Was Mary perfect?
Mary could have decided not to participate in God’s divine plan, but she didn’t . . .
The quality of perfection in Mary centers on the theological fact that she is the mother of God. The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary teaches that she was preserved from original sin from the first moment of her conception in the womb of St. Ann.
This preservation is an attribute of perfection. Think of a stained glass window. There are many pieces of colored glass that come together to form a magnificent picture. Salvation is like a stained glass window. There are many pieces of doctrine that come together to form our salvific history. Mary is the daughter of God, our heavenly Father, mother of Jesus, and spouse of the Holy Spirit. She is central in the plan of salvation. Therefore, God perfected her like no other in creation.
Being preserved from original sin means she did not have to suffer the consequences of sin—namely death. However, the perfections of Mary in no way obliterated her free will. Throughout her life, Mary always made a free will act of love and obedience to God. In the Annunciation, the Archangel Gabriel announced God’s plan for Mary to become the mother of God. Mary questioned the Archangel, “How can this be since I do not know man?” Then the Archangel responded by saying that the conception of Jesus would be of divine origin; in other words, the Holy Spirit would overshadow her. Mary responded, “Yes, Thy will be done.”
This simple response is a powerful testimony to the perfection of Mary’s spiritual life. Indeed, God endowed Mary with many special privileges, graces and attributes because she was to be the mother of God; however, it was her humility and obedience to the Father that is the hallmark testimony of her faith.
She could have said no. She could have decided not to participate in God’s divine plan and done her own thing. Yet she did the opposite; she united her will to God’s will: “Not my will, but Thy will be done.” In her humble obedience, not only did she exalt women and motherhood, but she also expounded by her example what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
The disobedience of Adam and Eve brought us into the mess of sin, and it was the obedience of the new Eve (Mary) and the new Adam (Jesus) that brought about redemption and salvation. This perfection of Mary is an example for any faithful follower of her Son to practice: “Not my will, but Thy will be done.”
Reprinted with permission from The Catholicism Answer Book: The 300 Most Frequently Asked Questions by Rev. John Trigilio Jr. and Rev. Kenneth D. Brighenti (Sourcebooks, 2007).
But while, in the most Blessed Virgin, the Church has already reached that perfection whereby she exists without spot or wrinkle, the faithful still strive to conquer sin and increase in holiness. And so they turn their eyes to Mary: in her, the Church is already the “all-holy.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church, #829
Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854: “The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church, #491