Thoughts on the Readings at Mass for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Pope Benedict ⅩⅥ, the Bishop of Rome, has said that “on the path of Advent shines the star of Mary Immaculate”, and without her part in history we should not have received our Blessed Lord as the Child-King of Bethlehem. Without Our Lady saying, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let what you have said be done to me” to the angel Gabriel, in today’s Gospel, there would have been no conception of Jesus, no Incarnation, no Passion, no Cross, no Resurrection, and no Ascension, and today we would not be waiting for the Second Coming of Christ.
However, it is not the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God that we are celebrating. No, today we are celebrating the beginning of another life. Today the Church celebrates the conception of Our Lady and the union of St Anne and St Joachim – the only child to be conceived without the stain of original sin throughout history. Original sin is found in the disobedience of Adam and Eve our first father and first mother in the Garden of Eden (First Reading).
However, even as their disobedience was happening—indeed even before it happened,God had a plan. As Venerable Fulton Sheen says,
[Our Lady] is even pictured as being with Him not only at creation but also before creation. She existed in the Divine Mind as an Eternal Thought before there were any mothers. She is the Mother of mothers—she is the world’s first love.1
When we pray the Ave Maria, we use the words of greeting used by Gabriel, “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee…” These words help us to understand that, “in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be fully borne of God’s grace.”2 The grace was given so that Our Lady would be a fit habitation for her Son, for our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ. It was not necessary, but God willed it.
He wills many things for us, and some of them happen. When we pray the Pater Noster, we say, “Thy will be done“, do we really mean it? Do we really mean that we want His will done in all that we do and say? As God chose Our Lady, and knew His will for her life, “Before the world was made, he chose us, chose us in Christ.” (Second Reading). We try to make every action one that is pleasing to God, but we fail, and then we ask God to “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us“. When we do as He wills, we end up giving greater Glory to God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
One great way of giving glory to God, remembering the grace given to Our Blessed Lady, and praying that God’s will be done in our lives is to combine the Gloria Patri, Pater Noster, and the Ave Maria, in the great prayer of the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. One of the devotions to which our Fraternity is devoted is the daily Rosary. We remember each other, our Mission to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to anyone open to the idea of a God of Love sitting on a Throne of Grace, and any specific intention for which we have been asked to pray. I urge everyone to say the Rosary daily.
O God, Whose only-begotten Son, by his life, death and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life; grant, we beseech You, that meditating on these Mysteries of the most holy rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may both imitate what they contain, and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
1. Ven. Fulton J. Sheen, 1952, The World’s First Love: Mary, Mother of God, 1996 end., San Francisco: Ignatius
2. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 490.