Feast of the Immaculate Conception – December 8
In 1854, Pius IX solemnly proclaimed: “The most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin.” In Luke 1:28 the angel Gabriel, speaking on God’s behalf, addresses Mary as “full of grace” or “highly favored”. In that context, this phrase means that Mary is receiving all the special divine help necessary for the task ahead.
The logic of piety helped God’s people to believe that Mary was full of grace and free of sin from the first moment of her existence. Moreover, this great privilege of Mary is the highlight of all that God has done in Jesus. However, the Church grows in understanding with the help of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit led the Church to the insight that Mary had to be the most perfect work of God next to the Incarnation. Or rather, Mary’s intimate association with the Incarnation called for the special involvement of God in Mary’s whole life. Rightly understood, the incomparable holiness of Mary shows forth the incomparable goodness of God.
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