Mary’s Sinlessness and Our Salvation

Photograph by Adrienne Taylor

Sinless suffering.

Have you ever thought about what it would have been like if Mary hadn’t been sinless?  After pondering on Jesus’s adherence to the fourth commandment (Commanded to Love Mary) I realized that by the implications of the commandment, to honor thy father and mother, Mary had to be sinless.  Also, in writing this article, I’ve come to realize how the Church’s Marian teachings highlight both God’s sovereignty and the utmost importance of our salvation.

In God’s perfect plan for our salvation, He chose to involve Mary from beginning to end.  The Holy Spirit did not descend upon her until she gave her consent to Angel Gabriel.  Likewise, Mary was compelled to give her unwavering consent throughout the entire gruesome passion of her Son as He died for our sins.  Mary’s sinlessness is less about her never having done anything “bad” and more about the relationship God had (has) with her.

In the Gospel of Matthew (16) we read about Jesus calling Simon blessed, renaming him to Peter and then building His Church upon him.  Jesus promised that the gates of Hell would not prevail over His Church!  Yet, the Gospel of Matthew continues on to record Jesus next exclaiming to St. Peter, “Get behind me Satan!”  This is quite a letdown for the next words uttered to our first pope.  What drew such a remark from our Savior?  Jesus had for the first time revealed to the disciples that He must suffer and die.  Naturally, St. Peter, who loved Jesus with a love we can only hope to achieve, cried out upon hearing the news, “God forbid, Lord!  No such thing shall ever happen to you.”  How could this cry out of love be worthy of being attributed to Satan?  The Catechism provides several definitions of sin, the first of which concludes, “… It has been defined as ‘an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.’”   St. Peter, out of love for Jesus, committed a sin against the eternal law by desiring Christ would not suffer and die.

What would have been the implications for our salvation if Mary had harbored desires contrary to the eternal law?  Sadly, though by God’s perfect plan, St. Joseph had passed away sometime between Jesus’s childhood and adulthood, but, Mary remained by Jesus’s side through His death, resurrection, and ascension.  By consequence of Jesus’s perfect adherence to the fourth commandment, Mary had an unfathomable amount of power.  When she expected a reluctant Jesus to turn water into wine, Mary demonstrated the power she had over her Son.  This power, of course, was not of her own.  God willingly gave her this invincible kind of power over Jesus when creating a mother for Himself, and God found it fitting for her to be beside Jesus with this power throughout His life.  Could God have allowed this in His plan had Mary been ordinary?

Photograph by Adrienne Taylor

Mary with her expired Son.

Imagine how much Satan lusted after the power of Mary.  Satan tried to tempt Jesus in His weakness during His 40 days in the desert, but of course failed because Jesus is the all powerful God.  However, Mary was a mere human.  Since sin, in its most basic definition, is anything that separates one from God, and because Satan must be rather powerful himself to be a worthy adversary of God’s, it stands to reason that Satan would have been waiting for any opportunity for Mary to have been separated from God in order to successfully worm his way in.  Satan could have corrupted Mary even through original sin, since original sin is being created in a state separated from God.  All Satan needed to happen was for Mary to show even a little maternal remorse at any crucial part of Jesus’s passion, or utter words against God’s eternal law like St. Peter did, and Jesus would have been conflicted in His mission.  His parents would not have been united.  He would have felt compelled to carry forth with honoring His Father, but at the expense of dishonoring His mother, which would have been sinful.  Or He would have been compelled, in His perfection, to honor His mother’s wishes and avoid suffering the death upon the cross, but that contradicted His Father’s plan.  God’s perfect plan for our salvation demanded a perfect sacrifice, a sinless Jesus.  God’s perfect plan for our salvation also included Mary every step of the way.  In order for Mary to have been allowed to be present throughout Jesus’s life, and in order for Jesus to remain sinless while adhering perfectly to the fourth commandment, Mary too, had to be sinless, she had to be perfectly in union with God’s eternal law.

Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was the singular most important event in salvation history, would we expect anything less than the best possible plan from our God?   Our Church’s teachings on Our Lady demonstrate just how great God is and just how important our salvation is to Him.  Let us be thankful that He made His Mother so miraculously holy!  Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  “Honor your father and mother”, this is the first commandment with a promise.  Ephesians 6:1-2

O Jesus,
through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer You my prayers, works,
joys and sufferings
of this day for all the intentions
of Your Sacred Heart,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
throughout the world,
in reparation for my sins,
for the intentions of all my relatives and friends,
and in particular
for the intentions of the Holy Father.


  • ErinSeptember 12, 2011 - 10:43 am

    Wow, I’ve never thought about the necessity of Mary’s sinlessness in this way. Very well written. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • MistySeptember 12, 2011 - 10:50 am

    A great point about the Blessed Mother! I accept that she’s sinless, but for more of the traditional reasons. I like this line or reasoning…never imagined how her sinlessness impacted Christ’s own ability to perfectly fulfill the fourth commandment!ReplyCancel

  • Julia DuinSeptember 12, 2011 - 9:54 pm

    Ladies – I was going to recommend this to my Catholic friends but you’ve got to do something about that music. Your instructions don’t work, I can’t find the pause button and I am afraid the racket is going to wake up my kid so….web sites that blast readers with music are, sorry to say, annoying. Even when the music is pretty.
    When you take care of this problem, let the rest of us know!ReplyCancel

  • TinaSeptember 12, 2011 - 10:22 pm

    I like this post especially because often people ask me about Mary as a figure in Catholicism, and this is an excellent way to show why we see her the way we do. I will use it as a reference, I am sure!

    As to the music….”problem”??? The first time I came to the site, I heard the music, listened for a bit, and then followed the really easy instructions to turn it off. It wasn’t that hard, lol!! Lots of websites do music or even auto start videos, so you might do better anyway for the kiddos if you keep your volume down, and turn it up when you want to hear something, instead of the other way around. I personally like the music, because it reminds me of the Jacqui Lawson (sp?) website stuff. This wasn’t annoying, it was gentle and soothing. Certainly, it’s not a reason not to recommend the site, IMHO. That would be a sad loss for anyone in need of some interesting Catholic perspectives. (Ok, well, maybe if they start playing Lady Gaga or something. but instrumental???) No problems here.ReplyCancel

  • BrittanySeptember 13, 2011 - 7:46 am

    I am so glad that you found us, welcome. I’m sorry that the music is such a huge issue for you. We worked really hard to design a space here that reflects our desire for a beautiful and welcoming community of Catholics and we appreciate your feedback. We hope you come back to visit. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • MarySeptember 13, 2011 - 8:21 am

    This is a very interesting post. I’ve never thought about it quite this way. But I wonder if Jesus truly would have been sinning/dishonoring his mother if he went through with his mission despite her objections. As adult children we are not obligated to do everything our parents desire for us to do. Either way, I’m sure it would have made things that much more difficult for the Lord if he knew that his mother’s will was not in line with his Father’s. Thanks for this post; I love Mary! 🙂

    As to the music, the person who designed this website put a lot of thought and consideration into her choices for the design, including the music. It would be nice if visitors to this site would extend her the charity of making their concerns known with kindness and respect. I had no trouble at all finding the pause button. I do hope that people will still recommend this site to their friends despite the very momentary inconvenience of having music playing when they don’t want to listen.ReplyCancel

  • AdrienneSeptember 13, 2011 - 9:46 am

    Thanks for the comments, ladies!!

    Mary, I thought the same thing when pondering this topic, would it have been sinful or not because, like you said, it is not necessarily sinful to “disobey” a parent’s sinful desires. Thanks for bringing it up! It’s something I’d wanted to talk about, but thought it was too much of a tangent for the actual post, but here is great!

    What made me disregard this scenario was imagining the example it would set for us if Jesus had been put in a position to (sinlessly) ignore His mother’s (sinful) desires. Then we’d have all children armed with, “Hey, even Jesus ignored His mom, because she was wrong, just like you!” Errrrr…. so much for the fourth commandment then! As a mother now myself, I am quite thankful that Jesus gave my children no examples of going against a mother’s wishes! Not that I’m sinless enough to warrant full obedience, like the Blessed Mother, but God knows that all of us parents need all the help we can get!!ReplyCancel

  • AdrienneSeptember 13, 2011 - 9:50 am

    Julia, thanks for stopping by! Your suggestion on the music has been heard and taken to heart.ReplyCancel

  • AdrienneSeptember 18, 2011 - 7:31 am

    Diablo, thanks for spending time with us! You can look up top and click the orange RSS button to add our site to your blog reader, or you can find us “Catholic Sistas” on Facebook and when you “like” us the announcement of new posts will show up in your newsfeed.ReplyCancel