In the totally boring, why do you even bother doing this department, I found an error in a citation which appears to be an error made by Seraphim Rose in his translation of Saint John Maximovitch’s work on Saint Mary. Saint John Maximovitch writes:

However, even then, as Sts. Basil the Great and John Chrysostom speak of this, she was not placed in the state of being unable to sin, but continued to take care of her salvation and overcame all temptations [St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on John, Homily 85; St. Basil the Great, Epistle 160]

The first reference to Chrysostom I cannot track down. Nowhere in his 85th homily do I find anything remotely resembling the point Saint John Maximovitch is making. Homily 21, however, does contain several passages that appear to teach that Saint Mary had concupiscence.

The next reference I have figured out. Saint Basil’s Epistle 160 has nothing to do with the Theotokos. This is not true of Epistle 260, Paragraph 9:

By a sword is meant the word which tries and judges our thoughts, which pierces even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of our thoughts. Now every soul in the hour of the Passion was subjected, as it were, to a kind of searching. According to the word of the Lord it is said, All you shall be offended because of me. Matthew 26:3 Simeon therefore prophesies about Mary herself, that when standing by the cross, and beholding what is being done, and hearing the voices, after the witness of Gabriel, after her secret knowledge of the divine conception, after the great exhibition of miracles, she shall feel about her soul a mighty tempest. The Lord was bound to taste of death for every man— to become a propitiation for the world and to justify all men by His own blood. Even you yourself, who hast been taught from on high the things concerning the Lord, shall be reached by some doubt. This is the sword. That the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. He indicates that after the offense at the Cross of Christ a certain swift healing shall come from the Lord to the disciples and to Mary herself, confirming their heart in faith in Him. In the same way we saw Peter, after he had been offended, holding more firmly to his faith in Christ. What was human in him was proved unsound, that the power of the Lord might be shown.

What Saint Basil appears to be saying is that Mary experienced some doubts–obviously not sin, but certainly a spiritual struggle of sorts. Saint Cyril of Alexandria’s description of the same event is a little clearer:

For, doubtless, some such train of thought as this passed through her mind: ‘I conceived Him That is mocked upon the Cross. He said, indeed, that He was the true Son of Almighty God, but it may be that He was deceived; He may have erred when He said: I am the Life. How did His crucifixion come to pass? and how was He entangled in the snares of His murderers? How was it that He did not prevail over the conspiracy of His persecutors against Him? And why does He not come down from the Cross, though He bade Lazarus return to life, and struck all Judaea with amazement by His miracles?” The woman, as is likely, not exactly understanding the mystery, wandered astray into some such train of thought (Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on John, Book 12).

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