So many people have problems with the idea of Mary being conceived without sin, yet it is such a beautiful doctrine.
Take the Annunciation. The first obvious thought is that being free from sin, Mary is more likely to say yes to God when he asks her to become the mother of the Incarnate Word. And while that’s true and beautiful enough, there’s an even more beautiful dimension to Mary’s sinlessness in relation to her acceptance of God’s request.
Sin has been defined as the freely chosen loss of freedom. Anyone who sins is less free. Indeed, Jesus taught that anyone who sins is a slave to sin. Mary, being sinless, experienced maximum freedom. If a person makes a choice, for good or for bad, with diminished freedom, they have less responsibility for that decision, especially when it’s a bad one. Any decision made with full freedom would have the most meaning. Mary’s Yes to God was a most meaningful Yes. She had the same level of freedom as Adam and Eve did. She undid Eve’s disobedience as a counterpart to Jesus undoing Adam’s disobedience in his encounter with Pilate.
So what do we make of Mary’s sinlessness? It remains a stumbling block for so many of us. I say we look at it this way: imagine if YOU were to receive the graces of Baptism at the very moment of your conception, instantaneously removing the stain of Original Sin from your soul in such a way that you never actually bore the stain on your soul. Then imagine that, even though Confession was available to remit any sins you may have committed after your birth, you cooperated with God’s grace so fully that you actually did not sin and had no need for Confession. That’s Mary. That’s her sinlessness. No wonder she was taken bodily into Heaven and made the Queen of the angels and saints. It wasn’t so much that she was preserved from Original Sin in the first place, but that she also would not have needed the Sacrament of Confession either.
If that’s not beautiful, nothing is.