Dec 8 – Solmenity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
On this and the following eight days, the Church celebrates, with particular solemnity, the immaculate conception of the ever-blessed Virgin Mary who, from all eternity, was chosen to be the daughter of the heavenly Father, the spouse of the Holy Ghost, the Mother of the Divine Redeemer, and, by consequence, the queen of angels and of men.
The consideration of these prerogatives convinced the most enlightened fathers and teachers of the Catholic Church that she was conceived immaculate, that is, without original sin. It is very remarkable that among the shining hosts of saints who have, in every century, adorned the Church, no one wrote against this belief, while we find it confirmed by the decisions of the holy fathers from the earliest times.
Pope Piux IX forced, as it were, by the faith and devotion of the faithful throughout the world, finally on 8 December 1854, sanctioned, as a dogma of faith falling within the infallible rule of Catholic traditions, this admirable prerogative of the Blessed Virgin.
It is, therefore, now no longer, as formerly, a pious belief, but an article of the faith that Mary, like the purest morning light which precedes the rising of the most brilliant sun, was, from the first instant of her conception, free from original sin.
– Patron Saint Index
Before the world was made, he chose us, chose us in Christ, to be holy and spotless…
Nothing, in all of creation, does not draw life, breath and purpose, outside of the will of Almighty God, the Creator. If we truly believe in this (and we really should, shouldn’t we?), then my question today is: what can we offer to God when the whole of creation comes from Him and belongs to Him and is enabled by Him? Do we even have anything of ‘our own’ to ‘offer’ back to God? A little presumptuous, audacious and downright delusional of us, don’t you think?
But yet there is indeed something which God has given us which we can call truly our own (albeit even this too, is originally, also a gift from God) — our free will. This is the one gift which God bestows upon us, which he would never, ever, take back from us. It is given to us for us to decide whether we want to give it back to Him. That decision lies with us and us alone. In this regard, and in this one dimension of our spiritual life, can we claim to exercise equal ‘power’ and ‘authority’ as God.
Today, as we celebrate this pivotal Marian feast, my thoughts go back once again to why our Blessed Mother was singled out, out of all creation since before time and till the very end of time, as the Mother of God and as Mother to all of creation. Perhaps the answer couldn’t be more simpler — because she was the only one who was able to return her free will back to God.
What did Mary offer to God? Only her TOTAL and ABSOLUTE surrender of her will to God. That is the real, unimaginable gift which none other in humanity could do. Only she could answer God’s call in that manner. And for that, God bestows upon her total justification and total glory. Second only to Himself, His Son and His Holy Spirit.
Celebrating the choices that Mary made constitutes nothing less than celebrating the entirety of her life’s choices, her faith and her spirituality. It is as intertwined and integral as water is to ice, as steam is to water. From the moment of her acquiescence to Angel Gabriel, to the moment of her Assumption to Heaven, Mary’s choices were always an unconditional, unequivocal and uncompromising ‘Yes’ to the will of God. She was, and is, the model of courage, strength and fidelity – the epitome and only human model to all of humanity – what it means to let God’s will consume everything and to reign supreme over everything…absolutely everything, in our lives.
Try following her example, if you can. If you even dare. I know I can’t and I certainly know I wouldn’t have the guts to do so, in the many choices God presents to me in my own life. The choices God presented to Mary were not only difficult ones; some of them were even disappointing, debilitating, discouraging, even downright terrifying. No – unlike me (and most, if not all of us, if we finally stop deluding ourselves), Mary faced the hard choices God gave her. She did not try to escape from them.
She chose and she chose wisely.
And for that, when God called, justified and glorified our Blessed Mother – it was TOTAL and ABSOLUTE.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Justus Teo)
Prayer: Father, help us. At so many of the crossroads of our human and spiritual journey, we have chosen to put our own wills before Yours. We have failed to see them and to trust in them, the infinity of your wisdom and your love for us. We have paid the heavy price of those bad choices we have made. Only you can restore, redeem, and resurrect us from our foolishness and frailty.
Thanksgiving: Father, thank you for our Blessed Mother. For giving us the model and path that gives hope to all of humanity; that when we choose Your Will and Your Way, our own justification and glory awaits us.