Interesting article by Fr Kimel’s blog. It seems to be that a great difficult exists for both Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholics, but in different ways. The Orthodox don’t have the burden of having to sustain arguments which necessarily prove the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary, but they do have to explain why the tradition speaks so highly of Mary’s purity and sanctity as the unique theotokos. On the other hand, Roman Catholic have the difficulty of trying to maintain that the immaculate conception was definitely revealed by God and handed down through the ages. Obviously, the Roman Catholic, in this regard, is in the more difficult position. Why is that? Because, as Fr. Kimel records, nothing in a grammatical-historical reading of the Scriptures would require her to be immaculately conceived nor absolutely sinless. Secondly, the Church Fathers are mixed on whether she sinned or not, and there is a great deal of Latin fathers (mind you) who speak about the Virgin being born with the full effect of the curse from Adam.
Arguments that show the immaculate conception is a legitimate dogmatic development, and also, even her absolute sinlessness, are going to necessary resort to something which does not exist in either Scripture or the Patristic witness, namely, an analysis of what the Lord has prompted the bride of Christ, in a seemingly unpredictable and spontaneous way, to confess about the Theotokos in her overall career of teaching and to try and make a deduction from that which makes the most sense.
“Most holy, most pure, most blessed and glorious Lady, Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary.” Panagia, Achrantos, Theotokos, Aeiparthenos—the titles abound, not only in the private prayers of Eastern Orthodox Christians but in the public liturgies and offices. A prayer to the Theotokos in Small Compline begins with these words: “O spotless, undefiled, incorrupt, immaculate, pure Virgin, Lady Bride of Christ.” In the Divine Liturgy, after the solemn consecration of the Holy Gifts, we sing the Axion Estin:
It is truly meet and right to bless you, O Theotokos,
Ever-blessed and most-pure mother of our God.
More honourable than the Cherubim,
And beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim,
Who without corruption gave birth to God the Word,
True Theotokos: we magnify you.
The Blessed Virgin Mary is first among the saints, the most holy and pure, beloved by God above all creatures. Her icon…
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