O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.
As we hurtle towards Christmas, the church calls on us to ponder salvation and the part that our Blessed Lady played in it. Let us call out: “Hail Mary, full of grace” –For so many centuries, millions of times a day, we Catholics have greeted the Blessed Virgin Mary with the greeting of the St Gabriel. We learn from the words of the Archangel that the fullness of the mystery of God’s grace was realized in the Blessed Mother. We are reminded that Mary, “full of grace” through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Blessed Pope Pius IX proclaimed on December 8, 1854: 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.
The dogma of the Immaculate Conception is so worthy of prayerful meditation. In the Collect, the first prayer we offer in the Mass for this Feast, we pray “as you preserved her from every stain by virtue of the Death of your Son, which you foresaw, so, through her intercession, we, too, may be cleansed and admitted to your presence.”
This prayer helps us to ponder the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity’s plan of salvation. It tells us that our loving God had foreseen from the very beginning the future incarnation of the Word, and His offering on the cross, culminating in the redemption of human nature that had fallen into sin.
St Paul reminds us in the second reading of the Mass that God wants to see us holy and immaculate before Him. In Immaculate Mary, God offered to humankind the ability to act to reverse the disaster made from the misuse of our liberty. Our Lady’s “Fiat” (“Let it be done.”) returned humanity to the original purity that seemed hopelessly lost.
Also during Advent, we celebrate the Blessed Virgin again as Our Lady of Guadalupe; let us take comfort in the words she addressed to Saint Juan Diego:
Hear me and understand well, my son, that nothing should frighten or grieve you.
Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish.
Am I not here, who is your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health?
Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish?
Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything.
~ Our Lady to Saint Juan Diego
May your Advent journey continue to be one of deepening your relationship with Christ through His Blessed Mother.