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The Immaculate Conception

 

(10.5 minute read - Enjoy!)

When Garcia-Moreno1 fell under the blows of the assassins who struck him down out of hatred for Religion, a last flicker of light shone in his eyes as he murmured: “God does not die.” This is an extremely magnificent declaration of faith and hope. Truly, the Almighty cannot be vanquished!

Yet by choosing to manifest His abundant love through the work of Creation, it seems that the Lord suffered failure after failure. He created the angels to be companions of His infinite delights, yet many of them preferred to indulge their pride rather than enjoy the beatific joys of divine love.

He created our first parents for a happiness that far exceeds the most demanding expectations of the human heart. Yet they turned away from their Sovereign Benefactor out of ingratitude.

The Lord could not suffer what seemed to be a “double defeat.” Rather, He deserved a brilliant restitution. The incomparable Artist returned to work, conceiving the idea of an admirable creature whose beauty would far surpass man in the brilliance of his original innocence, and whose radiant perfection would outshine the light of the most splendid angels. When the time was fulfilled, He completed this masterpiece of His intelligence and love: He created the Virgin Mary.  The first privilege accorded her was her Immaculate Conception.

 

Blessed is the day the Queen of Heaven was conceived!

We must fully understand what this unique privilege means.

With the conception of Mary, the Most High did more than just condescend to obey the universal laws governing the coming of men into the world. He did not form Our Lady miraculously by virtue of the Holy Ghost as was later done with her divine Son.

Indeed, she had both a father and a mother. But the Lord, Who from all eternity had chosen Joachim and Anne to give life to the Queen of Heaven, had raised them to a great degree of holiness. Their noble mission places them so much higher than the other Saints that they undoubtedly deserve special homage.

We are too often unmindful of this, yet we could benefit by recognizing their sanctity, for these two great souls enjoy a powerful influence over the heart of their beloved daughter.

The privilege of the Immaculate Conception consists in Mary’s exemption from the fatal inheritance we carry into the world at birth. The same moment that gives life to our bodies gives death to our souls. We are born children of wrath—“natura filii irae.”2

 

Throughout our fleeting lives, we endure the heavy burden resulting from the fall of Adam.

Allowing ourselves to be seduced by error, we lack the self-mastery to resist the temptations that challenge us. Our corrupted flesh is seared by the abominable fire of concupiscence. Our hearts are rent by affliction, our bodies tortured by sickness. Finally, hideous death overcomes us—and we must suffer the supreme ignominy of the putrefaction that consumes our corpse and the worms that vie with one another for our remains!

How the curse from heaven due to Adam’s sin oppresses us! How understandable is the cry of anguish uttered by Job in his misery: “Let the day perish wherein I was born.”3

On the contrary, many, many times blessed was the day the Queen of Heaven was conceived! From the solemn moment when Our Lord created her soul and united it with her small virginal body, He made it, by the work of His powerful hands, to emerge all white, all radiant, all pure. Not a single minute, not a single second, not a single infinitesimal fraction of a second was this magnificent soul sullied by the stain of Original Sin. Not even for an infinitesimal fraction of a second could the serpent glare at Mary with a look of hateful pride nor covet her as his prey. Seeing this, the serpent recognized with overwhelming anger that the woman who had been promised had come, the immaculate one who would crush his head with her virginal heel.

Since Mary was preserved from Original Sin, it logically follows that she would not be subject to the consequences of that sin. Let us then contemplate how this is reflected in her virginal soul. No narrow-mindedness limited her intelligence, for hers was the most wise, penetrating, and enlightened intellect after that of Our Lord.

 

No weakness impaired her will, the most vigorous and ardent will ever created.

No selfishness restricted her heart, the most all-encompassing, generous, and caring heart ever known after that of her Son.

This glory of her Immaculate Conception was reflected in her body. She did not experience the concupiscence that wreaks such havoc within us. Sickness did not harm her. Finally, unlike the rest of men, Our Lady was subject to neither pain nor bodily death. Nevertheless, God willed that she experience both suffering and death that she might know the same torments we suffer. With this store of shared experience, Our Lady’s compassion for us is all the more maternal and merciful.

We have so far studied only a small part of this great mystery. The Almighty did much more than create Mary in a state of grace like that of the angels and our first parents. He graced her soul with the sum of all virtues to such an imminent degree that our minds cannot grasp its splendor.

Theologians teach that from that first moment, the Blessed Virgin surpassed in perfection not only the highest angel, but all angels and saints put together.

Her incomparable beauty is such that the Holy Ghost exclaims in admiration: “Thou art all beautiful, O my love, and there is no blemish in thee”—Tota pulchra es et macula non est in te.4

When Pope Pius IX defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the Catholic world cried out with joy. The cannons of Castel Sant’Angelo, where the pontifical flag still waved in Rome’s brilliant light, fired and announced the glad news to the world. All over the world, the faithful proclaimed their joy. In many big cities, homes were spontaneously decked with banners and illuminated with candles and lanterns.

Christian hearts understandably rejoiced in seeing another flower of glory adorn the crown of their Mother. Does this privilege of the Virgin Mary, however, communicate the same kind of moral well-being to our souls? Does it not rather elevate Our Lady to such great height that she appears even farther removed from our misery? Quite the contrary! 

Our Catholic consciences would be poorly schooled indeed if we did not find the Immaculate Conception of Mary as the very basis for her virtually infinite goodness.

All men are endowed with a fundamental generosity rendering them at certain times capable of the most admirable self-sacrifice. Those who survived battles can testify to the unfathomable heroism that can spring forth from the human soul. Indeed, how many young people have requested dangerous missions in the place of their older comrades? They knew the dangers involved yet proceeded to their deaths with smiles on their lips. They believed their sacrifice would deliver a father whose small children were also smiling in the distant purity of their cribs.

Unfortunately, many obstacles prevent the full maturing of such natural generosity, a magnificent vestige of our original state of beauty. We know these obstacles all too well from personal experience. Are our hearts not moved at the sight of another’s distress? Yet does not the bitter voice of self-interest all too often cover up the instinctive response which springs from the heart? Are we not often insensitive to our neighbor’s suffering because of our love of comfort and pleasure?

Our selfishness paralyses and often completely stifles the goodness of our hearts.

The Queen of Heaven knows no such pettiness! No selfishness can prevent her from merciful gestures of compassion and tenderness toward her children.

 

There is more. God formed the soul of Mary as the most faithful image of His adorable perfections.

God’s infinite goodness causes Him to fill us with more and more abundant blessings; indeed, this led the Incarnate Word to the supreme folly of the cross. Like her Son, the Blessed Virgin carries within her heart a ceaselessly burning fire of love for us. She would gladly sacrifice her life a thousand times over for our benefit.

Since she is a mere creature, her suffering on Calvary did not have infinite value like that of Jesus, but it did almost equal in intensity that of the Savior. That she did not die of sorrow at the foot of the cross is, in fact, a veritable miracle.

Does it not seem that Our Lady herself wanted to explain to us the relationship between her original purity and her goodness? Recall the miraculous grotto at Lourdes on the banks of the Gave, where she established the throne of her mercy. Prodigies occur without ceasing. How did the pure lady of the apparition answer when Bernadette asked her name? Joining her hands, her countenance lit with a most luminous smile, and lifting her eyes to heaven, she said with an expression of ineffable gratitude:

“I am the Immaculate Conception.”

Speaking thus, she implicitly told us:

“Let us join together in thanking the Most High for having preserved me from Original Sin. Since I am all pure, I am also all good.”

 

* * * * * * * * *

 

May these considerations inspire you to a practical and unshakable faith in Mary’s goodness.  With Saint Bernard, believe firmly that you will never invoke our Heavenly Mother in vain.

Confide the desires of your soul to her. She will fortify you in your temptations and give you a small spark of her love for Jesus. This spark will enkindle the sweet fire of divine charity in your soul.

Confide the cares of your heart to her. Are you hurt by moments of ingratitude or scorn, which can be so especially cruel when coming from the persons you love? Are you broken by sorrows that suddenly extinguish the joy of your meager existence?

Tell Mary your troubles; she will console you, and your tears of grief will turn into tears of gratitude.

 

Confide your material cares to her.

She will arrange everything according to your true best interests. In all of your difficulties, in every circumstance, at every moment, look to the gentle Star of the Sea, invoke Mary!—“Respice stellum, voca Mariam.”5

 


 Notes:

1. Gabriel Garcia-Moreno, president of Ecuador in the mid-nineteenth century, was martyred and died for the Faith by Freemasons after receiving Holy Communion in 1875. back to text
2. Ephes. 2:3. back to text
3. “Pereat dies in qua natus sum, et nox in qua dictum est: conceptus est homo.” (Job 3 :3). back to text
4. Canticle of Canticles, 4:7. back to text
5. Saint Bernard. Second sermon on the words of the Gospel “Missus est angelus Gabriel” (“The angel Gabriel was sent”). back to text

This devotional article is taken from Crusade Magazine, November-December, 1999; a Special Edition dedicated almost entirely to the Most Holy Trinity and the Blessed Virgin Mary in the form of a work by Fr. Raymond de Thomas de Saint-Laurent as a token of reparation for the many blasphemies and insults that are continuously hurled against them.

 

 

DAILY QUOTE for April 26, 2018

Two things are required in order to obtain eternal life: the...

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April 26

 

Two things are required
in order to obtain eternal life:
the grace of God and man’s will.
And although God made man without man’s help,
He does not sanctify him without his cooperation.

St. Thomas Aquinas


Madonna and Child  DUNKED IN URINE?  STOP!

SAINT OF THE DAY

Mother of Good Counsel

The two soldiers followed the image over land and across the...

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Mother of Good Counsel

In the quaint medieval town of Genazzano, about 30 miles from Rome, on a side altar of the Church of Our Lady of Good Counsel, there is a small image of the Blessed Virgin holding her infant Son. The Child, in His turn, lovingly encircles Mary's neck with His arm, inclining her head towards Himself in a gentle and intimate embrace.

This small fresco has a marvelous history.

In the fifteenth century there lived in the town an elderly widow, by name Petruccia, who had invested the entirety of the small fortune left to her by her husband in a needed side chapel for her church. Her money running out when the walls were only a few feet high, the townsfolk openly mocked and ridiculed her for her foolishness. Undaunted, Petruccia assured them that in spite of the apparent failure of her own endeavors, the Mother of God and St. Augustine, whose spiritual sons were caretakers of the church, would finish the work she had begun.

On April 25, 1467 as the inhabitants of Genazzano celebrated the feast of their patron St. Mark, marvelous music was heard approaching, its source seemingly from above. Looking upwards, the astounded citizens saw a brilliant cloud descending towards them. The bell of the church, and then others throughout the town, began to peel of their own accord. The cloud came to rest on Petruccia’s unfinished chapel wall and gradually dissipated, revealing the extraordinary image of the Madonna and Child. The widow's supernatural confidence being so wonderfully rewarded before the astonished gaze of all, the construction of the chapel was not long in its completion.

Shortly after these remarkable events, two foreigners in strange attire arrived in Genazzano claiming to be Albanians. Their names were Giorgio and DeSclavis and on seeing the icon, they cried out with joy and then told a wonderful tale.

After the death of Albania's king, George Castriota, known as Scanderberg, their nation had finally been conquered by the invading Turks. Early in 1467, while they prayed before the miraculous fresco, the image suddenly became illuminated, and detaching itself from the wall, it began to move through the air. Entranced, the two former soldiers followed the painting, first over land and, then, across the Adriatic Sea, which solidified under their feet.

In the Eternal City they lost sight of it, until hearing reports of a great miracle in a nearby town, they surmised where their Madonna had come to rest. Both decided to remain near their treasure, and married and raised families in Genazzano.

A plaque left at the shrine by visiting Albanians begs their Madonna to return to them, but there she is to this day. It is a continuous miracle: a fresco painted on eggshell plaster suspended in the air for five and a half centuries, but how much greater is the miracle of that tender embrace between Mother and Child, that union of soul into which each one is invited and warmly received.

WEEKLY STORY

The Miraculous Christ de la Vega

In the dead silence that ensued, all present heard a voice c...

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The Miraculous Christ de la Vega

There was once in the city of Toledo, Spain a soldier, Diego Martinez, and a young woman, Ines de Vargas, who were in love.

Diego was called to fight in Flanders, so, at Ines’ insistence, before a crucifix known as The Christ de la Vega, Diego solemnly swore to marry her on his return.

With Diego gone, Ines felt lost and alone, and often sought solace at the foot of the Christ who had witnessed their solemn engagement.

Years went by, Ines always on the lookout. One day, at the head of a returning cavalry, she beheld her fiancé. She screamed and rushed to meet him, but he feigned not to know her, and passed on.

Successful in war and prowess, he had not only been promoted to captain, but had been knighted by the King, and no longer considered Ines a worthy prospect.

Tears being of no avail, the spurned young woman took her case before the governor of Toledo, Don Pedro Ruiz de Alarcon, claiming that Diego Martinez had sworn to marry her. But the captain denied such a vow, and with no witnesses, the case was about to be dismissed when Ines cried:

“Indeed, there was a witness–the Christ the la Vega!”

There was a stunned silence. But, this was Catholic Spain, and finally, judge, Diego, Ines, court and the curious repaired to the Basilica of St. Leocadia* , which housed the carved Christ.

Kneeling between Diego and Ines before the life-sized crucifix, Don Pedro held up a Bible and asked if He, Jesus Christ, Sovereign Lord, would indeed swear to the couple’s solemn vow to wed each other.

In the dead silence that ensued, all present heard a voice coming from the statue,

“I SWEAR.”

At the same time, to the astonishment of all, the statue’s right arm, descended, its hand coming to rest on the Bible which the judge held up.

So struck were Diego and Ines, that giving up all earthly plans, they entered religious life.

As to the Christ de la Vega, to this day, His right arm remains in the same position, and, some affirm, His mouth slightly open in the utterance of His witness.

By A.F. Phillips

*Now the Ermita del Cristo de la Vega

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In the dead silence that ensued, all present heard a voice coming from the statue,

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