The Church teaches that the Blessed Mother was saved from original sin and preserved from committing sin during the entirety of her life. Opponents and critics of the Catholic Church claim this is an inaccurate and non-Biblical theology. Was Mary really without sin or did the Church get it wrong?
Before we can take into account what Sacred Scripture says about the sinlessness of Mary, we must look at the exact teaching of the Church to determine the accuracy of the theology. “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. The ‘splendor of an entirely unique holiness,’ by which Mary is ‘enriched from the first instant of her conception’ comes wholly from Christ: she is ‘redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son’. The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person ‘in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places’ and chose her ‘in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love.’ The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God ‘the All-Holy’ (Panagia), and celebrate her as ‘free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature’. By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long.” (CCC 491-493)
When we say a “Hail Mary” prayer, we begin with the same salutation as the angel Gabriel addressed the Blessed Mother in Luke 1:28. “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you” begins the Hail Mary. “And coming to her, he said, ‘Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you’” is Gabriel’s salutation to Mary. It’s the same salutation and Gabriel refers to her as “full of grace.” If we look at the original Greek text of this passage, we see the word “kecharitomene” is used for the translation of “favored one”, which translates as, “completely, perfectly, enduringly endowed with grace.” Sounds like “full of grace” to me.
The word “kecharitomene” is never used regarding another human being all throughout Scripture except in regards to the Blessed Mother. It is a special distinction the angel gives Mary and Scripture writers pinpoint. This is a special point to remember because it is unique to Mary. If it is only applied to Mary, then we must believe it is of special significance and sets her apart from all others. It is in this title that we see that Mary must have been conceived without sin and free from sin.
We believe and know that Jesus Christ was God Incarnate. He is the second person of the Trinity. He is the Son of God and God in the flesh. He is fully God and fully man at the same time. John 1:14 tells us “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” God became flesh. He became man for our salvation while simultaneously remaining God. However, when he became man He received his flesh from Mary. He could not have received his human nature from God the Father since God the Father is not man. He was always God. He was always the second person of the Trinity. He had not always been man. He received his flesh from Mary, so, it would only be fitting and proper for God to preserve Mary from sin in order that the flesh Christ received from her was pure and sinless. Christ was sinless. He is God. He is holy and therefore it would have been totally inappropriate and out of character for Christ to be born of a sinful woman and sinful flesh.
There are those who will argue that St. Paul teaches a doctrine diametrically opposed to this belief when he writes in Romans 3:23 “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” St. Paul did not mean that every single human had sinned, or he would have to include Christ. We know Christ was sinless. If Christ was sinless, yet born of a woman in the flesh, then is it such a far stretch to believe the woman that brought him into the world was sinless?