The Saint's argument is somewhat obscure. He compares Mary with Eve, the faith and obedience of the former with the unbelief and disobedience of the latter, the intimate union of Mary and Jesus Christ her Son -- the Man predestined to be the Second Adam through the mystery of the Incarnation -- with Eve's marriage to the first Adam. He says then, that just as Eve, a virgin though married, by her sin of disobedience implicated the whole human race in, so to say, an intricate series of knots, and was to it the cause of death, so too the Virgin Mary, also like Eve espoused to a husband,* by means of her faith and obedience, unloosed the knots that Eve had tied, and thus became the cause of salvation both to herself and to all mankind. That an espoused virgin, whose marriage is not yet consummated, has, according to the Law, the name of wife, is interpreted by the Saint as mystically referring to Eve and Mary -- who are alike in being espoused virgins, wives, and mothers -- in order thus to contrast the nature and fruit of their maternity, and to show how Mary's virginal Motherhood of the Incarnate Word counteracted the evil consequences of the marriage of Eve to Adam. For, argues the Saint, as what is bound up together by a number of knots cannot be unloosed except by beginning with those last made -- there being no other way of getting at the knots first tied -- so it is in the present matter. Through Eve's marriage to Adam, which was consummated after her disobedience, all succeeding generations of the human race were inextricably bound together by so many knots of sin, until the time of Mary and the coming of Jesus Christ, the Second Adam. Mary, by her faith and obedience, was the first to undo the complication, and not for herself alone. For the unloosing which she began went through the whole preceding series, until it came back to Eve. In this way the knot wherewith Eve was tied by her own disobedience, and the baneful complication that resulted from her marriage to fallen Adam, consummated in sin, were undone by means of the faithful obedience of Mary, and her union with Jesus Christ the Second Adam in grace and sanctity.+

S. Irenaeus says again: --

* Or, according to the other interpretation, in union with the predestined Man.

+ See the note in loc. Migne.



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