St. Ephraem- "Most holy Lady, Mother of God, alone most pure in soul and body, alone exceeding all perfection of purity ...., alone made in thy entirety the home of all the graces of the Most Holy Spirit, and hence exceeding beyond all compare even the angelic virtues in purity and sanctity of soul and body . . . . my Lady most holy, all-pure, all-immaculate, all-stainless, all-undefiled, all-incorrupt, all-inviolate spotless robe of Him Who clothes Himself with light as with a garment . ... flower unfading, purple woven by God, alone most immaculate".
And alas, not a word of this equals the Latin dogma of the "Immaculate Conception."
The angel Gabriel said, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you" (Luke 1:28). The phrase "full of grace" is a translation of the Greek word kecharitomene. It therefore expresses a characteristic quality of Mary.
'Full of grace' is very explicit and is not used to describe anyone else- not St. John the Baptist, or St. Anne... There is something different about the Theotokos as represented by all the language used to describe her in the HB.
You need to stop reading Latin propaganda/apologetical materials, and delve more into the mind of the Church on this matter. I say this, because your whole line of argumentation sounds like something I would have been pushing a few years ago when I actually was a Roman Catholic! This is almost word for word what you'll find in a "Catholic Answers" tract.
As Bl.Justin of Serbia said "Papism is the oldest Protestantism." Whether it be the filioque
clause, papal infallibility
, or the Immaculate Conception
, these are all late coming doctrines whose justification is found through proof texting
; which is precisely what Protestants do. The apple does not fall from the tree, and the only thing which separates the two (Catholicism and Protestantism), is that the former will use a broader well of materials (sources besides the Bible) to concoct their novelties, and has a singular, authoritarian "final interpreter" who when he decides, can endorse one view over another.
The Latins are in this mess, because of their errors regarding grace, and the nature of redemption. As such, they have incorrect views about the original/ancestral sin, what it is to be "redeemed in Christ", and as a result, just what was true of the "Old Testament Saints." In fact this is precisely why, while the pre-schism Latins had the Holy Prophets of the Old Testament on their calendar and made Icons of them, they dropped this in the years following their schism from Orthodoxy. I don't think it's coincidental at all, but reflects their errors on this subject.
Basically, the Latins don't think highly of Old Testament Saints. I'm not saying they loath them, but they don't know what to make of them. For example, that the righteous ones who lived before the Advent of Christ could attain divinization, and behold the uncreated Light, and taste profound depths of grace, just doesn't sit well with their view of "original sin", which would seem to preclude this.
OTOH, Orthodoxy has no problem with any of this; what changed with the coming of our Lord, is that He trampeled death, "ontologically destroying death" as Metropolitan Hierotheos puts it in his writings, and established the way for men to become true members of His very Body. Thus, why those who repose blessed by God now do not descend into Hades; and also why the grace of God abounds all the more amongst men .
As such, the Mother of God does not need to be fundamentally "different" from the other righteous ones of the Old Testament. In fact, as St.John Maximovitch writes in his little booklet on the Mother of God, the Latin doctrine of the "Immaculate Conception" is actually an implied slight against Her; for it fails to recognize that She became as She was, because of Her life long piety, perfect chastity, and profound asceticism. The Mother of God is the greatest of hesychasts, and was such before this way was widely known amongst men (and had been only known and practiced amongst certain of the "schools of Prophets", who lived lives not much different from those of New Testament monastics - St.John the Baptist was the last of this type of Old Testament Prophet.)
I have to side with our Church, and St.John in particular who is a modern Saint that addressed specificially this heterodox teaching. Normally I'm not this insistant, but the Latin "I.C." doctrine is not simply problematic because it is imposed as a dogma, but it's outright erroneous
. Thus it's not even a "theological opinion" to be tolerated. It's heresy, and if memory serves, was one of the things I had to renounce (along with the "filioque", papal infallibility & universal juristiction, and satan) during my entrance into the catechumate.