Jump to content

What's with the ads?


Group Navigation RSS Feed

Mary's Sinlessness


  • Please log in to reply
32 replies to this topic

What's with the ads?

#1 Coco_Clark

Coco_Clark

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 815 posts

Posted 04 November 2011 - 09:34 PM

In the questions for converts discussion it seems like almost everyone named the sinlessness of Mary as something they had a hard time with. I found that so comforting because it is the biggest stumbling block right now for my husband and I. So much so that whenever I learn new things about Mary (like the fact that she gave birth uninjured) I don't even tell him anymore because I know it will further upset him.
What helped you get over this/understand this teaching of the church?

#2 HappyCrazyMama

HappyCrazyMama

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 1054 posts

Posted 04 November 2011 - 09:44 PM

I said on the other thread but I will repeat it here, I don't think the EO teaches that Mary was completely without sin like the RC does. When I was pondering about her giving birth uninjured I thought about how many people Christ healed, so why not his own mother in this instance? Then again uninjured and healed is perhaps not the same thing? Hmmm...It is interesting to ponder.:)

#3 myfatherslily

myfatherslily

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 1732 posts

Posted 04 November 2011 - 09:51 PM

What I've heard is that Mary was without significant sin, not completely sinless. But I'm still learning myself :)

#4 Caitilin

Caitilin

    Die Königin

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 4120 posts

Posted 04 November 2011 - 10:35 PM

I asked Father about this a couple of weeks ago in catechism. He said that she carries the consequences of our ancestral sin, but that she herself committed no sin; in all her choices she aligned her will with the will of the Father, and thus lived sinlessly.
This is different from the RC teaching of the immaculate conception, which is that she was created without original sin, basically a whole different order of sinlessness--accordimg to RC doctrine, she not only DIDN'T commit any sins herself, as in EO teaching, but because of her unique and sinless creation, she was UNABLE to sin. Doesn't leave a lot of hope for the rest of us, that view, IMO. ;)

#5 simka2

simka2

    Apprentice Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5476 posts

Posted 04 November 2011 - 10:40 PM

There are others who will do a better job of this than me. It is my understanding that Mary was without sin. But she was not immaculate concieved in Elizabeth as the RC teaches. This I believe has to do with the difference between rc and eo on original sin.

I actually, like that eo teaches she was without sin. It makes the idea of living a holy life a bit more attainable, not on the same level as her, but a role model; a possibility.

How did I deal with her "ever virginity?" Not well at first ;), but someone mentioned that Jesus passed through a wooden door into the upper room at pentecost. If he could pass through a wooden door, why couldn't he pass through a door of flesh?

#6 JenniferB

JenniferB

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 1843 posts

Posted 04 November 2011 - 10:50 PM

Off topic, but I think Anna was Mary's mothers name.

#7 simka2

simka2

    Apprentice Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5476 posts

Posted 04 November 2011 - 10:54 PM

Your right! I am reading about elizabeth right now and got that stuck in my head. ;)

#8 GretaLynne

GretaLynne

    Empress Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 4009 posts

Posted 04 November 2011 - 11:17 PM

I've never been taught that the Theotokos was completely without sin. I have been taught that she is the greatest example to us, in that she submitted her own will completely to that of God. Whether or not that means she was perfectly sinless, I honestly can't say, and I'm not even sure that it matters (to me). I just know that she said yes to God, she heard the word of God and kept it, and that I love her and honor her for that, and hope that through much prayer and effort, I might come just a tiny itty bitty little smidgen closer to following her example.

#9 GretaLynne

GretaLynne

    Empress Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 4009 posts

Posted 04 November 2011 - 11:18 PM

I'm sorry this will be no help to you. But the Church's teachings about the Theotokos were not something that I had to "get over" at all. They were like a suddenly revealed treasure to me! I wondered why I had never been taught these things about her when I was growing up, why she had been so denigrated and so ignored, why so much information about her had been lost or even changed, when she was obviously so precious and so important to Christ, and to all of us.

#10 Coco_Clark

Coco_Clark

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 815 posts

Posted 05 November 2011 - 09:44 PM

We have definitly been told by our priest that Mary was completely sinless. She was able to sin (unlike the RC view) but never did, not even in a small way, not even a little. Honestly in this matter I am able to connect with the RC view better, as they teach she was sinless by divine will, not her own. The view that complete sinlesness is not only possible, but has been achieved is really hard for us to accept. I mean, didn't Jesus have to come to save us because the law was impossible to fulfill? Apparently not, Mary was sinless so the rest of us *could* be as well. Obviously God wants to save more then that, but still I will admit this is becoming a major stumbling block. Not trying to be argumentative, but honest about where I am.

#11 JenniferB

JenniferB

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 1843 posts

Posted 05 November 2011 - 09:51 PM

Doesn't the DL have a line that says something about Jesus being the only sinless one? Now I must look that up.

#12 Caitilin

Caitilin

    Die Königin

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 4120 posts

Posted 05 November 2011 - 10:10 PM

Doesn't Christ's sinlessness differ from Mary's because He, being God, was perfect and sinless IN HIMSELF, while Mary was sinless not because she was sinless/untouched by ancestral sin in herself, but because she perfectly obeyed the will of God in all things? If we were to completely fulfill God's will for us, we would be sinless too, wouldn't we?

#13 myfatherslily

myfatherslily

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 1732 posts

Posted 05 November 2011 - 10:17 PM

Hm. Well, if that's the case, it definitely goes on my list of "things I find hard to accept!" Cause, quite frankly (at this point in my life), I don't believe it in the least that she was completely, totally, utterly, 100% without any sin, ever.

Wow, that sounds harsh and cranky... lol! Sorry! I'm gonna leave it, though, cause it's the truth! I do accept that I might come to a better understanding in the future and I might change my mind :) I'm definitely interested in what the most common teaching is (now and through the ages).
At the risk of sounding very sola scriptura ;), I've felt comfortable knowing that most everything in Orthodoxy is supported by scripture. What varies is the interpretation. I don't feel that a teaching like Mary being sinless would be supported by scripture. In fact... it seems like it may even oppose it, though I'm willing to stand corrected.

#14 myfatherslily

myfatherslily

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 1732 posts

Posted 05 November 2011 - 10:17 PM

(I won't keep arguing here... I'm just loudly and obnoxiously stating my thoughts! I'll email my priest(s) this week cause I want to see what they each say.)

#15 Wayfaring Stranger

Wayfaring Stranger

    Hive Mind Level 2 Worker: Nurse Bee

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 126 posts

Posted 05 November 2011 - 10:20 PM

Mary the Mother of God is not the Gospel. It really does not matter to the church what we believe about her outside of what is in the Creed. I have never been taught that she was without sin. I have been taught that some Orthodox teach that she was without sin (and they may be right) but that is not the universal view.

Another tradition is that she only sinned once, when she slipped away from the apostles and went on a mission to the peninsula called Mt. Athos. This view is not universally held either but shows that there is disagreement on this subject.

The Mother of God is an important figure and worthy of honor but I think the church has not defined the teachings about her for a reason.

#16 myfatherslily

myfatherslily

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 1732 posts

Posted 05 November 2011 - 10:26 PM

Thanks FoP, for saying that :) Now I can go to bed without that rattling around in my head!

Also, I was listening to Frederica Mathewes-Green podcasts today. She mentioned planning a piece of stone from Mt. Athos next to a small statue of Mary, as something "familiar" to her, so to speak. I didn't know why she would say that, figured it must be some story that I wasn't aware of. Now I know!! :D

#17 simka2

simka2

    Apprentice Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5476 posts

Posted 05 November 2011 - 10:53 PM

Coco, have you ever read Madame Guyon? She is rc and put forth that living a completely sinless life was possible. It did get her in a bit of trouble and I believe Fenelon was encouraged to distance himself from her as a result, she may have even been placed under some sort of house arrest. It has been years since I read either of their works, but something in your post made me think of them. :)

#18 Coco_Clark

Coco_Clark

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 815 posts

Posted 06 November 2011 - 12:05 AM

FOP, I'm comforted to know that there is a range of "allowed" opinions on the subject. I almost wonder if we need to talk to a different priest about our questions. This one seems a little...extra orthodox, if you know what I mean. His first homily (that we heard) was all about how it's not just an option, or even a really good thing to venerate icons, but a NECESSITY in order to be orthodox, and if you arent doing it then you arent part of the church. This gave my husband a very bad taste in his mouth, to say the least, and it took me (an an O.C. friend) weeks to calm his feathers. Now I'm a little nervous to ask the priest for clarification.

#19 Patty Joanna

Patty Joanna

    Empress Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5091 posts

Posted 06 November 2011 - 03:34 AM

Coco, I just read the same thing from Father Stephen's book, Everywhere Present. Perhaps this would be a GOOD book to read as sometimes, stating one sentence and figuring out what is meant by it is like pulling a thread from a tapestry and questioning whether this thread is really necessary. I would have had a hard time with what your priest said, myself, but what Father Stephen said in his BOOK (not one sentence) put it in context and I can see why the priest said that, now.

#20 myfatherslily

myfatherslily

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 1732 posts

Posted 06 November 2011 - 09:27 AM

PJ, I'll put that book on my mental queue!

Coco, there is a lot of variation between the two priests/parishes here. For me, when I know the variation, it helps me to not get all tied up in knots over things *I* think are over-the-top (at the time). This thread is a prime example ;)

I need to get going this morning, but remind me to PM you something later.

#21 Patty Joanna

Patty Joanna

    Empress Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5091 posts

Posted 06 November 2011 - 12:01 PM

When I was a Protestant, I was taught a different thing about "sin" than the Orthodox Church teaches. I was taught that even *thinking* of a bad thing or about doing something bad--being tempted--was a sin in itself. The Orthodox Church does not teach this. So when I read at first about the sinlessness of the Theotokos, I was reading with the wrong lenses and it made no sense at all.

In Vespers, we pray that we can get through the rest of the day without sin. I used to think this was a sort of Orthodox irony or something, but I am starting to understand it as a sincere prayer, for a lot of the same reasons as I can start to see the Theotokos as sinless.

#22 Mimm

Mimm

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 1984 posts

Posted 06 November 2011 - 01:10 PM

That's actually the "lens" I was using, and this is the first I am hearing otherwise. Jesus said that to even think of a woman lustfully was the same as committing adultery and so on. It seems that thoughts can be sins? At what point does a thought become a sin?

#23 Patty Joanna

Patty Joanna

    Empress Bee

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5091 posts

Posted 06 November 2011 - 04:33 PM

I think we often ignore the steps it takes to get to "looking lustfully"--it is hard for me to use this particular example, obviously. But let's use "to call a man a fool is to murder him in your heart." Same idea, right? First, I have to get angry and someone. So far, that's not really a sin. But then I have to decide to give way to my anger, to decide that it is righteous anger...getting close now! And then I have to ACT on my anger--and I yell out "FOOL!" Now I have done it. The first two steps are signs that I am broken, that I need to get my eyes off myself and how important I am and that I need healing. But the last step is the one where I have sinned against my brother. Does that make any sense? Before I became Orthodox, all three steps were considered "sin" ... and really impossible to overcome.

#24 Clear Creek

Clear Creek

    Keeper of the Chocolate Stash

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 1050 posts

Posted 06 November 2011 - 05:24 PM

Hmm, you have given me a lot to think about, Patty Joanna. That is definitely the teaching that I am coming from. Which is why the idea of any type of sinlessness is so foreign to me. I am going to ponder this for a while.

#25 simka2

simka2

    Apprentice Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5476 posts

Posted 06 November 2011 - 05:56 PM

I am reading an orthodox fiction book about the life of Mary. There is a scene at the beginning where Mary gets upset at Joseph. He does not believe her about the Angel Gabriel and she tells him she is very hurt that he would think her liar. Internal dialogue is that she is rather insulted and angry. I initally drew back thinking, "well this isn't the sinless Mary I pictured." Then I thought about it. Was anger sin? I realized my first instict was to still filter through a much narrower definition of what sin was.
Hope that helps someone :)

#26 Little Nyssa

Little Nyssa

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 2006 posts

Posted 06 November 2011 - 06:40 PM

I really agree with FoP's post above, about the Theotokos.

Coco, there is a range of priests & churches in Orthodoxy, some tend toward "akrivia"=strictness and some toward "ekonomia"=mercy, flexibility.
The priest you describe is more on the "akrivia" side, but what he is saying is well within the tradition.
I asked my own priest about the issue you mentioned about 'do you HAVE to venerate icons' and his answer was interesting-- he says that as Orthodox we have to agree with the dogma that goes with the icons. The icons point to the reality of the Incarnation. (See St John of Damascus, On The Divine Images: the idea is that since God chose to depict himself using matter = the incarnation, we honor that by depicting Christ and the saints or sacred history in icons. The Incarnation was as materially REAL as the wood+paint icon you touch today.)
CONTINUED

#27 Little Nyssa

Little Nyssa

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 2006 posts

Posted 06 November 2011 - 06:40 PM

As Orthodox we have to agree with that theology. Father said that after that, it is a personal choice whether you venerate a specific icon on a specific day. He would hope that people would do it, but it is the theology that is most important.

And, (my opinion) it is not Orthodox to force new inquirers to do anything. If people want to take on Orthodox traditions & customs, it should be an organic, natural thing.

#28 simka2

simka2

    Apprentice Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5476 posts

Posted 06 November 2011 - 07:57 PM

LN, I personally lean towards what you and FOP are saying. I love this aspect of orthodoxy, that there is room for different ways to view things. :)
That said, some of these issues I have learned I could be okay either way. There is no real way I am going to know if Mary was sinless.
If she wasn't that is good news. If she was that is also good news.

#29 OnTheBrink

OnTheBrink

    Qualified Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 9027 posts

Posted 06 November 2011 - 10:22 PM

Simka, what book are you reading? I think I know the author!

#30 Mimm

Mimm

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 1984 posts

Posted 06 November 2011 - 11:12 PM

Simka, that's very interesting about that book about Mary. It's almost as if we're taught that any strong emotion is a sin. I think as a child I grew up thinking of Jesus as rather robotic.

#31 simka2

simka2

    Apprentice Bee Keeper

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5476 posts

Posted 07 November 2011 - 09:23 AM

Mimm, yes. In my case the only strong emotion allowed was Holy Righteous Judgement against others :tongue_smilie:

#32 Mimm

Mimm

    Hive Mind Queen Bee

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 1984 posts

Posted 07 November 2011 - 11:51 AM

:lol: So bad... but true. :)


What's with the ads?