On December 8, 1854, before a massive crowd of cardinals, archbishops, bishops, abbots, priests, religious and laity from every corner of the world, the great Bl. Pope Pius IX declared, pronounced, and defined as a doctrine revealed by God and to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful, that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her Conception, was, by a singular grace of God, and by the foreseen merits of Christ Jesus the Savior of all men, preserved from all stain of original sin. Eyewitnesses explained how the Holy Father, so overwhelmed with emotion, had broke down in tears several times as he tried to read this historic proclamation. This, of course, was not a new revelation—all revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle, St. John; rather, it was the full flowering of a dogmatic development which had spanned across the previous 1800 years and was guided every step of the way by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. It was on that December 8, 1854, that the same Holy Spirit wished to make that teaching perfectly explicit.
One cannot help but wonder why God had waited 1854 years before He had His Church proclaim the Immaculate Conception a revealed dogma of the faith. We can guess that it was because, seeing what the next 150 years of human history would bring, God wanted to set before our eyes the Blessed Virgin; He wanted to hold up against all the filth and hate which the world would produce—He wanted to hold up against this one so Immaculate and so pure. He wanted to hold against all the corruption of morals, the wars, the heretics, schismatics and apostates—He wanted to set against these one so obedient, so loving and so full of faith. God set up the Immaculate Conception as an unconquerable defense the against all the enemies of His Church. He gave us the Immaculate Conception as a sign of hope and perfect purity when all the world would fall into madness and despair.
Perhaps this is why the broke out into tears as he made the proclamation on that December 8th –that blessed pontiff who himself had suffered so much at the hands of God’s enemies, who was so hated by the Masons that, after he died, they pelted his funeral procession with rocks and even tried to throw his casket into the Tiber River! And remember that it was while in exile from Rome, in the city of Gaeta, that Pius IX was inspired to make this infallible proclamation on the Immaculate Conception.
And so, as we celebrate this most solemn day in honor of the Immaculate Conception, thank God for giving us such a pure one, Mary Immaculate; thank Him for revealing this truth to His Church and holding our Lady up for us to praise and venerate; thank God for setting up as a perfect contrast to all the sins of the entire world the Immaculate Conception. To her, the Mother of God, be the highest praise after God Himself. Amen.