More about Mary

Asteriktos

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FWIW, here's a quote from Pelikan:

Mary was a special case, "for of her we are obliged to grant that her piety had no sin in it." Augustine, too, was obliged to grant this, refusing "out of honor to the Lord" even to raise the question of sin where she was involved; "for from him we know what abundance of grace for overcoming sin in every particular was conferred upon her who had the merit to conceive and bear him who undoubtedly had no sin." (Augustine, On Nature and Grace, 42; cf also paragraphs 37-38 ) - Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition: Volume 1, The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition, (The University of Chicago Press, 1971), p. 314
The sinlessness issue was also discussed, briefly, in this thread at the Cafe last December.
 
H

Hypo-Ortho

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TomS said:
Hypo-Ortho said:
... while she could have sinned, she chose not to of her own free will in synergestic cooperation with the Holy Spirit and remained in constant communion with God.
From what point in her life? From Birth, or as some say, only from the Annunciation forward?
Tom, I don't think that the Theotokos became "full of Grace" automatically at or because of the Annunciation, but that She was already so.

Once again, I would refer you to the Divine Services of the Church. The hymnody for the Feast of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple (when she was herself being prepared to be the human Temple of the Savior) is quite striking, and the hymnology is part of our Holy Tradition, as are the Bible, the dogmatic decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, the consensus of the Holy Fathers, etc.

Hypo-Ortho
 

Asteriktos

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For those who don't know about it, Holy Apostles Convent publishes the best book in English on Mary, The Life of the Virgin Mary, The Theotokos. It's 640 pages of joy, with all the wonderful details of the Orthodox belief concerning Mary. Unfortunately, I don't have my copy here (it's in storage), or I'd most likely be able to give a few references for the sinlessness of Mary. But then, you could probably Google for it and find some quotes, considering all the apologetic sites that are up online.
 

Linus7

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I have been looking back over Chapter VI of St. John Maximovitch's book, The Orthodox Veneration of Mary the Birthgiver of God.

It is quite possible that when St. John spoke about the error of teaching that the Mother of God was free of personal sins he was speaking about the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception and its notion that she was preserved from the possibility of committing sin.

St. John's language is somewhat confusing on this point and certainly makes it sound as if he believed that the Mother of God sinned at some time.

Upon re-examining what he had to say, however, I am becoming convinced that when St. John wrote "freedom from any personal sins" he was talking about complete freedom from the possibility of sin. That was the error St. John was opposing, the idea that the Mother of God was kept even from the possibility of committing a sin.

Chapter VI of St. John's book has as a subtitle or summary description the following: "The corruption by the Latins, in the newly invented dogma of the 'Immaculate Conception,' of the true veneration of the Most Holy Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary."

St. John chiefly addresses the Immaculate Conception in that chapter.

In this connection he writes (p. 60):

"The grace-given sinlessness of the Virgin Mary denies Her victory over temptations; from a victor who is worthy to be crowned with crowns of glory, this makes Her a blind instrument of God's Providence."

St. John also wrote:

"If She [the Mother of God] could have been placed in the state of being unable to sin, and did not sin, then for what did God glorify Her? If She, without any effort, and without having any kind of impulses to sin, remained pure, then why is She crowned more than everyone else? There is no victory without an adversary" (p. 59).

These statements imply that, although she was tempted, the Mother of God was victorious over temptation; although she faced "impulses to sin", she "remained pure"; although she was able to sin, she did not sin. In other words, St. John Maximovitch evidently did believe in the sinlessness of the Mother of God!

He just did not believe she was completely free from the possibility of sin.

I am now convinced that that is what St. John meant, NOT that he believed the Mother of God had ever been guilty of actual sin.

His language could have been clearer (or perhaps Fr. Seraphim Rose's translation could have been clearer), but I think a careful reading reveals that St. John did in fact believe the Mother of God never committed any sins.

 

afanasiy

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The prayers called Mary all-holy and all-pure; the common name for her among Greeks is Panayia "all holy."

If that doesn't mean sinless, what could? Let speculation cease; let's get real!

The Orthodox differ on the Theotokos from the Romans in two respects:

1. Since all infants are born sinless, Mary needed no immaculate conception. She did receive the uncreated Grace of the Assimilation to God (Gen. 1:26 in Greek; it had been lost by the first humans through sinning, a loss that has been inherited ever since by newborns) to become God's Mother, to lead a sinless life, and to enjoy a precursive resurrection. (The Orthodox don't believe in inherited guilt, nor do Deut. 24:16, etc. and Gal. 6:5.)

2. Since the Orthodox don't believe that God imposed death or that it is a penalty for sin, we don't have the problem the Latins have with her dying--just like Jesus and you 'n me. THe Orthodox believe that God let satan impose death so that no person could go on sinning perpetually.

Conclusion: The Latins are incoherent. For if a sinless person died (the Pope has left the door cracked open for this position). that conflicts with the Latin teaching that death is penal; but if they say she didn't die, how is that consistent with sinless Jesus's dying? A real conundrum either way you choose.

If beliefs are approached as a laundry list that can be added to or subtracted from without usually affecting all of the others in the system, one will get nowhere. The systematic mind will see how beliefs follow from the conflicting premises of Eastern and Western paradigms.

Let's get real!!!!!! :)

Afanasiy



 

Doubting Thomas

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afanasiy said:
The prayers called Mary all-holy and all-pure; the common name for her among Greeks is Panayia "all holy."

If that doesn't mean sinless, what could? Let speculation cease; let's get real!
Perhaps the prayers refer to her sinless state in heaven when they call Mary "all-holy and all-pure". After all, the prayers are addressed "to" her being in heaven, not on earth.

(Of course, what do I know about Orthodoxy--I'm just a Baptist! :cwm12: :cwm29: :cwm30: )
 

Saint Polycarp

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Ok what does it mean to be full of grace?
28 And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
 

Doubting Thomas

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Saint Polycarp said:
Ok what does it mean to be full of grace?
28 And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
Luke 1:28 --"And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women." (KJV)

So is Mary "highly favored" or "full of grace"? Anyone know the original Greek? ;D
 

TomS

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According to "The Orthodox New Testament, Holy Apostles Convent"

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0944359175/ref=cm_custrec_gl_acc/102-1995270-9216155?v=glance&s=books

"And the angel entered and said to her, "Rejoice thou who hast been shown grace, the Lord is with thee; blessedart thou among women"

And the notes attached to this passage (note from Tom: I will replace the greek letters with their english parallels):

---

Literally "Be rejoicing ("xaire", present active imperative), thou who hast been shown grace ("kexaritomene", perfect passive parrticle of "xaritoo"). Blessed Theophylact: "Thou didst find grace before the face of God"; this is the meaning of 'to be shown grace', 'to find favor before God', that is 'to be pleasing to God'. But this indeed is common. For many other women found grace before the face of God, but that which follows was not yet heard of." [P.G. 123:275DA]

Saint Basil the Great: "The first fruit of the Spirit is peace and joy. Therefore, ...the holy Virgin had received within herself every grace of the Holy Spirit." ["On Psalm 32, " Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers, Toal, IV:415.]

Saint Photios the Great: "The Virgin found favor with God because she had made herself worthy before her Creator, for, having adorned her soul with the fairness of purity, she had prepared herself as an agreeable habitation of Him....She found favor with Him not only because she had kept her virinity inviolate, but also because she had maintained her desires unsullied." ["Homily V, On the Annunciation, " The Homilies of Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople, 116]


----

 

Keble

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afanasiy said:
The Orthodox differ on the Theotokos from the Romans in two respects:

1. Since all infants are born sinless, Mary needed no immaculate conception. She did receive the uncreated Grace of the Assimilation to God (Gen. 1:26 in Greek; it had been lost by the first humans through sinning, a loss that has been inherited ever since by newborns) to become God's Mother, to lead a sinless life, and to enjoy a precursive resurrection.
Not to put to fine a point on it, this does not seem in the least coherent to me.

In the first place, we all have available to us an on-line resource with more-or-less definitive answers on what the Catholic Church teaches, and failing that, one can go to the Vatican website itself for the definitive versions of many texts. At least in Orthodoxy there is some excuse for confusion about what exactly is taught; in Catholicism there is no excuse. I have no compunction about wading in and taking up the Roman cause, though by and large I don't have time to do so.

I've looked at the verse in Genesis to which you refer, and, while my Greek isn't that good, it's good enough for me to tell that the LXX, the Vulgate, and nearly every English version translate this passage in the same way, practically word-for-word. It doesn't say anything about "uncreated energies". Indeed, the the very phrase you use is a misleading archaicism. Modern English almost never uses "energy" in the plural, because in modern usage the scientific sense of the word has become the standard. As you use the word, it has become a sort of theological jargon, a bubble terminology floating free from the grey swamp of plain meaning. It seems to me that, as you use the words, the phrase "created energies" can have no meaning in reference to God.

Unfortunately the phrase "original sin" has suffered the same fate. Even in the Catholic Encyclopedia one can see the phrase losing its juridical sense. In talking about these things, we are entering a world of mysteries. Giving ourselves the liberty of having our own words mean whatever we like, while telling our opponents what they mean with their words, isn't proper. All words, in this context, slip loose of the bonds of earthly meaning and speak their significances through indirection and rhetorical tropes.

One way or another, one is forced to deal with the fact that infants die, often within minutes or days of birth. The understanding is ancient that this has something to do with the sin of Adam. I do not think Orthodoxy would deny this. But after that the word games begin. From a theological point of view I am not all that interested in whether Mary sinned personally or not. But it seems necessary on your part that attributing some sort of error to Catholicism is necessary. From my very Anglican perspective, the actual differences between Orthodox and Catholic positions aren't all that great. There are differences, to be sure, but what I see are differences of degree, not kind.

Even so thorough an Anglican as Lewis is willing to place Mary in a special position among the saints. But historically this has tended to get out of control. Jesus tends to get turned into a superman, and if anything the process gets taken further with Mary. The idea of a genuinely human birth with its attendant pain and mess and a placenta to dispose of offends, so it is shoved out of the stable. A Jesus who wakes Mary in the night so that he can be fed and his stinky diapers changed is put out of mind.

Indeed, the problem is that we cannot conceive of how a sinless childhood should appear; so instead of admitting this, we erect idols of this childhood which quickly get to be laughable in their hyperpiety. And then the same process gets dumped on Mary. An ordinary woman isn't good enough to be the Theotokos; she has to be extraordinary. So she acquires a life which is fabulous in both senses of the word. I suppose this "precursive resurrection" falls into this, if I believed it actually had some definite meaning.

But beyond that, there seems to be a push to take Mary beyond being merely the vessel of salvation. The (thus far) ultimate expression of this is Co-redemption, an idea which I think is wrong anyway but which is embedded in such outrageously misleading language as to practically constitute a theological fraud. It comes as close as it can to the heresy that Mary is not just a conduit of grace, but is an originator of grace.

Orthodoxy, to its credit, has resisted this excess, but it still falls into gilding the lily, as it were. For instance, we have the legend that Mary lived in the Holy of Holies for some years. Leaving aside the practicalities of such an arrangement, there is the problem that for her to do so would have been a pretty dire sin.

No doubt Protestants as a rule go too much the opther way. But it is easy enough to understand heir overreaction. There seems to be litle restraint in the elevation of Mary; she does seem to be being elevated to a state of such near divinity that she becomes practically a demigod.
 

TomS

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I tend to agree with you Keble (now I will get called names again!)

I find interesting the quote that I posted from Blessed Theophylact above, which was taken from notes on the Gospel of Luke:

"Thou didst find grace before the face of God"; this is the meaning of 'to be shown grace', 'to find favor before God', that is 'to be pleasing to God'. But this indeed is common. For many other women found grace before the face of God, but that which follows was not yet heard of." [P.G. 123:275DA]

 

Linus7

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From Keble: . . . the actual differences between Orthodox and Catholic positions aren't all that great. There are differences, to be sure, but what I see are differences of degree, not kind.
I think you are right about that.

Even some of the supposed differences evaporate upon careful examination.

The real issue between Orthodox and Roman Catholics is the authority of the papacy. The other differences seem to have their source in that one.
 

afanasiy

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Dear in Christ Keble,

Let’s put a fine point on it. To understand a different paradigm, one has to learn to think outside of one’s own box. Your box is obviously not the Orthodox one, so our thought modes will seem as strange to you as conversely. If you are immune to the difference between axioms and teachings moulded by them--and I don’t say you are, though some might deduce that from your postng--then you won’t understand the vast gulf between the incommensurate views on Grace and Salvation, as well as much else, on either side of the East-West divide in Christianity. That there are no differnces seems to have become a slogan for you and those who approve of your assertions. A slogan is more or less as irrefutable as an axiom or definition, so I won’t try. I have no idea why you keep bringing in the (papalist) Catholic Church in replying to me. Since that red herring seems more irrelevant than incoherent to me, I will also drop that matter.

. . . while my Greek isn’t that good, it’s good enough for me to tell that the LXX, the Vulgate, and nearly every English versions translate the passage the same way, etc., etc.
If you cannot understand the difference between a CAUSING and its paired RESULT, and if you cannot understand how that difference is expressed in Greek morphology with fem. -sis (tis after sigma) or masc. -asmos, -ismos on the one hand, and by neuter -ma on the other, then your “Greek isn’t that good.” (Sanskrit and other I-E languages have the -sis/-ma difference, as did pre-Aristotelian Greek to a certain extent, without the energetic exactitude of educated Greeks subsequent to Aristotle.) I think a high-school freshman can understand the difference between an assimilating and a likeness/resemblance; between a creating (ktisis) and a creature (ktisma), and scores of parallel examples one could cite. (I have cited a score or so elsewhere.) If you cannot abide with the fact that a causation and a result are different--which I doubt--then of course you will think the English translation of ‘omoisis as though it were ‘omoima is “word-for-word” correct. :( As far as I can see, the quoted passage above is defining ‘omoiosis as “likenes.” Who can argue against a truth-invulnerable definition?

ADDENDUM: That -sis is causative/energetic is true only when the noun is derived from a causative verb ending in (later contracted) -aein, -eein, oein--or, in the case of ktisis, in -(i)zein (cf. English -ize). WIth such nouns, -ma is the result of the energization/causation.

Next are the uncreated Energies. You argue against its presence in Gen. 1:26--but who said uncreated energies are mentioned there” Who is the butt of the argument? All that I said was that the morphological formative in Hellenistic Greek represents an energization or causation. Be my guest and choose whether you wish it to refer to uncreated or created causation/energization (in the Hellenistic sense). I know you will also say that the Fathers uttered “misleading archaism” in speaking of Grace as uncreated Energy. Why not quote one? Or perhaps you think (I understand your position so little that I can only guess) that the Assimilation to God was neither Energy nor uncreated--as the papalists characterize Grace (cf. L. Ott, for example). Finally, I am perhaps more aware than you are of the engineers’ definitions of energy, force, work, etc. That said, it’s unlikely I was equating the Hellenistic energeia with such definitions. If you think the Fathers are achaic, be my guest. I was in fact very careful to define what a Hellenistic speaker of Greek understood--and what you would understand if you would read Aristotle’s Metaphysics or the Fathers without one lens of your glasses being blackened out.

I don’t know what you are--papalist, Anglo-Catholic, Uniate, whatever. But if I had little knowledge of how Greek structured its words and were not at home in the Greek Fathers, I would not controvert those who know what they are talking about, at least without citing facts and evidence. To know what a Latin or Orthodox says, the surest method of avoiding error is to let Latins or Orthodox, respectively, say what they believe. If you have a campaign to blot out all differences--and I am not saying you do, though it seems possible or even likely--a different approach might serve that goal better . . . Defining others as wrong just doesn’t cut it.. Now I can cite the Latin view of Grace from authoritative sources, but I didn’t think it necessary, since they are so well known. Since I am happy to let Latins and Reformers conceptualize and define Grace (12 subdivisions among Latin Scholastics) for themselves and discuss what they say, I cannot understand the motive of a person who is not content to let the Eastern Fathers define Grace for the Orthodox. That you think that
the phrase “created energies” can have no meaning in reference to God
betrays
--a misunderstanding of what a phrase is in English grammar; and
--agrees with the Orthodox that it has no reference to God.
There is nothing there for me to reply to--and !I won’t be doing so in the future! Your asserting that “original sin” (a phrase in your parlance) “is losing its juridical sense” admits that it has had a juridical sense. So you must have read some Augustine and perhaps Anselm.

Another goophasm: I never “attribut[ed] some sort of error to Catholicism” other than to observe (what Latin theologians have also said) that there is a problem in having an all-pure Virgin (i) born in sin and (ii) dying [if death is understood as a penalty for sin]. If Latin theologians point this out in their efforts to claim she could not have die, why do you (if you do, I cannot tell) charge me in the above manner?

What is the point of telling an Orthodox what Lewis thought about the Theotokos; what point would there be of your telling an Orthodox what twelve Pope Piuses said? I feel that your statements about the infant Jesus in this respect could have been expressed with greater refinement.

YOU SEEM TO MISS THE MAIN POINT. My posting had no intention of (i) telling you what your or others ought to believe. Contrasting may logically imply that at least one side (possibly both sides) err; but that would be an inference apart from a simple contrast. I have contrasted Orthodox and Western beliefs at a level you do not seem to wish to look at--that of underlying paradigms. My motive was to offer a dioptic vision to help both sides understand where th’other is coming from--evidently something that repugns you. Why don’t you stick to expounding your own views, telling us what your faith is and what it teaches, and leave to us to do the same for our views? That’s a fair division of labor? What else is a forum for? I do not understand why you insist on telling us what we believe. What on earth is the motivation? I do not care whether you believe the Theotokos had a precursive resurrection or not and have too many jobs on my table to answer your provocations in the future. It’s beyond my ken why you are so wrapped up in concerns over what I (and my fellow-Orthodox) believe? If you don’t like some belief, you are as free to reject it as we are to embrace it. Why this impetus to pretend that such freedom does not exist--if that is your trip (I don’t know, I admit)? A final word about your penultimate or final charge against the Orthodox:

Ah, we guild the lily! How awful! And what do you do?

Afanasiy, sinner
 

Keble

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I have to get ready for church, so I don't have time to deal with all of this at this moment.

afanasiy said:
Dear in Christ Keble,

Let’s put a fine point on it. To understand a different paradigm, one has to learn to think outside of one’s own box. Your box is obviously not the Orthodox one, so our thought modes will seem as strange to you as conversely. If you are immune to the difference between axioms and teachings moulded by them--and I don’t say you are, though some might deduce that from your postng--then you won’t understand the vast gulf between the incommensurate views on Grace and Salvation, as well as much else, on either side of the East-West divide in Christianity. That there are no differences seems to have become a slogan for you and those who approve of your assertions.
I didn't say that there were no differences. I think there are important differences. BUt if one sets aside the church architecture and rite differences, Protestants as a a rule see a lot of the crucial differences between Protestants and the Catholics expressed as well as differences between Protestants and the Orthodox. Mariology is one of those issues.

The problem with constantly resorting to talking about this difference in "paradigms" is that it has become a means by which to avoid actually addressing intent. It's quite clear that there are differences that have developed in Eastern and Western theological language. However, Western theological language has continued to develop, and one of the most important developments is driven by awareness of these sorts of differences, leading to attempts to resolve them. When you keep referring to your version of Thomist theology, you neglect the reality that even Catholic theology is no longer bound to that single language.

If you want a paradigm: you are presuming to teach me about my own theological language. Well, OK. But at least you have to get it right what I say when I use it. And as far as the Catholics are concerned, you have neither more no less standing than I do as far as church membership is concerned. Actually, maybe you have less. You are speaking from within a paradigm in which you can talk about Catholicism without being Catholic, but in which I, a western Christian and therefore a real inheritor of the Western tradition, can't.
 

Keble

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afanasiy said:
YOU SEEM TO MISS THE MAIN POINT. My posting had no intention of (i) telling you what your or others ought to believe. Contrasting may logically imply that at least one side (possibly both sides) err; but that would be an inference apart from a simple contrast. I have contrasted Orthodox and Western beliefs at a level you do not seem to wish to look at--that of underlying paradigms.
Actually, your posting seems to have had every intention of telling me what the Catholics believe, whether they ought to or not. Any talk of differing paradigms has to be grounded in a correct representation of Catholic teaching. I just do not believe that you are representing them accurately.

That's why we keep having this argument over your "paradigms". I am a student of a different school of Western Christianity, and it is a school which requires having a fair understanding of Catholicism. It seems to me that the paradigm that is really functioning here is your need to have this big differentiation between East and West. What virtually everyone in the West actually sees is that it is is far more complicated than this. There a a lot of attitudes that Catholicism and Orthodoxy share that everyone else in the West does not share; conversely, there is a different set of attitudes that most of the West shares, but are largely rejected in the East. And then there are a few areas where certain Protestants have things in common with Orthodoxy that nieither shares with Catholicism.

The West is not a simple thing to be subjected to this degree of reductionism. There are some fundamental differences between East and West, but this isn't one of them.
 
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