Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

On Wednesday, December 8 the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (the patronal feast of the United States of America) which in the U.S. is a Holy Day of Obligation.   This joyous feast day commemorates an important Marian dogma of the Church.    The Church teaches that from the first moment of her conception, the womb of her mother Ann, the Blessed Virgin Mary was preserved by an act of singular grace from the stain of original sin and kept free from even actual sin.  

This unique privilege graciously granted to Mary is deduced from two very important Scripture passages.   The first is taken from the Protoevangelion (Genesis 3:15) which refers to a “woman” who would replace and defeat the serpent enemy of Eve.   This “New Eve” who is to undo the damage of the original Eve must have overcome the weakness of Eve to fall into sin.   Therefore it would be in impossible for the “new Eve” (Mary) to have been conceived in sin, it would make her inferior or of less dignity than Eve who was created in a state of grace without sin.     

The second scriptural reference to this Church teaching is taken from Luke’s Gospel in the infancy narrative (Lk. 1:27).   The angel’s salutation to Mary, “Hail, full of grace!” evokes the question of what “filled with grace” means.   Grace refers to the Divine Life of God given to human beings by God that indicates life in us.   The opposite of the state of grace is the state of sin.   So when the angel refers to Mary as “full of grace” it indicates that the state of Mary’s soul was of complete absence of sin and the life of grace in her.   To be “full” of grace means that the grace found in Mary is in perfection, therefore must have always been present in her, from the moment of her creation, conception.    None of this means that Mary was exempt from the saving work of Jesus the Redeemer, quite the contrary, she is the first beneficiary of the merits of Jesus’ sacrificial act of love.  

As we celebrate this “Marian” week and honor the Blessed Mother on Wednesday, on Monday December 12 (the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe) we are most especially honored and blessed to have the visit of the International Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima commissioned by Sr. Lucia in 1967 directly from Portugal.   This opportunity to pray with the Blessed Mother gives us a wonderful moment of prayer and grace.   As Mary is the Mother of the Lord Jesus, the Head of the Church, we it’s members therefore have her as our Mother as well, the New Eve, the New Mother of all the living.   We ask for her maternal intercession and help.  

In the Lord Jesus,
Fr. Vasquez 

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