- November 24, 2003 at 5:08 am #592
I am going through RCIA now, and I’ve been talking with my best friend who is baptist. I was trying to explain to her some of the things I’ve learned, and I was getting really confused when she would ask me questions that I didn’t know the answers to… I hope one of you can help me out with some answers.
1. It was my understanding the Mary was chosen to be the mother of God because she was sin free. My friend said that because she is human, she cannot be sin free. Did I misunderstand what the speaker said?
2. Why is Jesus depicted still nailed to the cross in the Catholic church?
Thanks in advance for any help you might be able to give me, and I’m sure I’ll have more questions.
KristiNovember 26, 2003 at 4:32 am #2228
First and foremost, welcome, Kristi, to About Catholics! ” title=”Smile” />
The questions you asked are common among ones that Christians of the Evangelical and Fundamentalist kind (which includes Baptists) ask of Catholics or accuse Catholics of making up.
It is nice to hear you are in RCIA. I helped out with the RCIA program at my parish one year – it was fun.
Now, to address your questions:
[quote:3udk6f78]1. It was my understanding the Mary was chosen to be the mother of God because she was sin free. My friend said that because she is human, she cannot be sin free. Did I misunderstand what the speaker said? [/quote:3udk6f78]
The particular Bible verse that your friend is referring to is found in Romans 3:23 where it says, “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The word “all” in the Greek does not mean “absolutely every single person” but is more of a generalized word. It is like when we say, “They say eating McDonald’s is bad for you” or “Come on, everyone is doing it.” Who is they? Who is everyone? It is clearly not a specific group of people and obviously [b:3udk6f78]not[/b:3udk6f78] everyone else is doing it. It is just a general term and is used that way in other parts of the Bible. The “all” there simply means “a great number.”
No, you did not misunderstand the speaker, that is what Catholics believe. We believe that Mary was chosen by God to be the ark of the new covenant (i.e. to carry Jesus) and she was chosen because she was sinless. God, having a plan in place for the salvation of mankind, had a special place for Mary and had preserved her from sin because she freely complied with God’s request.
There is much biblical support for this. The only gospel that goes into much detail about it is Luke. The whole story is found in Luke 1:5-45, but for our purposes we will just jump right into the meat of the story and that is when the angel Gabriel comes to announce to Mary God’s plan.
It starts at Luke 1:28 when Gabriel says, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” Now, right there is a tip off that this is something pretty special. In order to be in God’s favor one must be pretty darn pure and not in any state of sin and have much faith.
In fact, even Mary is startled by this as the passage continues in Luke 1:29 saying, “But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.” Even Mary was alarmed at this. She was greatly troubled at what was said because no angel in history had ever appeared to someone like that. How could anyone have found so much favor with God? Apparently God had a plan! ” title=”Smile” /> Gabriel continued saying, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” There we have more support that Mary is sinless – this must be important since Gabriel says it again.
Then the story continues on with Gabriel talking to Mary about how she will conceive a son. We get to the part where Mary is obedient to God thus showing how faith filled and sinless she is in complying with a seemingly impossible task in Luke 1:38, “Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.'”
At the end of the story, in Luke 1:41-42, there is more recognition of Mary’s holiness: “…Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, ‘Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.'” Reason would tell us that the one that is the most blessed must be without sin.
Here is an analogy that might help. In the Old Testament the Ark of the Covenant was not a shabby wood container, not was it rusted metal or unpolished gold – no, in fact, it was one of the most beautiful containers ever built and it was built for God. It was to hold the covenant (the tablets of the Ten Commandments I believe) between the Israelites and God and was shiny, bright and beautiful and without a blemish. That was the old covenant. Jesus is the new covenant and the same goes for this time – he would need an “ark” that is without blemish and perfect which is the only thing fitting for God.
And last, but not least, God is the one that preserved her from sin to fit into his master plan. She was not sinless on her own merits, but she was preserved by God because she was part of the plan for the redemption and salvation of the world. Simply because one Bible verse says “all have sinned” does not limit God to not preserving one person for his master plan, nor does it make the Bible and the Catholic Church conflict. The verse in Romans must be taken in its context of time and the reason it was written and to whom it was written. Each Bible verse is not going to go into theological detail of any possible exception or whatnot. The Bible must be taken in context, not in isolated verses scattered throughout.
There is more information about Mary on our website located here: http://www.aboutcatholics.com/viewpage.php?story=1008
Now, onto your next question:
[quote:3udk6f78]Why is Jesus depicted still nailed to the cross in the Catholic church?[/quote:3udk6f78]
Hoepfully this one will not take as long to answer. ” title=”Smile” />
Catholics use the crucifix (Jesus still nailed to the cross as opposed to an empty cross) because it is a reminder of the pain and suffering Jesus went through to pay the price for our redemption and salvation. We do not deny his resurrection – if we did we would not make such a big deal out of Easter.
We do it to remember Jesus and the awesome price he paid for our sins. it is a reminder of God’s love for us and how far he is willing to go for us. He loves us so much that he is willing to become human, undergo tremendous humility, pain and suffering and death, even death on a cross just to give us the chance to spend eternity with him.
I think a crucifix is a much greater symbol of our faith than an empty cross exactly for this reason.
Well, I hope this cleared some things up for you. Please continue to ask as many questions as you’d like and join in any discussion on this forum. Also, if anything was unclear in my response please let me know. I or any of the other forum members will be happy to clarify. ” title=”Very Happy” />
-[i:3udk6f78]Jon[/i:3udk6f78]November 26, 2003 at 5:34 am #2230
And don’t forget about the Feast of the Immaculate Conception! (which is coming up!). That is the feast day of the conception of Mary, who as Jon said, was sinless (Immaculate) from the start. Some confuse this day as celebrating the conception of Jesus, but the conception of Jesus is what happened at the annunciation. Which is what happened in Luke 1:28.
~Stephanie~December 7, 2003 at 9:55 am #2244
[quote:2noeuqr7]And don’t forget about the Feast of the Immaculate Conception! (which is coming up!). […] Some confuse this day as celebrating the conception of Jesus, but the conception of Jesus is what happened at the annunciation. [/quote:2noeuqr7]
I used to confuse this when I was younger. I mean, I knew it was some sort of conception that had to do with Mary, but I always figured it was when Mary got pregnant, not her mother Anne. But that all got straightened out in Confirmation class years ago. ” title=”Very Happy” />December 13, 2003 at 8:00 pm #2256
PAX CHRISTI +
To be “Full of Grace,” the title by which the Archangel Gabriel addressed the Blessed Virgin, is to be sinless. Can’t be tainted by sin and be full of grace. Just as Adam and the Woman were created sinless, so Jesus, the “Second Adam,” and Mary, the “New Eve,” were created sinless.
Mary was saved from the Sin of Adam by pre-venient grace, that is, “pre-coming” grace from the Second Person of the Holy Trinity before His Incarnation. Mary, as the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, had to be sinless to share spousal unity with divinity, the same spousal unity with divinity which we will receive when Christ returns for His spotless Bride, the Church.
Iconoclasts, anti-image fanatics, troubled even Luther in his day, smashing images of Christ and the saints in Catholic churches. This controverts the tradition of life-like imagery which the Lord demanded for His temple built by Solomon, which included His demand for twelve life-sized bronze bulls. Nobody interpreted these as “graven images” but were artworks that glorified God.
Further, the empty cross is, for non-Catholics, a symbol created to disputie their interpretation of Christ’s “once and for all” sacrifice as meaning it’s over and done. “Once and for all” means then and always, not some one-shot deal.
Christ said, “Do this in memory of Me.” This parallels the perpetual ordinance of the Passover, with people today witnessing the lifesaving consecration effected by the priestly heir to the Apostles as ALTER CHRISTUS, “another Christ,” and as completed on the Cross.
The sacrifice of Christ’s exists in time and eternity, and representations of the Corpus on the Cross say this visually. The New Testament prophesies about those who will deny the Crucifixion, which is something Islam teaches. The Corpus on the cross witnesses of Christ’s salvific Crucifixion.February 25, 2005 at 1:31 am #3748
Black Knight MIMember
[color=darkblue:1yq65bro]This is a post that I used to create a thread at CA on this very subject. MAYBE it will offer some help.
I believe that the non-Catholic contention that Mary could not have lived without sinning is the result of a serious lack of faith, since all the scriptures point to God’s command to live a holy life and avoid sin.
Leviticus 11 :44 For I am the Lord your God: be holy because I am holy.
Leviticus 11 :46 You shall be holy, because I am holy.
1 Peter 1 :16 Because it is written: You shall be holy, for I am holy.
Leviticus 20 :26 You shall be holy unto me, because I the Lord am holy, and I have separated you from other people, that you should be mine.
Leviticus 19 :2 Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and thou shalt say to them: Be ye holy, because I the Lord your God am holy.
It makes no sense whatever for God to command us to do the impossible when the Word of God clearly says that “with God all things are possible”. Our holy lives (or lack thereof) are the direct result of our cooperation with the superabundant grace that is the gift of God. If Our Lady was indeed “full of grace” then isn’t it unbelief to say that she did not lead a sinless life? (Luke1:28 And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.)
The New Testament nowhere gives us any example of Mary’s sin and calls Joseph and many others “righteous” because they obeyed God and cooperated with His grace in their lives. It is clearly not their own works that have merited their salvation, but their works are the result of their full cooperation with the God’s graces so that their salvation is a tremendous example of the overwhelming power of the grace that God gives us to do his will. (James 2 :18 But some man will say: Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without works; and I will shew thee, by works, my faith.
James 2 :20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
James 2 :22 Seest thou, that faith did co-operate with his works; and by works faith was made perfect?
James 2 :26 For even as the body without the spirit is dead; so also faith without works is dead.)
Is it not unbelief that causes us to fall? That unbelief is why we sin;we fail to believe that God’s grace is sufficient for us, then do not cooperate with that grace and as a result fall (flat on our spiritual faces).
Romans 3 :23 For all have sinned, and do need the glory of God.
Romans 5 :12 Wherefore as by one man sin entered into this world, and by sin death; and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned.
Also…there is no distinction made between Original sin and actual sin….newborns are without actual sin until the age of reason…Adam and Eve were sinless prior to the fall. Jesus…we know was also sinless.
St. Paul’s letter to the Romans is making a de facto statement about man’s nature and unbelief in general. I don’t think it is a literal statement. This is not salvation by works at all, but our cooperation with the free gift of grace from God.
This insight was also posted by another Catholic which I thought was good as well:
Beyond the fact that the Church teaches that she did, I have this take on it. Christ has a sinless Father, and the Father, out of love for His Son, gave Him a sinless mother as well. His divine nature was begotten without sin and from a sinless father, and His human nature was conceived without sin and from a sinless mother. They were both (God the Father, and Mary) the most perfect parents Christ could have; one divine perfection, one human perfection.
In addition, I believe Mary’s sinlessness is an important point of hope for us all. The human race, while it does need the grace of God, does not need to be God Incarnate to be perfect, without sin. Through Mary, we are shown what we were all meant to be, and what we can become in the next life, though not in this. Mary points to our perfected humanity, which she was given in this life, and we can be given in the next. She reminds us that God’s creation, His people are still “very good”, though damaged.
Then when someone tried to push that Romans 3:23 passage as saying that it means that no one can live a sinless life by the grace of God….this was my response:
Do you know for sure that every person out there sins?
I stand by my statement that it is wrong to believe that no one can live a sinless life if that is indeed what God has called us to.(and we know that He has!) . The only thing that causes us to sin is our lack of faith in the grace of God and the will to CHOOSE to disobey God. Is not every sin a choice of the will? The Catholic teaching is that if I find myself in hell for all eternity it will be because I have actually chosen that destiny for myself and rejected the boundless love and mercy of God as delivered for me by Our Lord Jesus Christ. That will be the reason that I would turn away in shame and despair at the day of judgement because I would KNOW that I had chosen my own fate…
I will not choose that though, God’s grace helping me and I will make every effort to live a life that is as sinless as possible. Thanks be to God for the beautiful sacrament of reconcilliation! (TUT! That’s another thread alltogether…not this one. )
Mike_____[/color:1yq65bro]February 25, 2005 at 3:15 am #3755
Further about the cross with the body on it- in one parish in my town, the Christ is crowned with thorns and wears only a loincloth and is referred to as the ‘crucified Christ'; in the other he is fully clothed and has his arms outstretched to the congregation and is referred to as the ‘risen Christ’. So the body still on the cross is merely a more visceral reminder of the Crucifiction and, by extension, the Resurrection.February 25, 2005 at 3:57 am #3759
Black Knight MIMember
[color=darkblue:27ky5sru]I have pointed out to many many people that one of the reasons that I love my crucifixes is that EVERY time I look upon one, I am reminded of the terrible price that My Lord paid for MY sins, and it makes me not wanna do that to him any more and live a more holy life. We are fully aware of His resurrection…but God forbid I should ever become blase about His passion
and suffering for me.[/color:27ky5sru] ” title=”Sad” />
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