14 thoughts on “Putting the “Hyper-” Back in “Hyperdulia”

  1. Sin is not a part of human nature. God created human nature without any stain of sin. Adam and Eve came into this world without any stain of sin upon their souls or upon the human nature they possess. Had they not sinned, none of us would have been conceived with the stain of original sin, which is to say, we would have been conceived in a certain way “immaculate.” The grace of Mary’s Immaculate Conception consists not in any alteration of her human nature, but rather, in an alteration of her human condition, in that God graciously preserved her from a stain she ought to have contracted from her ancestor Adam.

    God bless!


    • Thank you for your response, but I think you misunderstand me. I did not say that sin was part of human nature. I denied that “immaculateness,” i.e. preservation from sin, is part of human nature. I have a human nature, and I was not conceived immaculate. Therefore immaculateness is something over and above human nature. It is a supernatural grace. As such, being conceived without sin is not and cannot be part of Our Lady’s nature properly so called, which is simply human nature.


    • “The grace of Mary’s Immaculate Conception consists not in any alteration of her human nature, but rather, in an alteration of her human condition, in that God graciously preserved her from a stain she ought to have contracted from her ancestor Adam.”

      Your wording is correct and precise. However, St. Maximilian Kolbe’s is not, insofar as he attributes the Immaculate Conception to Our Lady’s very nature and denies that it is an accident. What she is by nature is simply human. She is immaculate by grace alone.

      Also, St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologiae explicitly teaches that grace is an accident. See Question 110 in the first part of the second part, Article 2, in the response to Objection 2 (http://www.newadvent.org/summa/2110.htm#article2):

      “Reply to Objection 2. Every substance is either the nature of the thing whereof it is the substance or is a part of the nature, even as matter and form are called substance. And because grace is above human nature, it cannot be a substance or a substantial form, but is an accidental form of the soul. Now what is substantially in God, becomes accidental in the soul participating the Divine goodness, as is clear in the case of knowledge. And thus because the soul participates in the Divine goodness imperfectly, the participation of the Divine goodness, which is grace, has its being in the soul in a less perfect way than the soul subsists in itself. Nevertheless, inasmuch as it is the expression or participation of the Divine goodness, it is nobler than the nature of the soul, though not in its mode of being.”

      Our Lady’s immaculateness is a grace, therefore it is an accident of her soul. This St. Maximilian Kolbe denies when he writes: “It is not something accidental; it is something that belongs to her very nature.” As I tried to explain in my addendum above, St. Maximilian might have been striving at the key point, which is the necessity that Our Lady be immaculately conceived so that she could live out her predestined vocation in salvation history. However, even if that’s what he was attempting to get at, his wording is incorrect and, if taken literally, I would regard his wording as heterodox. I’m trying to avoid disrespect here, but I don’t see a way around it. I don’t allege any pertinacious or conscious error here; I know that I butt up against my own ignorance and misunderstanding all the time. But here, for the quotation I cited, I don’t think there’s any “save.”


  2. Thank you for your detailed explanation, Olaus. I understand your distinction between substance and accident vis-a-vis grace, and I agree with it. I see that you understand my comment. Since I have not read St. Maximilian’s statement in the original language, I refrain from commenting upon it directly. Translations are notorious for inaccuracies and spin.

    As for “immaculateness” being “preservation from sin,” let us distinguish between original sin and actual sins — the former being inherited along with one’s physical genetic traits, and the latter being wilfully committed by individual adults. It is a defined dogma (de fide) that Mary was conceived without stain of original sin (Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, 1854). Whether she ever actually committed a sin has not been defined. It is a common teaching (sententia communis) among theologians that Mary from the time of her conception was free from all motions of concupiscence. Further, the Fathers of Trent stated that God gave Mary a special privilege (speciali Dei privilegio) (Sess. VI, Can. 23) enabling her to avoid all actual sins. But they did not go so far as to declare that she actually did avoid all actual sins. Certain Greek Father (Origen, Basil, Chrysostom, Cyril of Alexandria) taught that Mary suffered from venial faults, such as her questioning the angel, but Augustine and all Latin Fathers declare that she was sinless. Based on the facts of Tradition and Scripture and the dogma, I personally believe that Mary, aided by a special grace, never actually committed a sin, although she always had the free will to do so. She is, therefore, a model for each of us, inspiring each of us to cooperate with whatever graces God gives us. He gives each of us sufficient grace to be saved, provided we dutifully cooperate with it.

    God bless!


    • Thank you again. Allow me to respond to two points:

      1.) The Magisterium of the Church teaches that Our Lady is sinless, meaning free of all sin, original or personal. Go back and read Ineffabilis Deus. The first paragraph includes the following: “Therefore, far above all the angels and all the saints so wondrously did God endow her with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured from the treasury of his divinity that this mother, ever absolutely free of all stain of sin, all fair and perfect, would possess that fullness of holy innocence and sanctity than which, under God, one cannot even imagine anything greater, and which, outside of God, no mind can succeed in comprehending fully.” That means *all* sin is excluded. The reason Bl. Pope Pius IX was defining the specific question of original sin was because no one at the time questioned her having committed personal sin. But the Magisterium does teach her total sinlessness through life. It’s magisterial, not just a common teaching.

      2.) Regarding translation, that’s a dicey question. I’ll allow that perhaps there’s a translation issue. However, I can’t really let that stop me from commenting on things. If I did, I could only ever comment on things written in my own language. For everything else, there’s a tacit acceptance that the translation is correct. I’m not putting the man on trial. I’m just saying, this statement, as it’s been communicated to me — by people who know and love St. Maximilian and who were responsible for making an accurate translation — is incorrect.

      So, that said, accepting the premise
      that it’s a correct translation, do you agree with my analysis?


    • I would add that Bl. Pope Pius IX’s statement in Ineffabilis Deus is not the only testimony to Our Lady’s total sinlessness. The liturgy, all Magisterial statements relating to her life, and the “logic” (to use a trendy word) of the Immaculate Conception point to it. For to have been conceived immaculate and then to fall into even venial sin would have rendered the question of the Immaculate Conception absurd. If God didn’t care enough to preserve his Mother from personal venial sins, why did He care enough to preserve her from original sin, of which she would not even have been responsible? The point of the Immaculate Conception is that she was free from all sin. Even venial sin would render the statement from Canticles, “Tota pulchra es, amica mea, et macula non est in te,” inapplicable to Our Lady, because a venial sin is certainly a “macula.”

      The Catechism of the Catholic Church is not a perfect document, but it explicitly says Our Lady was free from all personal sin (par. 411): “Mary benefited first of all and uniquely in Christ’s victory over sin: she was preserved from all stain of original sin and by a special grace of God committed no sin of any kind during her whole earthly life.” The catechism cites Ineffabilis Deus and the Council of Trent.

      In short, I think you’re missing the point because you’re focusing on the narrow question of immaculateness at the moment of conception. The major dogma is the fullness of Our Lady’s grace. How full? Full enough to exclude all sin. Even venial sin and original sin? Yes. It’s part of the depositum Fidei.


  3. Magisterium is the teaching authority which each bishop possesses. Not all teachings bear the same weight of certitude. There are six degrees of theological certainty, a de fide definita possessing the highest degree. These are solemn definitions of popes and general councils proposed as binding on the faithful as necessary for salvation. They never change and are never retracted. All of Ineffabilis Deus is a teaching, but the part of it that is a solemn definition de fide is this — we can detect it by the language: “We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.” The introductory paragraph of ID, and CCC 411, while not being solemn definitions, are nonetheless teachings we ought to embrace — and I do wholeheartedly embrace them.

    The statement “It is not something accidental; it is something that belongs to her very nature” does not assert that Mary has an immaculate nature, but rather, that immaculateness belongs to her human nature. What he means by “accidental” I can only guess. But if he meant what Aristotelians understand by substance and accidents, then I expect he would have mentioned “substance” in the second part of the sentence. As we have it, he opposes “belongs” to “accidental,” as if to say that immaculateness belongs to Mary because of her sublime role as Mother of God. Immaculateness was not something optional for the Theotokos. In Aristotelian philosophy and in Thomistic theology, “to belong” refers to accidents, whereas “to be” refers to substance. What I am is substance; what belongs to my substance are accidents. By saying “belongs,” he is saying that the grace of the IC is in fact accidental to her human nature, but not “accidental” in the sense that immaculateness was an optional quality for the Mother of God. In this way I give the author of this quotation the benefit of the doubt, rather than assume he is heterodox. I hope to ask him about it someday, God willing.


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