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Originally Posted by Fr J Steele CSC
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The other thing is that the IC is not really necessary. What does it matter whether she was conceived without origin sin, cleansed in the womb, or sanctified at the Annunciation?

Although Latin theology see the IC as necessary for the reasons above, I do see how one can think of salvation without reference to Eve's sinlessness. But for Latin theology the IC is necessary because it is a matter of fidelity to the patristic record on the New Eve.

From an Eastern perspective if it doesnt matter when Eve was freed from taint of sin, then why the opposition to the IC? Seems it works both ways.

I don't think that the Orthodox (on the whole) oppose the IC as a permissible theological opinion. I think the opposition is to the Pope's proclaiming it a necessary Dogma for the universal Church.

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I don't think that the Orthodox (on the whole) oppose the IC as a permissible theological opinion. I think the opposition is to the Pope's proclaiming it a necessary Dogma for the universal Church.

Thanks, Joe, for this honesty. I think ultimately what we have that divides us is a hermeneutical problem--an ancient distrust of one another. Our problem is more political than theological. And it is more emotional than political. And it is more spiritual than it is emotional.

But Christ who desires unity is greater than all of that.

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Hermeneutics:

When we look for what we cant do, we find the impossible.
When we look for what we can do, we find not only the possible, but the imperative.

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Fr Deacon Lance, I never once hinted that the Orthodox had to accept it! I said it is a defined doctrine for the Latin Church and that settles the matter.
The concept of Mary being untouch by sin is a commone belief of the Church, although I know some in here deny that, and a lot of that has to do with varying understanding of the effects of Original Sin and what the Doctrine of Original Sin means.
Still I think it is possible to formulate a common statement acceptable to both for reunion to be based on.
Stephanos I
PS I am more understanding and sympathetic to the Orthodox than most in here realize.

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As I said on another thread, I think some of the East West differences can only be overcome by a new council of the unified church. Whatever may come from such a new council is as unknown to us as the creed of Nicea was before that council met. To have such a council in the future will require a change of heart in the way we relate to one another now. These are the times and conversations which lay the ground for a future reunion in my opinion not because we can logically tease out a solution but because we grow in Christian brotherhood and charity and overcome the polemical past which divides us.

What bishops East and West may one day conclude in order to overcome our present divisions is unknown to us now and we should not presume to speak for them.

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Aside from all this, we had a wonderful Mass today to celebrate Mary the Gate of Heaven.
Stephanos I

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Originally Posted by Slavipodvizhnik
Ah, but remember when all the bishops were wrong, but one, St. Mark of Ephesus.

Alexandr

That's quite the perspective, Alexandr. How would you extrapolate from that a magisterial principle that applies to the functioning of the Church's teaching ministry? What does your perspective here tell us about how the Church should function in unity and truth?

I guess I'm also asking you, if we take that to its furthest conclusion, what does the Church look like?

Gordo

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Originally Posted by Slavipodvizhnik
Oh, but Father, there is a universal authority. It just is not the Pope, but rather the Church.

Alexandr

Well, at one point it was Mark of Ephesus, if I read your earlier post correctly!

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Originally Posted by JSMelkiteOrthodoxy
I don't think that the Orthodox (on the whole) oppose the IC as a permissible theological opinion. I think the opposition is to the Pope's proclaiming it a necessary Dogma for the universal Church.

Joe

Joe,

I think you've hit the nail on the head here. The REAL issue is not the doctrine per se but the manner of its definition without Orthodox involvement and by Papal promulgation. I think we saw some of shift that is occuring with Pope John Paul's reticence to issue Marian dogmas when he declined to define Mary as "Coredemptrix", which, when PROPERLY understood, is perfectly o/Orthodox and even patristic. I think the two dogmas of the IC and Assumption reflect an aspect of the functioning of the papal magisterium that has hopefully passed until a new model can be developed in union with the Orthodox. That said, I fully adhere to these dogmas as an Eastern Christian and a Catholic, understanding them through "Eastern lenses", particularly our liturgical texts of the Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos and the Conception of St. Ann and the Syrian fathers (not often emphasized in the Byzantine tradition).

Part of the problem arises in some Orthodox theologians developing a rationale for denying the IC. It leads down all sorts of undesirable doctrinal paths. For instance, do we really want to assert that she who is "full of grace" was at some point in her life subject (ontologically and/or volitionally) to the Kingdom of Satan, Sin and Death?

Sorry - not buying them apples. wink And neither are the liturgical texts...

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Originally Posted by ebed melech
Part of the problem arises in some Orthodox theologians developing a rationale for denying the IC. It leads down all sorts of undesirable doctrinal paths. For instance, do we really want to assert that she who is "full of grace" was at some point in her life subject (ontologically and/or volitionally) to the Kingdom of Satan, Sin and Death?

Sorry - not buying them apples. wink And neither are the liturgical texts...

Gordo

Gordo, I believe that we have no other choice but to affirm that the Most Holy Theotokos was conceived in original sin. As you know, in Orthodoxy original sin is not a stain of guilt on the soul, but the effects of sin, chiefly that of a lack of communion with God. Mary clearly suffered the effects of original sin in that she died (this is the belief of the Holy Fathers), both of our Churches allow the possibility that she had concupiscence and she was conceived out of communion with God because she says that God is her Savior in Luke 1:47 (and the only biblical and patristic form of "salvation" is salvation out of sin, not from experiencing it). Furthermore, St. Paul says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God in Romans 3:23 (the context of this verse clearly indicates that just as all have experienced sin in verse 23, all need the justification of the following verse, 24). The Holy Theotokos, despite being totally pure from her mother's womb, was certainly included in those with sin (original sin) and needed justification like all others. Regarding what the Fathers taught about the holiness of the Theotokos, it suffices to say that the Orthodox understanding of original sin doesn't detract from her holiness, it just leaves one with a weakened physical and spiritual nature that needs redemption. This is certainly provided for both in Holy Scripture and the attestations of the incomparable purity of the Theotokos in the Fathers. In fact, it is Mary's conception in original sin and redemption that makes her ever more perfectly a model of redeemed humanity and icon of the Atonement.

God bless,

Adam Michael

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Well said Adam Michael, I would also point out that when we are fully deified, we will also be immaculate and blameless. Still, in Semitic usage, blameless doesn't mean (never having sinned once) for many in Scriptures are called blameless, yet we do not believe that Abraham, Job, Enoch, and probably several others were immaculately conceived. There is nothing incoherent in believing that the blessed Virgin Mary was conceived a descendent of the first Adam like all of us, was subject to the fall, yet was purified at the Annunciation (or sometime before that). This seems to be the view of Patriarch Bartholomewl, at least from what I've read.

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Just arguing from the Fathers, however, if they had this view that Mary was conceived in sin, and stood in need of being saved "like everybody else", why did they speak so much and so often of Mary as the New Eve, "mother of all the living"?

If she was dead (by sin) how could she be "mother of all the living"? Or, were the Fathers all wrong about the "New Eve"?

Or, maybe there is more to this mystery than simply viewing Mary as "just one of us"? She certainly was human, but she just as certainly is the Mother of God.

How many of the Fathers were perplexed, if not conflicted, as was St. Bernard in the original post, about the compatibility of "holiness" and "the marital act"?

Michael

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Originally Posted by Michael McD
Just arguing from the Fathers, however, if they had this view that Mary was conceived in sin, and stood in need of being saved "like everybody else", why did they speak so much and so often of Mary as the New Eve, "mother of all the living"?

If she was dead (by sin) how could she be "mother of all the living"? Or, were the Fathers all wrong about the "New Eve"?

Or, maybe there is more to this mystery than simply viewing Mary as "just one of us"? She certainly was human, but she just as certainly is the Mother of God.

How many of the Fathers were perplexed, if not conflicted, as was St. Bernard in the original post, about the compatibility of "holiness" and "the marital act"?

Michael

In my mind it is these very complexities (and perplexities) that merits prudence when defining doctrine. That is the main reason way the definition of the IC is so imprudent. But I would also say that perhaps we are looking at it too much as "you are either without sin or you are dead." How did the patriarchs respond to God if they were dead in sin? How has anyone? Original sin has not destroyed our ability to respond to God. Also, even without sin, Adam and Eve still needed to be perfected in Christ. And after the fall, their sinfulness did not stop them from being able to make offerings to God. I just don't see it as absolutely necessary to hold that the Theotokos from the moment of conception was entirely without any trace of sin and remained so her whole life. Granted I do believe that when the Theotokos was purified by God (whenever that was) and accepted her call to be the Theotokos, that she was preserved from blemish, but that doesn't mean that she was never identified with us as a sinner in any sense. One wonders what the blessed Virgin Mary would have said about herself? And Scriptures clearly teach that God consigned all to disobedience in order to have mercy on all. After all, if Mary could be completely sinless in every respect, then why couldn't she be the redeemer and make the offering that we couldn't make?

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I realize that I am a latecomer to this discussion, but the Immaculate Conception is a dogma that was very difficult for me to accept, for many of the reasons that Joe has raised. It took a great amount of prayer and study before I could accept it.

We all agree that the Blessed Virgin Mary received a singular calling to be the Theotokos. As such, we can surmise that she received a special outpouring of God's grace to enable her free consent to her calling. Indeed, the holy angel Gabriel addressed her as "full of grace" - kecharitomene, as I believe it is in Greek. The question, then, arises as to when she was made such by God.

St. Paul gives us a clue, in his letter to the Ephesians: "Blessed be te God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him" (Eph 1:3-4). What St Paul says in a general sense of all believers is true in a very specific sense of the Blessed Virgin Mary - God chose her before the foundation of the world to be the mother of His Son. This is a privilege granted to no one else.

But Mary was not forced to consent to the Divine Will against her own. She freely consented to God's plan of salvation, not only at the Annunciation but throughout her entire life. She was enabled to give this free consent because her will was in no way affected by the result of Adam's sin.

After the Fall, our wills were weakened. We instinctively find it easier to follow our own will rather than God's will. We find it easier to be sinful than to be holy. No one can resist this downward pull toward self and sin without God's grace. She who was "full of grace" became so from the very first moment of her existence, at her Immaculate Conception. Because of her Immaculate Conception, she was freed from the moral effects of Adam's sin. Because she was free from this tendency, she had the same freedom of the will that Eve possessed. Eve, hearing the word of the fallen angel, freely chose to disobey God; Mary, hearing the word of the holy angel, freely chose to obey God.

"How can this be?" we ask. It is a fair question, one asked by our Lady herself. The answser is the same as it was for her: "With God nothing shall be impossible."

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Hi Joe,

Mary couldn't be redeemer and make the proper sacrifice for us because..... if Mary aspired to a role other than Theotokos, wouldn't that make her aspirations incongruent with God's plan for her life? Prideful perhaps? and, lacking the humility of a truly holy/sinless person? So, you see perhaps the absence of sin also coincides with an understanding of one's proper role in this life. Glory to XC forever! A student

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