The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Today, December 8, is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

On December 8, 1854, Pope Blessed Pius IX, proclaimed the Papal Bull Ineffabilis Deus, by which he declared to all the world the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

“We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of the Omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and therefore should firmly and constantly be believed by all the faithful….”

What does the dogma of the Immaculate Conception mean? It means that Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was preserved from the stain of Original Sin from the moment of her conception in the womb of her mother, Anna. It is the faith of the Church, as well, that Mary was preserved free from all stain of sin throughout her life. The grace of being so preserved from sin was “a singular privilege and grace” given by God to Mary, not by virtue of her own worthiness, but by virtue of the merits won by Christ in the sacrifice of His own life lived in perfect obedience to the will of the Father, even unto death (Rom 5:19; Phil 2:8). As such, Jesus Christ is Mary’s Savior, too, though the grace of salvation He won for all on the Cross was applied to Mary from the moment of her conception. From the moment she came into existence, Mary was truly “full of grace” (Lk. 1:28).

Mary, then, is not only the model disciple of Jesus, but the forerunner of our hope in Christ. She is what we hope to become: the perfect disciple of Jesus, full of grace and raised to life in the Kingdom. When we want to see what it means for a human being to live the life of perfect fidelity to Christ and the rewards of such a life, we look to Mary.

Christ is the new Adam. Adam disobeyed the Father. Christ was perfectly obedient to the Father.

Mary is the new Eve. Eve disobeyed the Father. Mary was perfectly obedient to Christ.

By her example and by her prayers, may we come to rejoice with her in the Kingdom of God, where she reigns with her Son as Queen of Heaven and Queen of All Saints. Deo gratias!

Father, you prepared the Virgin Mary to be the worthy mother of your Son. You let her share beforehand in the salvation Christ would bring by his death, and kept her sinless from the first moment of her conception. Help us by her prayers to live in your presence without sin. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Closing prayer for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Liturgy of the Hours

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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