The Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8th) is upon us. So, I thought it prudent to take a common sense and biblical look at why God created Mary full of grace from the moment of her conception. You can find the dogma of the Immaculate Conception here.
Mary, Full of Grace
Grace, as it relates to salvation, is God’s unmerited favor. This is why some Bible translations render Gabriel’s greeting to Mary, “Chaire kecharitomene,” as “highly favored one.”
God eternally favored Mary to be the mother of His divine Son incarnate, the only person who ever has or ever will give birth to a divine Person. Because Mary is the only person whom God will ever select and predestine to fulfill this most exalted role and responsibility among creatures, we would better understand “highly favored one” as “most favored.”
Therefore, God most graced Mary for this unique relationship from the moment of her conception, a relationship only she and her Son unceasingly enjoy. Now, when God favors someone, He communicates grace to that person. And when He favors someone above all others, He fills that person with grace.
So, we must have no doubt that God made and preserved Mary full of grace. Since God most highly favored her from eternity, He most fully graced her from conception. She is the spotless Ark of the New Covenant and is the only created being to have such a close, personal connection to God.
Mary, Most Blessed
Additionally, when Mary visited Elizabeth, whom the Holy Spirit had filled (Luke 1:41), Elizabeth said to Mary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Luke 1:42, RSVCE). Thus, at the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, Elizabeth gave Mary and Jesus the same blessing. By giving them both the same blessing, Elizabeth and the Holy Spirit implied that Mary is the most blessed among all women.
So, Mary is most graced, most blessed, and due to her special relationship with the Son, most exalted among God’s creatures. In fact, God’s favor toward Mary and His blessing of her as the mother of the Most High inspired St. Bonaventure (A.D 1221 to 1274, Bishop, theologian, philosopher, and a Doctor of the Church) to write the following:
It is but fit that the Blessed Virgin should be without any stain, and that she should so entirely conquer Satan, that she was not even for one moment subject to him. If Mary’s soul had been, only for one moment, spotted with original sin, she would have been subject to Satan for that length of time; she would have been a seat, a dwelling of the devil, a slave to him, and a child of divine wrath. Would it have been suitable that the only Son of God should dwell nine months in the womb of a created being, who before, though for ever so short a space of time had been a dwelling of Satan?
Can we think, without trembling, that she, who was chosen from all eternity to become the mother of our Lord, had been a slave to the devil, an object of divine wrath? If this had been the case, Satan could have boasted that, before Christ, he had inhabited the Ark which was destined by the Almighty, not to preserve manna, or the lifeless tables of the law, but to keep, during nine months, the holy Lawgiver Himself. Would this have been worthy of Christ? No one will dare say it. Hence, the honor of Him, whom Mary gave to the world, demands that she should have been conceived immaculate. The high dignity to which Mary was raised allows not the thought that she, even for one moment, was defiled with original sin (Lives of the Saints, Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876).
Many years ago, EWTN posted an examination of the phrase chaire kecharitomene. I saved the quote back then, but I am unable to find it on their website now. Nevertheless, the analysis is excellent for understanding just how much God favored Mary.
‘Hail, full of grace.’ (‘chaire kecharitomene’ – ‘Chaire’ means ‘hail’ or ‘rejoice.’ ‘Charis’ means ‘grace.’ ‘Charitoo’ is a Greek verb ending in omicron omega (‘oo’), which means to put the person or thing into the state indicated by the root. The root being ‘charis’ or ‘grace,’ ‘charitoo’ means to put into a state of grace. ‘Ke’ is a Greek perfect tense prefix that indicates a perfected, completed present state as a result of past action. Thus, a perfected, completed present state of ‘charis,’ or ‘grace,’ as a result of past action. ‘Mene’ is a Greek passive participle suffix that indicates action performed on the subject by another. Thus, a perfected, completed present state of ‘charis,’ or ‘grace,’ as a result of the past action of another. As the speaker is the angel Gabriel, the ‘other’ is God. Therefore, ‘chaire kecharitomene’ means, ‘Hail, who has been perfectly and completely graced by God.’ The common Catholic rendering, ‘full of grace,’ while good, may actually fall short!
One might challenge this argument by saying that if Mary was perfect from conception, then Christ did not save her. However, Mary, under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, exclaimed, “I rejoice in God, my Savior” (Luke 1:47).
Therefore, God saved Mary, and He did so through His Son’s meritorious work on the Cross (once and for all; Hebrews 7:27-28). Since grace is necessary for salvation, and God graced Mary from the moment of her conception, then God saved her from the moment of her conception.
God Honored Mary, So We Must As Well
The takeaway is clear. God eternally favored Mary alone to be the Mother of God. So, from the moment of her Immaculate Conception, God fully graced her. If God gives Mary this preeminent honor and the grace to go along with it, then those whom He makes in His image and likeness must give Mary the honor she deserves. To believe otherwise is to oppose the clear teaching of Scripture and God Himself (Luke 1:48, 1 Corinthians 12:26).
Mary, our Blessed Mother, please pray for us! Happy Feast of your Immaculate Conception! We love you!
This article originally appeared at Catholic Stand.