Good evening, Father Angelo,
Our Lady is the queen of the Angels and of all the Saints, therefore she is the most “holy” of all created beings. But I came to know that since she was preserved from original sin, she did not have the inclination to sin, consequently it was much easier for Her not to sin than for Angels and other men…
If so, why is she above all the Angels and Saints, who surely had to fight hard not to sin and to do the holy Will of God?
Furthermore, I would like to understand what it means not to have the inclination to sin… I think it means not to have the inclination to the 7 deadly sins, well rooted within us, and from which all sins originate… but then why is there this particular cult of Mary (hyperdulia), who had no difficulty to avoid sin since it came naturally to her?
For example, in the first joyful mystery we contemplate the yes of the Virgin Mary to the Archangel: it would have been unlikely that she would say no to God, since She had no inclination to sin… so why all this amazement of Our Lady’s consent?… I am more surprised by the yes of St. Joseph, who had to believe in something improbable (virginity and motherhood of Mary), had to fight all his life against concupiscence (it is not easy to live with the woman you love and to remain a virgin) and yet he said his yes to God! I would not like to give the impression of wanting to belittle the Virgin Mary of whom I am very devoted, but before I did not know about this characteristic of Our Lady…. that is, I knew of her Immaculate Conception, but I thought that she had always had the condition that we have after Baptism… but I did not know that she was actually in a condition similar to that of Eve in Paradise and this left me perplexed and I got the doubts that I exposed.
I would also like to know, then: what was the difference between Eve and Mary?… Both did not have the inclination to sin but why did Eve sin and Mary did not? … I mean I think 2 people in the same condition should make the same choice, so if Mary made the right choice, I think she had something more than Eve, but what? And was it “something more” given by God or a merit of Mary?
Also, I would like to ask you another question: if God knew that Eve would sin and Mary would not… but why did he not make Mary the first woman so that men would not have been victims of original sin with all that it entailed?
Finally: if we (the whole of humanity) had been in the earthly paradise instead of Adam and Eve, would we have eaten the apple? (…Surely Our Lady wouldn’t).
Answer of the priest
1. Holiness is not tied to the struggle or to effort to overcome temptations, but to love.
You can fight and toil poorly and therefore merit nothing.
Our Lady is the one who loved the most because God infused in her a degree of love so great that it surpasses that of all the Angels and saints put together.
God, in his will, wanted it this way so that Mary was in our place a worthy Mother of him and also to give us a Mother so great and therefore so holy and so omnipotent.
2. Of course, temptations are a stimulus to increase love.
And we can very well think that as Jesus wanted to be subjected to the temptations of the devil (not to those deriving from the senses because he did not have them at all), so too Our Lady must have had her temptations.
3. But without entering the discourse of temptations, since Sacred Scripture does not speak of this, we can speak of the trials of Our Lady, of her sorrows.
Now if the pain for a certain reality is proportionate to the love for the opposite good, we must agree that the pain of Our Lady was very great, almost incomprehensible to us.
Precisely because “full of grace”, Our Lady enjoyed like no other saint the gifts of the Holy Spirit which gave her an extraordinary insight into what was going on in the soul of Jesus.
Now the suffering that Christ felt for sins was immense and continuous.
It started from the very first moment of his existence. And it was a suffering greater than any other suffering, as Saint Thomas said: “Christ grieved not only over the loss of His own bodily life, but also over the sins of all others. And this grief in Christ surpassed all grief of every contrite heart (Qui dolor in Christo excessit omnem dolorem cuiuslibet contriti), both because it flowed from a greater wisdom and charity, by which the pang of contrition is intensified, and because He grieved at the one time for all sins, according to Is 53:4: ‘Surely He hath carried our sorrows’” (Summa Theologiae, III, 46, 6, ad 4).
And Thomas à Kempis: “The whole life of Christ was cross and martyrdom” (Tota vita Christi crux fuit et martirium, Imitation of Christ, II, 12).
4. Well, Our Lady intuited this pain and participated in it in an extraordinary way, precisely because she was called to be the new Eve.
For this reason, the Church also applies to Our Lady the words that are read in Jeremiah’s lamentations in reference to Jesus: “Come, all you who pass by the way, look and see Whether there is any suffering like my suffering, which has been dealt me When the Lord afflicted me on the day of his blazing wrath” (Lam 1:12).
These trials and sorrows have increased her love and her merit more and more.
5. Of course, Our Lady did not have the hindrance of evil inclinations.
She did not have those obstacles which represent an impediment for all of us to grow in holiness and love.
But precisely because these impediments were not there, we can understand how great her love for the Lord and also for each of us was in every moment of her life.
6. In reference to Eve, who was also created in grace, Our Lady had a much and much greater holiness than that of Eve.
The Church, as I said, believes that the holiness of Mary is superior to that of all the Angels and all the Saints put together, therefore also to that of Eve.
On the other hand, Our Lady had such a large amount of grace because she was predestined by the divine will to be in the order of grace, the most provident Mother of each of us.
7. You also ask me: why did not God put Mary in Eve’s place from the beginning?
Because our condition – as far as grace is concerned – after Christ’s redemption is superior to that of Adam and Eve.
We, after original sin, have known Christ in his pain and in his love. We can be made partakers of his infinite merits.
He suffered them to give them to us, so that they would be forever our merit before the Father.
For this reason, the Liturgy of the Church, in the Vigil of Holy Saturday, sings with St. Augustine: “O happy fault that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer!”.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church reports a statement of St. Thomas: “There is nothing to prevent human nature being raised up to something greater, even after sin; God permits evil in order to draw forth some greater good. Thus St. Paul says, ‘Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more (Rom 5:20)’; and the Exsultet [in the blessing of the paschal candle] sings, ‘O happy fault, … which gained for us so great a Redeemer! (Summa Theologiae, III, I, 3, ad 3)'” (CCC 412).
If there had been no original sin, Mary would not have become that great. Even Mother of God.
As you see, Mary could not be put in Eve’s place. It took original sin to have Our Lady (O happy fault!).
8. Finally you ask: if we (the whole of humanity) had been in the earthly paradise instead of Adam and Eve, would we have eaten the apple? (…Surely Our Lady wouldn’t).
Apart from the fact that in Sacred Scripture there is no mention of an apple, but of a tree of the knowledge of good and evil (and it is quite different), certainly Our Lady would not have sinned because of her immeasurable amount of grace and love for God. She was confirmed in grace, the theologians say.
And would we, in the condition of Eve, have fallen? It is difficult to answer.
Of course, our every sin is somehow a re-edition of Adam’s sin.
Furthermore, we are born already inclined to evil, while Adam was not.
So we can’t say anything about it.
Thank you for the various questions. I hope I have reinforced your devotion and affection for the Great Mother of God.
I wish you well, I remind you to the Lord and I bless you.
Translated by Chiara P.