Today is an important feast day in the Catholic Church. We celebrate the Immaculate Conception of Mary. People sometimes are confused and think we are celebrating Jesus’ conception, but we aren’t, it’s Mary’s. What exactly does this day celebrate?
Mary was conceived in the usual way people are conceived, with two parents, Anne and Joachim, who wanted a child but did not have one until they were a bit on in years. The stain of original sin never touched Mary. She was always filled with sanctifying grace which prevented her from sinning. This grace protected her so that she remained pure. That purity was necessary so that she could fulfill her purpose as the mother of Jesus.
This doctrine was declared by Pope Pius IX in 1854 though it was a part of the Tradition of the Church since the early Fathers, beginning with Justin in the 100’s. (New Advent Encyclopedia)
In my mind, I see it this way – God knew he would need to send his Son,our Savior to the world. He also knew that his Son needed a pure place in which to grow and develop and an extraordinary person to raise him until Jesus went to fulfill his purpose on earth, which was to save us all. Of course he would protect this woman, keep sin from her, and give her grace beyond measure so she would raise his Son.
No matter if you are a parent or not, you know the responsibility of raising a child. It is tremendous and not for the faint of heart. If I did not have God’s grace to help and guide me, I doubt my children would be who they are today. Imagine how much more Mary needed that grace, not only to explain her unprecedented pregnancy but to rely on as she was raising the Savior of the world.
Celebrate today with gratitude to God for all he gave to Mary and ask Mary to help and guide you in your daily life.
My favorite Marian prayer, The Memorare by St. Bernard of Clairvaux
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen