As God preserved Mary from acquiring original sin, so He preserved her by His grace from ever committing a sin during her life. This teaching essentially follows from the last.

How This Teaching Exalts Christ

As with the Immaculate Conception, this teaching shows that Jesus' holiness demanded that He be born of a holy woman, and that He can save to the uttermost.

Biblical Basis

Essentially the same as with the Immaculate Conception. Had Mary ever committed a sin during her life, she would not have been an enemy of the devil or a holy vessel; thus her Immaculate Conception would have been in vain! Her fullness of grace would have helped prevent her from committing sin.

Early Christian Witness

The quotes in the last article indicate that Mary was completely removed from sin, both original and actual. So they apply here as well.


Note: The last article, on the Immaculate Conception, answered most objections regarding Mary's sinlessness. The following just address a few remaining questions as to whether she sinned during her life.

  1. How could Mary be sinless when she sinned at Cana (Jn 2:3-4)?

    Mary committed no sin in making the compassionate request that Jesus help the young couple, since Jesus granted her request (John 2:5-11). The Bible says that God does not grant sinful requests (John 9:31; James 4:3), so her request could not have been sinful.

  2. But she did sin in asking Jesus to reveal Himself publically before His time.

    That is not a sin, otherwise anyone throughout history who longed for the Second Coming would have been guilty of a sinful desire! Besides, Mary is not omniscient; she did not know it was not yet time. She was essentially asking Jesus "Perhaps this is a good opportunity for you to reveal yourself publically?". When He indicated it was not she did push for it, but arranged for the miracle to be performed in secret. Had she disobeyed his wish to keep it quiet, she would have been sinning! The fact that she did not shows that she is submissive to the will of God.

  3. Didn't Mary lose her faith in Jesus (Mk 3:21, 31)?

    Mary had heard the message of the Angel that she would bear the Messiah; then she conceived a child without intercourse (a clearly miraculous occurance). She heard the prophecy of Elizabeth and the inspired words of Simeon; she knew of Joseph's miraculous dream and pondered the shepherds' wonderful story (Lk 2:17). She saw the Wise Men come from afar to adore her Son and witnessed firsthand the fulfillment of every Messianic prophecy in Him. She lived with God incarnate for thirty years and witnessed His first miracle at Cana. After all that how could she possibly lose faith in Him?

    Mark 3:31 refers to His other relatives; the "brethren" who did not believe in Him (Jn 7:5). In contrast, Mary is the exemplar of discipleship. She did not always understand the ways of God (Lk 1:34; 2:33, 50), but she pondered them in her heart (2:19, 51) and clung to her faith, even at the foot of the Cross. She followed her Son till the very end, and is numbered among His followers in the Upper Room at Pentecost (Acts 1:14). No, Mary never stopped believing in her Son; she knew Him too well!

  4. Didn't she lose her faith at Calvary?

    There is no evidence whatsoever of that in Scripture. In fact her courage to stand at the foot of the Cross seems to indicate the opposite.

  5. So why did the Church Fathers say that she sinned at Cana and/or the Cross?

    Not all of them taught that; many of the Fathers taught that she was sinless, such as Sts. Augustine, Ambrose and Ephrem the Syrian. As for the few who did, that was their personal opinion; not the official teaching of the Church.

  6. It's not fair that everyone else has to struggle against the flesh but Mary is spared!

    I am sure that every Christian wishes she or he did not have to struggle with sin, so it is understandable that some might be tempted to jealousy over Mary's prerogative or think it "unfair". Yet we should resist that temptation, for jealousy over the spiritual state of another is itself a sin-perhaps the worst infraction of the Tenth Commandment!

    Is God "unfair" in preserving Mary and not us? "O man, who art thou that repliest against God?...Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?" (Romans 9:20-21). This passage refers to God's dealings with Israel and the Church, yet it applies in this case as well. God can do as He wills with us and we have no right to question Him. If He chooses to exempt one human being from all sin - original and actual - by the merits of Jesus, He has every right to do so.

  7. Was Mary free from temptation as well?

    That is highly doubtful. If Jesus Christ, the God man, had to endure temptation, surely Mary, a mere creature, was not spared. Surely the Devil, who tempted the first Eve, tried the New Eve as well. Yet unlike her foremother, Mary always relied on God's grace to resist, so she never gave in. This is not impossible (I Co 10:13). Adam and Eve did not have to disobey God; they could have resisted, but did not. Mary, by her reliance on God, triumphed where her forebears had failed.

    As mentioned above, Mary most likely did not know that she was sinless. She may have experienced periods of spiritual dryness as we all do, and feared that she had somehow offended God (when in reality God was simply testing her faithfulness). She loved God with all her heart, soul, mind and strength, so she greatly feared offending Him. Therefore her sinlessness does not necessarily rule out temptation and spiritual struggle.

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