This comparison between Mary and Eve is one both of likeness and contrast: of likeness, in original sanctity and virginal innocence; of contrast, in their actual conduct and its effects. Eve and Mary, alike, are virgins, and virgins espoused. Both one and the other co-operate in union with a man, the guilty Eve with her husband Adam, himself now fallen; Mary, a holy and immaculate Virgin, with the Man predestined as the Second Adam, her Divine Son, the Incarnate Word. Each holds a place in the human family exclusively her own, and a rank of pre-eminence above that of all other women, absolutely unrivalled and unique. For Eve and Mary alone are first Mothers of the entire race. Eve the Mother of all men according to the flesh in the order of nature: Mary their spiritual Mother in the supernatural order of grace. Hence their prominence in Genesis and the Gospel as the twin representative women of the two Dispensations: Eve of the Old Testament, Mary of the New: and hence the striking parallel of circumstances in the opening scenes of the world's two great dramas -- Man's Fall and Redemption -- as now Eve, then Mary, first appears on the stage of humanity, with issues of vital consequence to the whole race.

Alike in Eden and at Nazareth, to a virgin in solitude an angel speaks. But, at once, how great the contrast! In Eden, the serpent, an angel of darkness, speaks false to the virgin Eve, who, giving credence to his word, withdraws from God her faith and obedience. In the house of Nazareth, the holy angel, Gabriel, greets with good tidings the Virgin Mary, who, receiving his message with faith and joy, believes in God, and is obedient to His word. Eve conceives a lie that works man's ruin and death; Mary conceives the Word of God, who restores to man salvation and life. Both alike are Mothers; but their Motherhood how unlike! Unbelieving, disobedient Eve, as wife of fallen Adam, is Mother, according to the flesh, of her children conceived in sin, and bound to death. The faithful and obedient Virgin Mary, by her union with Jesus Christ, her Son, becomes the spiritual Mother of children regenerated to a Divine life of holiness and grace.



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