Some Catholics are concerned about the blog post of a Jesuit priest which lambastes a Protestant Marian song because it supposedly contains heresy concerning the Immaculate Conception.
While the song has the merits of prompting its hearers to reflect on Mary beholding her Divine Son, lines from the very first stanza actually bring Christmas to a screeching halt. Here are the problematic lyrics:
“Did you know that your Baby Boy has come to make you new? This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.”
Now, those lines make sense if Mary is another sinner just like us, who needs to be delivered from sin. You see, if Mary is a sinner who like us needs a savior, then the lyricist’s play on the word “deliver” (sense 1: “deliver” = “give birth”; sense 2: “deliver” = “liberate from sin”) is both clever and theologically sound. But if Mary is a sinner in need of a savior, then she cannot be the worthy vessel in whom the All-Holy God takes on human nature as the Word-Made-Flesh. In other words the lyrics depend upon the dogma of the Immaculate Conception being false. If Mary needs a Savior, then she cannot be the vessel of the Incarnation.God bless the priest, but he apparently doesn't know the theology behind the Immaculate Conception. Specifically, he seems to be completely unaware of Duns Scotus' completely acceptable argument supporting the IC, an argument which employs precisely the logic the priest attacks in order to explain the event.
Duns Scotus pushed this obstruction from the path by showing that instead of being excluded from the redemption of the Savior, Mary obtained the greatest of redemptions through the mystery of her preservation from all sin. This, explained Scotus, was a more perfect redemption and attributes to Christ a more exalted role as Redeemer, because redeeming grace, which preserves from original sin, is greater than that which purifies from sin already incurred.
Consequently, Christ was Mary's Redeemer more perfectly by preservative redemption in shielding her from original sin through anticipating and foreseeing the merits of his passion and death. (emphasis added) This preredemption indicates a much greater grace and more perfect salvation.But, isn't there something wrong with saying "This child that you delivered will soon deliver you"? No, not really. After all, the Cross exists both in time and in eternity. The Cross saves everyone, including Mary. From the temporal (in-time) standpoint, at the moment of the birth, Christ had not yet died on the Cross, so we can say "will soon deliver you." From the viewpoint of the Cross, which is eternal, it would also be equally accurate to say "has delivered you." But, since it is a Christmas hymn, there is no reason to balk at the future tense.
In fact, as Scotus and many others have pointed out, the sanctification of the Cross was anticipated for John the Baptist in a very similar (although not identical) way:
Hence the axiom of Pseudo-Anselmus (Eadmer) developed by Duns Scotus, Decuit, potuit, ergo fecit, it was becoming that the Mother of the Redeemer should have been free from the power of sin and Satan from the first moment of her existence (decuit); God could give her this privilege (potuit), therefore He gave it to her (ergo fecit). Again it is remarked that a peculiar privilege was granted to the prophet Jeremias and to St. John the Baptist. They were sanctified in their mother's womb, because by their preaching they had a special share in the work of preparing the way for Christ.Indeed, if the good priest wishes to take issue with a Marian hymn that endorses heresy, he could do a much better job by attacking an Anglican hymn from 1914 which is considered a modern classic of Mariology, sung in Catholic parishes across the nation: Sing of Mary.
"Sing of Mary, pure and lowly,Oh wow - that doesn't rhyme.
Virgin Mother undefiled.
Sing of God's own Son Most Holy
Who became her little child
Fairest child of fairest mother
God the Son who came to Earth
Word made flesh, our very brother
Takes our nature by His conception."
Guess we'll make it "takes our nature by His birth" even though that's completely erroneous and actually promotes the Nestorian heresy, the idea that the Divine Nature united Himself to a pre-existing human person.
As we can now see, the lyrics to Mary Did You Know are actually much more defensible than, say, those in Sing of Mary. So why is the priest so upset about the first, but absolutely silent on the second? Well, first, he doesn't really know the theology behind the IC very well. Second, the song under discussion is popular and written by a Protestant and everyone knows it is written by a Protestant, so it MUST be declared bad, while the second is written by a Protestant, but Catholics have long since forgotten that, and it isn't part of popular culture, and we have used it at Mass for a century, so ... it's fine.
At least, those are the only reasons I can come up with.
Personally, I think we should be thanking any Protestant who writes a Marian hymn, even if that hymn were as theologically unsound as Sing of Mary. After all, they need something to sing while they are engaged in Catholic idol worship around statues of the Nativity.