Immaculate Mary

Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception! Over at First Things, David Mills has an excellent column on just what this doctrine means, why we believe it, and why it so confuses our Protestant brothers and sisters:

[Mary] is, [Pope Pius IX] wrote, “far above all the angels and all the saints so wondrously did God endow her with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured from the treasury of his divinity.” Because God did this for her—because God did it—Mary, “ever absolutely free of all stain of sin, all fair and perfect, would possess that fullness of holy innocence and sanctity.” . . .

Pius’s argument, such as it is, does not satisfy Protestants, who ask, and quite rightly given their beliefs, “Just where is this in Scripture?” It looks to them as if the Catholic Church is rationalizing a doctrine that had grown too big to fail. They can understand how the Catholic might get from Jesus’ statements at the Last Supper to a belief in Transubstantiation, but not how he can get from apparently no evidence whatsoever to the Immaculate Conception. That doesn’t look like a stretch but an invention. . . .

All the dogma does, Pius might have said, is put into a shorter and more precise form the understanding of Mary that had been percolating in and shaping the Church’s thinking since the beginning of her life.

 

You have to read the whole thing to see how that understanding developed through the centuries, and why it is as natural as “the development of the way the Church understands Jesus” — though it may still bewilder some Evangelical Christians. Meanwhile, praise God for the gift of this beautiful feast!

Margaret Cabaniss

By

Margaret Cabaniss is the former managing editor of Crisis Magazine. She joined Crisis in 2002 after graduating from the University of the South with a degree in English Literature and currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She now blogs at SlowMama.com.

Crisis Magazine Comments Policy

This is a Catholic forum. As such:

  1. All comments must directly address the article. “I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter.” (Matthew 12:36)
  2. No profanity, ad hominems, hot tempers, or racial or religious invectives. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
  3. We will not tolerate heresy, calumny, or attacks upon our Holy Mother Church or Holy Father. “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)
  4. Keep it brief. No lengthy rants or block quotes. “For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:14)
  5. If you see a comment that doesn’t meet our standards, please flag it so a moderator may remove it. “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.” (Galatians 6:1)
  6. All comments may be removed at the moderators’ discretion. “But of that day and hour no one knows…” (Matthew 24:36)
  7. Crisis isn’t responsible for the content of the comments box. Comments do not represent the views of Crisis magazine, its editors, authors, or publishers. “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God… So each of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:10, 12)
MENU