Immaculate Conception

 In Living the Liturgy

The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Patronal Feast day of the United States of America.  

Pope Francis said that the Gospel, particularly in the story of the announcement of the Birth of Jesus, will help us to understand what we are celebrating, above all through angel Gabriel’s greeting. Angel Gabriel addresses Mary with the word kecharitomene”, that is not easy to translate, which means “highly favored one”, “having been favored one”, “having been graced”, “filled with grace”, “created by grace”, “full of grace” (Lk 1:28).  

What does full of grace mean? Pope Francis said that Mary is filled with the presence of God. And if she is entirely inhabited by God, there is no room within her for sin. She is the one “evergreen oasis” of humanity, the only one uncontaminated, created immaculate so as to fully welcome, with her fiat, God who came into the world, i.e. God made flesh. 

The Council of Trent promulgated a dogmatic decree that all men and women are born tainted by original sin caused by the fall of Adam and Eve in the beginning of time, but with the exception of Mary. The Church Fathers and writers believed that the Annunciation story indicates that Mary was bestowed with the divine fullness of grace, a heavenly gift conferred by and poured from the power of God, and therefore, was never subject to the curse of original sin. In addition, it would not be fitting for a vessel, the womb of Mary, carrying the Son of God, who is Jesus, to be stained by sin. For these reasons and other testimonies, the dogma, Ineffabilis Deus, declared that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by the Almighty God, in view of the merits of Christ Jesus, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, all fair and perfect. This is the third dogma on Mary. It was solemnly proclaimed by Pope Pius IX in Rome at St Peter’s on December 8, 1854.   

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