Month of the Immaculate Conception
That the elderly, sustained by families and Christian communities, may apply their wisdom and experience to spreading the faith and forming the new generations.
The month of December is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, which is celebrated on December 8. From all eternity God chose with infinite wisdom the woman who would be the Mother of His divine Son. To prepare for the Word Incarnate a spotless and holy tabernacle, God created Mary in grace and endowed her from the moment of her conception with all the perfections suited to her exalted dignity. St. Thomas teaches that through her intimacy with Christ, the principle of grace, she possessed beyond all creatures a fullness of divine life.
The greatest privilege possessed by Our Blessed Lady, next to the Divine Maternity itself, is that of the Immaculate Conception. And it is only because of the Divine Maternity that Mary was immaculately conceived. For many years many of the greatest saints in the Church denied that she had been given this privilege. They did this not because they wanted to deprive her of any honor that might properly be given to her, but because it seemed to them to deny that Christ was the universal Redeemer, the Redeemer even of His own mother. When finally it was explained that Christ was her preventive Redeemer, that because of His redemptive death on the cross she was saved from the stain of original sin, the way was made clear for papal definition of the Immaculate Conception in 1854.
But among non-Catholics the meaning of the term is still not understood. Some identify it with virgin birth and suppose it is a denial that Joachim was really our Blessed Lady’s father. One great American newspaper once carried the story that by the Immaculate Conception it was meant that Our Blessed Lady was conceived in mid-air, as the artist Murillo has imaginatively pictured her. But the meaning of the term Immaculate Conception is simply this:
Because of the merits of her divine Son, Our Blessed Lady was from the very moment of her own conception free from the stain of original sin. In that first moment she was endowed with the sanctifying grace that God had intended should be the endowment of each of us at conception, had Adam, the father of the human race, not sinned. Our Blessed Lady, endowed with an unspeakable fullness of sanctifying grace, saved from all the weakness, error, and confusion of sin, is incomparably the highest and the first of mere mortals.
Many Protestants express themselves as scandalized at such honour paid to Our Blessed Lady. They say that to honour Mary so is to dishonour Christ. But Cardinal Newman answered them in the verses written by Father Frederick Faber, a few of which run: They know but little of thy worth who speak these heartless words to me; For what did Jesus love on earth One half so tenderly as thee?
G. K. Chesterton tells us of his own Protestant boyhood, that the elders of the parish church objected to using a statue of the Virgin and child, until someone proposed an acceptable solution—that the Child be removed from His mother’s arms! As Chesterton remarked, they seemed to think that the Virgin was more dangerous when she held the Child, as though He were some sort of weapon. “Those holy heads are too near together,” Chesterton beautifully says, “for the haloes not to mingle and cross.”
December begins with Advent which prepares us for the coming of Christ. This refers to the preparation for the celebration of remembering Christ’s birth 2000 years ago, but also the prayerful, spiritual preparation for the second and final coming of the Lord. To view our Advent and Christmas resources, click here.