The Feast of the Immaculate Conception
by Abbot Eugene Hayes, O.Praem.
“It is our duty to give you thanks, Lord… For you preserved the most Blessed Virgin Mary from all stain of original sin.”
Thus, we will pray in the preface of our Mass today, on this Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. What this dogma means is that the One who is our Mother, from the first moment of her existence, that is from her conception in the womb of her mother Anna, was preserved from any stain of sin, from the stain of Adam’s original sin of disobedience. In this way she becomes first and foremost the worthy Mother of the Christ, the Mother of the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ whose coming we await once more in this season of Advent.
The word which we hear today recalls for us the sad situation into which the Virgin Mary was born, into a world dislodged from its Creator by the ancient enemy. She comes forth as the instrument of a divine plan to put right that relationship between God and His creation, an instrument deemed necessary by that same plan of God. In the Gospel today the One immaculately conceived is greeted as full of grace. Mary is given the fullness of grace, the fullness of divine life. In the mysterious workings of divine providence she is literally granted this unique gift, before its time, before the birth, life, death and resurrection of the One Whom she is to carry and then bring to the light of day. And so her response to the angelic salutation is an unquestioning obedience with a simple query, a practical question, how? To which plan she responds, “Amen – be it done to me according to God’s plan.” What simplicity – what a model for us in our relationship to her Son.
In the same preface for today’s Mass we honor what God has done for Mary who has “placed her above all others to be for your people an advocate of grace and a model of holiness.” And so we are taught that the singular favor granted to the Virgin is ultimately given her for our sake, for our edification, for our salvation.
Today may we keep in mind her example of humility and simplicity as we seek to live out God’s plan for us, His loving providence, by which, as St Paul reminds us today, each of us has been blessed and chosen, even before the foundation of the world.
Earth is illumined by the sun more than by a distant star. No matter how dark the night, the sun’s rays are inescapable when daylight returns.
One of the most beautiful things about the mysteries of our faith is that, even though we return to them year after year, they can be as fresh and amazing as the first time we heard of them, if only we turn our hearts to them with humility and love.
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