Wednesday, December 8, 2010
TODAY IS THE SOLEMNITY OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
A Reflection for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
An adult Catholic reflected on his childhood in the 1950’s. His family was very poor, but his parents made sure the family got to Mass every Sunday and had at least one set of nice clothes to be their Sunday best. Sometimes the family had to rely on outside help to pay bills and provide food. Even at Christmas, gifts were given to the children that the parents got from the Church’s assistance to those in need.
When he grew up and got married, he vowed he would give his children a better life then he had and give them all the things he did not have. They had a beautiful home, three nice cars, many television sets and all the technical gadgets possible. The children had toys galore. But after his children grew up, he began to come to the realization that he had made a terrible mistake. While he had given them all the things and material possessions his parents couldn’t give to him, he failed to give them the best thing his parents did give, the Catholic faith. He neglected rearing his children in the Catholic faith. He simply did not bring them to Mass, although they were baptized.
One of the distinguishing characteristics of Catholics and a powerful part of our Catholic collective identity is our love for our Blessed Mother. Of course she's also the mother of our Lord; but Jesus gave her to us as he reigned from the cross.
We think so highly of her because God did.
It is hard for us to fathom eternity, because we are finite beings. But from all eternity, God knew that He would choose the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the mother of His only begotten Son, who would be consubstantial with Him.
When at the appropriate time, St. Anne and St. Joachim, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, were have marital relations, at the moment of Mary’s conception, God intervened and preserved her from the taint of original sin. She was immaculately conceived, not apart from nature, but by God’s overflowing grace persevering her from original sin at the moment of her natural conception. Hail Mary, full of grace!
Unlike Adam and Eve who were created miraculously without original sin and allowed to live in the Garden of Eden, the Blessed Virgin Mary had no Garden of Eden to make her home. Her home was the real world, infected by both original and actual sins of others. The devil was an influential part of this real world too.
Yet she never chose to give into temptation and sin unlike Adam and Eve who only had to contend with a talking snake, a quaint, benign apparition of Satan whose temptation of them was very mild. By being full of grace, the Blessed Virgin Mary cooperated with the manner in which God created her. She was not a robot, or a programmed computer though, she could have acted against her consecration and sinned like Adam and Eve, but she didn’t; she was faithful until the Lord called her home, body and soul! The Blessed Virgin Mary is the new Eve, her Offspring, the New Adam. We inherit from them, but through the merits of Jesus Christ, abundant, overflowing grace especially in the sacraments of the Church to assist us as we make our pilgrimage through this "veil of tears."
At what point in her life was she most tempted to curse God and go against her nature as consecrated in holiness by God? My opinion is that it was when Jesus was crucified and taken from the cross and laid in her lap. Even then, she did not betray God’s purpose for her.
By God’s grace given to us in Holy Baptism that washes away Original Sin, we too can view the Blessed Virgin Mary Immaculately conceived as a role model for us. Let us pray that we will use the grace that God gives us in all of the Sacraments, especially Penance and Holy Communion to live holy lives like the Blessed Virgin Mary and to be faithful to God in good times and bad.