Mary highly-favoured mother of the Son of God

One of the reasons why Mary, the mother of Jesus, has such an exalted position in the Roman Catholic Church is that she is called “Mary full of grace.” Here is an explanation of this term from Catholic Answers:

The Fathers of the Church taught that Mary received a number of distinctive blessings in order to make her a more fitting mother for Christ and the prototypical Christian (follower of Christ). These blessings included her role as the New Eve (corresponding to Christ’s role as the New Adam), her Immaculate Conception, her spiritual motherhood of all Christians, and her Assumption into heaven. These gifts were given to her by God’s grace. She did not earn them, but she possessed them nonetheless.

The key to understanding all these graces is Mary’s role as the New Eve, which the Fathers proclaimed so forcefully. Because she is the New Eve, she, like the New Adam, was born immaculate, just as the First Adam and Eve were created immaculate. Because she is the New Eve, she is mother of the New Humanity (Christians), just as the first Eve was the mother of humanity. And, because she is the New Eve, she shares the fate of the New Adam. Whereas the First Adam and Eve died and went to dust, the New Adam and Eve were lifted up physically into heaven.”

In Luke’s Gospel, the angel Gabriel comes to Mary and says:

Luke 1:28 The angel went to her (Mary) and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Jerome translated the Greek charitoō (highly favoured) as “full of grace.” This Vulgate mistranslation of the Greek is one of the buttresses of the Roman Catholic doctrines about Mary such as she was conceived without sin (the Immaculate Conception) and she was taken up bodily (assumed) into Heaven (the Assumption), and several more. 

The question is why would Jerome make such an obvious translation error? The problem was almost certainly not an ignorance of Greek. Was it his compunction – encouraged by other sympathisers – to fill the mother of Jesus with grace, because he confused Jesus the “Son of Man (humanity)” with Jesus the Son of a man (masculine gender). Men can be so stern about things of the heart.

A man knows about courage, truth, strength, wrath, but what does he understand about gentleness, lovingness, virgin purity and affection? That’s the woman’s domain, isn’t it? Mary, the meek, loving, obedient highly favoured woman, pierced by sorrow becomes the Mother of God, “Can we not feel that it must have been so right…a living object of devotion, faith and hope” (F.W. Robertson, 1924. “The Glory of the Virgin Mother” in Sermons on Bible Subjects, p. 224. Everyman’s Library).

When I was a devout Catholic, I used to feel that it was so. I never cared about biblical exegesis. Like most Catholics, I didn’t read the Bible much. There was no need to; the Church said it was so, and that was that. Besides, the mother of Jesus had that feminine touch that no man – not even Jesus – could match. But is this true? The Son of Man was a perfect embodiment of both the masculine and the feminine of humanness. Here is what I consider one of the best descriptions of the Son of Man’s “womanly heart.” It appears in “The Glory of the Virgin Mother” by Frederick W. Robertson (1924. “The Glory of the Virgin Mother” in Sermons on Bible Subjects, p. 224. Everyman’s Library):

Now let us see what is implied in this expression Son of Man. It contains in it the doctrine of the incarnation: it means the full humanity of Christ. Lately I tried to bring out one portion of its meaning. I said that He belonged to no particular age, but to every age. He had not the qualities of one clime or race, but that which is common to all climes and all races. He was not the Son of the Jew, nor the Son of the Oriental-He was the Son of Man. He was not the villager of Bethlehem: nor one whose character and mind were the result of a certain training, peculiar to Judea, or peculiar to that century-but He was the Man. This is what St. Paul insists on, when He says that in Him there is neither Jew nor Gentile, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free. A humanity in which there is nothing distinctive, limited, or peculiar, but universal-your nature and mine, the humanity in which we all are brothers, bond or free. Now in that same passage St. Paul uses another very remarkable expression: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female.” That is the other thing implied in His title to the Son of Man. His nature had in it the nature of all nations: but also His heart had in it the blended qualities of both sexes. Our humanity is a whole made up of two opposite poles of character-the manly and the feminine. In the character of Christ neither was found exclusively, but both in perfect balance. He was the Son of Man-the Human Being-perfect Man.”

There was in Him the woman-heart as well as the manly brain-all that was most manly, and all that was most womanly, Remember what He was in life: recollect His stern iron hardness in the temptation of the desert: recollect the calmness that never quailed in all the uproars of the people, the truth that never faltered, the strict severe integrity which characterized the Witness of the Truth: recollect the justice that never gave way to weak feeling-which let the rich young ruler go his way to perish if he would-which paid the tribute-money-which held the balance fair between the persecuted woman and her accuser, but did not suffer itself to be betrayed by sympathy into any feeble tenderness-the justice that rebuked Peter with indignation, and pronounced the doom of Jerusalem unswervingly. Here is one side or pole of human character-surely not the feminine side. Now look at the other. Recollect the twice-recorded tears, which a man would have been ashamed to show, and which are never beautiful in man except when joined with strength like His: and recollect the sympathy craved and yearned for as well as given-the shrinking from solitude in prayer-the trembling of a sorrow unto death-the considerate care which provided bread for the multitude, and said to the tired disciples, as with a sister’s rather than a brother’s thoughtfulness, “Come ye apart into the desert and rest a while.” This is the other side or pole of human character-surely not the masculine.”

When we have learnt and felt what is meant by Divine humanity in Christ, and when we have believed it, not in a one-sided way, but in all its fullness, then we are safe from Mariolatry-because we do not want it: we have the truth which Mariolatry labors to express, and, laboring ignorantly, falls into idolatry. But so long as the male was looked upon as the only type of God, and the masculine virtues as the only glory of His character, so long the truth was yet unrevealed. This was the state of heathenism. And so long as Christ was only felt as the Divine Man, and not the Divine Humanity, so long the world had only a one-sided truth.”

One-half of our nature, the sterner portion of it, only was felt to be of God and in God. The other half, the tenderer and the purer qualities of our souls, were felt as earthly. This was the state of Romanism. from which men tried to escape by Mariolatry. And if men had not learned that this side of our nature too was made divine in Christ, what possible escape was there for them, but to look to the Virgin Mary as the incarnation of the purer and lovelier elements of God’s character, reserving to her Son the sterner and the more masculine ?”

28 thoughts on “Mary highly-favoured mother of the Son of God

  1. In Luke 1:28 the Greek word is “kecharitomene” – it is the passive form in perfect tense of the verb charitoo, meaning “to give grace”. Greek perfect tense is not the same as English perfect tense – it indicates an action that was completed in the past but with continuing results. Thus suppose I wrote in Greek “the door has been closed from yesterday” – it means the action, i.e. closing the door, was completed yesterday and until now the door is still closed. The same perfect tense is found in many places in NT like Gal 2:20: I am crucified with Christ (KJV, translated as present tense); Christ last word in John 19:30: It is finished (KJV, translated as present tense) and Rev 13:8: the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (KJV, translated as present tense). Coming back to Luke 1:28 the verse implies that Mary was given grace (in the past) and always remained in grace – that gives support to the dogma of Immaculate Conception. Scripture says he/she who sins belongs to the devil (1 John 3:8) – thus if Mary committed sin, even only once, she was not under grace but belongs to the devil (even only for short period until she repented). She would not fulfill the prophecy in Genesis 3:15 saying the woman shall have full enmity with the devil. Interestingly Jewish translation (Jewish Publication Society) of Genesis 3:15 reads (capitalized emphasis added): I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; THEY shall strike at your head, and you shall strike at THEIR heel”. As a Jew you may consult your Jewish friends who know the Tanakh well (not average Jews or any Jews you bump into on the street) why they use the words “They” and “their”, not “He” and “his” as in Christian Bible.

    • Vivator, your explanation is, of course, the standard “Catholic Answers response (Patrick Madrid and co.). It stretches Koine credulity.

      With regard to the doctrine of the Assumption, there is disagreement among the Church fathers, for instance, St Augustine:

      “Mary, springing from Adam, died because of sin; and the flesh of our Lord, derived from Mary, died to take away sin.” (De Peccatorum Meritis, ii, c. 24).

      I refer to the Assumption because it goes hand in glove with the immaculate conception, because, if one is born without sin, one can’t physically die. (There are, of course, occasions when God can intervene as in the case of Elijah and Enoch). Mary died.

      On another Marian doctrine:

      “To Jesus through Mary,” is based on the idea that one sees Jesus more clearly in his relationships, especially with his mother, which develops into Mary as “Mediatrix.”

      See http://www.ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/DEV2MARY.htm

      I bought fully into this doctrine as well as many other doctrines for one reason only, which if true makes sense – papal infallibility. But it is not true at all. Vivator, you believe it’s true, and so I understand where you’re coming from.

  2. “Interestingly Jewish translation (Jewish Publication Society) of Genesis 3:15 reads (capitalized emphasis added): I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; THEY shall strike at your head, and you shall strike at THEIR heel”. As a Jew you may consult your Jewish friends who know the Tanakh well (not average Jews or any Jews you bump into on the street) why they use the words “They” and “their”, not “He” and “his” as in Christian Bible.”

    This is an incorrect translation on the part of the JPS. They decided to translate the word זרע -seed-singular, as OFFSPRING.

    הוא ישופך ראש ואתה תשופנו עקב

    הוא- HE (in the singular)

    אתה תשופנו עקב -all in the singular.

    BTW, biblical Hebrew, like the Greek has only complete or incomplete actions. For example:

    כי מציון תצא תורה -For the Torah will come forward out of Zion. It was said AFTER the Torah was already given.

  3. I have more than a small reservation for the translation “Highly favored”. I don’t know Hebrew but I was quite used to translate greek. I can’t find a better translation than “Full of grace”. For sure to translate the past participle with ‘favored’ is at least a bit off. The concept and the term of ‘favored’ doesn’t come always with a truly good connotation and doesn’t imply an everlasting effect. And there are examples of God favoring people who didn’t deserve His trust.
    I couldn’t approach Mary until the Rosary came to me. Anyway since we are in an Epiphany theme, I would like to propose a quotation for the festivity a quotation from a Catholic papal Catechism:( As Raphael says the reason we believe in dogma)

    “Epiphany
    528 The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Savior of the world. The great feast of Epiphany celebrates the adoration of Jesus by the wise men (magi) from the East, together with his baptism in the Jordan and the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee. (Mt 2:1) … [no Marian mention per se]
    724 In Mary, the Holy Spirit manifests the Son of the Father, now become the Son of the Virgin. She is the burning bush of the definitive theophany. Filled with the Holy Spirit she makes the Word visible in the humility of his flesh. It is to the poor and the first representatives of the gentiles that she makes him known. (cf. Lk 1:15-19; Mt 2:11)

    http://campus.udayton.edu/mary/resources/documents/docs6-2f.html

  4. Thank you for asking. It is too inherent to my personal experience and personality to explain the reason why…I would need to write an autobiography to explain it. But in a few words I could give a possible generalization of the possible ‘why’. The figure of Mary is the most difficult figure to represent rationally. It is the most hidden presence and she is pure essence. Only through the rosaries (there are more rosaries that are part of the Marian devotion but the essential one is the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary) is possible to envision the essence in a form that is purely non conceptual. Conceptually we fail to understand this woman. We don’t know this woman through a conceptual train of thoughts. We know from the gospel that she was strong enough to accept a very difficult situation, a pregnancy out of wedlock and in her position of virgin of the temple. The possibility of being stoned and publically derided was not so much a better destiny then her future Son’s crucifixion. She shows a humble not book-learned infinite trust in God. We know from the gospel that she was hurt from the beginning with the prediction of future suffering. We know from the gospel that she had to go to a foreign land with a small child and probably suffer great discomfort and difficulty in feeding her Son and…..I leave to others to consider by themselves other situations that she meets in being His mother in the kind of society she was living at the time… She had to endure many hardships, derision and scorn before the final agony. She was called woman by Him for the last time before she was given up to his disciple because she was a widow without other children to sustain her and without personal means. We don’t approach her intellectually but only with pure basic feelings. This is why she reveals herself to children and saints and quite less frequently that what she is accounted for by popular exploitation. For all of us, instead, she is given in meditative not intellectual contemplation and we are somehow connected to her essence through the rosaries. Also I would say through art. Before her coming to history there was never a more beautiful representation of maternity and female suffering. Since I am Catholic I consider figurative representation part of our understanding of reality in its pre-conceptual value as with music.

    Also Mary teaches us that intellect can be sometime a slippery road to God…as Protestantism and Judaism have shown in history:
    “From now on all generations will call me blessed,
    49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
    holy is his name.
    50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.
    51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
    he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
    52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble.” Gospel of Luke

    • Maria, you say “The figure of Mary is the most difficult figure to represent rationally. It is the most hidden presence and she is pure essence.”

      How would you describe the Son in terms of rationality, presence and essence?

      You also said in a previous comment that Mary “full of grace” means she was sinless. Here is a argument against this view:

      http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=1455

      Luke 1:28 and kecaritomine

      Karl Keating [the Catholic apologist) alleged:
      The newer translations leave out something the Greek conveys, something the older translation conveys, which is that this grace (and the core of the word kecharitomene is charis, after all) is at once permanent and of a singular kind. The Greek indicates a perfection of grace. A perfection must be perfect not only intensively, but extensively. The grace Mary enjoyed must not only have been as “full” or strong or complete as possible at any given time, but it must have extended over the whole of her life, from conception. That is, she must have been in a state of sanctifying grace from the first moment of her existence to have been called “full of grace” or to have been filled with divine favor in a singular way. This is just what the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception holds. . . . (Karl Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1988), p. 269.)

      The above quotation goes far beyond anything a serious exegete of the passage in Greek could possibly say. This can be seen by examining the term in question, the perfect passive participle “kecharitomene.”
      First, let’s look at the lexical meaning of the root of the term, that being the Greek word “caritoo”(carito,w) Bauer’s A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (edited by Gingrich and Danker) defines the usage of “caritoo” at Luke 1:28, “favored one (in the sight of God).” No lexical source that we have found gives as a meaning of “caritoo” “sinlessness.” The term refers to favor, in the case of Luke 1:28, divine favor, that is, God’s grace. The only other occurrence of “caritoo” is at Ephesians 1:6, “…to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” If the bare term “caritoo” means “sinlessness,” then it follows that the elect of God, throughout their lives, have been sinless as well.
      However, if we look at Mr. Keating’s presentation, it seems clear that he is basing his interpretation not primarily upon the lexical meaning of the word “caritoo”, but upon the form it takes in Luke 1:28, that being the perfect passive participle, “kecharitomene”. Note that Keating alleges that the “Greek indicates a perfection of grace.” He seems to be playing on the perfect tense of the participle. But, as anyone trained in Greek is aware, there is no way to jump from the perfect tense of a participle to the idea that the Greek “indicates a perfection of grace.” First, participles derive their time element from the main verb of the sentence. In this case, however, we have a vocative participle, and no main verb in what is in actuality simply a greeting. (The fact that the Roman Catholic Church has to attempt to build such a complex theology on the form of a participle in a greeting should say a great deal in and of itself.)

        • You are right she was Jewish…but the Marian tradition is only Catholic (not so much protestant either) and this is sad as It was sadder when I was far from her beauty….I wish so much now I had not gone so far from her beauty but I hope I am there now..but even now it is so difficult to do what is written: “cast not away the grace of God. For if justice be by the law, then Christ died in vain.” Galatians 2:21. I wish it could be easier to accept and follow the grace of God. This is another possible reason Mary is foreign to catholics, protestants, jews, muslims, Hindus, atheists etc ..…It was so easy for her. Another reason why she is probably what catholics and herself say she is: The Immaculate Conception.

  5. Dear Raphael,
    It is quite amusing to discuss about religion…almost better than politics. There is no way we are going to find a perfect agreement even if we share together the truth of Christianity …you know this. Butttt I could propose my perception more than my opinion and I don’t feel we are battling…because I know I am right. Isn’t peculiar that you think that the Catholic Church is elaborating a theory on the translation of a word? It is quite the Protestant attitude to elaborate theories exclusively in interpretations and translations. Protestants are very strong in reading the words and understanding the words not Catholics, by any change did you miss the point of Protestantism? :-) The Immaculate Conception didn’t start as a translation discussion at all and it didn’t come from the Catholic Church as a tradition but from the East Orthodox Church…the stronger in understanding and translating Greek since it was the ‘mother language’ of their community. Instead the Catholic Church never found it to be an easy topic to digest this topic… even thought we have Saint Augustine and San Thomas who glorify the Virgin Mary considering her exceptional status among human being and as sinless. From the East the traditional feast came to the west via Naples and England. In England the celebration spread under the influence of the monasteries.

    “It is not about the translation that came to be as a dogma then. Vatican II has clearly put into proper perspective the role of the church’s magisterium in the development of doctrine, particularly in its relationship to Scripture and tradition. In the tradition that comes from the apostles, there is a “growth in insight into the realities and words that are being passed on.” The task of interpreting authentically the Word of God, of which Scripture and tradition make up a “single sacred deposit” has been “entrusted” to the magisterium, which “is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant” and can propose for belief as being revealed by God only what is “drawn from this single deposit of faith.” The magisterium is not the total bearer of tradition, of what is passed on from the apostles, but the proximate norm of determining just what is authentic and so somehow divinely revealed in the transmission and development of that deposit of faith. The transmitters of tradition are actually all who are graced with apostolic faith in the church of Christ, some of whom are obviously called to have a greater hand in it than others, but embracing all in the “sensus fidelium.”.[36]] Frederick M. Jelly, O.P. “The Roman Catholic Dogma of Mary’s Immaculate Conception,” The One Mediator, The Saints, and Mary: Lutherans and Catholics in Dialogue VIII, ed. H. George Anderson, J. Francis Stafford, Joseph A. Burgess (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1992), 270.

    Furthermore there are certain situations that came to be in a ‘folcloristic way’ to the Catholic Church that are for me of a major importance. For example Mary assimilated herself to the Maya mentality in appearing to an indigenous and imprinting herself in his traditional apron where she had deposited roses outside of season. The American Indians were not so fond of being apostatized and only after the miracle of the Virgin of Guadalupe they yield to the power and beauty of the new religion. What can be said about the Catholic Church is that in good and bad is part of history in a special way. You don’t have to accept anything about what the Catholic Church says but please do not accuse her of being peculiar about translation since as I said it is your problem as Protestant. We are after more folkloristic enterprises…as for example miracles: “In 1830, St. Catherine Labouré received a series of apparitions from Our Lady during which she received a medal that came to be known as the “Miraculous Medal.” Engraved on the medal were the words, “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” I spoke already about Lourdes in the catholic section of your blog. If by any chance these miracles are real…well the Virgin Mary wants to be known as the Immaculate Conception regardless of how your interpretation of words and value of intellectual exemplification comes to be. But anyway who am I to say? and also who are you to decide for her how to be called and considered? This of course only if the miracles are true, but the dogma stands for the catholics at it is..and our ignorance could very well be our blessing

    • Maria, you summed up the difference between Catholics and Protestants very well:

      Protestants – “Protestants are very strong in reading the words and understanding the words not Catholics.”

      Catholics – the “Magisterium.”

        • There’s many a truth, not only in jest, but also in irony.
          By the way, You haven’t addressed the refutation I posted of the Catholic interpretation of Luke 1:28 that Mary was sinless.

  6. Dear Raphael,
    How strange! I thought I did answer you. Well…a typical example of being lost in translation…perhaps or a too implicit attempt.:
    Point number one: Even some catholics to please protestants could accept “ highly favored” as a possible translation and it is seen in these cases as a second best option. The translation is considered from both the Catholics and the Orthodox as “full of grace” in the prayer: Hail Mary full of grace” at the base of the Rosary.
    In Greek the form is a perfect passive participle… “full of grace” is not so far from the idea of it but for the Magisterium is not the foundation:

    I have considered the reason why your translation and your allied position with the protestants version is not the best possible why…but as I have extensively answered you before…translation is not everything.
    Your personal mistake is quite revealing. You wrote:

    “ But, as anyone trained in Greek is aware, there is no way to jump from the perfect tense of a participle to the idea that the Greek “indicates a perfection of grace.” First, participles derive their time element from the main verb of the sentence. In this case, however, we have a vocative participle, and no main verb in what is in actuality simply a greeting. (The fact that the Roman Catholic Church has to attempt to build such a complex theology on the form of a participle in a greeting should say a great deal in and of itself.)”

    Do you understand how revealing is your affirmation? The “ has to attempt” is from the Protestants in rebuking the Catholic dogma. It is Protestantism in its attempt to deconstruct a dogma that builds ‘such a complex theology” on the possible translation of a passive perfect participle. The Catholic position is quite more extensive that the perfect passive participle option. There are many arguments to it. I could cite my favorite one but you could easily pick yours if you like, if you by any chance would like to attempt to read the heavy loaded magisterium. This is an other answer to your ‘Has to attempt”:

    Luke 1:28
    The salutation of the angel Gabriel — chaire kecharitomene, Hail, full of grace (Luke 1:28) indicates a unique abundance of grace, a supernatural, godlike state of soul, which finds its explanation only in the Immaculate Conception of Mary. But the term kecharitomene (full of grace) serves only as an illustration, not as a proof of the dogma. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07674d.htm

    If you are apt to read more and it is quite heavy reading :-) I am going to give you another link quite to the point: “In other words, the perfect tense in Greek is a past tense with a special meaning: it is used to refer to a past action which has effects felt in the present. So, here’s what some modern, English-speaking scholars tell us “Kecharitomene” denotes, based purely on the definition of the word and its grammatical usage:
    ” ‘Highly favoured’ (kecharitomene). Perfect passive participle of charitoo and means endowed with grace (charis), enriched with grace as in Ephesians 1:6 . . . The Vulgate gratiae plena [full of grace] “is right, if it means ‘full of grace which thou hast received'; wrong, if it means ‘full of grace which thou hast to bestow’ ” (A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, p. 14)
    “It is permissible, on Greek grammatical and linguistic grounds, to paraphrase kecharitomene as completely, perfectly, enduringly endowed with grace.” (Blass and DeBrunner, Greek Grammar of the New Testament). http://www.philvaz.com/apologetics/a116.htm The Meaning of Kecharitomene: Full of Grace (Luke 1:28) http://www.philvaz.com/apologetics/a116.htm

    But dear Raphael, what is a past participle passive form in comparison of recognizing opnely that you have been transferred from the negation of the truth to the affirmation of it…what a difficult choice for example for a rabbi to say: “He is the Messiah…we have been wrong for two thousand years…and in keeping alive this mistake and in not considered Him as such we have been sacrificing so much more than anyone who proclaimed the truth from the beginning.” I told you it would not be easy for me to go through such a negation of a tradition that had to be kept alive on such an ‘astronomical historical negation and ethnic sacrifice” in order to suppress His name. If you are confortable in being protestant please do so..

    • Ludwig Ott the Catholic theologian writes:
      “The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary is not explicitly revealed in Scripture.

      According to many theologians it is contained implicitly in the following passages.” Later, on page 201, he

      writes, “Neither the Greek nor the Latin Fathers explicitly teach the Immaculate Conception of Mary.”

      Ludwig Ott; Roman Catholic Theologian, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (Rockford, IL: Tan Book Publishers, 1974), p. 200

      Ott also says: “The Bull ‘Ineffabilis’ approves of this messianic-marianic interpretation. . . . The Bull does not give any

      authentic explanation of the passage. It must also be observed that the infallibility of the Papal doctrinal

      decision extends only to the dogma as such and not to the reasons given as leading up to the dogma.” (p. 200).

      Maria, I think it bizarre that an argument can be faulty in all its reasoning but still be infallible in its conclusion.

      The sustaining power of the atholic dogmas on Mary and much more is the arch dogma of ex cathedra infallibility.

      On another, but related, point, who do you think was the greatest (purely) human being who ever lived?

      • (Maria I have joined two of your comments into one)

        It is a difficult issue. Have you heard about cardinal Newman? Before English Anglican priest, He converted to Catholicism but He was quite restless about the dogmatic aspect of the Catholic Church. He was associated quite deeply with Oxford and . I read somewhere, perhaps Wikipedia that since He received by his comrades a typical English passive aggressive response he thought perhaps strategic to change the dogmatisms of the catholic church with his extended knowledge. Even if controversial He was quite an interesting and intellectually talented man and he is up for beatification. Just today I read an article about him and an alleged miracles from a catholic who asked for his intermediation. There is space for not perfect alignment in the catholic church but you have to still hold the doctrine somehow…otherwise why not be protestants and be left out of possible beatification :-)http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/features/6521361/Is-Jack-Sullivan-proof-that-miracles-really-can-happen.html

        Here is a quote from Cardinal Newman:

        “I have not had one moment’s wavering of trust in the Catholic Church ever since I was received into her fold. I hold, and ever have held, that her Sovereign Pontiff is the centre of unity and the Vicar of Christ. And I ever have had, and have still, an unclouded faith in her creed in all its articles; a supreme satisfaction in her worship, discipline and teaching; and an eager longing and a hope against hope that the many dear friends whom I have left in Protestantism may be partakers of my happiness.
        This being my state of mind, to add, as I hereby go on to do, that I have no intention, and never have had any intention, of leaving the Catholic Church and becoming a Protestant again, would be superfluous, except that Protestants are always on the look-out for some loophole or evasion in a Catholic’s statement of fact. Therefore, in order to give them full satisfaction, if I can, I do hereby profess ex animo, with an absolute internal assent and consent, that Protestantism is the dreariest of possible religions; that the thought of the Anglican service makes me shiver, and the thought of the Thirty-nine Articles makes me shudder. Return to the Church of England! No; ‘the net is broken and we are delivered’. I should be a consummate fool (to use a mild term) if in my old age I left “the land flowing with milk and honey” for the city of confusion and the house of bondage.”http://www.culturewars.com/CultureWars/Archives/cw_feb98/Newman.html

        As to your question, who was the greatest human being,
        I don’t know who is the greatest only purely human being….So many have been very special in different ways…thanks to God. Perhaps even the ‘antidogmatic ‘ possibly to be beatified Newman

        • Maria, I have read Newman. Here is my reply to another Catholic in one of my other posts:

          http://onedaringjew.wordpress.com/2010/10/13/john-17-and-catholic-universalism-that-they-may-be-one-reformed-protestants-need-not-apply/

          February 2, 2011 2:02 am

          Anzlyne
          I suspected that you were a Catholic, but refrained from saying so. That you’re a gentle person came out in your reply.
          Here is the paragraph of Newman you recommended I read:
          “PROTESTANTS judge of the Apostles’ doctrine by “texts,” as they are commonly called, taken from Scripture, and nothing more; and they judge of our doctrine too, by “texts” taken from our writings, and nothing more. Picked verses, bits torn from the context, half sentences, are the warrant of the Protestant Idea of what is Apostolic truth, on the one hand, and, on the other, of what is Catholic falsehood. As they have their chips and fragments of St. Paul and St. John, so have they their chips and fragments of Suarez and Bellarmine; and out of the former they make to themselves their own Christian religion, and out of the latter our Anti-Christian superstition. They do not ask themselves sincerely, as a matter of fact and history, What did the Apostles teach then? Nor do they ask sincerely, and as a matter of fact, What do Catholics teach now? They judge of the Apostles, and they judge of us, by scraps, and on these scraps they exercise their private judgment,—that is, their Prejudice, … and their Assumed Principles, … and the process ends in their bringing forth, out of their scraps from the {240} Apostles, what they call “Scriptural Religion,” and out of their scraps from our theologians, what they call Popery.”
          Could you detect anywhere in my article you have read any examples of: “Picked verses, bits torn from the context, half sentences, are the warrant of the Protestant Idea of what is Apostolic truth…?”
          As you probably know, Newman wrote equally as eloquently against “Popery” during his long career in the Anglican church.

        • Maria you quoted Newman who said, “the thought of the Thirty-nine Articles makes me shudder.” Have you read these 39 articles. if yes, which ones, if any, would make you shudder. If you haven’t read them, perhaps it might be useful to see what Newman says he is so upset about. He must have done a lot of shuddering as a prominent long-standing leader of the Anglican church, whose foundation was these 39 articles.

  7. XXII. Of Purgatory.
    The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping and Adoration, as well of Images as of Relics, and also Invocation of Saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.

    XXIV. Of Speaking in the Congregation in such a Tongue as the people understandeth.
    It is a thing plainly repugnant to the Word of God, and the custom of the Primitive Church to have public Prayer in the Church, or to minister the Sacraments, in a tongue not understanded of the people.
    XXVIII. Of the Lord’s Supper
    Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.

    I had never read these articles. Wowwww…thank for asking me to do it. In your previous entry you said that you read Newman. I had not… I think I found his name written in a little font as an author of a prayer that I am reciting in a quite mechanic way with a group of Rosary prayers called the Fatima cell that meets once a week. I read it only today when I tried to find someone to admire.

    In response to your question: “Who do you consider the best human being that ever lived,” since there were too many for me to choose why don’t I choose the last entry in a foreign newspaper? This is how I met officially Cardinal Newman in the New Telegraph newspaper in the case of a claim for a miracle that will be investigated by the Vatican.

    Do you know what you did in asking your question? You made me realize that everything that I tried to tell you in my previous comments had already been pinpointed in a poignant and dialectically superior way. I am crashed :-) I lost all my time…No I didn’t. I learned quite a lot…and I also know distinctively that everything worthwhile saying in this discussion has already definitely been said. Nothing to add..You knew it too then…Why did you keep this ‘battle’ alive? To convert me? :-)

    I told you I know I am right..I know it not with my intellect but with my instinctual intuition.

    What does make me shudder in the protestant Anglican articles? If the church I choose were a spouse I would for sure completely avoid to marry the Anglican church. It is dry and very very contemptuous..It is ‘repugnant’ to think like this about the Catholic Church’s Transubstantiation? What a banal way of disputing a different sacred belief.

    You have to allow me Raphael to give at this point a link about my little lists of miracles connected to the sacred Wowww..this is why protestants call me bad names.it is written in their article to feel ‘repugnance’ toward me.

    To be despised as heretic is much better (almost heroic) than to be looked upon as a carrier of repugnant false doctrine to the Word. My belief is repugnant to the Word? I am then repugnant to the Word too. I have to thank my protestant friends for being so much more gracious with me than their credo. I know that today they teach me to find God in all things.

    I have also to answer another question that you asked not me but Anzlyne:
    1. Could you detect anywhere in my article you have read any examples of: “Picked verses, bits torn from the context, half sentences, are the warrant of the Protestant Idea of what is Apostolic truth…?”

    http://onedaringjew.wordpress.com/2010/10/13/john-17-and-catholic-universalism-that-they-may-be-one-reformed-protestants-need-not-apply/

    Dear Raphael are you completely sure that you are not treating the Marian tradition in picking ‘verses’ and mentalities? As I told you I have been repeating for sometime Newman’s prayer to the Virgin Mary without knowing who he was and how bookish or learned, as you preferred, he had been. Wowwww….His prayer is soooo ‘simple’ and ‘naïve’. I would have never thought…I think I found all the connecting dots to this argument without even trying. I am quite surprised. I am going to write a little bit of this prayer:
    “ O most merciful God, Who for the salvation of sinners and the refuge of the miserable, was pleased that the most Pure Heart of Mary should be most like in charity and pity to the Divine Heart of the Thy Son, Jesus Christ etc.” Cardinal John Henry Newman composed this litany shortly after he converted to Catholicism.

    Do you realize that he answered your blog’s entry in this simple not bookish prayer? Mary is not the female part of Catholicism…She is the “most like in charity, sweet and loving Heart to the Divine Heart of Thy Son”

    • Maria, your namesake, you will agree was a human being. You say, with Newman, and in the Catholic tradition that Mary is not the female part of Catholicism…She is the “most like in charity, sweet and loving Heart to the Divine Heart of Thy Son.” It would seem to me that this implies that she must have been the greatest human being that ever lived. What, however, does her Son say?

      Matthew 12:
      46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”

      48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

      Luke 7:28
      I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

      It is plain, John the Baptist was a greater human being than Mary. Yet, the least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than John. Where does that leave Mary? It leaves her with the supreme blessing of being the mother of the Saviour. How she got from that to Queen of Heaven and Mediatrix, and other unbiblical doctrines, is what the Catholic Church is all about.

      Jews have done similar things with their “Written Torah”; they’ve added an Oral one.

  8. You are very kind Raphael to make my answer so much better. You are not considering at this point ‘bits and pieces’, which are for me at the heart of the problem. I know we could go there.
    Jesus was aware that we are linked to our family tradition and this would have made us not reach the truth in an independent way.

    Why not to be a little bit existential? In the Jaspers version of it. Not to feel too nauseated by reality as with our Sartre and atheist friends? If you were God would you have changed anything about your mother? I certainly would. I would have made her happier and less scared about life and everything. And my children? I don’t know about my children. They are too kind. They are not prone to see me as I am. But they would like to see me happier too.

    I suppose If you were God, wouldn’t you have chosen the most pure, beautiful, serene woman that ever lived? If you say no… you are not thinking anymore as a human and therefore as someone as God would too. The love that my son has for me makes me already much more beautiful than I actually am and it is completely unconditional. God would have seen the mother in the same way, and since He is God, he made this a reality in allowing her to be ‘full of grace”. She is human but not completely in this aspect. She is therefore the Immaculate Conception. She has been granted in the eyes of God what even for my son is granted out of love to see me more beautiful than I am in reality since he can’t transform his perspective and desire in reality as God certainly could.

    Mary is not even in question for the Son. When I told you that she is hidden I was referring also to this. She is treated as an example on how to treat our family’s influence and influence in matter of religion. It is in the factuality of the Gospel, not in what the son says about her that you find her. She asked Him to perform the first miracle of the water into wine. He resisted because in God’s plan it was not yet time. She knew who He was. She was at that point the only one on earth to know it…and the only one who could testify to His unnatural birth.

    She asks him to perform his first miracle when he didn’t feel it was yet the right time. Do you understand what does this mean? She gave Him the ‘push’ to go out and open himself to the world…to fly as God on this earth even if it meant she was supposed to lose him as it actually happene.

    First she lost him as a son to the disciples after thirty years of being always the only two to understand each other on this earth and thereafter, she lost him to death and scorn.

    And also the last thing the Son did was thinking about what was her position on earth after He had to leave. She was there at the beginning and at the end, the alpha and the omega of His voyage on earth. She is human but she is the ‘perfect creature of His creation’ the perfect angel that He wished for his creation; the angel that would never betray Him and never fall. There is no other way of putting it. He loved her and through her He is able to love and be loved if not better.

    It is a pity the belittlement that Protestants have brought to her in Christianity but she knows that they do not know better. Only people who actually are not learned or they unlearned themselves as Newman did when he wrote about her as a ‘pure and sweet heart’ are able to remember how to be children of God and understand what she is about. As I told you it was more difficult for me and still is to love her as easily as I love Her Son. But but to love only Her Son at a certain point, long ago, I was lost, but to love Her too with Him, I will never get lost again.

    • I’m trying to work out why you brought Karl Jaspers into the conversation. He was “ïnstinctual” (your word in another comment) like you, but hated formal religion, unlike you. He certainly didn’t like dogma.

      Much of what you say about Jesus’ mother is very touching, but I have to say that – as a sola scriptura person – all we have to go on concerning the affective details of Mary (or Jesus for that matter) is what the Bible tells us. I’d hate to hurt you but I must say that your description of Mary is verging on the sentimental side. It has no basis in the biblical record. As poetry, though, it is moving.

      Protestants are such an unsentimental bunch, but more than Jewish Protestants like me.

      Added later.

      When I say “Protestants,” I mean those who believe that the Bible is God’s love letter to those he has brought into his kingdom.

      As for your feelings about Mary, that is the way, I suggest, we should feel about Jesus. Here is an excerpt from Octavius Winslow:

      “And where would you lean in sorrow but upon the bosom of your Beloved? Christ’s heart is a human heart, a sinless heart, a tender heart; a heart once the home of sorrow, once stricken with grief; once an aching, bleeding, mournful heart. Thus disciplined and trained, Jesus knows how to pity and to support those who are sorrowful and solitary. He loves to chase grief from the spirit, to bind up the broken heart, to staunch the bleeding wound, and to dry the weeping eye, to “comfort all that mourn.”

      “It is His delight to visit you in the dark night-season of your sorrow, and to come to you walking upon the tempestuous billows of your grief, breathing music and diffusing calmness over your scene of sadness and gloom. When other bosoms are closed to your sorrow, or are removed beyond your reach, or their deep throbbings of love are stilled in death—when the fiery darts of Satan fly thick around you, and the world frowns, and the saints are cold, and your path is sad and desolate—then lean upon the love, lean upon the grace, lean upon the faithfulness, lean upon the tender sympathy of Jesus.”

  9. Thank you Raphael for your kind thoughts.
    Do you really want to know why I brought Jaspers in my comments? Your rationial ‘ trying to work out’ does give reason to my instinctual intuitive random wandering. It is not a short answer… I learned something going beyond what I thought were the obvious reasons of why I mentioned him. These days I have more times… in a little bit I will not and I will not go wandering about searching for possible answers that bring me somehow far…but also very close to the unknown and this topic :-)

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