Fr. Rusty's Corner

Turn Four: Thoughts from Your Parish Priest

Full of Grace

Grace is necessary for salvation, but what is it?  Grace is the free gift from God for our salvation.  Without grace, we would remain perpetually in the state of our fallen nature without any means of getting out.  By blessing us with His grace, God opens the path to salvation and forgiveness.  With this definition in mind, what does it mean to say that Mary is full of grace?

When the angel Gabriel declares that Mary was full of grace, the angel is declaring that she surpasses Gabriel in grace, which is an amazing declaration considering angels are greater than humans in creation.  For Mary to do that, grace must have filled her soul.  For us, God’s grace aids us in seeking to do good and avoid evil.  Mary receiving grace in her soul in this perfect way freed her from sin more than anyone else.  The grace protected her from original sin, which is where we get the Immaculate Conception.  She was born without original sin due to her grace.  The fullness of grace also purified her soul to prevent her from committing any sin.  The grace we receive aids us in forgiveness of sins, as a well as in overcoming it.  Mary, being full of grace from the moment of her conception, is shielded from those things.

To be full of grace also means that grace affects her body as well.  Part of the fall for women was to experience birth pains.  Our faith teaches that Mary would not have had these pains in the birth of Christ.  Grace can only do that.  At the end of her life, since death is a result of original sin, it is also believed Mary did not experience death as we do.  The feast of the Assumption of Mary celebrates the fullness of grace Mary received from God to not die the way we would.  This shows us that grace is not only a soul/spiritual reality.  Grace is meant to redeem the fullness of who we are.

Finally, the fullness of grace Mary received from God overflows into all of humanity.  This is why we ask most especially from Mary her intercessions, and she holds a special place in our faith.  Her fullness of grace was not meant to be a single, self-centered gift from God to one person.  It was meant to be shared with the rest of humanity through her.  This is linked to why Mary received this blessed gift of fullness of grace.  As being the mother of Christ, He would want to preserve her from all sin and allow her to participate in the salvation He won for us before it even happened.  This places Mary in a position of importance for Christ, and He would listen to her for our needs.  It is important to note at this point that even the grace that Mary has comes from God, and the grace that overflows from her comes from God as well.  Salvation can only come from God, though in the fullness of grace overflowing Mary can assist us towards that. 

The fullness of grace for Mary protects her soul from all sin, reverses the effect of sin in her body, and is shared with the rest of humanity through her intercession to her Son.  It is not meant to be only a private gift to her.  It is something she shares with us to bring us to her Son to find salvation in Him.

- Fr. Rusty Vincent

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