The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is one surrounded by a LOT of confusion. It’s a completely unique and singularly significant mystery of the Church. While some believe it was Christ who was conceived on the Feast, truly it is the conception of Mary by her parents (ya’ll know how that works—if you don’t, ask your mamma).
Mary was conceived without original sin, and with an amount of sanctifying graces we cannot even fathom. Mary was truly pure, in every sense of the word. The Angel’s greeting to her at the Annunciation indicates to us that she was in a state of being full of grace. She’d certainly need to be in such a state in order to carry and bear the ultimate new covenant: Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Mary’s blameless state was predicted in Isaiah 7:14,
“Maid shall be with child, and shall bear a son, that shall be called Emmanuel.”
This predicts Mary’s state of virginity and grace. There is a simple and direct analogy used to explain how Mary can be truly human and still truly sinless: pretend there is a deep pit and a guy falls in. Another guy comes along and saves the first guy from the pit by pulling him out. A lady walks by and is about to fall in, but the second guy stops her from falling into the pit in the first place. She’s also saved from the pit, by being prevented from falling into it in the first place! In the same way, Mary was saved from original sin from the very beginning through the grace of God the Father.
Mary’s state of perpetual grace opened the way for her to have the Lord dwell within her womb. When she was visited by the angel, Gabriel greeted her and told her that she would conceive in her womb and have a son whom she was to name Jesus. She asked the angel how this could be, as she’d not known a man. The angel tells her that the Holy Spirit will come upon her and her son would be known as the Son of God Luke 1:26-38. The way Luke structures this chapter and the language he uses is full of Old Testament allusions and symbols. (give an example of said symbols)Mary immediately tells the angel to let it be done according to his word, and in her acceptance of God’s will (remember—she still had free will even though she had no original sin; Adam and Eve had free will and chose sin) she becomes at once the physical mother of Christ, and the spiritual mother of His church.
The Catechism gives us a beautiful reminder of just how special Mary is to us: At once virgin and mother, Mary is the symbol and the most perfect realization of the Church: "the Church indeed. . . by receiving the word of God in faith becomes herself a mother. By preaching and Baptism she brings forth sons, who are conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of God, to a new and immortal life. She herself is a virgin, who keeps in its entirety and purity the faith she pledged to her spouse." (CCC 507)
Reflection question 1: Do you feel close to Mary as our spiritual mother?
Reflection question 2: What can you do to work on and improve your relationship with Mary our Mother?
Act: Spend some time in reflection, even if it’s just a minute or two, and consider how scared but STRONG our mama Mary was to say YES to the Lord’s will without hesitation! What a gift!