The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is just two days away. This is a very important feast as there has been controversy regarding this fact for a long time in the Church. The Protestants believe that Our Lady was born with Original Sin like all of us. Today - you will find "Christians" who even dispute the reality of Original Sin - we are so confused today. But the fact is - Mary was conceived without Original Sin. This is a teaching of the Church. How was Mary exempt of sin? It was not in virtue of any right of Hers but through the pure liberality of God, and this “in view of the merits of Her Son,” as the Church expresses it.
Formerly, certain theologians rejected the Immaculate Conception on the pretext that, if Mary had been conceived without sin, She would have had no need of the Redemption merited by Jesus; but it is a dogma of faith that Jesus died for all men without exception. In reality, the Immaculate Conception in no way restricts the universality of the Redemption. Mary also was redeemed; she was redeemed even more completely than we were, and Her grace of redemption was more efficacious than ours. We were liberated from the slavery of the demon and of sin in the first way by holy Baptism; Mary was liberated from this slavery in the second way by Her Immaculate Conception (by singularly being kept from Original Sin).
Her Son was purity itself. Would He not have wanted His Mother to be like Himself? Can you imagine Jesus growing in the womb of a woman who was even for an instant the slave of the devil? In the story of Christ’s human origin, what is immediately made known is Mary’s virginal purity. This purity, willed by Her, was willed all the more by God Himself, Who, in order to safeguard it, worked an absolutely unique miracle. She was the immaculate tabernacle for Jesus!
Scripture allows us to presuppose a completely exceptional sanctity in Mary even before the Incarnation. At the Annunciation, the angel salutes Her as being full of grace, and therefore particularly full of that grace most necessary for drawing near to God, purity of soul; he declares that the Lord is with Her. Later, Her cousin Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Ghost, exalts Her as blessed among all women and therefore unique among them. Mary then praises God Who has done great things in Her – not one great thing, the divine maternity, but great things, the divine maternity and all its accompanying privileges.
In 1439, December 8th was extended to the Church as the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The Council of Trent, in its decree on the universality of Original Sin, declared that “it did not intend that the Blessed and Immaculate Virgin Mary be included in this decree”. In 1661, Pope Alexander VII determined the exact object of the Feast. In 1709, Pope Clement XI solemnly declared the moral certitude of this privilege. The last step in the process was its definition as a divinely revealed Truth, which was reserved to Pope Pius IX. He believed that the time providentially determined by God for proceeding to the solemn proclamation of the dogma of Mary’s Immaculate Conception had come. He actually consulted the bishops of the whole world and had the theologians carefully examine the questions related to this dogma in their meetings. Then, on December 8, 1854, he declared, pronounced and defined that “the doctrine which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary had been preserved from every stain of Original Sin at the first instant of Her conception, by a grace and unique privilege of God Almighty, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of mankind, had been revealed by God and must, therefore, be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful”. She was to be Immaculate as Mother of God and not stained as daughter of Eve.
There must have been in those late 1800’s some skeptics. We can be sure of this since it was a time when Modernism was beginning to take hold in the Church and doubts were circling about many Church teachings. To protect the newly proclaimed dogma, the Eternal Father had allowed the Blessed Virgin, Herself, to come to us and claim to St. Bernadette at Lourdes, France in 1858 that She truly was – “The Immaculate Conception”. This happened just four years after the dogma was pronounced and She gave Her name by stating: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Can we doubt that with the Church’s approval for this apparition and with all of its miracles that She truly is the Immaculate Conception? May we honor her daily in reparation of all the skeptics by saying daily and frequently:
“O Mary, conceived without sin, please pray for us who have recourse to Thee!”
Bernadette Porter is a Traditional Catholic, a wife of 42 years with 6 adult home-schooled children and 6 grandchildren. A sincere devotion to Mary, the Mother of God leads me to want to share "The Church's best kept secret" - Mary!