Posted by: Joe of St. Thérèse | December 7, 2007

Catechesis on the Immaculate Conception

My dear friends, good afternoon!

Tomorrow we celebrate the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. Which is a holy day of obligation for all Catholics whether east or west.

I believe that to undertstand the Immaculate Conception that we must understand 3 things.
1. What is the Immaculate Conception?
2. What isn’t the Immaculate Conception?
3. How does the Immaculate Conception lead us to a better understanding of Jesus?

1. What is the Immaculate Conception?

defined: the Blessed Virgin Mary in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin.” (Pope Pius IX, 1854 Ineffiabilis Deus)

This dogma of the Faith ignores the immaculateness of Ss. Anne and Joachim. Just to make sure that this is clear, there is no official teaching of the Church on the sinfulness of Ss. Anne and Joachim. (at least not to what I know).

It’s important to also know that Conception that’s being refered to is NOT the physical conception between sperm and egg cell, but the spiritual conception when the soul is joined to the body.

So another way that this can be said is from the moment Mary’s soul was placed into her (the same moment of the physical conception), she was preserved from all effects of original sin. Before sin was able to enter her soul, she was given sanctifying grace.

In our baptism, the removal of our origianl sin by Adam and Eve happens. In Mary’s conception, it was not removed as it was EXCLUDED. As result of this, she had the original order of Man (i.e: sanctity, innocence, and justice)….However, that did not remove the temporal penalties of Adam (sorrow, bodily infermities and death)

The anticipation of the Cross is that this event is outside of time and space, which we define. The reason that we are able to say that Jesus died for our sins, our childrens’ sins is because of this very fact, Christ died once and for all and it can be applied throughout time. None of this could have been done without Mary’s fiat, (i.e: yes). This was all done because of the Power of God.

In the Bible Gen 3, 15 “and I will put enmity between thee and the woman and her seed; she (he) shall crush thy head and thou shalt lie in wait for her (his) heel” (DRB Translation). An interesting thing to note is that the Hebrew text (in the parenthesis) is neuter. Meaning that it can be translated as he OR she. St. Jerome seeing the connection between Rev 12, 1 and Gen 3, 15 translated the pronoun as she. The only way that this verse would make sense if if the new Eve that’s being prophesized about (Mary) was in the state of permanent sanctifying grace. (That is you’re not crushing anyone’s head without that grace). Our Lady of Guadalupe protrays this image beautifuly. Guadalupe which derives from the arabic word meaning one who crushes snakes. Is a confirmation of what would later be defined as the Immaculate Conception.

Luke 1, 28, which in English we will not be able to get the full meaning of the text. “Hail (Mary), full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb (Jesus). We have to go back to the Latin which says, “Ave (Maria), gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in muleribus et benedictus fructus ventris tui (Jesus)…which to get the full meaning we have to go back to the Greek: “Chaire kecharitomene” The greek word κεχαιτωμηνε (kecharitomene) means perfected by grace. It indicates an action that was done in the past that is still present. The English language does not have such a tense that exists.

The following passages can be applied to a deeper understanding of Mary, the Mother of God (Prov 8, Sirach 24, Song 4, 7).

2. What isn’t the Immaculate Conception?

The Immaculate Conception does NOT REFER to the conception of Jesus Christ. (We celebrate that at the Annunciation (March 25). The Immaculate Conception is not putting Mary as a goddess.

3. How does the Immaculate Conception lead us closer to Jesus Christ?

Mary does not glorify herself by any means. She always points us in the direction of her son. We see this in real life when parents go bragging about their sons and daughters to other people. They don’t like to talk about themselves. In this order, it leads us to Jesus because it helps us to understand what will later by the Conception by the Holy Spirit. Also it helps us to understand that the merits of the Cross can be applied at any point in time. The easiest way to understand Jesus is by looking at his Mother. know Mary, know Jesus, no Mary, No Jesus.

Blessed be her most Holy and Immaculate Conception, and may it lead us to a deeper understanding of her son. Amen!

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