The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the infallibly defined dogma of the Catholic Church that “God freely chose Mary from all eternity to be the Mother of his Son. In order to carry out her mission she herself was conceived immaculate. This means that, thanks to the grace of God and in anticipation of the merits of Jesus Christ, Mary was preserved from original sin from the first instant of her conception” (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church). Chosen by God to be the Mother of the Savior and the “New Eve,” Mary Immaculate is a type of the Church and the perfect model of holiness for all Christians. Mary under this title is the patroness of the United States of America, and the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is a Holy Day of Obligation.

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Hail Mary, Full of Grace …

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, our belief that Mary was granted the singular grace of being free from original sin from the first moment of her existence.

In Luke 1:28 the angel Gabriel, speaking on God’s behalf, addresses Mary as “full of grace” (or “highly favored”). This recognized that Mary was receiving all the special divine help necessary for the task ahead. The Spirit led the Church to the insight that Mary had to be the most perfect work of God next to the Incarnation. Mary’s intimate association with the Incarnation called for the special involvement of God in Mary’s whole life.

“It is very hard to portray an absence, but the Immaculate Conception is about precisely this: the absence of what we call original sin. Our Blessed Lady was conceived in the normal human fashion, but from the outset she was completely filled with the goodness and love of God. We all have to struggle with what we desire to be—wholly surrendered to God—and what we actually are: self seeking and conceited. Our wills will not obey us. Mary’s will was completely at her disposal; there was no struggle, only instant and spontaneous goodness.”

—from Sister Wendy on the Art of Mary

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“We ask God to enlighten our eyes, that they may be pure and clear and focused. As such, we remember today the Immaculate Conception of Mary, which we celebrate on December 8. The Immaculate Conception celebrates the grace-filled being whom we acknowledge as the Mother of God and our Mother, Mary Immaculate.”

-from Let Us Adore Him

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“Let us not imagine that we obscure the glory of the Son by the great praise we lavish on the Mother; for the more she is honored, the greater is the glory of her Son. There can be no doubt that whatever we say in praise of the Mother gives equal praise to the Son.”

— St. Bernard of Clairvaux

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“But as great as was St. Paul’s devotion to our Lord, much greater was that of the Blessed Virgin: because she was his mother, and because she had him and all his sufferings actually before her eyes, and because she had the long intimacy of thirty years with him, and because she was from her special sanctity so unspeakably near him in spirit. When, then, he was mocked, bruised, scourged, and nailed to the Cross, she felt as keenly as if every indignity and torture inflicted on him was struck at herself. She could have cried out in agony at every pang of his. This is called her compassion, or her suffering with her Son, and it arose from this that she was the ‘Vessel of Devotion’ unlike any other.”

— Bl. John Henry Newman

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A blessed Feast of the immaculate a Conception to you!

 

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