Immaculate Conception of Our Lady
That Mary the Mother of our Saviour was preserved from sin from the very first moment of her conception has been part of Christian belief for ages, though it was only in 1854 that Pope Pius IX declared it a doctrine of the Church.
What is the meaning of this feast? At one level, it points to the purity of Mary. God chose her to be the mother of his Son, and so like Jesus, Mary was made holy and without blemish, not just from birth, but from her conception as well. The sinlessness of Mary has been a model and exemplar to Christian youth, men and women, in their struggle to stay undefiled from the temptations of this world.
But there is a deeper level to this feast. If God chose Mary from the very moment she was conceived, it also means that He loved her always and prepared for her a special destiny. In other words, the young girl, Mary was predestined in love from the beginning of time.
We cannot understand this unless we understand the context in which the girl child has been treated through human history. And it’s been a tragic story. Always unwanted, frequently aborted or killed at birth, usually given no name of her own, generally undernourished and forced into demeaning work, often forced into sexual slavery, the lot of the girl child has been bitter and desperate.
But no more ! Because of Mary, simple Jewish girl, something new comes into human history, and changes the destiny of all women, of half the human race. This young girl is made infinitely precious and blessed with a motherhood beyond compare. Thus God’s immense love for each one of us, no matter how oppressed and rejected we see ourselves, makes something unique of our lives.
The Immaculate Conception reminds us again and again, “that He has looked upon the lowliness of his servant girl, and behold, from now on, all generations will call me blessed!”
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