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"Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you." Lk 1:28
We celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on Monday, Dec. 9. By declaring the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed, "The Most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin."
Mary Immaculate's sinlessness can greatly encourage us since it foreshadows the "Church in splendor," the bride of Christ (Eph 5:26-27). We are surrounded by sin in our world. So that we would not despair, God gave Our Lady to us as a gift. Through her purity, we see what is in store for us. We are all called to holiness and purity. Our Immaculate Mother Mary is the perfect model for us of what we are to become, "holy and without blemish before Him" (Eph 1:4).
God the Father preserved Mary from all stain of sin from the very beginning of her life, at the moment of her conception in her mother's womb. He did this in light of the unique role she would play as mother of His Son.
He frees us from sin through the Sacraments, especially Baptism and Reconciliation or Penance. He has a unique role for each of us to play in His plan of Salvation. Our growth in holiness can help us to realize our vocation.
During this season of Advent, the Sacrament of Penance can help us approach Christmas with a heart like Mary, so that we can welcome her Son generously into our lives. The Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, can "convict" us of our sins. He can open our eyes to the truth about our need for a savior and what it is we need to confess. Then we will experience freedom from sin and purity of heart like Mary.
Mary Immaculate, help me to overcome my discouragement and to grow in holiness. May I become like you, "holy and blameless" in the sight of the Lord. Amen.