This Woman, in the eyes of God, has always had a face and a name: 'full of grace' (Lk. 1:28), as the angel called her when visiting her in Nazareth.
Today also concludes the 150th anniversary of the apparition of the Immaculate in Lourdes, where the pope went last September. At four o'clock this afternoon, the pontiff will go to Piazza di Spagna, where in 1857 in honor of the Immaculate, Pius IX had a statue placed on top of a tall column overlooking the piazza. According to a tradition repeated each year, on the morning of December 8 the firefighters of Rome give a crown of roses to the Virgin (see photo). "This afternoon," the pope said, "according to tradition, I will also pay homage to her."
The dogma of the Immaculate Conception affirms that Mary was preserved from "original sin." "The existence of what the Church calls 'original sin'," Benedict XVI explained, "is, unfortunately, overwhelmingly obvious, if we only look around ourselves, and above all within ourselves. The experience of evil is, in fact, so consistent that it raises within us the question: where does this come from? Especially for a believer, the question is even deeper: if God, who is absolute Goodness, has created everything, where does evil come from?
The first pages of the Bible (Gn. 1-3) respond precisely to this fundamental question, which tests every human generation, with the story of creation and of the fall of the progenitors: God created everything for existence, and in particular he created the human being in his own image; he did not create death, but this entered the world through the envy of the devil (cf. Wis. 1:13-14; 2:23-24), who, rebelling against God, also drew men into deceit, inducing them to rebel. This is the drama of freedom, which God accepts completely for the sake of love, while promising that there will be a son of woman who will crush the head of the ancient serpent (Gn. 3:15)."
"From the beginning," the pope continued, "'the eternal counsel', as Dante would say, has a 'final aim' (Paradiso XXXIII, 3): the Woman predestined to become the mother of the Redeemer, the mother of Him who humbled himself to the utmost, in order to restore in us our original dignity. This Woman, in the eyes of God, has always had a face and a name: 'full of grace' (Lk. 1:28), as the angel called her when visiting her in Nazareth.
She is the new Eve and destined to be mother of all the redeemed. As Andrew of Crete wrote: 'The Theotókos Mary, the common refuge of all Christians, was the first to be liberated from the primitive fall of our progenitors' (Homily IV on the Nativity, PG 97, 880 A). And today's liturgy affirms that God has "prepared a worthy dwelling for his Son, and in anticipation of his death, has preserved her from all stain of sin' (Collect Prayer)."
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