The Mass on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Saturday December 8th, will be at 10:00am.
Mary, under her title of the Immaculate Conception, is a familiar, comfortable part of our Roman Catholic life. Many parishes bear this name, and the United States has been consecrated to her protection. But the story of the Immaculate Conception was not without moments of contentiousness. Saints of no small stature—Thomas Aquinas and Bernard of Clairvaux (who had great devotion to Mary)—opposed belief in her immaculate conception, offering instead that she was sinless from the time of her birth. They feared that the faithful would think Mary was not in need of God’s salvation from sin, as all mortals— including her—are. Some eastern rite Orthodox Christians still hold that Mary was sinless from the time Gabriel called her Kecharitomenae, “full of grace” or “most highly favored” in Luke’s Annunciation scene. Blessed Duns Scotus, called the “Doctor of Subtlety,” stated that God saved Mary from sin by preserving her, not redeeming her, from it. He called her God’s “Masterpiece of redemption.” When Pius IX defined the Immaculate Conception in 1854, this is the language he used. Mary, through the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior, had been preserved from sin.
“AVE!” “MARAN ATHA!”
There is a marvelous, two fold beauty surrounding all of Mary’s feasts. Each of them is a profound meditation on the mystery of salvation in Christ, and each is a wondrous example of our own calling and destiny. The psalm today sings, “All the ends of the earth have seen God’s saving power.” This is what we celebrate today: that God’s saving power works in many ways, and does so throughout the course of time. And so, along with celebrating Mary’s salvation to bear the Word in flesh, we celebrate our own salvation. Like Mary, we are not saved through our own merits, but through the merits won by Christ on the cross of Calvary. Like she who was perfectly, abundantly graced, called Kecharitomenae, we are filled with charis, the grace of Christ through the Spirit of our baptismal waters. And so we sing “Ave!” to her, as our Advent cry joins hers while the Church, the Bride, and the Spirit say, “Maran Atha!” “Come, Lord!”
Today’s Readings: Genesis 3:9–15, 20; Psalm 98:1–4; Ephesians 1:3–6, 11–12; Luke 1:26–38
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