The Immaculate Conception of Mary
The immaculate conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is sometimes confused by some; it is the conception of Mary in the womb of her own mother, Saint Anne. Some people confuse it for the conception of Jesus Christ in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Catholic Church teaches that from the very moment of the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the womb of her mother, she was sinless, immaculately conceived. The Church sees Mary in the woman in Genesis 3:15 who was from the very beginning an opposition to Satan, the author of sin. God put enmity between her and the serpent from the very beginning and preserved her from sin. The Angel Gabriel referred to her as “full of Grace” (Lk. 1:28), and we know that the Grace of God is completely opposed to the reign of Satan. If Mary was full of Grace, then there was no space for sin in her life. The Father wouldn’t let the Son be conceived in a contaminated womb.
The feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated every year in the Catholic Church on 8 December. On this day we specially honour our sinless Mother and call on her to intercede for us before her Son Jesus Christ for the Grace to overcome the power of sin.
At noon on Wednesday, 8 December , the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the Holy Father [Pope Benedict XVI] commented on Mary, “full of grace”, before leading the recitation of the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square. The following is a translation of his Reflection, which was given in Italian.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today our meeting for the prayer of the Angelus acquires a special light in the context of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. In the Liturgy of this Feast the Gospel of the Annunciation (Lk 1:26-38) is proclaimed. It contains, precisely, the dialogue between the Angel Gabriel and the Blessed Virgin. “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you”, God’s messenger says, and in this way reveals Mary’s most profound identity, the “name” so to speak, with which God himself recognizes her: “full of grace”. This expression that is so familiar from childhood because we say it every time that we recite the “Hail Mary”, gives us the explanation of the mystery we are celebrating today. In fact, from the moment when she was conceived by her parents, Mary was the object of unique favour on the part of God who, in his eternal plan, chose her in advance to be Mother of his Son made man and, consequently, preserved from original sin. Therefore the Angel addressed her with this name which means implicitly, “always filled with God’s love”, with his grace.
The mystery of the Immaculate Conception is a source of inner light, hope and comfort. Amidst the trials of life and, especially, the contradictions that man experiences within and around himself. Mary, Mother of Christ, tells us that Grace is greater than sin, that God’s mercy is more powerful than evil and it is able to transform it into good. Unfortunately, every day we experience evil, which is manifested in many ways including relationships and events, but whose root is in the human heart, a wounded, sick heart that is incapable of healing itself. Sacred Scripture reveals to us that the origin of all evil is disobedience to God’s will and that death has the upper hand because human freedom has yielded to the temptation of the Evil One.
But God does not fail in his plan of love and life: through a long and patient process of reconciliation he prepared the new and eternal Covenant, sealed in the Blood of his Son, who in order to offer himself in expiation was “born of woman” (Gal 4:4). This woman, the Virgin Mary, benefited in advance from the redeeming death of her Son and was preserved from the contagion of sin from the moment of her conception. Therefore, with her Immaculate Heart, she tells us: entrust yourselves to Jesus, he saves you.
Dear friends, this afternoon I shall renew the traditional homage to the Immaculate Virgin at the monument dedicated to in Piazza di Spagna. With this act of devotion I make myself an interpreter of the love of the faithful of Rome and of the whole world for the Mother that Christ has given to us. I entrust to her intercession the most pressing needs of the Church and of the world. May she help us above all to have faith in God, to believe in his Word, always to reject evil and to choose good. (coutsy of L’osservatore romano)
We are very proud of this great woman, the most favoured human being God ever created. She is indeed full of Grace.