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Victory Over Sin and the Immaculata

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Hail, full of grace". With these words, the Archangel Gabriel greeted Mary, conferring upon her a new name. She is “Full of grace” because totally filled up by God’s grace. Mary herself,in the Magnificat acknowledges God’s gift to her: “He has looked with graciousness on His humble servant-maid, and because of this, all generations will call me blessed”. When the Church professes Mary, Mother of God, as the “Immaculata”, she does nothing but to recognize the triumph of God’s grace over sin in her, from the moment of her conception.

Declaramus, pronuntiamus et definimus doctrinam quae tenet beatissimam Virginem Mariam in primo instanti suae conceptionis fuisse singulari Omnipotentis Dei gratia et privilegio, intuitu meritorum Christi Jesu Salvatoris humani generis, ab omni originalis culpae labe praeservatam immunem, esse a Deo revelatam, atque idcirco ab omnibus fidelibus firmiter constanterque credendam. Cf. Denz., n. 1641.

With these words, Pope Pius IX defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception (December 8, 1854). It is found in “Ineffabilis Deus” the contents of which can be outlined as follows:

  1. The Privilege of Mary: Conceived Without Original Sin
    1. Reason for the Privilege: Her Divine Motherhood
    2. Argument from Liturgy
    3. Ordinary Teaching of the Roman Church
      1. Veneration of the Immaculate
      2. The Doctrine of the Pontiffs
      3. Approval of the Whole Church
      4. The Council of Trent
    4. Testimonies of Tradition
      1. East and West
      2. The Fathers and Doctors of the Church
      3. Biblical Foundations
        • The Annunciation of Luke
        • Mary and Eve
        • Biblical Figures
  2. The Process of the Definition
    1. Preparation for the Definition
    2. The Mind of the Bishops
  3. The Solemn Definition
  4. The Results We Hope For: Conclusion

The Defined Dogma

We declare, pronounce, and define that
the doctrine which holds that

the most Blessed Virgin Mary,
in the first instance of her conception,
by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God,
in view of the merits of Jesus Christ,
the Savior of the human race,
was preserved free from all stain of original sin,
is a doctrine revealed by God and
therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.

Notice that the definition contains the following convictions:

  1. that Mary, from the moment of conception, was preserved free from all “stain of original sin”
  2. that this was granted her “by a singular grace and privilege”
  3. that such a privilege was granted her in view of the merits of Jesus Christ
  4. that this doctrine is revealed by God; and
  5. therefore, that it should be firmly and constantly believed by all Catholics.

The dogma is therefore for all Catholics (5) and is contained in the sacred deposit of Scriptures and Tradition (4). Only Mary received the privilege and grace (2) of being immaculately conceived (1) because she alone is Mother of God. Her immaculate conception derives from the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Her Son (3)

Relevance of the Dogma

The Motherhood of Mary. To become the mother of the Savior, Mary “was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role.”[LG 56] The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as “full of grace”.[Lk 1:28] In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God’s grace. (CCC 490)

She is “Full of Grace”. Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God,[Lk 1:28] was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854(CCC 491)

Christ’s Victory over Sin. Victory over the “prince of this world”[Jn 14:30] was won once for all at the Hour when Jesus freely gave himself up to death to give us his life. This is the judgment of this world, and the prince of this world is “cast out.”[Jn 12:31; Rev 12:10] “He pursued the woman”[Rev 12:13-16] but had no hold on her: the new Eve, “full of grace” of the Holy Spirit, is preserved from sin and the corruption of death (the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of the Most Holy Mother of God, Mary, ever virgin). “Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring.”[Rev 12:17] Therefore the Spirit and the Church pray: “Come, Lord Jesus,”[Rev 22:17,20] since his coming will deliver us from the Evil One. (CCC 2853)

In Preaching and Liturgy

From my other blogs, see this and this. You can find a related post here.

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  1. 1

    GS

    Interesting. Gee, so much in just a few words.

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