Thursday, December 08, 2011

Mary, Conceived Without Sin, You DID Know

Raise your hand if you have ever heard the song "Mary, Did You Know?" within the precincts of a Catholic church.  I can't see you, but I know you're out there.  My hand is also up.  Somehow, because this song mentions the Mother of God, it has become a Christmas tradition in some parishes.  But although the gentleman who wrote "Mary, Did You Know?" clearly means well, this song is both musically inappropriate for Mass and subversive of the Catholic faith.

From a musical standpoint, "Mary, Did You Know?" is basically a pop song, and although the Mass has been saturated with such for a couple of generations now, the fact remains that it is not sacred music suited for use at Mass.  But even more objectionable, from the Catholic point of view, is the lyrical content.  

"Mary, Did You Know?" is based on some abysmally erroneous assumptions.  To begin with, it is supposed that Mary does not know that her holy Infant is the Son of God.  Some saints -- for instance, St. Alphonsus Liguori, bishop and Doctor of the Church -- are of the opinion that even before the Annunciation, Mary had a profound understanding of prophecies and Scriptures concerning the promised Messiah.  But even without such an understanding, it would have taken a high degree of inattention on Mary's part to the message of Gabriel and the inspired greeting of her cousin Elizabeth for her to labor under ignorance of her Son's divinity.  It is further supposed that Mary does not know that her Son will suffer for the redemption of mankind.  This would have required her to utterly gloss over the prophecies of holy Simeon concerning her Son as God's salvation, a sign of contradiction, and concerning the sword of sorrow that would pierce her own soul.  The idea of the Mother of God not being in possession of the most critical facts about her divine Son, particularly in view of explicit revelations received by her, is absurd on its face.

But there is an even more blatant error in the lyrics of "Mary, Did You Know?" that ought to induce in every Catholic a sharp intake of breath.  It is a defined dogma of the Catholic faith that the Mother of God was conceived without original sin.  On December 8, 1854, in the Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus, Pope Pius IX defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception:

We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful. 
Contrast this with the following lyrics from "Mary, Did You Know?":
Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you.
Whereas Catholics accept as revealed truth that Mary was free from sin from the instant of her conception by virtue of the anticipated merits of Jesus' suffering and death on the Cross, the foregoing is based on the assumption that Mary was under the sway of sin at the time she gave birth to the Christ Child, and that she would remain so until His Sacrifice of redemption.  In short, it is a flat denial of the Immaculate Conception.  As such -- and for this reason alone -- it should never be sung in a Catholic church, or find any place in any Catholic liturgy, and Catholics should not embrace it.

Perhaps a fitting way to honor today's feast of the Immaculate Conception -- in addition to fulfilling our obligation to attend Mass -- would be to defend the dogma which this feast celebrates by doing what we can to see that "Mary, Did You Know?" remains unheard in our parishes during this and every Christmas season.


  1. Well said, and I thank you!
    I don't think I ever heard the song, but if I did I hope I had the sense to recognize it as unCatholic.
    "We shall never surrender!"

  2. I've never paid attention to that song, or heard it in church, but I'll be a little more vigilant in making sure that it does not get sung in our church. For example, by the children's choir.

  3. You've forever ruined that song for me (a favorite of mine)... but I have to thank you for that! Your points make so much sense and make me feel a bit ridiculous for not catching any of it and loving it each Christmas season!

  4. Thank you, Stacy. By way of compensation, I want to pass on to you one of my favorite pieces of music that is usually sung at Christmas, and that truly honors the Blessed Virgin:

  5. I have never heard that song in a Catholic church as it is so obviously Protestant. I heard it a lot as a Methodist or Presbyterian. Mark Lowry's songs are full of such heresy.

  6. Mary had to have sinned. She called Jesus "my Savior" and what is Jesus the Savior for? Sinners. She had sinned. And there is no biblical evidence for her having no sin.

  7. Mary had to have sinned. She called Jesus "my Savior" and what is Jesus the Savior for? Sinners. She had sinned. And there is no biblical evidence for her having no sin.

    This needs a post-length response.

  8. Then why not? Please tell me because i used to be catholic and now im a non-denominational christian because of some stuff I saw fault in. First of all, the Bible doesn't say a single word about Mary being conceived without sin. Second, Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God". Luke 1:46-47 "Mary said, 'My soul doth magnify the LORD and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior". And thirdly, just out of respect for Jesus Christ, how special would that make Jesus if He isn't good enough to be born to someone with sin? Original sin wasn't even mentioned in the Bible once either. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for dying for our sins because He was without blemish. If Mary had no blemish either, that would pretty much validate her for crucifixion too. Which would make Jesus less important. God straight up said that He wouldn't give His glory to another. Which would include Mary. The Immaculate Conception idea is completely a work of mankind after the Bible was written. I'm just saying what God revealed to me.

  9. I am working on my response. And I beg you to understand that it was not God who revealed these things to you.

  10. 1-6OD, I am not publishing your last comment. God is not telling you things that contradict the authority of the Church that speaks with His voice, and I am not going to have you attribute blasphemies to God in this space.

    As for your interpretation of Romans 3:23, this is shown to be false by the fact that, if it included the Virgin Mary, it must also include Jesus Christ Himself, Who was both truly God and truly man.

  11. Well I'm assuming this is coming from a Catholic. So what you think and what I think are obviously two completely different things. I hope you understand I'm not trying to start anything, but just to spread my personal faith. I still disagree with you, but I don't want to argue or anything. And about the Romans 3:23 again. What you said about Jesus being truly man, it's just common sense that you can't fall short of your own glory, but you can't just exclude Mary from it because that's just ignorance of the fact of what it says. God is telling me things that contradict the Catholic Church. Not mine. You don't have the right to say what I said is a blasphemy either. Because you're not God and you aren't understanding what I'm saying obviously.

  12. You don't have the right to say what I said is a blasphemy either.

    This is funny coming from somebody who recognizes no authority but your own (which you admit by calling it your "personal faith"), however much you may try to stamp it with the seal of God's purported approval. I give you the definition of blasphemy from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2148:

    Blasphemy is directly opposed to the second commandment. It consists in uttering against God - inwardly or outwardly - words of hatred, reproach, or defiance; in speaking ill of God; in failing in respect toward him in one's speech; in misusing God's name. St. James condemns those "who blaspheme that honorable name [of Jesus] by which you are called." The prohibition of blasphemy extends to language against Christ's Church, the saints, and sacred things. It is also blasphemous to make use of God's name to cover up criminal practices, to reduce peoples to servitude, to torture persons or put them to death. The misuse of God's name to commit a crime can provoke others to repudiate religion.

    Blasphemy is contrary to the respect due God and his holy name. It is in itself a grave sin.

    And here is the very lucid definition from the Baltimore Catechism, Question no. 1241:

    Blasphemy is any word or action intended as an insult to God. To say He is cruel or find fault with His works is blasphemy. It is a much greater sin than cursing or taking God's name in vain. Profane words mean here bad, irreverent or irreligious words.

    I understand perfectly what you are saying. You called the Blessed Virgin a sinner. You also claim that God is telling you things that contradict the doctrines of the Catholic Church, which He set up and endowed with His own authority (cf. Matthew 16:18-19, Luke 10:16). These things fall four-square within the definition of blasphemy.

    You will not spread your "personal faith" here.

  13. Mary, aren't you tired of rhetorical questions?

  14. I had the great displeasure of having "MDYK" sung at my church today. Details here.

  15. Paul, you have my sympathy. If my post above can be of any assistance in eradicating this evil, please make full use of it.