It's not hard to believe at all. In fact, I do believe that the Theotokos was more consistent at being faithful to God than any other human being. As a "mere" human being, (how Fr.Thomas Hopko puts it) she is THE prime, THE quintessential, THE unique and best example of a Christian to all of us. There is none, no one, anybody, that compares with the blessed Theotokos. She outshines us all! However, to agree to all that is bolded above is not affirming that Mary was sinless, and never ever missed the mark her entire life.
in reply to:
Is it so hard to believe that perhaps, of all people, the Theotokos was better at this, more consistant, at an earlier stage (perhaps even from the start), than others? She who was dedicated to God at a very early age by very pious parents, who lived in the Temple, and who was closer to Christ than anyone could possibly be since she carried Him in her own body?
Can you not see that your reply is theoretical and based on what you believe the power of sin to be? Instead why not begin by acknowledging the power of Christ to overcome death and sin? From here then why not acknowledge that yes- sin in its personal manifestations can here indeed be so trampled down through Christ, that only outward temptations remain, not acted upon? Why not even get to the point where it is acknowledged that those who act in this manner still die in the physical sense- but in them the corrosive forces of death draw back to greater or lesser degrees?
If you can then allow your mind and heart to get to this place through an ascetic effort of self restraint of all previous mental and emotional habits- well blessed are you! For then you see the power of Christ and His true gift and something of its extent in the saints, in the Theotokos, and potentially in us.
To deny this though although it sounds like a defense Christ's prerogative actually ends up in denial of His gift to us and power; plus its manifestations in the Church which are there for us to see.
Therefore it is highly unlikely that anyone Orthodox will ever dare to openly backtrack of such a position of sinlessness of the Theotokos. The actual position has been outlined many, many times to reveal that no one is claiming equality with Christ (which is a heresy anyway). But this doesn't mean that on the other hand we fall into something just as grievous- to deny that Christ may sanctify us to an extent beyond expectation and that beginning right now.
But to hop on board as others are saying in various ways- you have to set aside to previous habits of mind and thought and emotion. Again as others are explaining so well, this is baggage and must be set aside for you to experience what others are trying to explain.
There's no cheating allowed when it comes to Christ. To know what His promise is of us being able to fly means, you first have to experience itself. And to do that we have to lay aside the heavy baggage that keeps us chained to the earth. Take a chance and fly!
Edited by Fr Raphael Vereshack, 29 September 2011 - 09:25 PM.