Posted by: fvbcdm | December 9, 2013

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (9 December 2013)

Today is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of our Blessed Mother; it is the patronal feast of our country, [and a holyday of obligation.]

Let us make sure that we understand clearly what we mean by the Immaculate Conception. It means that at the moment of Our Lady’s conception in the womb of her mother, Saint Ann, her newly-created soul was totally filled with grace and saved from all stain of original sin. No matter how often this point is made, there are always those who confuse the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady with the virginal conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary. It is certainly true that the human soul of Our Lord Jesus Christ was created totally free from sin, but that is not what we are celebrating today.

Because of the original sin of Adam and Eve, the entire human race was infected by the evil which they had introduced into human history at its very beginning. After that, every child born into the world was born without grace. This absence of God’s grace is the essence of original sin, and some of its byproducts are our spiritual weakness and our proneness to selfishness, pride, and the other sins which we find in ourselves and around us in other people.

However, centuries after the time of Adam and Eve, the time came for God to bring about the redemption of our fallen race. And the very first event that led to that marvelous redemption was that a little girl was conceived in the normal, natural way in her mother’s body as a result of the sexual union of her parents. That little girl was born and grew to young womanhood. And then the archangel Gabriel was sent to her to announce to her that God her Father wanted her to be the mother of the Savior. It is evident that Our Lady and Saint Joseph, her fiance, had been moved by grace to live virginally, since Our Lady answered the archangel’s tremendous news with the question: How can this be, since I do not know man? In contemporary English, that could be expressed: “How can this come about since my fiance and I neither have, nor intend to have after our marriage, conjugal relations? We wish to live together, but in a celibate lifestyle for the glory of God.” It was then that the archangel explained to Our Lady that she could and would preserve her virginity and yet conceive and bear the Savior of the world. And when this was made clear to her, the obedient young daughter of Israel replied: “Be it done to me according to your word.” At that moment Our Lord Jesus Christ was conceived in her womb by the operation of the Holy Spirit and not by the natural processes of human reproduction.

Early in the history of our country, the bishops of the United States wished to choose a patron saint for the young nation. They chose Our Lady under her title of Immaculate Conception. That is why today is the patronal feastday of the United States, and why, in our nation’s capital, there arises on the campus of the Catholic University a beautiful basilica: the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. It stands as a striking witness to the devotion of American Catholics to the Mother of Jesus, preserved from sin and filled with grace from the first moment of her conception and existence.

It is very appropriate for us to pray to her today using the words that she herself revealed to St. Catherine Laboure: “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you.

Note:  This is a CDM composed by Father Brown in the past.

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