Thursday, December 19, 2013

Zeal Not Accor­ding to Know­ledge (Romans 10:2)

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.

WHEN THOSE WHO cen­su­red the imma­cu­late life of the Most Holy Vir­gin had been rebuked, as well as those who denied Her Ever­vir­gi­nity, those who denied Her dig­nity as the Mot­her of God, and those who dis­dai­ned Her icons-then, when the glory of the Mot­her of God had illu­mi­na­ted the whole uni­verse, there appea­red a tea­ching which see­m­ingly exal­ted hig­hly the Vir­gin Mary, but in rea­litydenied all Her virtues.

This tea­ching is cal­led that of the Imma­cu­late Con­cep­tion of the Vir­gin Mary, and it was accep­ted by the fol­lowers of the Papal throne of Rome. The tea­ching is this– that “the All-blessed Vir­gin Mary in the first instant of Her Con­cep­tion, by the spe­cial grace of Almighty God and by a spe­cial pri­vil­ege, for the sake of the future merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, was pre­ser­ved exempt from all stain of ori­gi­nal sin” (Bull of Pope Pius IX con­cer­ning the new dogma). In other words, the Mot­her of God at Her very con­cep­tion was pre­ser­ved from ori­gi­nal sin and, by the grace of God, was pla­ced in a state where it was impos­sible for Her to have per­so­nal sins.
Chri­sti­ans had not heard of this before the ninth cen­tury, when for the first time the Abbot of Cor­vey, Pas­cha­sius Rad­bertus, expres­sed the opi­nion that the Holy Vir­gin was con­cei­ved wit­hout ori­gi­nal sin. Begin­ning, from the 12th cen­tury, this idea begins to spread among the clergy and flock of the Western church, which had alre­ady fal­len away from the Uni­ver­sal Church and the­reby lost the grace of the Holy Spirit.

Howe­ver, by no means all of the mem­bers of the Roman church agreed with the new tea­ching. There was a dif­fe­rence of among the most renow­ned the­o­lo­gi­ans of the West, the pil­lars, so to speak, of the Latin church. Tho­mas Aqui­nas and Ber­nard of Clair­vaux deci­si­vely cen­su­red it, while Duns Sco­tus defen­ded it. From the tea­chers this divi­sion car­ried over to their discip­les: the Latin Domi­ni­can monks, after their tea­cher Tho­mas Aqui­nas, prea­ched against the tea­ching of the Imma­cu­late Con­cep­tion, while the fol­lowers of Duns Sco­tus, the Fran­ci­scans, strove to implant it eve­rywhere. The battle between these two cur­rents con­ti­nued for the course of seve­ral cen­turies. Both on the one and on the other side there were those who were con­si­de­red among the Cat­ho­lics as the gre­a­test authorities.

There was no help in deci­ding the question in the fact that seve­ral people decla­red that they had had a reve­la­tion from above con­cer­ning it. The nun Brid­get [of Swe­den], renow­ned in the 14th cen­tury among the Cat­ho­lics, spoke in her wri­tings about the appea­ran­ces to her of the Mot­her of God, Who Her­self told her that She had been con­cei­ved imma­cu­la­tely, wit­hout ori­gi­nal sin. But her con­tem­porary, the yet more renow­ned asce­tic Cat­he­rine of Sienna, affir­med that in Her Con­cep­tion the Holy Vir­gin par­ti­ci­pa­ted in ori­gi­nal sin, con­cer­ning which she had recei­ved a reve­la­tion from Christ Him­self (See the book of Archpri­est A. Lebe­dev, Dif­fe­ren­ces in the Tea­ching on the Most Holy Mot­her of God in the Chur­ches of East and West)

Thus, neit­her on the foun­da­tion of the­o­lo­gi­cal wri­tings, nor on the foun­da­tion of mira­culous mani­fe­sta­tions which con­tra­di­cted each other, could the Latin flock distingu­ish for a long time where the truth was. Roman Popes until Sixtus IV (end of the 15th cen­tury) remai­ned apart from these dis­pu­tes, and only this Pope in 1475 appro­ved a ser­vice in which the tea­ching of the Imma­cu­late Con­cep­tion was clearly expres­sed; and seve­ral years later he for­bade a con­dem­na­tion of those who belie­ved in the Imma­cu­late Con­cep­tion. Howe­ver, even Sixtus IV did not yet decide to affirm that such was the unwa­ve­ring tea­ching of the church; and there­fore, having for­bid­den the con­dem­na­tion of those who belie­ved in the Imma­cu­late Con­cep­tion, he also did not con­demn those who belie­ved otherwise.

Meanwhile, the tea­ching of the Imma­cu­late Con­cep­tion obtai­ned more and more par­tisans among the mem­bers of the Roman church. The rea­son for this was the fact that it see­med more pious and plea­sing to the Mot­her of God to give Her as much glory as pos­sible. The stri­ving of the people to glo­rify the Hea­venly Inter­ces­sor, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the devi­a­tion of Western the­o­lo­gi­ans into abstract specu­la­tions which led only to a see­m­ing truth (Scho­la­sti­cism), and finally, the patro­nage of the Roman Popes after Sixtus IV-all this led to the fact that the opi­nion con­cer­ning the Imma­cu­late Con­cep­tion which had been expres­sed by Pas­cha­sius Rad­bertus in the 9th cen­tury was alre­ady the gene­ral belief of the Latin church in the 19th cen­tury. There remai­ned only to pro­claim this defi­ni­tely as the church’s tea­ching, which was done by the Roman Pope PiusIX during a solemn ser­vice on Decem­ber 8, 1854, when he decla­red that the Imma­cu­late Con­cep­tion of the Most Holy Vir­gin was a dogma of the Roman church. Thus the Roman church added yet ano­t­her devi­a­tion from the tea­ching which it had con­fes­sed while it was a mem­ber of the Cat­ho­lic, Apo­sto­lic Church, which faith has been held up to now unal­te­red and unchan­ged by the Ort­ho­dox Church. The pro­c­la­ma­tion of the new dogma satis­fied the broad mas­ses of people who belon­ged to the Roman church, who in sim­pli­city of heart thought that the pro­c­la­ma­tion of the new tea­ching in the church would serve for the gre­a­ter glory of the Mot­her of God, to Whom by this they were making a gift, as it were. There was also satis­fied the vaingl­ory of the Western the­o­lo­gi­ans who defen­ded and wor­ked it out. But most of all the pro­c­la­ma­tion of the new dogma was pro­fi­table for the Roman throne itself, since, having pro­clai­med the new dogma by his own aut­ho­rity, even though he did listen to the opi­ni­ons of the bis­hops of the Cat­ho­lic church, the Roman Pope by this very fact openly appro­p­ri­a­ted to him­self the right to change the tea­ching of the Roman church and pla­ced his own voice above the testi­mony of Sacred Scrip­ture and Tra­di­tion. A direct deduction from this was the fact that the Roman Popes were infal­lible in mat­ters of faith, which indeed this very same Pope Pius IX likewise pro­clai­med as a dogma of the Cat­ho­lic church in1870.

Thus was the tea­ching of the Western church chan­ged after it had fal­len away from com­mu­nion with the True Church. It has intro­du­ced into itself newer and newer tea­chings, thin­king by this to glo­rify the Truth yet more, but in rea­lity distor­ting it. While the Ort­ho­dox Church hum­bly con­fes­ses what it has recei­ved from Christ and the Apost­les, the Roman church dares to add to it, some­ti­mes from zeal not accor­ding to know­ledge (cf. Rom. 10:2), and some­ti­mes by devi­at­ing into super­sti­tions and into the con­tra­di­ctions of know­ledge fal­sely so cal­led (I Tim. 6:20). It could not be otherwise. That the gates of hell shall not pre­vailagainst the Church (Matt. 16:18) is pro­mi­sed only to the True, Uni­ver­sal Church; but upon those who have fal­len away from it are ful­fil­led the words: As the branch can­not bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; so neit­her can ye, except ye abide in Me (John 15:4).

It is true that in the very defi­ni­tion of the new dogma it is said that a new tea­ching is not being establis­hed, but that there is only being pro­clai­med as the church’s that which always exi­sted in the church and which has been held by many Holy Fat­hers, excer­pts from whose wri­tings are cited. Howe­ver, all the cited refe­ren­ces speak only of the exal­ted san­ctity of the Vir­gin Mary and of Her imma­cu­la­te­ness, and give Her various names which define Her purity and spi­ri­tual might; but nowhere is there any word of the imma­cu­la­te­ness of Her con­cep­tion. Meanwhile, these same Holy Fat­hers in other pla­ces say that only Jesus Christ is com­ple­tely pure of every sin, while all men, being born of Adam, have borne a flesh sub­ject to the law of sin.

None of the anci­ent Holy Fat­hers say that God in mira­culous fas­hion puri­fied the Vir­gin Mary while yet in the womb; and many directly indi­cate that the Vir­gin Mary, just as all men, endu­red a battle with sin­ful­ness, but was victo­rious over temp­ta­tions and was saved by Her Divine Son.

Com­men­ta­tors of the Latin con­fes­sion likewise say that the Vir­gin Mary was saved by Christ. But they under­stand this in the sense that Mary was pre­ser­ved from the taint of ori­gi­nal sin in view of the future merits of Christ (Bull on the Dogma of the Imma­cu­late Con­cep­tion). The Vir­gin Mary, accor­ding to their tea­ching, recei­ved in advance, as it were, the gift which Christ brought to men by His suf­fe­rings and death on the Cross. More­over, spe­aking of the torments of the Mot­her of God which She endu­red stan­ding at the Cross of Her Belo­ved Son, and in gene­ral of the sor­rows with which the life of the Mot­her of God was fil­led, they con­si­der them an addi­tion to the suf­fe­rings of Christ and con­si­der Mary to be our CoRe­demptress.

Accor­ding to the com­men­tary of the Latin the­o­lo­gi­ans, “Mary is an asso­ci­ate with our Rede­e­mer as Co-Redemptress” (see Lebe­dev, op. cit. p. 273). “In the act of Redemp­tion, She, in a certain way, hel­ped Christ” (Cate­chism of Dr. Wei­mar). “The Mot­her of God,” wri­tes Dr. Lentz, “bore the bur­den of Her mar­tyr­dom not merely cou­ra­geously, but also joy­fully, even though with a bro­ken heart” (Mari­o­logy of Dr. Lentz). For this rea­son, She is “a com­ple­ment of the Holy Tri­nity,” and “just as Her Son is the only Inter­me­di­ary cho­sen by God between His offen­ded majesty and sin­ful men, so also, pre­ci­sely, –the chief Medi­a­tress pla­ced by Him between His Son and us is the Bles­sed Vir­gin.” “In three respects-as Daugh­ter, as Mot­her, and as Spouse of God-the Holy Vir­gin is exal­ted to a certain equa­lity with the Fat­her, to a certain supe­ri­o­rity over the Son, to a certain near­ness to the Holy Spi­rit” (“The Imma­cu­late Con­cep­tion,” Malou, Bis­hop of Brouges).

Thus, accor­ding to the tea­ching of the rep­re­sen­ta­ti­ves of Latin the­o­logy, the Vir­gin Mary in the work of Redemp­tion is pla­ced side by side with Christ Him­self and is exal­ted to an equa­lity with God. One can­not go fart­her than this. If all this has not been defi­ni­ti­vely for­mu­la­ted as a dogma of the Roman church as yet, still the Roman Pope Pius IX, having made the first step in this direction, has shown the direction for the furt­her deve­l­op­ment of the gene­rally recog­nized tea­ching of his church, and has indi­rectly con­fir­med the above-cited tea­ching about the Vir­gin Mary.

Thus the Roman church, in its stri­vings to exalt the Most Holy Vir­gin, is going on the path of com­plete dei­fi­ca­tion of Her. And if even now its aut­ho­ri­ties call Mary a com­ple­ment of the Holy Tri­nity, one may soon expect that the Vir­gin will be reve­red like God. who are buil­ding a new the­o­lo­gi­cal system having as its foun­da­tion the phi­los­op­hi­cal tea­ching of Sop­hia, Wis­dom, as a spe­cial power bin­ding the Divi­nity and the cre­a­tion. Likewise deve­l­o­ping the tea­ching of the dig­nity of the Mot­her of God, they wish to see in Her an Essence which is some kind of mid-point between God and man. In some questions they are more mode­rate than the Latin the­o­lo­gi­ans, but in others, if you please, they have alre­ady left them behind. While denying the tea­ching of the Imma­cu­late Con­cep­tion and the fre­edom from ori­gi­nal sin, they still teach Her full fre­edom from any per­so­nal sins, see­ing in Her an Inter­me­di­ary between men and God, like Christ: in the per­son of Christ there has appea­red on earth the Second Per­son of the Holy Tri­nity, the Pre-eternal Word, the Son of God; while the Holy Spi­rit is mani­fest through the Vir­gin Mary.

In the words of one of the rep­re­sen­ta­ti­ves of this ten­dency, when the Holy Spi­rit came to dwell in the Vir­gin Mary, she acqui­red “a dya­dic life, human and divine; that is, She was com­ple­tely dei­fied, because in Her hypo­sta­tic being was mani­fest the living, cre­a­tive reve­la­tion of the Holy Spi­rit” (Archpri­est Ser­gei Bul­gakov, The Unburnt Bush, 1927, p. 154). “She is a per­fect mani­fe­sta­tion of the Third Hypost­a­sis” (Ibid., p. 175), CC a cre­a­ture, but also no lon­ger a cre­a­ture” (P. 19 1). This stri­ving towards the dei­fi­ca­tion of the Mot­her of God is to be obser­ved pri­ma­rily in the West, where at the same time, on the other hand, various sects of a Pro­te­stant cha­ra­cter are having great suc­cess, toget­her with the chief bran­ches of Pro­te­stan­tism, Lut­he­ra­nism and Cal­vi­nism, which in gene­ral deny the vene­ra­tion of the Mot­her of God and the cal­ling upon Her in prayer.
But we can say with the words of St. Epip­ha­nius of Cyprus: “There is an equal harm in both these her­esies, both when men demean the Vir­gin and when, on the con­trary, they glo­rify Her bey­ond what is pro­per” (Pana­rion, “Against the Col­ly­ri­di­ans”). This Holy Fat­her accu­ses those who give Her an almost divine wors­hip: “Let Mary be in honor, but let wors­hip be given to the Lord” (same source). “Alt­hough Mary is a cho­sen ves­sel, still she was a woman by nature, not to be distingu­is­hed at all from others. Alt­hough the history of Mary and Tra­di­tion relate that it was said to Her fat­her Joa­chim in the desert, ‘Thy wife hath con­cei­ved,’ still this was done not wit­hout mari­tal union and not wit­hout the seed of man” (same source). “One should not revere the saints above what is pro­per, but should revere their Master. Mary is not God, and did not receive a body from hea­ven, but from the joi­ning of man and woman; and accor­ding to the pro­mise, like Isaac, She was pre­pa­red to take part in the Divine Eco­nomy. But, on the other hand, let none dare foo­lis­hly to offend the Holy Vir­gin” (St. Epip­ha­nius, “Against the Antidikomarionites”).

The Ort­ho­dox Church, hig­hly exal­ting the Mot­her of God in its hymns of pra­ise, does not dare to ascribe to Her that which has not been com­mu­ni­ca­ted about Her by Sacred Scrip­ture or Tra­di­tion. “Truth is foreign to all over­sta­te­ments as well as to all under­sta­te­ments. It gives to eve­ryt­hing a fit­ting mea­sure and fit­ting place” (Bis­hop Igna­tius Bri­an­cha­ni­nov). Glo­ri­fying the imma­cu­la­te­ness of the Vir­gin Mary and the man­ful bea­ring of sor­rows in Her eart­hly life, the Fat­hers of the Church, on the other hand, reject the idea that She was an inter­me­di­ary between God and men in the sense of the joint Redemp­tion by Them of the human race. Spe­aking of Her pre­pa­red­ness to die toget­her with Her Son and to suf­fer toget­her with Him for the sake of the salva­tion of all, the renow­ned Fat­her of the Western Church, Saint Ambrose, Bis­hop of Milan, adds: “But the suf­fe­rings of Christ did not need any help, as the Lord Him­self prop­he­sied con­cer­ning this long before: Iloo­ked about, and there was none to help; I sought and there was none to give aid. there­fore My arm deli­ve­red them (Is. 63:5).” (St. Ambrose, “Con­cer­ning the Upbrin­ging of the Vir­gin and the Ever-Virginity of Holy Mary,” ch. 7).

This same Holy Fat­her tea­ches con­cer­ning the uni­ver­sa­lity of ori­gi­nal sin, from which Christ alone is an excep­tion. “Of all those born of women, there is not a single one who is per­fectly holy, apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, Who in a spe­cial new way of imma­cu­late bir­t­h­gi­ving, did not expe­ri­ence eart­hly taint” (St. Ambrose, Com­men­tary on Luke, ch. 2). “God alone is wit­hout sin. All born in the usual man­ner of woman and man, that is, of fles­hly union, become guilty of sin. Con­sequently, He Who does not have sin was not con­cei­ved in this man­ner” (St. Ambrose, Ap. Aug. “Con­cer­ning Mar­ri­age and Con­cupi­s­cence”). “One Man alone, the Inter­me­di­ary between God and man, is free from the bonds of sin­ful birth, because He was born of a Vir­gin, and because in being born He did not expe­ri­ence the touch of sin” (St. Ambrose, ibid., Book 2: “Against Julianus”).

Ano­t­her renow­ned tea­cher of the Church, espe­ci­ally reve­red in the West, Bles­sed Augustine, wri­tes: “As for other men, exclu­ding Him Who is the cor­ner­stone, I do not see for them any other means to become temp­les of God and to be dwel­lings for God apart from spi­ri­tual rebirth, which must abso­lu­tely be pre­ce­ded by fles­hly birth. Thus, no mat­ter how much we might think about chil­dren who are in the womb of the mot­her, and even though the word of the holy Evan­ge­list who says of John the Bap­tist that he lea­ped for joy in the womb of his mot­her (which occur­red not otherwise than by the action of the Holy Spi­rit), or the word of the Lord Him­self spo­ken to Jere­miah: I have san­cti­fied thee before thou didst leave the wombof thy mot­her (Jer. 1:5)- no mat­ter how much these might or might not give us basis for thin­king that chil­dren in this con­di­tion are capable of a certain san­cti­fi­ca­tion, still in any case it can­not be doub­ted that the san­cti­fi­ca­tion by which all of us toget­her and each of us sepa­ra­tely become the temple of God is pos­sible only for those who are reborn, and rebirth always pre­sup­po­ses birth. Only those who have alre­ady been born can be uni­ted with Christ and be in union with this Divine Body which makes His Church the living temple of the majesty of God” (Bles­sed Augustine, Let­ter 187).

The above-cited words of the anci­ent tea­chers of the Church testify that in the West itself the tea­ching which is now spread there was ear­lier rejected there. Even after the fal­ling away of the Western church, Ber­nard, who is ack­now­led­ged there as a great aut­ho­rity, wrote, ” I am frigh­te­ned now, see­ing that certain of you have desi­red to change the con­di­tion of important mat­ters, intro­ducing a new festi­val unk­nown to the Church, unap­pro­ved by rea­son, unju­sti­fied by anci­ent tra­di­tion. Are we really more lear­ned and more pious than our fat­hers? You will say, ‘One must glo­rify the Mot­her of God as much as Pos­sible.’ This is true; but the glo­ri­fi­ca­tion given to the Queen of Hea­ven demands dis­cer­n­ment. This Royal Vir­gin does not have need of false glo­ri­fi­ca­tions, pos­ses­sing as She does true crowns of glory and signs of dig­nity. Glo­rify the purity of Her flesh and the san­ctity of Her life. Mar­vel at the abun­dance of the gifts of this Vir­gin; vene­rate Her Divine Son; exalt Her Who con­cei­ved wit­hout knowing con­cupi­s­cence and gave birth wit­hout knowing pain. But what does one yet need to add to these dig­ni­ties? People say that one must revere the con­cep­tion which pre­ce­ded the glo­rious birth-giving; for if the con­cep­tion had not pre­ce­ded, the birth-giving also would not have been glo­rious. But what would one say if any­one for the same rea­son should demand the same kind of vene­ra­tion of the fat­her and mot­her of Holy Mary? One might equally demand the same for Her grand­pa­rents and great-grandparents, to infi­nity. More­over, how can there not be sin in the place where there was con­cupi­s­cence? All the more, let one not say that the Holy Vir­gin was con­cei­ved of the Holy Spi­rit and not of man. I say deci­si­vely that the Holy Spi­rit des­cen­ded upon Her, but not that He came with Her.”

“I say that the Vir­gin Mary could not be san­cti­fied before Her con­cep­tion, inas­much as She did not exist. if, all the more, She could not be san­cti­fied in the moment of Her con­cep­tion by rea­son of the sin which is inse­pa­rable from con­cep­tion, then it remains to believe that She was san­cti­fied after She was con­cei­ved in the womb of Her mot­her. This san­cti­fi­ca­tion, if it anni­hi­la­tes sin, makes holy Her birth, but not Her con­cep­tion. No one is given the right to be con­cei­ved in san­ctity; only the Lord Christ was con­cei­ved of the Holy Spi­rit, and He alone is holy from His very con­cep­tion. Exclu­ding Him, it is to all the des­cen­dants of Adam that must be refer­red that which one of them says of him­self, both out of a fee­ling of humi­lity and in ack­now­led­ge­ment of the truth: Behold I was con­cei­ved in iniqui­ties (Ps. 50:7). How can one demand that this con­cep­tion be holy, when it was not the work of the Holy Spi­rit, not to men­tion that it came from con­cupi­s­cence? The Holy Vir­gin, of course, rejects that glory which, evi­dently, glo­ri­fies sin. She can­not in any way justify a novelty inven­ted in spite of the tea­ching of the Church, a novelty which is the mot­her of impr­u­dence, the sister of unbe­lief, and the daugh­ter of ligh­t­min­de­d­ness” (Ber­nard, Epi­stle 174; cited, as were the refe­ren­ces from Bles­sed Augustine, from Lebe­dev). The above-cited words clearly reveal both the novelty and the absur­dity of the new dogma of the Roman church.

The tea­ching of the com­plete sin­les­sness of the Mot­her of God (1) does not cor­re­spond to Sacred Scrip­ture, where there is repe­a­tedly men­tio­ned the sin­les­sness of the One Medi­a­tor between God and man, the man Jesus Christ (I Tim. 2:5); and in Him is no sin U John 3:5); Who did no sin, neit­her was guile found in His mouth (I Peter 2:22); One that hath been in all points temp­ted like as we are, yet wit­hout sin (Heb. 4:15); Him Who knew no sin, He made to be sin on our behalf (II Cor. 5:2 1). But con­cer­ning the rest of men it is said, Who is pure of defile­ment? No one who has lived a single day of his life on earth (Job 14:4). God com­men­deth His own love toward us in that, while we were yet sin­ners, Christ died for us If, while we were ene­mies, we were recon­ci­led to God through the death of His Son, much more, being recon­ci­led, shall we be saved by His life (Rom. 5:8–10).

(2) This tea­ching con­tra­di­cts also Sacred Tra­di­tion, which is con­tai­ned in numerous Patri­stic wri­tings, where there is men­tio­ned the exal­ted san­ctity of the Vir­gin Mary from Her very birth, as well as Her cle­an­sing by the Holy Spi­rit at Her con­cep­tion of Christ, but not at Her own con­cep­tion by Anna. “There is none wit­hout stain before Thee, even though his life be but a day, save Thee alone, Jesus Christ our God, Who didst appear on earth wit­hout sin, and through Whom we all trust to obtain mercy and the remis­sion of sins” (St. Basil the Great, Third Prayer of Ves­pers of Pen­tecost). “But when Christ came through a pure, vir­gi­nal, unwed­ded, God-fearing, unde­fi­led Mot­her wit­hout wed­lock and wit­hout fat­her, and inas­much as it befit­ted Him to be born, He puri­fied the female nature, rejected the bit­ter Eve and overt­hrew the laws of the flesh” (St. Gre­gory the The­o­lo­gian, “In Pra­ise of Vir­gi­nity”). Howe­ver, even then, as Sts. Basil the Great and John Chryso­stom speak of this, She was not pla­ced in the state of being unable to sin, but con­ti­nued to take care for Her salva­tion and overcame all temp­ta­tions (St. John Chryso­stom, Com­men­tary on John, Homily 85; St. Basil the Great, Epi­stle 160).

(3) The tea­ching that the Mot­her of God was puri­fied before Her birth, so that from Her might be born the Pure Christ, is mea­ning­less; because if the Pure Christ could be born only if the Vir­gin might be born pure, it would be neces­sary that Her parents also should be pure of ori­gi­nal sin, and they again would have to be born of puri­fied parents, and going furt­her in this way, one would have to come to the con­clu­sion that Christ could not have become incar­nate unless all His ance­stors in the flesh, right up to Adam inclu­sive, had been puri­fied before­hand of ori­gi­nal sin. But then there would not have been any need for the very Incar­na­tion of Christ, since Christ came down to earth in order to anni­hi­late sin.

(4) The tea­ching that the Mot­her of God was pre­ser­ved from ori­gi­nal sin, as likewise the tea­ching that She was pre­ser­ved by God’s grace from per­so­nal sins,makes God unmerci­ful and unjust; because if God could pre­serve Mary from sin and purify Her before Her birth, then why does He not purify other men before their birth, but rat­her lea­ves them in sin? It fol­lows likewise that God saves men apart from their will, pre­de­ter­mi­ning certain ones before their birth to salvation.

(5) This tea­ching, which see­m­ingly has the aim of exal­ting the Mot­her of God, in rea­lity com­ple­tely denies all Her vir­tues. After all, if Mary, even in the womb of Her mot­her, when She could not even desire anyt­hing eit­her good or evil, was pre­ser­ved by God’s grace from every impurity, and then by that grace was pre­ser­ved from sin even after Her birth, then in what does Her merit con­sist? If She 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.
The righ­teo­us­ness and san­ctity of the Vir­gin Mary were mani­fe­sted in the fact that She, being “human with pas­sions like us,” so loved God and gave Her­self over to Him, that by Her purity She was exal­ted high above the rest of the human race. For this, having been forek­nown and fore­cho­sen, She was vou­chs­a­fed to be puri­fied by the Holy Spi­rit Who came upon Her, and to con­ceive of Him the very Saviour of the world. The tea­ching of 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.

It is not an exal­ta­tion and gre­a­ter glory, but a belitt­le­ment of Her, this “gift” which was given Her by Pope Pius IX and all the rest who think they can glo­rify the Mot­her of God by seeking out new truths. The Most Holy Mary has been so much glo­ri­fied by God Him­self, so exal­ted is Her life on earth and Her glory in hea­ven, that human inven­tions can­not add anyt­hing to Her honor and glory. That which people them­sel­ves invent only obscu­res Her Face from their eyes. Bret­hren, take heed lest there shall be any one that maketh spoil of you through phi­los­ophy and vain deceit, after the tra­di­tion of men, after the rudi­ments of the world, and not after Christ, wrote the Apostle Paul by the Holy Spi­rit (Col. 2:8).

Such a “vain deceit” is the tea­ching of the Imma­cu­late Con­cep­tion by Anna of the Vir­gin Mary, which at first sight exalts, but in actual fact belitt­les Her. Like every lie, it is a seed of the “fat­her of lies” (John 8:44), the devil, who has suc­ce­e­ded by it in bla­sp­heme the Vir­gin Mary. Toget­her with it there should also be rejected all the other tea­chings which have come from it or are akin to it. The stri­ving to exalt the Most Holy Vir­gin to an equa­lity with Christ ascri­bing to Her mater­nal tor­tu­res at the Cross an equal sig­ni­fi­cance with the suf­fe­rings of Christ, so that the Rede­e­mer and “Co-Redemptress” suf­fe­red equally, accor­ding to the tea­ching of the Papists, or that “the human nature of the Mot­her of God in hea­ven toget­her with the God-Man Jesus jointly reveal the full image of man” (Archpri­est S. Bul­gakov, The Unburnt Bush, p. 141)-is likewise a vain deceit and a seduction of phi­los­ophy. In Christ Jesus there is neit­her male nor female (Gal. 3:28), and Christ has rede­e­med the whole human race; there­fore at His Resur­rection equally did “Adam dance for joy and Eve rejoice” (Sun­day Kon­takia of the First and Third Tones), and by His Ascen­sion did the Lord raise up the whole of human nature.

Likewise, that the Mot­her of God is a “com­ple­ment of the Holy Tri­nity” or a “fourth Hypost­a­sis”; that “the Son and the Mot­her are a reve­la­tion of the Fat­her through the Second and Third Hypost­a­ses”; that the Vir­gin Mary is “a cre­a­ture, but also no lon­ger a creature”-all this is the fruit of vain, false wis­dom which is not satis­fied with what the Church has held from the time of the Apost­les, but stri­ves to glo­rify the Holy Vir­gin more than God has glo­ri­fied Her.

Thus are the words of St. Epip­ha­nius of Cyprus ful­fil­led: “Certain sen­se­less ones in their opi­nion about the Holy Ever­ Vir­gin have stri­ven and are stri­ving to put Her in place of God” (St. Epip­ha­nius, “Against the Anti­di­ko­ma­rio­ni­tes”). But that which is offe­red to the Vir­gin in sen­se­les­sness, instead of pra­ise of Her, turns out to be bla­sp­hemy; and the All-Immaculate One rejects the lie, being the Mot­her ofTruth (John 14:6).

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