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Author Topic: Mary Immaculate?  (Read 7334 times) Average Rating: 0
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Fr. David
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« on: May 03, 2004, 04:58:17 PM »

Hello, all....

We all know the difference regarding Mary's nature between our Churches (RC: she's immaculately conceived and held apart from sin's influence; EO: not Imm. conc., She COULD have sinned but...chose not to?)

My question concerns the "chose not to" part, and it is for my fellow Orthodox: We call Mary "Immaculate" and "Sinless," yet is that a truly realistic depiction, or hyperbole brought on through veneration?

We have St. John Chrysostom accusing her of ambition in the following:

‘For while he yet talked to the people, it is said, “one told him, thy mother and thy brethren seek thee. But he saith, who is my mother, and who are my brethren?”...For in fact that which she had essayed to do [i.e., bear Christ], was of superfluous vanity; in that she wanted to show the people that she hath power and authority over her Son, imagining not as yet anything great concerning him; whence also her unseasonable approach. See at all events both her self- confidence and theirs (Jesus’ brothers)."  Not that he thought Mary was just anyone, for he says we are saved by her intercession alone...he does, however, concede some personal sin to the Holy Mother.

Origen also, although ascribing to Mary high spiritual prerogatives, thought that, at the time of Christ's passion, the sword of disbelief pierced Mary's soul, that she was struck by the poniard of doubt, and that for her sins also Christ died.

St. Basil also sees in the sword, of which Simeon speaks, the doubt which pierced Mary's soul.

What are we, as Orthodox to make of this?  Is Mary SINLESS (i.e., free of personal sin), or is she only...how could I put this...the purest heart of all Creation?

Attempting To Know My Mother Better,

Pedro
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« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2004, 05:27:07 PM »

I pass.  Grin
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« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2004, 05:31:32 PM »

Good boy, Tom.  

Good boy. Wink
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« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2004, 06:20:42 PM »

According to my CORCC #493

"The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God "the All Holy" (Panagia) and celebrate her as "free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature".  Lumen gentium 56

This suffices for me,

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« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2004, 06:36:59 PM »

So could we say "no stain of sin" = "perfect repentance"?
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« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2004, 06:46:24 PM »

Pedro,

If there is one thing I learned about Orthodoxy( I'm a RC) is that the mystery remains without the constant review & comment, while the RCC trys to define & or structure a belief too much, I respect the Eastern tradition a wee bit more.

Thats my humble 2 bits,

james
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« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2004, 07:51:48 PM »

Bump
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« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2004, 08:50:13 PM »

Sorry; hit "Post" too early:

Bump...that's it?  There's not only no mention of Mary being sinless, but also specific mentioning of Christ alone being such...and we answer with "oh, well, it's a mystery"...and silence?

BTW, I did like what Orthodoc posted in another thread:

Quote
Just because the Mother of God is called "spotless" (achrantos), "completely holy" (panayia), "completely blameless" (panamomos), and similiar terms in our prayers, this does not mean that she was, in all ways, sinless from the beginning.  We know from the writings of the fathers and other early christian writers that she was not exempt from the bad effects of Adam's first sin:

...he then goes on to quote some of the fathers.  However, he then goes on to say the following:

Quote
The Mother of God surpasses those newly baptised infants  in a way that differs by what the 'Immaculate Conception' is trying to prove.  Mary had the choice to sin but did not.  It is in this way that she differs from newly baptised infants.  Mary has been victorious over the temptations (an honor that infants cannot claim).  The Bible likewise speaks of the blessedness of those who COULD have sinned but did not.  It even uses the same word, "unblemished."  Sir. 34(31):8-10 says "a blameless (or unblemished, spotless) person [Greek amomos] "whom we will called blessed" is one who could have trangressed but did not transgress, who could have done evil but did not do it.

My question -- and if I'm missing something (again), please let me know -- is this: did Mary sin/fall short of God's glory/commit a transgression in the course of her earthly life, or did she not?  Is this life lived in earthly perfection reserved for Christ alone, or did Mary "make it" too?

I ask this, basically, because it seems to me that, if Mary is seen by Orthodox in the latter light, it serves to put her on an even higher pedestal than IC would.  IC makes her a super-human of sorts, so sure, she wouldn't have sinned; she was physically unable to do so.  But to be free to sin and to CHOOSE NOT TO...that's an even more glorious achievement.

Looking for a straight answer,

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« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2004, 08:55:55 PM »

Looking for a straight answer,

 :cheeky:

Wait are we still talking THEOLOGY here? And you want a straight answer???!!! Oy Vey!  Grin
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« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2004, 11:34:19 PM »

Pedro....the Catholic teaches Mary was free from all Sin, Original and actual. However, the Orthodox Church doesn't seem to have an offical teaching on this. An OCA priest told me she did sin, a GOA priest told me that she chose not to, therefore never did, a ROAC priest and bishop told me she did sin, but we must focus on her holiness, not her mistakes.

Orthodox lay men and women have also told me different opinions and ideas, so until the Orthodox Church calls an Ecumenical council and dogmaticaly defines whether Mary was sinless or not, it seems to be open in the air, it's really up to the individual.
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« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2004, 01:53:59 AM »

By licking my finger and sticking it in the air Wink, I perceive that the Patristic consensus is that Panagia did not sin Cheesy and as such she is truly worthy of the honour and praise that we give to her. If she were not capable of sinning, would her not doing so be worthy of any merit?

We see Mary, along with John the Forerunner, as the pinnacle of God's creation, as linking figures between the Old Testament and the New which is why the Church recognises their place on Christ's right and left hand in glory (Matt 20:23, Mark 10:40). Just look at the iconostasis in any Orthodox church.

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« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2004, 07:57:29 AM »

"But to be free to sin and to CHOOSE NOT TO...that's an even more glorious achievement."

Achievement, no, but a miracle of grace, yes.  It wasn't Mary's "achievement", it was because she was "full of grace" and she fully cooperated with that grace so as to avoid actual sin.

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« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2004, 08:13:55 AM »

By licking my finger and sticking it in the air Wink, I perceive that the Patristic consensus is that Panagia did not sin Cheesy and as such she is truly worthy of the honour and praise that we give to her. If she were not capable of sinning, would her not doing so be worthy of any merit?

We see Mary, along with John the Forerunner, as the pinnacle of God's creation, as linking figures between the Old Testament and the New which is why the Church recognises their place on Christ's right and left hand in glory (Matt 20:23, Mark 10:40). Just look at the iconostasis in any Orthodox church.

John.

I agree that the Mother of God was and is without sin.

I wonder about something, however, that I have seen modern Orthodox polemicists bring up again and again: namely, that the Immaculate Conception would somehow render St. Mary incapable of sinning.

How can that be?

Adam and Eve came into being without Original Sin, and yet both of them sinned.

Immaculate Conception or no, St. Mary had free will and could have sinned had she so chosen.
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« Reply #13 on: May 11, 2004, 09:03:54 AM »

I wonder about something, however, that I have seen modern Orthodox polemicists bring up again and again: namely, that the Immaculate Conception would somehow render St. Mary incapable of sinning.

Sorry, my bad. It comes from Catholics posting that Mary was "kept" from sinning. I seem to have carried it over from another forum  Tongue

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« Reply #14 on: May 11, 2004, 09:07:08 AM »

Linus,

Exactly.  I've never bought the arguement that the Mother of God being sinless seperated her from the rest of humanity.  If that is the case hten what of Christ, does his sinlessness seperate him as well? Of course not. Sin is an unnatural condition for man.  We were made to be with God and hence sinless.  That we all participate in an unnatural condition does not make it a requisite for true humanity.

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« Reply #15 on: May 11, 2004, 12:21:42 PM »

It wasn't Mary's "achievement", it was because she was "full of grace" and she fully cooperated with that grace so as to avoid actual sin.

All right, I can see that...but what, then, of the quotes from Origen, Chrysostom, and Basil?  Would it not be better to say, based on their input, that the Theotokos DID actually sin, as the ROCOR and OCA priest from Ben's email (thanks, Ben!) said, but that her repentance was perfect?  This seems to be what we as mere humans are called to do for theosis.  Either way, she's still "full of grace" and pure and blameless, but not elevated to something the fathers seem to reserve for Christ alone.
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« Reply #16 on: May 11, 2004, 12:27:25 PM »

Pedro....OCA and ROAC priests...not ROCOR..big difference between ROAC and ROCOR.
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« Reply #17 on: May 11, 2004, 01:30:01 PM »

-ƒ-Ç-¦-+-¦-+-+-Ç-+-ç-+-¦-Å: Our Lady, Immaculate
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« Reply #18 on: May 11, 2004, 03:49:15 PM »

Pedro....OCA and ROAC priests...not ROCOR..big difference between ROAC and ROCOR.

You're right!  Mea culpa!
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« Reply #19 on: May 15, 2004, 09:40:48 AM »

+º-ü+¦-â-ä-î-é +æ+++¡-â-ä++

This is my first post so greetings everyone.

Well I have a say on this one, well actually not my own but of an RC friend of mine who later became Orthodox, so here it goes:

Some thoughts regarding “Immaculate Conception”:

Just as Protestants, not being guided by Tradition, love to quote verses of the Bible out of context in order to “prove” this or that error, in the same way people sometimes quote this or that Holy Father of the Church, in order to demonstrate some favorite error or privately held opinion.  But the Orthodox Christian way, when there isn’t already a clear dogmatic statement from an Ecumenical Council, is to find the “consensus” of the Fathers.  That means that when the vast majority of them agree on some particular point of theology, then this constitutes the infallible voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to His Church, rather than any one individual’s opinion.  Contrariwise, where there is no patristic consensus, we say that a particular question falls into the category of “private opinion” (unless, of course, it completely contradicts the received teaching of the Church).

Therefore, regardless of what this or that Orthodox writer, priest, or even bishop has said, the universal “consensus” is that the Virgin Mary was not “immaculately conceived.”  Although, as Bishop Kallistos Ware says in his book, “The Orthodox Church,” has not “in fact made any formal and definitive pronouncement on the matter,” this isn’t because the Church doesn’t know her own mind on the subject.  Not everything in Orthodoxy is made into a “formal and definitive pronouncement.”  But several local Synods (for example, the Church of Greece, in the 19th century) have condemned this particular Latin dogma in very frank and outspoken terms.

So, where the Theotokos is concerned, we already not only have a consensus of the ancient Fathers of the East and West (before the eleventh century), who spoke in detail about the nature of the Mother of God, but we also have a more modern or contemporary consensus of Church Fathers, who decisively rejected the Roman Catholic Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, as defined by Pope Pius IX in 1854—and rejected it more than once.  It’s interesting that this error only began to become an issue in the West after the schism from the Eastern Church, when the West had lost its consciousness of being a universal Church—that is, one that followed the patristic consensus.

But by the way, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception not only never appeared in Eastern Christendom, but was rejected also by Bernard of Clairvaux and Thomas Aquinas, considered great Fathers of the post-schism Western Church.

However, the most important question to ask is not whether the Theotokos was “immaculately conceived,” but what is it that she transmitted to Christ in her womb or, more precisely, what is it that Christ received from His mother in the womb?  Once we have the answer to that, all other questions fall into place.

(Incidentally, I know Catholics who sincerely think that the “immaculate conception” has to do with the virgin birth, rather than the conception of the Mother of God!)

Orthodox Christians believe that Christ received flesh, a human body, from His Mother in her womb.  And his body was like ours—in other words, it could grow weary, it needed food and rest, and it could suffer and die, it was subject to temptation.  These are among the primary attributes of a fallen human nature.  The body that Adam and Eve possessed in Eden was not yet that of fallen human nature because they had not yet “fallen” into sin.  But after sin, they acquired a body like ours, the kind of body that expresses and carries a “fallen human nature.”  This is what we have inherited from Adam—not guilt from his sin, but a fallen human nature.

According to the Roman Catholic dogma (quoting from “The Catholic Encyclopedia”), however, “’The Blessed Virgin Mary in the first instance of her conception, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin.’” (The correct Orthodox term for original sin is Ancestral Sin.) In other words, original sin “was excluded, it never was in her soulGǪ. The state of original sanctity, innocence, and justice, as opposed to original sin, was conferred upon her, by which gift every stain and fault, all depraved emotions, passions, and debilities, essentially pertaining to original sin, were excluded.” And this was done “’by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus ChristGǪ’” In other words, she did not have a fallen human nature, although for some reason she could grow weary, needed food and rest, etc.—which are qualities of a fallen human nature.  Some Roman Catholic theologians also say that she didn’t actually die, but only fell into a “death-like” sleep; therefore she wasn’t resurrected by her Son, but was only “assumed” bodily into heaven, never having really tasted of death!

And yet, Christ received a completely human body, just like ours with its fallen human nature, from His mother—a body through which, according to Scripture, He was even tempted to sin, just as we are, although He did not, in fact, fall into sin—this being an essential part of the redemption of man, the transformation and healing of his fallen human nature, and his ultimate deification.  In order to save us, it was absolutely necessary that His our fallen human nature and mortal flesh be united to his divinity and immortality.  This is called the “hypostatic union”: a theological term for the doctrine that in Christ one Person subsists in two natures, the Divine and the human.  This is discussed by St. Nicholas Cabasilas in his books, wherein he also explains the mechanism by which Christ unites Himself to us through His human nature (which is already hypostatically united to His divinity)--and this is what we receive in the Sacraments or Mysteries, most especially in the Eucharist or Holy Communion.

It follows, then, that since Christ received His human nature (which was a fallen nature, remember) from His Mother, and since you cannot give what you don’t have—then she herself must have possessed a fallen human nature; therefore she was not somehow “exempt” from the effects of Adam’s sin. To have been somehow supernaturally preserved, from the moment of conception, from possessing a fallen human nature, would mean that she could not sin (and we Orthodox believe that, in truth, she did not sin, but this was a supreme act of synergy with God’s grace).  In that case she becomes something quite different from the rest of humankind and would not have been able to transmit to her Son a fallen human nature and the body that goes with it, thus making nonsense of the Hypostatic Union.

Now, according to the Roman Catholic Church, by “original sin” is meant two things (quoting the Catholic Encyclopedia): “1) the sin that Adam committed; (2) a consequence of this first sin, the hereditary stain with which we are born on account of our origin or descent from Adam. From the earliest times the latter sense of the word was more common.”

While the Orthodox accept unanimously that Adam and Eve did indeed commit the first, or “original” sin, sometimes called “original guilt,” we reject the idea that we have inherited any “hereditary stain” and punishment for that sin.  That idea is a much later error which developed in the West and is not part of the consensus of the Universal Church of East or West before the eleventh century. Rather, we believe that we inherited the same fallen human nature which Adam acquired when he lost his original innocence through disobedience—that is, a body (and it’s nature) which is subject to temptation and passions, grows weary, can become sick, needs rest and food, and will ultimately die, etc.  But we do not inherit guilt for his sin (which would be a very peculiar idea of divine justice, in any case, but this is behind the Latin error called “atonement” or “satisfaction”, as taught by Anselm of Canterbury).

According to Catholic theology, “the abasement of the Word consists in the assumption of humanity and the simultaneous occultation of the Divinity. Christ's abasement is seen first in His subjecting Himself to the laws of human birth and growth and to the lowliness of fallen human nature.”  (“The Catholic Encyclopedia”) But where did He acquire this “fallen human nature” if not from His Mother?  And according to Catholic theology, our fallen nature is part of Original Sin.  But if the Theotokos was preserved from Original Sin and its effects, then she did not have a fallen nature, and therefore could not transmit this to her Son.

Finally, to quote a contemporary Orthodox writer (George Gabriel in “Mary: The Untrodden Portal of God”): “The dogma of the Immaculate Conception severs Mary from her ancestors, from the forefathers, and from the rest of mankindGǪ. By severing her from fallen mankind and any consequences of the fall, this legalistic mechanism makes her personal holiness and theosis nonessential in the economy of salvation and, for that matter, even in her own salvation.  Moreover, ‘it places in doubt her unity of nature with the human race and, therefore, the genuineness of salvation and Christ’s flesh as representative of mankind.’ [A. Yevtich, commentary in The Theotokos: Four Homilies on the Mother of God by St. John of Damascus.]”

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« Reply #20 on: May 23, 2004, 03:13:07 PM »

Sorry, my bad. It comes from Catholics posting that Mary was "kept" from sinning. I seem to have carried it over from another forum  Tongue

OK, so Mary was kept from sinning/chose not to sin...are there any contemporaries of Origen, Chrysostom, Basil who taught this?  It seems odd to me that we would make such an about face on this issue when these fathers taught that she had sinned.
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« Reply #21 on: May 24, 2004, 11:18:59 AM »

Not trying to push; just posting some things I found out of curiosity:

(215 AD Tertullian) “God alone is without sin. The only man who is without sin is Christ; for Christ is also God” (The Soul 41:3).

Clement of Alexandria “ The Word Jesus Christ alone was born without sin.”

Augustine Bishop of Hippo “Whatever flesh of sin Jesus took, He took of the flesh of the sin of his mother. Jesus did not partake of sin, but took of his mother, which came under the judgment of sin.”

Augustine “ He, Christ alone, being made man but remaining God never had any sin, nor did he take of the flesh of sin. Though He took flesh of the sin of his mother.”

Pope Leo 1 (440 a.d.):

1) “ The Lord Jesus Christ alone among the sons of men was born immaculate.”(sermon 24 in Nativ. Dom.)

2) “It belongs alone to the immaculate lamb to have no sin at all.” (Gellasii papae dicta, vol. 4, col 1241, Paris, 1671)

Pope innocent the third (1216 a.d.) “ She (Eve) was produced without sin, but she brought forth in sin, she (Mary) was produced in sin, but she brought forth without sin.” ( De festo Assump., sermon 2)

When the immaculate conception was first presented in the year 1140 it was opposed by Bernard of Clairvaux also Thomas Aquinas adamantly taught Mary was a sinner. This is something we need to deal with.

OK, so maybe I am pushing some... Embarrassed
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« Reply #22 on: May 24, 2004, 12:54:38 PM »

Mary was NOT a sinner (by grace) - as opposed to God, who is sinless by nature. Nevertheless, Mary did have a fallen human nature.

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« Reply #23 on: May 24, 2004, 03:42:38 PM »

At the OCA website Fr. John Matusak explains the Orthodox teachings rather well on this subject.


I will be excerpting and paraphrasing here:

As Orthodox Christians we believe Mary could have sinned but chose not to.

Mary is the new Eve. Where the first Eve said "no" to God, thereby committing the first sin and bringing death into the world. Mary said "yes" to God. Christ, her son, is Mary's savior as well as all of ours.

It was not until recently that Orthodox Christians have been compelled to delve into the deatils of this subject. Perhaps we should not delve too deeply as in the end, reasoned faith is our only recourse.
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« Reply #24 on: May 24, 2004, 03:49:15 PM »

As Orthodox Christians we believe Mary could have sinned but chose not to.

I don't think I'm delving too terribly deep here when there're some pretty on-the-surface, overt assertions by some of the church fathers that Mary did sin.  Why the desire to "just not think about it"?

A more important question, though: does Fr. Matusiak's post (which I have read also, but thanks for posting it, spartacus) reflect an "ecumenical" view of the Orthodox idea of the Theotokos?
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« Reply #25 on: May 24, 2004, 03:54:47 PM »

Father John is usually very, very  careful about discerning what is the "Orthodox" view from his own personal view.

He is the national Communications Director for the OCA.


My own point of view is this:

Whether she chose not to sin or sinned and her repentence was perfect and complete...what difference does it make? Does it change the result?

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« Reply #26 on: May 24, 2004, 04:49:40 PM »

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My own point of view is this:

Whether she chose not to sin or sinned and her repentence was perfect and complete...what difference does it make?

It makes a difference because all HAVE sinned.  The Fathers are pretty insistent, AFAIK, on Christ being the only One with a human nature who is sinless.  The Theotokos is not included with Him.

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Does it change the result?

It changes the result because, in the first scenario, she's obedient to a degree that is unscriptural and unpatristic, ISTM, not befitting a creature of God, including (I would say) the holiest of creatures, the Theotokos.

In the second scenario, she sets an example of repentance for all of us -- this, it seems, is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives, a fruit which she bore out perfectly, hence our justification in honoring her.
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« Reply #27 on: July 06, 2004, 02:06:09 PM »

For Mary to "Choose not to sin" is impossible without the grace of God, right?  So you cant say she chose not to sin w/o grace, like it was said the Archangel Gabriel, "Hail, Full of Grace!"  Now, how could she bear the Son of God, the Almighty Father, while being with sin.  Isn't just sensible to believe that God had given her grace from birth (Not Immaculate Conception necessarily) so she had a higher sense of what was sin and all that?  From what other people here have said, some beleive that Mary was just an ordinary human being, but that cant be entirely true, she had Jesus Christ.  Thats just my thought, but it would be almost an oxy-moron, to say she had sin, but bore the Son of God, obviously being 100% sinnless.  I'm not saying that she was Immaculately Conceived, but I think that God gave her some sense and grace, so she had more than others.  She was supreme to anybody, like she wasnt super human, but she certainly was special, and no Orthodox or Catholic can argue that.   God Bless.
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« Reply #28 on: July 06, 2004, 02:08:45 PM »

Sorry my words here got screwed up.  She wasn't supreme to anybody.  And I obviously meant, Son of the Almighty Father.
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« Reply #29 on: July 07, 2004, 12:42:10 AM »

For Mary to "Choose not to sin" is impossible without the grace of God, right?  So you cant say she chose not to sin w/o grace...she wasnt super human, but she certainly was special, and no Orthodox or Catholic can argue that.

Thanks for posting on (and resurrecting, really) this li'l ol' thread o' mine.  You've reiterated points other esteemed posters have expressed; you're right that no one can deny the uniqueness of the Mother of God.  Really, though, such uniqueness need not extend to the point of saying she was perfect, which seems to be reserved for Christ alone.  After all, grace makes up for our shortcomings, insofar as we are able to receive said grace.  It seems much more reasonable to see the Theotokos as having a heart most open to the Lord and was totally purified and deified through repentance and humility.

One thing that has not been directly addressed -- and something which I would love to see addressed -- is the matter of the opinions of the numerous fathers of the Church I've mentioned.  Why is Mary not included in talking about sinless humans?  Why do highly-respected Orthodox (and Roman Catholic!) fathers specifically attribute sins (albeit minor ones) to the Theotokos if she was seen to be sinless?

Most interestingly, we have St. Jn. Chrysostom saying she was "ambitious" towards Christ at the Wedding at Cana -- this same man has his name on a liturgy calling her "Immaculate."  I would think, then, that just as the Prophet Daniel was probably not perfect yet called blameless, so the Holy Mother did in fact sin in minor ways yet her heart was so devoted to God that her repentance was more acceptable to God than that of any other human on earth and she was thus made Immaculate.

Again, I would like to hear some thoughts on what the fathers said concerning this.
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« Reply #30 on: July 07, 2004, 11:45:34 AM »

From what I've read in the Fathers, there really is no consensus that Mary was completely without sin her whole life.  If there's any "consensus" (or at least plurality) it would be that she did at times have minor sins.  To me, however, this wouldn't take away from the fact that she was/is honored over all other creatures or that she can indeed be called "all-holy" in a relative sense (ie, being the most holy and righteous of all the saints redeemed by Christ).
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« Reply #31 on: July 07, 2004, 12:26:18 PM »

We've gone through this in a past thread(s), so it would be good to review it/them.  Certainly there are Fathers who thought that the Mother of God committed personal sins, however minor, but are they really the "consensus", "plurality", or whatever?  In any event, I've never seen *the Church* teach anything other than that the Mother of God perfectly cooperated with the Grace of God and never committed personal sins.  

Another point could be made, often made by traditionalist EO against some of the modern day EO theologians and "ecumenists" who supposedly offer criticisms, explicitly or implicitly, of the ideas and teachings of their common fathers and saints: what were these Fathers doing speculating about the potential faults and sins of a woman who is "more honourable than the Cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim", and thus MUCH, MUCH holier than they could ever hope to be?  Without intending any slight to the Holy Fathers, I (who am much less holy than anyone I've referred to here) wonder if they were wrong to even try this line of thinking?
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« Reply #32 on: July 08, 2004, 07:15:07 AM »

So where are the quotes from the Fathers stating Mary never sinned personally?  I know Pelagius said Mary was an example of a sinless person and he used her as an example of what all humans could be like.  Yet, I don't think we want to rely on Pelagius for the underpinnings of this teaching.
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« Reply #33 on: July 08, 2004, 11:55:57 AM »

We've gone through this in a past thread(s), so it would be good to review it/them.

Mor, would you mind posting some of those?  It's an awfully big sub-forum.... Grin

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Certainly there are Fathers who thought that the Mother of God committed personal sins, however minor, but...I've never seen *the Church* teach anything other than that the Mother of God perfectly cooperated with the Grace of God and never committed personal sins.

Well, seeing as how *the Church* is supposed to uphold the traditional beliefs of those gone before, it would seem as though we'd need some contemporaries of those named in this thread (Origen, Basil, Chrysostom, Leo, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Augustine, Innocent III) saying either that sinlessness belongs to Mary along with Christ (though not in the same way; I understand), or that Mary herself had never sinned, etc.

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what were these Fathers doing speculating about the potential faults and sins of a woman who is "more honourable than the Cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim", and thus MUCH, MUCH holier than they could ever hope to be?

Granted; Augustine did, after all, drop the matter.  His questioning, though, does show that there was no "official statement"  Roll Eyes or whatever regarding her *evident* sinlessness.  I just don't think folks should be so eager to regard her as having achieved something -- even via the Grace of God! -- that she may not, in fact, have achieved.  As DT said, though...doesn't mean she's not the MOST holy of creatures by far.

As for "ever hope to be"...isn't our call to sainthood spearheaded by the Theotokos?  Isn't the point of the saints to tell us that "we can do it, too"...through repentance of sins, as they did?
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« Reply #34 on: July 08, 2004, 01:04:00 PM »

Mor, would you mind posting some of those?  It's an awfully big sub-forum.... Grin

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/newboard/index.php?board=3;action=display;threadid=1822;start=0

This is the one I had in mind, but I haven't read through it again, so I don't know all that is in it...

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Well, seeing as how *the Church* is supposed to uphold the traditional beliefs of those gone before, it would seem as though we'd need some contemporaries of those named in this thread (Origen, Basil, Chrysostom, Leo, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Augustine, Innocent III) saying either that sinlessness belongs to Mary along with Christ (though not in the same way; I understand), or that Mary herself had never sinned, etc.

I'm not big on patristics.  What that means is not that I don't give patristic study any importance, but that I don't know enough about it, so I cannot provide you with any "contemporaries" to balance out those you cited.  However, I cannot accept that there are none, because then we're putting patristics against liturgy.  Liturgy is what I prefer looking at, because it is living tradition, the living prayer of the Church, the voice of the Church, and is where our theology can be found.  Where in Orthodox liturgical prayer do we see anything about Mary having personally committed sin?  I'd be very interested in seeing it, if it can be found at all.      

Quote
Granted; Augustine did, after all, drop the matter.  His questioning, though, does show that there was no "official statement"  Roll Eyes or whatever regarding her *evident* sinlessness.  I just don't think folks should be so eager to regard her as having achieved something -- even via the Grace of God! -- that she may not, in fact, have achieved.  As DT said, though...doesn't mean she's not the MOST holy of creatures by far.

As for "ever hope to be"...isn't our call to sainthood spearheaded by the Theotokos?  Isn't the point of the saints to tell us that "we can do it, too"...through repentance of sins, as they did?

Forgive me in advance, I'm going to say "cooperation" or "cooperate" a lot.

When we are baptised, we are purified of all sin, and we start out with a clean slate, so to speak.  At no point do we ever have to choose sin; we can choose to cooperate with God's Grace.  The Mother of God did just this.  We (and the other saints) do/did not.  So we must repent.  But even this is cooperation with God's Grace.  

I prefer to look at all this not in terms of "repentence" but of "cooperation with God"; this presumes repentence, but not in Our Lady's case, because she always cooperated with God's Grace.  So I don't see any contradiction in your statement that our call to sainthood is spearheaded by the Mother of God, and the Orthodox teaching that Mary never committed personal sins.  For all the saints, it was a matter of cooperation with God.
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« Reply #35 on: July 08, 2004, 01:54:30 PM »

...I cannot provide you with any "contemporaries" to balance out those you cited.  However, I cannot accept that there are none, because then we're putting patristics against liturgy.

Well, I don't see that as the case, as the liturgical terms don't necessarily paint a picture of a completely sinless Theotokos.  As for "not accepting that there are" no Fathers who support Mary's sinlessness, well, arguments from silence don't do anyone much good.  If it was understood even by those who wrote of the Theotokos with words like "Immaculate" that she may have committed minor sins, and no other contemporaries (or those prior to said Fathers) stand up in dissent, it stands to reason that we see such terms in the former light.

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Where in Orthodox liturgical prayer do we see anything about Mary having personally committed sin?

Nowhere -- neither do we (and by "we" I refer to Byzantine Orthodox) have statements saying she never sinned personally.  I don't know what OO hymns have to say.  Terms such as "Panagia" and "Immaculate" could be seen either from the pov that she never sinned or that she sinned and was purified completely through deifying repentance.

Quote
So I don't see any contradiction in your statement that our call to sainthood is spearheaded by the Mother of God, and the Orthodox teaching that Mary never committed personal sins.

Neither is there a contradiction between the liturgical terms you and I mentioned and the idea of her having committed personal sins.  I think it remains a matter of the Fathers (some of whom directly influenced the content of said liturgies) to show us the light in which to look at the issue.

PS -- Thanks for the link.  Grin
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« Reply #36 on: July 08, 2004, 02:33:59 PM »

Well, I don't see that as the case, as the liturgical terms don't necessarily paint a picture of a completely sinless Theotokos.  

What do you mean by "completely sinless"?  

Quote
As for "not accepting that there are" no Fathers who support Mary's sinlessness, well, arguments from silence don't do anyone much good.  If it was understood even by those who wrote of the Theotokos with words like "Immaculate" that she may have committed minor sins, and no other contemporaries (or those prior to said Fathers) stand up in dissent, it stands to reason that we see such terms in the former light.

The point is that we ought not look to what certain Fathers taught, but what the Church herself teaches.  In saying this, I'm not saying that we don't need to even consider the Fathers, but that even the Fathers were wrong on certain things (wasn't it Saint Gregory of Nyssa who taught universal salvation or some other belief that the Church rejected?); the only sure voice is that of the Church, and the Church, while including the Fathers, is also more than the Fathers.  

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Nowhere -- neither do we (and by "we" I refer to Byzantine Orthodox) have statements saying she never sinned personally.  I don't know what OO hymns have to say.  Terms such as "Panagia" and "Immaculate" could be seen either from the pov that she never sinned or that she sinned and was purified completely through deifying repentance...

Neither is there a contradiction between the liturgical terms you and I mentioned and the idea of her having committed personal sins.  I think it remains a matter of the Fathers (some of whom directly influenced the content of said liturgies) to show us the light in which to look at the issue.

Terms can be seen either way, but in what way does the Church see them?  No one has demonstrated that the Church believes that Mary committed personal sins, only that certain Fathers thought so.  

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PS -- Thanks for the link.  Grin

No problem.  Have fun reading all of it.  Tongue
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« Reply #37 on: July 12, 2004, 12:17:09 AM »

What do you mean by "completely sinless"?

Someone who never in his or her life separated his/her will from the will of God through less than perfect (God-centered) motives.

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The point is that we ought not look to what certain Fathers taught, but what the Church herself teaches.  In saying this, I'm not saying that we don't need to even consider the Fathers, but that even the Fathers were wrong on certain things.

No prob there, however -- to quote Rho here -- how do we determine what the voice of the Church is?  Is it in the Councils?  They show Mary as Theotokos, but make no mention of personal sinlessness.  The Fathers?  I've cited several rather prominent Fathers who seem to think she had sinned; none have (yet) been cited who believed her to be sinless.  Is it the liturgical services?  Words such as "Immaculate" are used, yet these terms come from those who themselves have admitted the possibility of her having sinned...can we really take such terms to mean sinless?  It seems we would need to find some instance of historical precedence within the Fathers -- anyone who though she was sinless -- for this idea to get off the ground.  Otherwise, it looks an awful lot like an innovation, something unfamiliar to the Church until a later age...something the likes of which, iirc, the Church is not fond of.

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Terms can be seen either way, but in what way does the Church see them?  No one has demonstrated that the Church believes that Mary committed personal sins, only that certain Fathers thought so.

Where are these statements from "the Church"?  What tradition from apostolic times are they upholding?  Why does this consensus trump what -- for all I can tell -- seems to be a consensus of several principal Fathers of the Patristic Age?

Please don't take this as a personal affront, Mor; I respect you very highly.  I just am wary of the Church proclaiming something later on that the Fathers themselves spoke differently on.
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« Reply #38 on: July 12, 2004, 09:14:32 AM »

Pedro,

Very good points. These are questions I would like to see addressed as well.

DT
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« Reply #39 on: August 04, 2004, 12:24:49 PM »

Bump...perhaps there are some folks with some answers to the questions I posted above Doubting Thomas' last post.
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« Reply #40 on: August 13, 2004, 01:00:54 AM »

Hello, all....

We all know the difference regarding Mary's nature between our Churches (RC: she's immaculately conceived and held apart from sin's influence; EO: not Imm. conc., She COULD have sinned but...chose not to?)

The RCC dogma on this matter was not adopted in its curent form until the ate 1800s....due in large part many believ to the testimony of St. Bernadette -- that the Virgin Mary said to her "I AM th eimmaculate conception."
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« Reply #41 on: August 13, 2004, 10:20:42 AM »

This Roman dogma was declared in 1854. It caused controvesy within the Roman church, and the then Latin Archbishop of Paris declared it to be contrary to Scripture and catholic tradition. Consequently he was not among those invited to the ceremonies in Rome. Subsequently he was very heavily leant upon by the Vatican and reconciled but was said to have reconsidered this but was assassinated before acting or not acting on these reported 'second' thoughts.

When unhappy French bishops approached the Russian Orthodox bishops for an opinion on the proposed 'dogma' he referred them to the texts of the festal services for the Dormition of the Theotokos.
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« Reply #42 on: August 13, 2004, 10:52:34 AM »

I noted some of the previous postings and thought the following homily from 1008 years ago - and before the Great Schism - may be of interest to some, as towards the end it makes a point reflected in some of the postings

From The Shepherd, August, 2004

From the Writings of Abbot Aelfric

HOMILY ON THE DORMITION OF THE MOTHER OF GOD

Mary is more beauteous than the moon, for she shines without the waning of her brightness. She is choice as the sun with beams of holy virtues, for the Lord, Who is the Sun of Righteousness, chose her for His mother. Her course is compared to a wedding band, for she was surrounded with heavenly powers, and with companies of angels. Of this heavenly Queen it is yet said by the same Spirit of God, "I saw the beateous one as a dove mounting above the streaming rills, and an ineffable fragrance exhaled from her garments; and so as in the spring-tide, blossoms and lilies encircled her." The blossoms of roses betoken by their redness martydom, and the lilies by their whiteness betoken the shining purity of inviolate maidenhood. All the chosen who have thriven to God through martyrdom or through chastity, they alll journeyed with the blessed Queen; for she is herself both martyr and maiden. She is as beauteous as a dove, for she loved meekness, which the Holy Spirit betokened, when He appeared in the likeness of a dove at His Baptism. Other martyrs suffered martydom in their bodies for Christ's faith, but the blessed Mary was not bodily martyred, yet her soul was sorely afflicted with great suffering when she stood before Christ's Cross and saw her dear Child fastened with iron nails on the hard tree. Therefore she is more than a martyr, for she suffered that martyrdom in her soul which other martyrs suffered in their bodies. She loved Christ above all other men, and, therefore, was her pain for Him greater than other men's, and she made His death as her own death, for His suffering pierced her soul as a sword.

Written at Cerne, Dorset, England in 996 A.D.
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« Reply #43 on: August 14, 2004, 06:12:57 PM »

The present Pope, despite his failing health including advanced Parkinsonism, is visiting the shrine of Lourdes in southern France, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the declaration of the Latin dogma of the 'Immaculate Conception'. He has apparently made it clear he is not there seeking a cure for himself.

Just thought I drop this in as a matter of information for those who may be interested........
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« Reply #44 on: August 14, 2004, 08:03:34 PM »

I often wonder why St. Mary didnt divulge this information to the Apostles, at least to St. John Her adopted son?  It sure would have life simpler.  

JoeS  Huh


The RCC dogma on this matter was not adopted in its curent form until the ate 1800s....due in large part many believ to the testimony of St. Bernadette -- that the Virgin Mary said to her "I AM th eimmaculate conception."
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