The Universal Church exults constantly, but especially every December 8th, in the truth of Our Blessed Mother's Immaculate Conception.
God shielded Mary from Original Sin. She did not inherit, as we did, the transgression of our parents Adam and Eve.
Pope Blessed Pius IX (1846-1878), in his December 8, 1854 Apostolic Constitution entitled, "Ineffabilis Deus" solemnly defined: "The most blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception, was by the singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of Original Sin. This doctrine is revealed by God and therefore must be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful."
Like Jesus, Our Lady is sinless. She did not contract Original Sin nor did she commit actual sin, that is, the category of moral offenses with which we struggle. Mary lived virtuously by adoring her Creator, obeying His commands and serving her neighbors.
Each of us may rightly ask: If the Ever-Virgin is so excellent, how can I, sinful as I am, have anything in common with her?
First, we share Mary's human nature. She was and remains totally human. Hence, we have this real connection with her that opens up the possibility of a genuine relationship with her.
Second, the Mother of God freely and generously cooperated with the incredible grace that was granted her and persevered in it. This is what the Lord demands of us.
True, we were conceived with Original Sin, while Mary was not. But we have been redeemed through the reception of the Sacrament of Baptism. We have been given that long-awaited second chance. Consequently, there is no reason why we should not imitate Mary, cultivate--with the Lord's help--a deep rapport with her and strive for the degree of holiness that God wants for us.
In 1830, Our Lady instructed Sister (now Saint) Catherine Laboure (1806-1876) to have a medal struck, which we know as the Miraculous Medal, on which is stamped the affirmation and imperative: "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee."
In 1858, only a little more than three years after the Bull of 1854, Mary asserted to little (now Saint) Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1879), "I am the Immaculate Conception."
Yes, O Lady, you were immaculately conceived. And because you surrendered to the Holy Spirit, now you reign in Heaven with Jesus the Messiah. We delight with the great Saint Bonaventure (1221-1274), Bishop and Doctor of the Church, in offering you fitting veneration: "Mary the Virgin is the advocate of sinners and the glory and the crown of the just. She is the spouse of God, the abode of the Trinity and the most special resting place of the Son."
May we always pattern our existence after yours, saying "yes" to the Risen Christ and "no" to sin!
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.
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