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Was the Immaculate Conception Necessary?

Trent Horn

When Catholics say Mary was immaculately conceived, they mean that at the moment of her conception Mary was filled with God’s sanctifying grace. God protected her from sin throughout her life, but did it have to be this way? Trent Horn explains why it was fitting for Mary to be conceived without sin for her role as Mother of God.

Transcript:

When Catholics say Mary was immaculately conceived, they mean that at the moment of her conception Mary was filled with God’s sanctifying grace. While you and I have the stain of original sin washed away in baptism, Mary was given that grace at the very first moment of her existence.

But some people ask, “If Mary had to be immaculately conceived in order to give birth to Jesus, then wouldn’t Mary’s mother, St. Anne, have to have been immaculately conceived in order to give birth to her? Wouldn’t there be a chain of immaculately conceived women going all the way back to Eve?”

No, there wouldn’t, because Mary’s immaculate conception was fitting rather than necessary. Since God is omnipotent, he could have become man in any number of ways. God could have materialized as a fully grown man, or he could have been born of a sinner and remained sinless. But God chose a fitting way to be “born of a woman” (Gal. 4:4) that would dignify her status as the unique Mother of God: he arranged for her to come into the world without sin.

In his earlier writings, the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther said of Mary, “in the very infusion of her soul she was also purified from original sin,” He also said, “God’s grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil.” In his later writings Luther seemed to move away from this belief, but in 1540 he still believed that when Christ was conceived in Mary’s womb, “the flesh and blood of Mary were entirely purged, so that nothing of sin remained.”

Just as it is not necessary for a king to wear a crown or have an assembly accompany him to a village, both of these things are fitting for him, given his majestic status. The same is true for Mary, who could have been a sinner, but God chose to protect her from sin so that she would have the majesty befitting the woman who gave birth to the King of Kings.

If you want to learn more about this topic and others like it, visit our website at catholic.com.

For Catholic Answers, I’m Trent Horn. Thanks for watching.

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