The Apostolate of the Laity

Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

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Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Immaculate Mary

Our Associate Pastor, Father Steve, gave a great homily regarding the Feast of The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception that we celebrate tomorrow. I actually went to the vigil mass this evening having been called to fill in for the scheduled lector who caught a case of laryngitis.

Father drew a nice analogy regarding the concept of original sin. He asked us to consider that every day in this country hundreds of babies are born addicted to drugs. By the same token, every day hundreds of babies are born in Africa afflicted with HIV. These are physical illnesses brought upon the innocent babies by the actions of their parents. In a like way, Adam and Eve, our parents, revolted against God, and our souls bear the illness of their actions. It's called original sin. We can be healed by this affliction through our baptism in Christ, and he reminded us that many souls die from orginal sin having never received the healing grace afforded in baptism. I was impressed as this was the first time I've heard a priest make reference to eternal damnation.

So having explained all that; he went into greater detail on how Mary, like Eve, was created free of this sickness of the soul that is original sin. They both shared in common the fact that they each had free will. The difference is that Mary said "yes," and Eve said "no."

The Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich gives a beautiful accounting of what the Immaculate Conception looked like. For those of you unfamiliar with her, she was an Augustinian nun who lived in the early 1800s and had very vivid private revelations from Christ regarding the every day lives of Mary and Christ. She was remarkable not only for her visions which are considered authentic by The Church, but also for her gift of the stigmata and her ability to understand the Latin mass the first time she ever heard it.

Emmerich describes the Immaculate Conception this way in her book, The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

"I had a vision of the creation of Mary's most holy soul and of its being united to her most pure body. In the glory by which the Most Holy Trinity is usually represented in my visions, I saw a movement like a great shining mountain, and yet also like a human figure; and I saw something rise out of the midst of this figure towards its mouth and go forth from it like a shining brightness. Then I saw this brightness standing separate before the Face of God, turning and shaping itself--or rather being shaped, for I saw that while this brightness took human form, yet it was by the Will of God that it received a form so unspeakably beautiful. I saw, too, that God showed the beauty of this soul to the angels, and that they had unspeakable joy in its beauty. I am unable to describe in words all that saw and understood."

This is the Mary that we Catholics know. Not the pouting teenager as portrayed in the latest Hollywood production The Nativity Story. Mary was full of grace from the moment of her creation to today and on into eternity. We must pray that our Protestant brethren one day come to understand her perfection and embrace her as our Queen of Heaven. She always points us to Christ.

This is a Holy Day of Obligation, or if you don't like the word "obligation" then call it a Holy Day of Opportunity. Nevertheless, you are required to go to mass today. Honor your Heavenly Mother, today, and join her Son, Our Lord, in the most Holy Eucharist. It is a far more bountiful thanksgiving meal than the one we celebrated just a couple of weeks ago.

Immaculate sorrowful heart of Mary...pray for us.


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