Monday, December 08, 2014

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

"The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin." Catechism of the Catholic Church

Gospel: Luke 1:26-38

From a 2013 homily by Pope Francis on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

The Gospel of St Luke presents us with Mary, a girl from Nazareth, a small town in Galilee, in the outskirts of the Roman Empire and on the outskirts of Israel as well. A village. Yet the Lord’s gaze rested on her, on this little girl from that distant village, on the one he had chosen to be the mother of his Son. In view of this motherhood, Mary was preserved from original sin, from that fracture in communion with God, with others and with creation, which deeply wounds every human being. But this fracture was healed in advance in the Mother of the One who came to free us from the slavery of sin. The Immaculata was written in God’s design; she is the fruit of God’s love that saves the world.

And Our Lady never distanced herself from that love: throughout her life her whole being is a “yes” to that love, it is the “yes” to God. But that didn't make life easy for her! When the Angel calls her “full of grace” (Lk 1:28), she is “greatly troubled” for in her humility she feels she is nothing before God. The Angel consoles her: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus” (v. 30,31). This announcement troubles her even more because she was not yet married to Joseph; but the Angel adds: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you… therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (v. 35). Mary listens, interiorly obeys and responds: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (v.38).

The mystery of this girl from Nazareth, who is in the heart of God, is not estranged from us. She is not there and we over here. No, we are connected. Indeed, God rests his loving gaze on every man and every woman! By name and surname. His gaze of love is on every one of us. The Apostle Paul states that God “chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him” (Eph 1:4). We too, from all time, were chosen by God to live a holy life, free of sin. It is a plan of love that God renews every time we come to him, especially through the Sacraments.

On this Solemnity, then, by contemplating our beautiful Immaculate Mother, let us also recognize our truest destiny, our deepest vocation: to be loved, to be transformed by love, to be transformed by the beauty of God. Let us look to her, our Mother, and allow her to look upon us, for she is our mother and she loves us so much; let us allow ourselves to be watched over by her so that we may learn how to be more humble, and also more courageous in following the Word of God; to welcome the tender embrace of her Son Jesus, an embrace that gives us life, hope and peace.

Pope Francis' Prayer to Mary Immaculate

“Virgin most holy and immaculate,

to you, the honour of our people,

and the loving protector of our city,

do we turn with loving trust.

You are all-beautiful, O Mary!

In you there is no sin.

Awaken in all of us a renewed desire for holiness:

May the splendour of truth shine forth in our words,

the song of charity resound in our works,

purity and chastity abide in our hearts and bodies,

and the full beauty of the Gospel be evident in our lives.

You are all-beautiful, O Mary!

In you the Word of God became flesh.

Help us always to heed the Lord’s voice:

May we never be indifferent to the cry of the poor,

or untouched by the sufferings of the sick and those in need;

may we be sensitive to the loneliness of the elderly and the vulnerability of children,

and always love and cherish the life of every human being.

You are all-beautiful, O Mary!

In you is the fullness of joy born of life with God.

Help us never to forget the meaning of our earthly journey:

May the kindly light of faith illumine our days,

the comforting power of hope direct our steps,

the contagious warmth of love stir our hearts;

and may our gaze be fixed on God, in whom true joy is found.

You are all-beautiful, O Mary!

Hear our prayer, graciously hear our plea:

May the beauty of God’s merciful love in Jesus abide in our hearts,

and may this divine beauty save us, our city and the entire world.


Explanation of Mary's Immaculate Conception

In the video below, Dr. Edward Sri explains Mary's Immaculate Conception and shows how this teaching is supported by Scripture. He describes how the Angel's greeting to Mary, "Hail, full of grace" (Luke 1:28), points to a deeper spiritual reality about her.

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