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Rob wrote:

Hi, guys —

Let me begin by saying that I am Baptist. I am curious about one of your beliefs and have not been able to obtain an answer from any of my Catholic friends.

  • Why do Catholics believe in the Immaculate Conception of Mary and her subsequent lack of sin throughout her life?

If you read Leviticus 12:8 we are told what a new mother is to do in order to atone for sin.

8 And if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for her, and she shall be clean."

Leviticus 12:8

Now, if we move forward to Luke 2:22-24 we are told what Mary did:

22 And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord") 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons."

Luke 2:22-24

According to Leviticus, one of those sacrifices was for sin. Thus, Mary was either offering this sacrifice for her sin; or, she was offering it for Jesus. Since Jesus is God and is without sin,
the only plausible explanation I can gather from this is that Mary was offering this sacrifice
for the atonement of her own sins.

  • Can you clarify any misperception I have on this topic?

Rob

  { Contrary to Leviticus, why do you believe in the Immaculate Conception and Mary's lack of sin? }

John replied:

Hi, Rob —

Thanks for your question.

I believe if you search our web site, we've covered questions regarding the Immaculate Conception at length. Here is just one link:

I would invite you to search the data base for more.

Regarding the offerings brought to the Temple by Mary; we must remember that she was born under the Law and as a good Jewish woman she would have fulfilled the requirements of the Law.
To draw an analogy, John the Baptist performed a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, yet Jesus submitted to it to fulfill all righteousness . Certainly Jesus didn't need to repent.

Finally, just to be clear. Catholics believe that Mary was preserved from Original Sin and then subsequently lived her life without sinning. We don't believe that she was sinless by nature. It was a particular act of grace which preserved her from Original Sin and it was by grace that she didn't sin during her life.

She simply was saved prior to falling, and kept from falling, unlike the rest of us who are saved after falling into sin.

It is worth noting that she was not the first human born without sin. Adam and Eve were
[born|created] without sin. Eve was sinless when she was tempted by Satan. Likewise, Mary was sinless when the Angel Gabriel asked her to assent to be the Mother of the Messiah and thus played a unique role in Salvation History. If you read the first couple of centuries of Christian authors, you'll read that the early Church called Mary, the Second Eve.

Mary was given the same shot at saying, Yes to God as Eve had when she said, No. They were both sinless at the time.

John

Mary Ann replied:

Hi, Rob —

The two turtledoves were also the substitute offering for the poor who could not bring a lamb.
Mary would offer them to fulfill the Law, and because by nature she was capable of sin.

  • Eve was created without sin, but Fell.
  • Mary was created without sin, and didn't fall, by grace, but she, herself, admits that she is weak and lowly and dependent on God, and without Him, would be a sinner. (Luke 1:46-56)

Another thing, partly related: By the grace of God, Mary did not sin throughout her life, but she could have sinned. She was not prevented from sinning. She resisted temptation and never sinned, by relying totally on the grace of God. What a woman!

Mary Ann

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