffabilis Deus” di Pio IX(Romae, 1951), passim.

(33) Cf. B. H. Merkelbach, O.P., op. cit., p. 113; P. Hitz, C.SS.R., Le sens Marial de Protevangile, in Etudes Mariales (Paris, 1947), passim.

(34) Cf. A. H. M. Lepicier, O.S.M., Tractatus de Beatissima Virgine Maria, ed. 5 (Romae, 192,6), p. 137, footnote; for the sense of Coredemption cf. J. B. Carol, O.F.M., Romanorum Pontificum doctrina de B. V. Corredemptrice, in Marianum, Vol. 9 (Roma, 1947), p. 165; V. G. Bertelli, Il senso mariologico pieno e il senso letterale de Protoevangelo (Gen. 3, 15) dalla “Ineffabilis Deus” al 1948, in Marianum, Vol. 13, pp. 369-395.

(35) Cf. C. Crosta, Theologia Dogmatica, Vol. 3 (Varese, 1932), p. 176.

(36) Cf. Jean-Francois Bonnefoy, O.F.M., op. cit., p. 140.

(37) Cf. J. B. Carol, O.F.M., in Marianum, Vol. I, 1939, pp. 314-316.

(38) Lk. 1:28.

(39) Cf. Sebastianus Dupasquier, O.F.M.Conv., op. cit., p. 238; DTC, Vol. 7, col. 859.

(40) Cf. Sebastianus Dupasquier, O.F.M.Conv., op. cit., p. 239.

(41) Card. Alimonda, II Dogma dell’lmmacolata (Torino, 1886), p, 118: “…giacchè ivi appunto si recita e se narra a svelare la virtù divina, per la quale quei segni o miracoli si operavano; laddove a Maria sola s’indirizza autonomasticamente il celeste saluto, che altri mai non sortì.”

(42) Cf. B. H. Merkelbach, O.P., op. cit., pp. 112-113.

(43) Cf. Henry Bolo, Pleine de grace (Paris, 1895), passim.

(44) Cf. A. H. M. Lepicier, O.S.M., op. cit., p. 219.

(45) Mt. 5:44; Lk. 6:28; Rom. 12:14; James 3:10.

(46) Gen. 3:14.

(47) Lk. 1:42.

(48) Cf. V. Sardi, La solenne definizione del dogma dell’Immacolato Concepimento di Maria Santissima, Vol. I (Roma, 1905), p. 796ff.

(49) Cf. Jules Souben, Nouvelle Theologie Dogmatique, (Paris, 1902), Vol. 4, pp. 135-137.

(50) Cf. J. de Aldama, Mariologia, in Sacrae Theologiae Summa (ed. a Patribus Soc. Jesu), Vol. 3 (Madrid, 1950), p. 303, No. 28. Cf. also Eric May’s paper in this volume.

(51) Cant. 4:7.

(52) Cant. 5:2.

(53) Ps. 86:5.

(54) Wisd. 1:4.

(55) Ps. 45:5.

(56) Cf. B. H. Merkelbach, op. cit., p. 113.

(57) See the various opinions referred to in Father M. Gruenthaner’s paper in this same volume.

(58) Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, S. Th., Ia-IIae, q. 86, a. 1.

(59) Cf. DTC, Vol. 7, col. 869; Jean-Francois Bonnefoy, O.F.M., op. cit., passim.

(60) J. B. Carol, O.F.M., Our Lady’s Coredemption in the Marian Literature of Nineteenth Century America, inMarianum, Vol. 14, 1952, p. 61. There is a growing emphasis in Mariology on Mary’s relation to the work of her Son, the Redeemer. Cf. E. Ledvorowski, Maternitas divina fundamentum Mariologiae, in Marianum, Vol. 15, 1953, pp. 176-194.

(61) Cf. DTC, Vol. 7, col. 848.

(62) T. Duhr, S.J., Devolution du dogme de I’lmmaculee Conception, in Nouvelle Revue Theologique (Louvain, 1951), Vol. 73, p. 1032.

(63) Bernard A. McKenna, The Dogma of the Immaculate Conception (Washington, D.C., 1929), p. 89.

(64) Cf. Martin Jugie, A.A., op. cit., p. 473; DTC, Vol. 7, col. 871.

(65) Rom. 5:19.

(66) Dialogus cum Tryphone Judaea, No. 100, PL, 6, 710 D.

(67) Contra haereses lib. 5, cap. 1, No. 2, PG, 7, 1122.

(68) De carne Christi, cap. 17, PL, 2, 781-782.

(69) Cf. Ed. Hugon, Tractatus Dogmatici, Vol. 2 (Paris, 1935), p. 718.

(70) Contra haereses, lib. 3, cap. 22, PG, 7, 959.

(71) Cf. DTC, Vol. 7, col. 873.

(72) Cf. G. Jouassard, Le probleme de la saintete de Marie chez les Peres, in Etudes Mariales (Paris, 1947), pp. 13-28.

(73) Cf. Dominicus Palmieri, S.J., Tractatus de peccato originali et de Immaculato Beatae Virginis Deiparae Conceptu, ed. altera (Romae, 1904), p. 244.

(74) Ibid., p. 263.

(75) Cf. De cone, virg., c. 18; PL, 158, 451.

(76) D.B., No. 170.

(77) Apud Theodoretum, in dialogo Eranistes, PG, 10, 610.

(78) Carmina Nisibena, ed. Bickell (Leipzig, 1866), p. 40.

(79) Cf. The American Ecclesiastical Review, Vol. 9 (Philadelphia, Pa., 1893), pp. 406-407.

(80) In Ps. 118 Expositio, PL, 2, 782.

(81) De natura et gratia, cap. 36, No. 42, PL, 44, 267.

(82) Cf. Phillipp Friedrich, Die Mariologia des Hl. Augustinus (Koln, 1907), pp. 183-238. Also B. Capelle, O.S.B., La pensee de saint Augustin concernant l’Immaculée Conception, in Recherches de Theologie ancienne et medievale, Vol. 4, 1932, pp. 361-370.

(83) Cf. A. Dufourcq, Comment s’eveilla la foi a I’lmmaculee-Conception et a l’Assomption aux Ve et Vle siecles(Paris, 1946).

(84) S. Ambrose, In Expositionem Evangelii secundum Lucam 1:29, No. 9, PL, 15,


(85) Pseudo-Jerome, Epist. 22 Ad Eustochium, No. 38, PL, 22, 422.

(86) J. Mahieu, Sainte Mere de Dieu (Bruges, 1940), p. 45.

(87) Dominicus Palmieri, S.J., op. cit., p. 225.

(88) Cf. The American Ecclesiastical Review, Vol. 114, (Washington, D.C., 1946), p. 346.

(89) Cf. DTC, Vol. 7, col. 893 ff.

(90) Lk. 2:35.

(91) Cf. Martin Jugie, A.A., op. cit., p. 474.

(92) Ibid., p. 475.

(93) Cf. DTC, Vol. 7, col. 935.

(94) Cf. Dominicus Cerri, Enchiridion ex quibus exurgit triumphus B. Mariae Virginis Matris Dei in originale peccatum (Taurini, 1851), passim.

(95) Homil. 6 in S. Deiparam, No. 11, PG, 77, 1427 A.

(96) Oratio I de Laudibus S. Mariae, PG, 65, 683 B.

(97) Ibid., Oratio 6, PG, 68, 758 A.

(98) Sermo 5, PG, 93, 1463; 1466.

(99) Cf. Oratio 39 in Sanctissimae Deiparae Annuntiationem, PG, 85, 426.

(100) Cf. In Sanctissimae Deiparae Annuntiationem, Homil. 2, PG, 85, 1778; 1783.

(101) Cf. Oratio 3 de Incarnatione, No. 6, PG, 89, 1338.

(102) Cf. Dominicus Palmieri, S.J., op. cit., p. 284.

(103) Oratio 2 in Sanctissimae Deiparae Annuntiationem, PG, 87 (3), 3247.

(104) Epistola Synodica ad Sergium, PG, 87 (3), 3159; 3162.

(105) Cf. Encomium in Beatam Virginem, PG, 86 (2), 3279; 3282; 3283; 3302; 3306.

(106) Cf. Valentine A. Mitchel, S.M., The Mariology of Saint John Damascene (Kirkwood, Mo., 1930), p. 125.

(107) Cf. De Fide Orthodoxa, lib. 4, cap. 14, PG, 94, 1159 A.

(108) Cf. ibid., PG, 96, 675.

(109) Homilia 3 in Dormitionem Beatae Virginis Mariae, No. 5, PG, 96, 762 A.

(110) Homilia 1 in Nativitatem Beatae Virginis Mariae, No. 9, PG, 96, 674 C.

(111) Ibid., Homilia 1, No. 2, 663.

(112) Cf. Ibid.

(113) Homilia 1 in Nativitatem Beatae Virginis Mariae, No. 3, PG, 96, 675.

(114) Homilia 2 in Dormitionem Beatae Virginis Mariae, No. 2, PG, 96, 726 B.

(115) Homilia 1 in Nativitatem Beatae Virginis Mariae, No. 8, PG, 96, 674 B.

(116) De Fide Orthodoxa, lib. 2, PG, 94, 978 C.

(117) Homilia 2 in Dormitionem Beatae Virginis Mariae, No. 3, PG, 96, 727 A.

(118) De Fide Orthodoxa, lib. 3, cap. 27, PG, 94, 1095 B-C.

(119) Homilia 1 in Dormitionem Beatae Virginis Mariae, No. 10, PG, 96, 714 D.

(119) Homilia 2 in Dormitionem Beatae Virginis Mariae, No. 3, PG, 96, 727 C.

(121) Cf. Stephen C. Gulovich, The Immaculate Conception in the Eastern Churches, in Marian Studies, Vol. 5 (Washington, D. C., 1954), p. 160.

(122) Cf. C. Octavius Valerius, De superstitiosa timiditate vitanda (Tridenti, 1751), p. 28: “Oriente sacrum hunc statumque Conceptions diem omnes summo concordique pietatis studio amplexati sunt nemine disentiente aut reclamante, quod ego quidem noverim aut usquam legerim.”

(123) In SS. Deiparae Praesentationem, PG, 98, 1498; 1482; 1490.

(124) Cf. Sermo de vita Sanctissimae Deiparae, PG, 120, 194, 198.

(125) Cf. Mariale, PG, 105, 983 ff.

(126) Cf. Oratio 7 in Sanctissimae Deiparae ingressum in templum, PG, 100, 1454; 1443.

(127) Cf. Oratio in conceptionem S. Annae, PG, 104, 1351; 1359.

(128) Cf. Sermo in Sanctissimae Deiparae Annuntiationem, PG, 106, 819; 846.

(129) Cf. Hymnus 3 in Beatissimam Dei Genetricem, PG, 106, 862.

(130) Cf. Hymnus 2 (and) 3 in Beatissimam Dei Genetricem, PG, 106, 858; 862.

(131) Cf. H. du Colombier, S.J., A la Gloire de Marie (Paris, 1936), p. 24.

(132) Cf. Canones Praecipui et Triodia, Conceptio Sanctae ac Dei Aviae Annae, PG, 97, 1306-1318.

(133) Cf. Sermo in Conceptionem Sanctae Deiparae, PG, 96, 1459-1499.

(134) Cf. Stephen C. Gulovich, art. cit., p. 169.

(135) Cf. DTC, Vol. 7, col. 959.

(136) Cf. Martin Jugie, A.A., op. cit., p. 473.

(137) Cf. DTC, Vol. 7, col. 936 ff.

(138) Cf. Martin Jugie, A.A., op. cit., p. 476.

(139) Cf. DTC, Vol. 7, col. 979; J. de Aldama, op. cit., pp. 306-310.

(140) Cf. Sermo 140, De Annuntiatione D. Mariae Virginis, PL, 52, 576.

(141) Homilia 5, Incipit dictum ante Natale Domini, PL, 57, 235 D.

(142) Carmen Paschale, lib, 2, PL, 19, 595-596.

(143) Sermo 2, de duplici Nativitate Christi, No. 6, PL, 65, 728 C.

(144) Cf. Sermo 36, De laudibus Mariae ex partu Salvatoris, PL, 65, 899 C.

(145) Miscellanea, lib. 8, cap. 7, PL, 88, 277-281.

(146) Cf. (Sermones dubii), Sermo 2, De Assumptions Beatae Mariae, PL, 96, 252 A.

(147) Cf. Breviarium in Psalmos, Ps. 77, PL, 26, 1049.

(148) Cf. Ep. 9 ad Paulam et Eustochium, de Assumptione Beatae Mariae Virginis, PL, 30, 132 A.

(149) Homilia 2, in Evangelium: Intravit Jesus, PL, 95, 1573 B.

(150) Cf. Homilia 5 in solemnitate perpetuae Virginis Mariae, PL, 118, 765 D.

(151) Cf. De partu Virginis, lib. I, PL, 120, 1369 A.

(152) Cf. ibid., 1375 B.

(153) Cf. Sermo 4, de Nativitate Beatissimae Mariae Virginis, PL, 141, 322 B.

(154) Cf. Rogerus T. Jones, Sancti Anselmi Mariologia (Mundelein, Ill., 1937), p. 45; Francis M. Mildner, O.S.M., The Immaculate Conception in England up to the Time of John Duns Scotus, in Marianum, Vol. I (Roma, 1939), pp. 200-201.

(155) Cf. Gaetano M. Perrella, C.M., La dottrina dell’Immacolata nella Liturgia delta festa, in Marianum, Vol. 4 (Roma, 1942), pp. 21-31; Andrea M. Cecchin, O.S.M., La Concezione della Vergine nella liturgia della Chiesa occidentale anteriore al secolo XIII, in Marianum, Vol. 5 (Roma, 1943), pp. 58-114.

(156) Cf. C. Octavius Valerius, op. cit., p. 29.

(157) Cf. Felim O’Briain, O.F.M., Feast of Our Lady’s Conception in the Medieval Irish Church, in The Irish Ecclesiastical Review (Dublin, 1948), p. 702; M. J. Scheeben, Mariology, Vol. 2 (St. Louis, 1947), p. 87 (footnote).

(158) Cf. Opera S. Anselmi, Appendix: De Conceptione Beatae Mariae Virginis, PL, 159, 304 D-305 A.

(159) Ibid., 307 A.

(160) Ibid., 305 D.

(161) Cf. Ep. 174 Ad Canonicos Lugdunenses, PL, 182, 332-336; but see Sebastianus Dupasquier, O.F.M.Conv., op. cit., p. 241: “… Bernardus non tam arguit opinionem de Immaculata Conceptione, quam institutionem illius solemnitatis inconsulta Sede Apostolica, et ex propria auctoritate.”

(162) Cf. C. Octavius Valerius, op. cit., p. 27; A. Raugel, La doctrine de Saint Bernard (Paris, 1935), p. 34 ff; Dominicus Palmieri, S.J., op. cit., p. 236.

(163) Cf. Antonius Ballerini, S.J., De S. Bernardi scriptis circa Deiparae Conceptionem (Roma, 1856), passim;Dominicus Palmieri, S.J., op. cit., p. 236.

(164) Cf. M. J. Scheeben, op. cit., p. 89.

(165) Cf. Pierre Aubron, S.J., L’oeuvre Mariale de Saint Bernard (Paris 1935), pp. 177-184.

(166) Cf. S. Bonaventura, in III Sent., d. 3, a. 1, q. 1; S. Thomas Aquinas, in III Sent., d. 3, q. 1, a. 1; S. Albertus Magnus, in III Sent., d. 3, a. 4; Alex. Halensis, Summa Theol., III, d. 3, a. 4.

(167) Cf. Dominicus Palmieri, op. cit., p. 237.

(168)Cf. in III Sent., d. 3, q. 2.

(169) Cf. M. J. Scheeben, op. cit., p. 95.

(170) Cf. Bernard’s spirit of submission, Litt. 174, PL, 182, 333.

(171) Cf. Paul F. Palmer, S.J., Mary in the Documents of the Church (Westminster, Md., 1952), p. 71.

(172) Cf. D. Francesco Gaude, Sullo Immacolato Concepimento della Madre di Dio (Roma, 1856), p. 86 ff.; M. A. Bros, Santo Tomas de Aquino y la Inmaculada Conception de la Virgen Maria (Barcelona, 1909), passim.

(173) Cf. G. M. Roschini, O.S.M., La Mariologia di S. Tommaso (Roma, 1950), pp. 236-237. It is extremely difficult to reconcile the opinion of St. Thomas in S. Th., III, q. 27, a. 2 ad 2um, with Mary’s immunity from original sin: “… si nunquam anima B. Virginis fuisset contagio originalis peccati inquinata, hoc derogaret dignitati Christi, secundum quam est universalis omnium Salvator.” Cf. Dominicus Palmieri, S.J., op. cit., p. 291; Armandus Plessis, S.M.M., Manuale Mariologiae Dogmaticae (Pont-Chateau, 1942), p. 60; Emile Campana, Marie dans le Dogme Catholique (Montrejeau, 1913), Vol. 2, p. 200 ff.

(174) Cf. Sebastianus Dupasquier, O.F.M.Conv., op. cit., p. 236; D. J. Kennedy, O.P., St. Thomas and the Immaculate Conception, in The Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, ed. B. McKenna (Washington, D.C., 1929), p. 96.

(175) Cf. Emile Campana, op. cit., p. 232.

(176) Hugolinus Storff, O.F.M., The Immaculate Conception (San Francisco, 1925), p. 21.

(177) Cf. D. J. Kennedy, op. cit., p. 90.

(178) Cf. Carolus Balic, O.F.M., De debito peccati originalis in B. Virgine Maria (Romae, 1941), p. 88 ff.; Joannis Duns Scotus, Theologiae Marianae Elementa, in Bibliotheca Mariana, ed. Carolus Balic, O.F.M. (Sibenici, 1933), p. 190; Scotus, Quaestiones Disputatae de Immaculata Conceptione (Ad Claras Aquas, 1904), pp. 12-22.

(179) Cf. Scotus (ed. Balic), p. 192: “Nobilius autem est praeservare ne offendat quis quam post offensam remittere.”

(180) Cf. Hugolinus Storff, O.F.M., op. cit., p. 179 ff.

(181) N. G. da S. Marcello, O.F.M., L’Immacolata ed il Verbo Umanato (Ad Claras Aquas, 1904), passim; Ephrem Longpre, O.F.M., Exposition du Dogme de l’Immaculee-Conception, in Deuxieme Congres Marial National (Lourdes, 1930), p. 80.

(182) Cf. Carolus Balic, O.F.M., op. cit., p. 99.

(183) Cf. Sebastianus Dupasquier, op. cit., pp. 243-244: “Aut Deus potuit, et noluit, aut voluit, et non potuit praeservare illam ab originali, si potuit, et noluit, ergo avarus in eam fuit, si voluit, et non potuit, infirmus fuit, certe nullus est, qui possit honorare matrem, et nolit.”

(184) Cf. Emmanuel Chiettini, O.F.M., Mariologia S. Bonaventurae, in Bibliotheca Mariana Medii Aevi (Romae, 1941), p. 145 ff.

(185) Cf. Caietanus Stano, O.F.M.Conv., De mente S. Antonii Patavini quoad Imm. Conceptionem B. V. Mariae, in Miscellanea Francescana, Vol. 40 (Roma, 1940), p. 18; Candidus Romerii, O.F.M., De Immaculata Conceptione Virginis apud S. Antonium (Romae, 1939), p. 78; Diomede Scaramuzzi, O.F.M., La dottrina teologica di S. Antonio di Padova (Roma, 1933), pp. 30-39.

(186) Cf. P. Pauwels, O.F.M., Les Franciscains et L’Immaculee Conception (Malines, 1904), p. 9 ff; Jerome de Paris, O.P.M.Cap., La doctrine mariale de Saint Laurent de Brindes (Paris, 1933), pp. 61-74.

(187) Cf. M. J. Scheeben, op. cit., p. 108.

(188) Cf. C. Octavius Valerius, op. cit., p. 36.

(189) D.B., No. 734.

(190) Cf. Emphrem Longpre, op. cit., p. 80.

(191) Cf. Cherubinus Sericoli, O.F.M., Immaculata B. M. Virginis Conceptio iuxta Xysti IV Constitutiones(Romae, 1945), passim; D.B., No. 735.

(192) D.B., No. 792. Cf. M. Tognetti, L’Immacolata al Concilio Tridentino, in Marianum, Vol. 15, 1953, pp. 304-374.

(193) Cf. Giacinto Bosco, O.P., L’Immacolata Concezione nel pensiero del Gaetano e del Caterino (Firenze, 1950).

(194) D.B., No. 1073.

(195) Ibid., No. 1100.

(196) For history of the Papal acts, cf. Dominicus Palmieri, op. cit., pp. 293-298. For complete treatment of acts prior to 1854, cf. J. Armand Robichaud, S.M., art. cit.

(197) Cf. Paul F. Palmer, S.J., op. cit., p. 79.

(198) Cf. B. H. Merkelbach, O.P., op. cit., p. 119 ff.

(199) Cf. St. Thomas, S. Th., I, q, 105, a. 7.

(200) Cf. ibid., I, q. 31, a. 1.

(201) Cf. Joannes Duns Scotus, op. cit., p. 192.

(202) Cf. Pietro Parente, Dictionary of Dogmatic Theology (Milwaukee, 1951), p. 201.

(203) Cf. B. H. Merkelbach, O.P., op. cit., p. 105 ff.

(204) Rom. 5:12.

(205) Rom. 3:4.

(206) Rom. 3:12.

(207) Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, op. cit., I-II, q. no, a. 3.

(208) Cf. Chan. J. Mahieu, op. cit., p. 47.

(209) Cf. R. P. Poupon, O.P., Le Poeme de la Parfaite Consecration a Marie (Lyon, 1947), p. 123.

(210) Ecclus. 24:5.

(211) Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, op. cit., III, q. 27, a. 5 ad lum.

(212) Cf. Arthur Martin, S.J., Vida y misterios de la Bienaventurada Virgen Maria Madre de Dios (Mexico City, 1950), p. 17.

(213) Cf. Bishop Ullathorne, The Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God (Baltimore, 1855), passim.

(214) Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, op. cit., III, q. 4, a. 6 ad 2um.

(215) Hebr. 7:26.

(216) Cf. St. Peter Damian, Homil in Nativ. B. M. V., sermo 46, PL, 144, 755.

(217) 1 Tim. 2:5; cf. D.B., No. 790.

(218) Cf. Sebastianus Dupasquier, O.F.M.Conv., op. cit., 243.

(219) Cf. Juniper Carol, O.F.M., Romanorum Pontificum doctrina de B. V. Corredemptrice, in Marianum, Vol. 9 (1947), p. 165ff.

(220) Cf. Chan. J. Mahieu, op. cit., p. 51.

(221) Lk. 1:35.

(222) Cf. St. Anselm, De Conc. Virg., cap. 18, PL, 158, 451.

(223) Cf. Hugh of St. Victor, De Verbo Incarnate Collationes seu Disputationes tres, collatio 3, PL, 177, 321.

(224) Cf. Martin Jugie, A.A., op. cit., p. 13.

(225) Cf. Francisco S. Ramon, Teologia Mariana, Vol. I (Guadix, 1921), pp. 290-329.

(226) Cf. J.-B. Terrien, S.J., La Mere de Dieu et la Mere des hommes, Vol. I, (Paris, 1900), pp. 365-383.

(227) Cf. Dominicus Palmieri, S.J., op. cit., p. 225.

(228) Cf. Alexius H. M. Lepicier, O.S.M., op. cit., p. 227; Bozzola-Greppi, S.I., Cursus Theologicus, Vol. 3 (Neapoli, 1948), pp. 102-103; Ed. Hugon, op. cit., p. 726; C. Van Crombrugghe, Tractatus de Beata Virgine Maria (Gandae, 1913), p. 165.

(229) Cf. Thomas U. Mullaney, O.P., The Nexus Between the Immaculate Conception and Mary’s Other Prerogatives, in Marian Studies, Vol. 5, pp. 200-218.

(230) Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, op. cit., II-II, q. 81, a. 8.

(231) Cf. Ephrem Longpre, O.F.M., op. cit., p. 85.

(232) Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, op. cit., I-II, q. 81, a. 1.

(233) Cf. ibid., q. 83, a. 1.

(234) Cf. Alexius H. M. Lepicier, O.S.M., op. cit., p. 221. This author observes that since it is more noble to move oneself (under actual grace) to sanctification than simply to be moved (as an infant ordinarily would), therefore the Mother of God was sanctified by her own motion of will at the moment of her conception, this being due to the dignity of the divine Maternity. Since this would be simply a motion of will to God, it would be meritorious. St. Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologica, I, q. 95, a. 1) holds a similar motion on the part of our first parents.

(235) Cf. Eadmerus, De Conceptione B. M. V., PL, 159, 307.

(236) Cf. ibid., 305.

(237) Cf. L. Lercher, S.J., Institutiones Theologiae Dogmaticae, Vol. 3 (Oeniponte, 1934), p. 346.

(238) The question as to whether Mary actually died or not is still an obscure question, with supporters on both sides. Cf., v.g., Gabriel M. Roschini, O.S.M., Did Our Lady Die? in The Irish Ecclesiastical Record, August, 1953, pp. 73-88.

(239) Cf. Narcisco Garcia Garces, C.M.F., op. cit., p. 391.

(240) Cf. St. Alphonsus de Liguori, The Glories of Mary (New York, 1931), pp. 287-308.

(241) Gen. 3:6.

(242) Cf. J. de Aldama, op. cit., pp. 313-314.

(243) Cf. Rom. 5:12-19.

(244) Cf. L. Lercher, S.J., op. cit., p. 344 ff.

(245) For a remarkable (older) treatment of the question, cf. Joannes Perlinus, S.J., Apologia scholastica pro magnae Matris ab originali debito immunitate (Lugduni, 1630).

(246) Cf. J. de Aldama, op. cit., p. 311.

(247) Cf. Rom. 5:12-13.

(248) Cf. Carolus Balic, O.F.M., De debito peccati originalis in B. Virgine Maria (Romae, 1941), p. 74.

(249) Cf. Evaristo de la Virgen del Carmen, O.C.D., Sobre el debito del pecado original en Maria, in Estudios Marianos, Vol. 5 (Madrid, 1946), pp. 293-308.

(250) Cf. A. H. M. Lepicier, O.S.M., op. cit., pp. 134-135; Dominicus Palmieri, S.J., op. cit., p. 334; Ed. Hugon, op. cit., p. 713.

(251) For an interpretation or Scotus’ doctrine on this question of the kind of debt in Mary, cf. Sebastianus Dupasquier, O.F.M.Conv., op. cit., p. 251.

(252) Cf. J. de Aldama, op. cit., pp. 313-314.

(253) Cf. G. M. Roschini, op. cit., Vol. 2, pars 2, p. 92; J. Keuppens, Mariologiae Compendium (Antverpiae, 1938), p. 65.

(254) Cf. G. M. Roschini, op. cit., pp. 92-93.

(255) Cf. Ed. Hugon, op. cit., p. 710 ff.

(256) Cf. Christianus Stamm, Mariologia (Paderborna, 1881), pp. 48-51; J. de Aldama, op. cit., p. 313 ff.

(257) For a lucid summary of the position of leading Spanish theologians during the very important seventeenth century, cf. J. M. Delgado, O.F.M., Exencion del debito segun los Mariologos espanoles de 1600 a 1650, in Ephemerides Mariologicae, Vol. I (Madrid, October-December, 1951), pp. 501-526.

(258) In view of this, it is difficult to understand the stricture of Van Noort on those who deny any debt. Cf. his Tractatus de Deo Redemptore (Hilversum, 1925), p. 172 (footnote): “… omnes doceant, et docere debeant, Mariam habuisse debitum incurrendi peccatum originale….” Cf. also Pohle-Preuss, Mariology (St. Louis, 1926), p. 40.

(259) Cf. F. X. ab Abazuza, O.F.M.Cap., Manuale Theologiae Dogmaticae, Vol. 2 (Chile, 1949), p. 220 ff.

(260) Cf. op. cit., pp. 308-309; Clement Dillenschneider, C.SS.R., La Mariologie de S. Alphonse de Liguori(Fribourg, 1934), pp. 225-226.

(261) Allan B. Wolter, O.F.M., The Theology of the Immaculate Conception in the Light of “Ineffabilis Deus,” in Marian Studies, Vol. 5, 1954, pp. 62-70.

(262) Ibid., p. 69. Cf. J. B. Carol, O.F.M., Recent Literature on Mary’s Assumption, in The American Ecclesiastical Review, Vol. 120, 1949, pp. 381-385.

(263) Cf. Petrus Bardus, De Immaculata Conceptione, in Monumenta antiqua Immaculatae Conceptions, ed. Petrus de Alva et Astorga, O.F.M. (Lovanii, 1664), p. 357.

(264) Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, op. cit., I-II, q. 82, a. 3.

(265) Hugolinus Storff, O.F.M., op. cit., p. 26.

(266) Cf. J. de Aldama, op. cit., pp. 314-315.

(267) Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, op. cit., I-II, q. 82, a. 3.

(268) Cf. Dominicus Palmieri, S.J., op. cit., p. 340.

(269) Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, op. cit., I-II, q. 73, a. 6.

(270) Cf. Martin Jugie, A.A., L’Immaculee Conception dans l’Ecriture sainte et dans la tradition orientale (Rome, 1952), p. VIII; L. Garriguet, La Vierge Marie (Paris, 1933), pp. 155-179.

(271) Cf. Martin Jugie, A.A., op. cit., p. 11 (footnote).

(272) St. Thomas Aquinas, op. cit., III, q. 27, a. 3.

(273) Cf. Van Noort, op. cit., p. 189; Ed. Hugon, Marie pleine de grace, p. 127.

(274) Cf. Bozzola-Greppi, S.J., op. cit., p. 103; Alexius Martinelli, O.F.M., De primo instanti Conceptionis B. V. Mariae (Romae, 1950), pp. 1-2.

(275) Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, op. cit., III, q. 27, a. 3.

(276) Cf. I. Keuppens, op. cit., p. 65; Ephrem Longpre, O.F.M., op. cit., p. 86.

(277) Cf. J. de Aldama, op. cit., p. 315.

(278) Cf. Albert Kippes, O.M.I., The Immaculate Conception and the Preternatural Gifts, in Marian Studies, Vol. 4, p. 198; Ed. Hugon, Tractatus Dogmatici, p. 723; Gaston Demaret, Marie de qui est ne Jesus (Paris, 1937), Vol. 2, p. 43 ff.

(279) Cf. Achille Gorrino, Maria Santissima (Torino, 1938), p. 42 ff.; H. Depoix, S.M., Beata Maria Virgine (Paris, 1866), p. 120 ff.; F. O’Neill, The Blessed Virgin Mary and the Alleged Debt of Sin, in The Irish Ecclesiastical Record (Dublin, July, 1923), p. 83.

(280) Cf. A. M. Mayer, O.S.M., Advanced Mariology (Portland, 1934), p. 132.

(281) Cf. Armandus Plessis, S.M.M., op. cit., p. 78; Dominicus Palmieri, op. cit., p. 338; A. H. M. Lepicier, O.S.M., op. cit., p. 195.

(282) D.B., No. 1641.

(283) X. Le Bachelet in his article on the Immaculate Conception in DTC, Vol. 7, cols. 845-846, attributes no special importance to the omni of the definition in Ineffabilis Deus. Martin Jugie disagrees with this position in L’Immaculee Conception dans l’Ecriture sainte et dans la tradition orientale, p. 11 (footnote). Cf. also Dominicus Palmieri, S.J., op. cit., p. 221.

(284) Cf. Ludovicus Lercher, S.J., op. cit., p. 347. It should be noted that, strictly considered, the deletion of original sin and the preservation from concupiscence are distinct and separable gifts. As human, Mary ought to have been subject to at least some degree of concupiscence, but because of the divine Maternity she was exempt. This is the (probable) opinion of Van Hove, De immunitate B. M. Virginis a concupiscentia, in Collectanea Mechilniensia, Vol. 14 (Malines, 1940), pp. 41-42.

(285) Cf. J. M. Herve, Manuale Theologiae Dogmaticae, Vol. 2 (Paris, 1949), p. 314 ff.

(286) Cf. E. Doronzo, O.M.I., De Baptismo et Confirmatione (Milwaukee, 1947), p. 90.

(287) D.B., Nos. 1021, 1026.

(288) Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, op. cit., I-II, q. 82, a. 4.

(289) A. H. M. Lepicier, O.S.M., op. cit., p. 358, holds that the Bull Ineffabilis Deus states that Mary was in the state of original justice. Cf. J. de Aldama, op. cit., p. 316.

(290) Cf. B. H. Merkelbach, O.P., op. cit., p. 246 ff.

(291) Cf. Dominicus Palmieri, S.J., op. cit., p. 222.

(292) Cf. J. de Aldama, op. cit., p. 316.

(293) Cf. ibid., p. 317; B. H. Merkelbach, O.P., op. cit., p. 111.

(294) Cf. Albert Kippes, O.M.I., art. cit., p. 197.

(295) Cf. ibid. But Martin Jugie, A.A., op. cit., p. VIII, seems to hold otherwise, at least with regard to concupiscence.

(296) Cf. Juniper Carol, O.F.M., De Corredemptione Beatae Virginis Mariae (Civitas Vaticana, 1950), pp. 550, 559.

(297) Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, op. cit., III, q. 27, a. 5; A. A. Paquet, Disputationes Theologicae (Quebec, 1922), p. 273.

(298) Cf. Bozzola-Greppi, S.J., op. cit., pp. 102-103; I- B. Petitalot, La Vierge Mere d’apres la Theologie (Paris, 1904), pp. 85-88; Chan. J. Mahieu, op. cit., p. 50.

(299) Cf. Albert Kippes, art. cit., p. 199.

(300) Cf. B. H. Merkelbach, O.P., op. cit., p. 141.

(301) III Sent., d. 3, p. 1, a. 2.

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