The Virgin Without Sin
Gospel Commentary for Feast of Immaculate Conception
By Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap
ROME, DEC. 7, 2007 (Zenit) - With the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the Catholic Church affirms that Mary, on account of a singular privilege bestowed by God and in view of the merits of Christ's death, was preserved from contracting the stain of original sin and came into existence already completely holy.
Four years after being defined by Pope Pius IX, this truth was confirmed by the Madonna herself at Lourdes in an apparition to Bernadette with the words: "I am the Immaculate Conception."
The feast of Mary Immaculate reminds humanity that there is only one thing that truly lowers man -- sin. It is a very urgent message to repeat. The world has lost the sense of sin. We joke as if it were the most harmless thing in the world. The world presents its products and spectacles as sinful to make them more attractive. It talks about sin, even the gravest sins, in terms of endearment: peccadilloes, little vices, etc. The expression "original sin" is used in the advertising world to indicate something very different from the Bible: A sin that confers a bit of originality on the one who commits it!
The world is afraid of everything but sin. It is afraid of pollution, the obscure maladies of the body, nuclear war, terrorism; but it is not afraid of the war against God, who is the eternal; the all-powerful; love. Jesus says, however, not to be afraid of those who kill the body, but only of him who after he has killed has the power to cast into Gehenna (cf. Luke 12:4-5).
This way of thinking exercises a tremendous influence even on believers who want to live according to the Gospel. It produces a sleep of conscience in them, a kind of spiritual anesthesia. There is a drug that skews our understanding of sin. The Christian people no longer recognize its true enemy, the master that enslaves it; this is because what we have is a gilded slavery.
Many who speak of sin no longer have an entirely adequate idea of it. Sin becomes depersonalized and is projected only onto institutions; we end up identifying sin with the position of our own political and ideological adversaries. An investigation about what people think sin is would probably have frightening results.
Instead of liberation from sin, all efforts today are focused on liberation from regret over sin; instead of fighting against sin we fight against the idea of sin, replacing it with something very different, namely, "guilt feelings." We do precisely that which in every other sphere is considered the worst thing of all, that is, we deny the problem rather than resolve it, we push back and bury evil in the unconscious instead of removing it.
It is similar to believing that we can eliminate death by eliminating the thought of death, or worrying about bringing down the fever rather than curing the sickness when the fever is only a providential revelatory symptom of the sickness. St. John says that if we claim to be without sin, then we deceive ourselves and we make God a liar (cf. 1 John 1:8-10); God, in fact, says the contrary, he says that we have sinned.
Scripture says that Christ "died for our sins" (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3). If you take away sin, then Christ's redemption itself is made futile, you have destroyed the meaning of his death. Christ would then have been tilting at windmills, he would have spilled his blood for nothing.
But the dogma of Mary Immaculate also tells us something very positive: God is stronger than sin and where sin abounds grace abounds even more (cf. Romans 5:20).
Mary is the sign and guarantee of this. The whole Church, after her, is called to become "glorious, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, that she might be holy and immaculate" (Ephesians 5:27). A text of the Second Vatican Council says: "But while in the Most Holy Virgin the Church has already reached that perfection whereby she is without spot or wrinkle, the followers of Christ still strive to increase in holiness by conquering sin. And so they turn their eyes to Mary who shines forth to the whole community of the elect as the model of virtues" ("Lumen Gentium," 65).
[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]
* * *
Father Raniero Cantalamessa is the Pontifical Household preacher. The readings for the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception are Genesis 3:9-15, 20; Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12; Luke 1:26-38.
https://www.catholic.org CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000
Mary, Immaculate, Conception, Sin, Virgin, Cantalamessa
More Catholic PRWire
Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718
A Recession Antidote
Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell
Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell
Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Franchising to Evangelize
Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Three words to a deeper faith
Relections for Lent 2009
Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell
World Food Program Director on Lent
Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Glimpse of Me
The 3 stages of life
Sex and the Married Woman
A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Modernity & Morality
Just a Minute
Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Edging God Out
Burying a St. Joseph Statue
George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell
Easter... A Way of Life
Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
by Catholic Online
- California bill that could BAN THE BIBLE advances
- St. Abdiesus: Saint of the Day for Sunday, April 22, 2018
- Death threats for opposing gay marriage? Florist appeals to Supreme Court
- Has California just voted to ban the BIBLE? HD Video
- Five things Catholics can do to promote international religious freedom
- Daily Readings for Sunday, April 22, 2018
- Daily Reading for Monday, April 23rd, 2018 HD Video
- Daily Reading for Sunday, April 22nd, 2018 HD
- Global Warming threatening Europe with colder weather HD
- The Memorare HD
- God Alone Suffices HD
Learn about Catholic world
Inform - Inspire - Ignite
Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained
Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need
Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online
Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye
Today's bible reading
Products and services we offer
Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books
The California Network
Inspiring streaming service
Learn the Catholic way
Teacher lesson plans & resources
Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education