What is the Byzantine approach to this teaching? I have seen parishes that celebrate it and others who celebrate St. Anne giving birth to the Blessed Mother; or is there even an official East teaching?
Thanks for your responses.
Official Church Teaching:
Troparion Tone 4
Today the bonds of childlessness are loosed, for God has heard the prayers of Anne and Joachim. He promised against all hope that they would give birth to a divine Virgin from whom the Indescribable would be born as man, the same who ordered the angels to sing to her: Rejoice, O woman full of grace, the Lord is with you.
Kontakon Tone 4
Today the universe rejoices; for Anne conceived in a manner caused by God, and because the one born to her will give birth to the Word.
Oh, if we are doing it this way then:
Dogmatik in the first tone:
Let us sing a hymn of praise to the Virgin Mary
Glory of the whole world!
She was herself formed by human seed,
yet she became the Mother of the Master,
the Gate of Heaven,
the theme of the angel's hymn and the beauty of the faithful...
Dogmats convey the highest level of theology to the avarage orthodox-christian.
J. Von Gardner writes how he experienced completely illiterate peoples in Carpathia-othodox and uniate- who were able to fight off conversion attempts by protestants and catholics by reciting dogmats from memory. It must have blown them away to encounter such profound and concrete theology in a back-woods part of the world, from people who they considered pagans.
I have often wondered how the greek-catholics could ever adopt the doctrine of the immaculate conception, since our hymns clearly state that "she was herself formed by human seed".
I now find myself using this dogmat in defense against my orthodox friends who confront me on the issue.
does this make any sense?
you might want to take a look at another ongoing related thread I forget the name, but here\'s the link
No Im sorry it doesnt make sense!
I dont see what "she who was born of human seed" has to do with a denial of the Immacualte Conception.
The taching of the Immaculate conception just simply states that in the normal conception process of conjugal love of the Righteous Joachim and Anna that God preserved their offspring the "Blessed Virgin Mary" from sin.
The East along with the West has always believed that Mary was all holy, spotless, and the sinless
ever virgin Mother of God.
It is that simple.
Not hard to understand at all.
Perhaps it is difficult for those who want to make more of this than it is a teaching on the sinlessness of the Blessed Virgin Mary
My relative Gavshev has become so Orthodox
Good for him!
He's looking at the Immaculate Conception the way an Orthodox Christian would.
If the Mother of God was born naturally the way we were, but in holiness (as we are not), then she would be under the law of death and so could not be said to be "without Original Sin."
But however either Church begins the discussion on this, BOTH affirm that the Mother of God was conceived in holiness and that even the faintest shadow of imperfection dared not come near her.
Of course, we have visited this earlier. But as a reminder of the true Eastern Tradition:
The Eastern Orthodox Church chants every morning at Matins in the Evlogitaria that Christ "is the only sinless one."
I challenge anyone to produce a liturgical text that refers to Mary as "anamartitos" or "sinless" (in Greek).
If she were sinless, she would not have died and we would not have a feast called "The Dormition."
But you've heard all of this before.
Orthodoxy recognizes two Immaculate Conceptions: that of Mary by her parents and that of John the Forerunner by his parents. These were conceptions as God intended conception to be: full of love for each other, with hope for children, without malice, lust, greed, etc.
The procreations resulting from these Immaculate Conceptions (Mary the Theotokos and John the Forerunner) could not escape the inheritance of Original Sin, which is mortality.
We can go round and around regarding whether or not the Most/All Holy Theotokos had "personal" sins. (John Chrysostom and Basil said "yes," but that they were minor ones. Pelagios said that she would "answer" before God for her sins like the rest of us. Numerous others have said that she had no personal sins.) But what we cannot escape is that she was conceived and born subject to the tendency to sin and subject to its end result, death. Thus, we may not call her "anamartitos" or "sinless" since that is reserved for Christ who was not subject to the tendency to sin and not subject to death. As we recall, although immortal, He chose death for our sakes in the Garden at Gethsemane according to His father's will.
With love in Christ,
? Well, Andrew, I was always taught that the Blessed Virgin was sinless. But it wasn't that she was "the same" as Christ, as some Protestants charge us with believing.
Christ is sinless by His very nature, and Mary is sinless by the grace of Christ. Everything she is, flows from Him.
As is the case with the rest of us.
Dear Theist Gal,
Does that mean that she was also immortal, by grace, of course.
GAVSHEV commits the common error of confusing "Immaculate Conception" with "Virgin Birth"! They are not to be confused; that is certainly not what the Roman Church means by its doctrine...
Further, an unfallen nature does not necessarily mean a nature that is not subject to death. I am perhaps betraying my Latin theological formation here, but as I understand it , immortality is considered a preternatural gift, not intrinsic to an unfallen state. Indeed, the idea that Christ, as the new unfallen Adam, was only able to die because of a sort of miracle of the divine will was declared a heresy by the Western Church. I am new to thinking in Eastern categories, but it may help to view "death" in a less literal, physical, way.
I was taught that the Theotokos was personally sinless but was not preserved in some special way from sin before birth which would seperate Our Lady from the human race. In her free will, she was sinless which is the greater example in my book!
I was taught that the Theotokos was personally sinless but was not preserved in some special way from sin before birth which would seperate Our Lady from the human race.
An interesting teaching. Of course this separation from the human race is like yours at baptism.
What really separates Mary from the human race is her absolutely unique role in the Incarnation of Christ. Not reflecting a lack of humaness, but being incomprehensibly extraordinary because of humaness.
In her free will, she was sinless which is the greater example in my book!
Which would make the Theotokos separate from the human race in that her own will was sufficient to avoid sin - a component of Pelagian heresey no?
If she were sinless, she would not have died ...
Wait a minute, Andrew. Previously you advanced the idea - one of the several, different ideas that I've found in Orthodox catechisms on the OS subject - that we sin because we are mortal. Now you completely flip the proposition and say we are mortal because we sin?
daniel n said;
I am perhaps betraying my Latin theological formation here, but as I understand it , immortality is considered a preternatural gift, not intrinsic to an unfallen state. Indeed, the idea that Christ, as the new unfallen Adam, was only able to die because of a sort of miracle of the divine will was declared a heresy by the Western Church. I am new to thinking in Eastern categories, but it may help to view "death" in a less literal, physical, way.
If Christ died only as a condescension to his divine will then he really wasn't human after all. I don't think that this is just a heresy of the Western Church!
Maybe it is widespread; I encountered it among graduates of Thomas Aquinas College in California. It may not have been explicitly taught there, the students may have deduced it themselves. The reasoning went like this: Jesus is the New Adam. Adam, before the fall was not subject to death, therefore Christ was not subject to death as an unfallen man. However, he did die so it must have been a miracle of the divine will. But the Church specifically teaches that the doctrine of Christ's impassable [not subject to suffering and death] nature is a heresy. The error is in seeing immortality as intrinsic to an unfallen nature; it is not, it is an added gift, one that was not assumed by Christ in the Incarnation.
I used to get quite a kick out of proving these very conservative Latin Mass types were actually heretics...
Anyway, that brings us back to the question at hand. Brian makes the error of equating human nature with sin; it is not, sin is a lessening of our nature. And if Mary being without sin reduces her solidarity with humanity the same must be held of Christ. I think the error is in limiting "death" to corporeal death only. But this cannot be. In the book of Genesis God says to Adam that "in the day in which you eat" of the tree of knowledge of good and evil "you will die". Yet Adam did not physically die on that day; indeed he lived for what? nine hundred years? Certainly physical death is one effect of Adam's sin, but the more tragic effect was in the broken unity with the Holy Trinity. This unity was never lacking in Christ or our Blessed Lady.
You know, it is actually quite interesting to contrast the Western "theology" (I don't buy this as official teaching) you mention above, to Eastern understanding on this subject. To the Fathers, the wage of sin was not death so much as it was life as we know it. They described that prior to the fall, our bodies were pristine and transparent. After the fall, our bodies became polluted by organs as so many accretions; becoming opaque, mortal, and destined to suffer and decompose.
This is the kind of life that requires redemption. The creation of a demi-god type creature who is immune from death does not, would not, participate in this type of existence. And, if they, He/She, do not participate in this existence, they cannot participate in its redemption. This is part of the Arian controversy. (Its amazing but there are really no new heresies, just new people that hold them.)
Furthermore, it is only through death that we are redeemed. It is only by following Christ in his steps that we transcend ourselves.
If Mary did not die, she could not be redeemed by her Son. She would not participate in his ultimate sacrifice and therefore, could not participate in its victory.
If Christ died and Mary did not, that would, in effect, make her superior to Him, hardly a dogmatic proposition!
When I say my theological formation was Western, that is only partially true; we did study the Fathers of the Church, Eastern as well as Western. It was so long ago that I can't remember who said it but one of the Fathers said something to the effect that "what was not assumed was not redeemed". I think this is what you are saying.
However, "transparent bodies" and "polluted by organs" sounds like someone was tainted by gnosticism.
I really wish this old topic wouldn't get rehashed over and over again as it does.
And we seem to be talking past each other at the best of times.
There really is no difference between East and West on the subject.
The Immaculate Conception was proclaimed as a way, as Kallistos Ware states, to assert that the Mother of God never had any "stain" of sin on her soul.
Thus, it was a way to repudiate the old Augustian notion of "stain of Original Sin" as having ever touched the soul of the Mother of God.
But "sin" in the East means not only personal, sinful stain.
It means, even more importantly, the state of death, concupiscence and inner darkness into which we are born.
The Mother of God and John the Baptist were conceived in holiness, that is, the Holy Spirit already sanctified them and filled them at their Conception.
That is why the East celebrates the feast of their Conception - and this would be liturgically impossible if they were not already saints at their Conception.
In addition, popular Eastern belief holds that John the Theologian, the Prophet Jeremiah and Nicholas the Wonderworker were also similarly conceived in holiness.
That is all that is and the Church, especially in the East, has highly celebrated Mary's All-Holiness from her Conception.
In fact, it seems to be more important to the Eastern Fathers than to the West, as the Anglican quote I transcribed last week indicates.
In Mary's case, this meant that while she was under the law of Original Sin ie. a weakened, mortal human nature, the Grace she received from her Conception and throughout her life mitigated that law.
So she felt no pain at giving birth to Christ, as the liturgy proclaims.
And her death was so light and sweet that we call it a "falling asleep" or Dormition.
I really think we should leave this alone because we come at this issue with different presuppositions that gets us into trouble.
It is no longer an issue between RC and Orthodox theologians who discuss it.
Let's not make it one amongst ourselves.