Mary's Pope: John Paul II, Mary, and the Church since Vatican II

By Antoine Nachef | Go to book overview

CHAPTEP, THREE
Mary, Immaculate Conception

MARY AS "FULL OF GRACE" IN THE MYSTERY OF CHRIST AND THE CHURCH

WITH POPE JOHN PAUL II's emphasis on the theology of the Holy Spirit, as it was presented in my first volume, 1 one should not be surprised that, at the beginning of the Pope's Marian encyclical Redemptoris Mater, Mary's holiness occupies center stage in relation to the Holy Spirit (pneumatological dimension). 2 Speaking of the "fullness of time" with Saint Paul as in Gal 4:4, John Paul II says:

It [fullness] marks the moment when the Holy Spirit, who had already infused the fullness of grace into Mary of Nazareth, formed in her virginal womb the human nature of Christ. 3

Echoing Pope Pius IX who proclaimed Mary Immaculate Conception as a dogma of faith in 1854, Pope John Paul II interprets Luke kecharitoméne (full of grace) in terms of a continuous state of grace. 4 The Holy Spirit, who forms the human nature of the Word in the womb of Mary, "had already infused the fullness of grace into Mary of Nazareth." 5 In the course of analysis, one will find that the idea of a purification that cleansed Mary at the Annunciation for the sake of the economy of salvation does not find support in John Paul's understanding of her immunity from sin. 6 In this sense, the Mariologist Ignace de la Potterie thinks that, for John Paul II:

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