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Divine Mercy: A Guide From Genesis To Benedict XVI takes you on a tour of Divine Mercy throughout salvation history, spanning the Old and New Testaments, in the writings of the Church's great theologians, and in the lives and writings of the saints down through the ages. Revised edition.

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By Dr. Robert Stackpole, STD (Dec 5, 2012)
Well, it was bound to happen. After I wrote a column in response to a challenge from a friend, an article entitled "The Case for the Assumption of Mary," I quickly received another challenge from another friend (with friends like these, I don't need enemies!) to try to do the same for Mary's Immaculate Conception.

Well, I am not usually one to back off from a challenge. A few years ago Fr. Don Calloway, MIC, edited an excellent book for Marian Press entitled The Immaculate Conception in the Life of the Church to which I contributed a chapter called "The Immaculate Conception in Catholic Apologetics." That was my first try at this. Mary pray for me, because now, with the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception upon us on Dec. 8, here is my second try!

On Dec. 8, 1854, Bl. Pope Pius IX published the papal Bull Ineffabilis Deus, which defined for all Catholics the doctrine of Our Lady's Immaculate Conception. According to the Catechism of The Catholic Church (entries 491-492):

Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, "full of grace" through God, was redeemed from the first moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:

"The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.

"The splendor of an entirely unique holiness" by which Mary is "enriched from the first instant of her conception" comes wholly from Christ: she is "redeemed, in a more excellent fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son."

What Does the Doctrine Mean?
The Immaculate Conception means that from the first moment of her existence, Mary's soul was preserved from the effects of the fall of Adam and Eve. As a result, she was "full of grace" right from the start. This special gift was given to her on the basis of the merits of the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Since God exists beyond all time, and all times are present before Him, He can apply the graces of Christ's redemptive work to people living at any time in human history. It was on this basis that He poured out graces upon the patriarchs and prophets even before the coming of the Savior. He did so for Mary, too, but uniquely, in her case, right from the first moment of her existence. Father Adolf Faroni wrote in Know and Defend What You Love (Don Bosco Press, The Philippines, p. 47):

An objection to the Immaculate Conception of Mary claims that Mary cannot be Immaculate, otherwise she would not have been redeemed by Jesus. This would detract from the universality of the redemption of Jesus, the only Mediator between God and men (I Tm 2:5), in whom alone there is salvation (cf. Acts 4:12). Mary herself calls God her "Savior" (Lk 1:47).

The objection shows a fundamental misconception that to be full of grace means absence of redemption. On the contrary, it implies redemption because Mary's fullness of grace is the fruit of the saving death of Christ. ... Mary has been redeemed like us, only in a more wonderful way, not by cure but by prevention. A doctor can save our life by curing sickness. But if He gives us a medicine that keeps us from getting sick, He saves us much better.

In fact, God often gives extraordinary graces to those to whom He entrusts extraordinary responsibilities. Thus, Moses spoke to the Lord in the burning bush, and St. Paul was struck blind on the road to Damascus by a vision of the risen Christ. Mary was given the special grace of an immaculate origin in order to prepare her for her special vocation: the responsibility of being the Mother of God incarnate. As Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman once wrote (The Mystical Rose, Scepter Publishers, 1996 edition, p. 13):

By original sin we mean ... something negative, that is, the deprivation of that supernatural, unmerited grace which Adam and Eve had on their first formation — deprivation and the consequences of deprivation. Mary could not merit, any more than they, the restoration of that grace; but it was restored to her by God's free bounty, from the first moment of her existence, and thereby, in fact, she never came under the original curse, which consisted in the loss of it. And she had this special privilege in order to fit her to become the Mother of her and our Redeemer, to fit her ... spiritually for it. So that, by the aid of the first grace, she might grow in grace, that, when the angel came and her Lord was at hand, she might be "full of grace," prepared as far as a creature could be prepared to receive him into her bosom.

The Bible Says ...
There are two passages in the Bible where we can find the seeds of this wonderful doctrine. First, in Genesis 3:15, after the fall of Adam and Eve, the Lord says to the serpent who tempted them, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."

This Old Testament passage is a prophecy of the Gospel, for the "seed" of the woman who will crush the "serpent's" head (that is, the Devil's head) can only be Jesus Christ, who is to crush Satan victoriously by His work of redemption. It follows that the "woman" prophesied in this same passage must be the Mother of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary (cf. Jn 2:4 and 19:26 where Jesus calls her "Woman"). In Genesis 3, both Jesus and Mary are said to be in a state of "enmity" against the serpent, which in the Hebrew original means "complete and radical opposition" to him. It is for this reason that it is not likely that God would have permitted Mary to inherit the condition of "original sin" from Adam and Eve. Any participation by her in that disorder and corruption of the soul that we all inherit from Adam and Eve would place the Mother of Jesus at least partially under the sway of Satan and evil, and thereby contradict the complete "enmity" between Mary and Satan prophesied in Genesis 3.

The second Bible passage that points to the truth of the Immaculate Conception is Luke 1:28, the words of the angel Gabriel to Mary at the Annunciation, "Hail, full of grace." In the original Greek of the New Testament, the phrase "full of grace" is comprised in the word kecharitomene. In this passage, "full of grace" is used as a name or title for Mary, and she is the only one addressed in this fashion in the entire Bible, so it must indicate something special or distinctive about her.

Some modern versions of the Bible translate this passage as "Hail, O favored one." But that is not an entirely accurate translation. The root word of kecharitomene is the Greek word charis, which is usually translated into English as "grace." The English word "favour," on the other hand, can refer merely to an external gift of some kind, whereas God's highest "favors" are never merely external honors or gifts: an interior gracing of some kind is always involved. Thus, in this passage of Scripture Mary is said to be "graced" in some interior, spiritual sense.

Some Bible commentators argue that by using the word kecharitomene, the angel only meant that Mary was being "graced" in the sense that at that very moment she was called to be the Mother of the Savior. However, the angel Gabriel went on to say in verse 30, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God." This implies that she had already been graced in some special way in the past. It is on that basis alone — on the basis of that earlier divine gift of grace — that she was being called by God to her special vocation.

As a matter of fact, the word kecharitomene ("full of grace") that the angel used for Mary is neither in the present nor the future tense: it is a perfect passive participle. In other words, the angel speaks of a gift that Mary had already received, even before the angel came to her. In effect, the angel says to her: "Hail, you who have already been graced, in a completed way, in the past."

The only other place in the entire New Testament where the same Greek verb form, charitoo, is used is in Ephesians 1:6. We know from the Greek-speaking Church Father, St. John Chrysostom, that in that particular passage the verb charitoo means to be completely "transformed by grace." Thus, the most accurate translation of the angel Gabriel's salutation to Mary would probably be: "Hail, transformed-by-grace-one, the Lord is with you!"

What could such a complete transformation by the grace of God consist of other than a plenitude of sanctifying grace, poured into Mary's heart from the Holy Spirit, right from the start of her personal existence? As the Catechism puts it (entry 492), she was "enriched from the first instant of her conception" with "the splendor of an entirely unique holiness." Saint John the Baptist was sanctified by the Holy Spirit in his mother's womb, according to Luke 1:15. Is it likely that Mary would receive a lesser grace to prepare her for her role as Mother of the Savior than John did in the preparation for his special ministry?

While these Scripture passages all by themselves do not conclusively prove the doctrine of Mary's Immaculate Conception, they are certainly in harmony with it, and strongly point us in that direction!

The Ancient Fathers Agree
Many of the early Fathers of the Church (such as St. Ireneus, St. Justin Martyr, St. Epiphanius, St. Ambrose, St. Jerome, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Ephrem the Syrian, and St. Peter Chrysologus) taught that as Jesus is called by St. Paul the New Adam, the Head of redeemed humanity, so the Blessed Virgin Mary must be the New Eve. There was no disagreement among the Fathers on this point. As Eve, the Mother of all the living, had ushered in the age of sin by succumbing to the temptation of the fallen angel (the serpent), so Mary, the Mother of all the redeemed, reversed Eve's sin by her obedience to the angel Gabriel at the Annunciation, and thereby ushered in the dawn of our salvation.

We should notice what this doctrine of the ancient Fathers of the Church implies. Eve began her life and vocation as "Mother of all the living" in a state of innocence and grace, without any wound or corruption in her soul of original sin. Can we imagine that the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose vocation was to be the Mother of the Redeemer and of all the redeemed, received a lesser degree of grace in preparation for her singular vocation?

Cardinal Newman once wrote:

I ask, was not Mary as fully endowed [with grace] as Eve? Is it any violent inference that she, who was to cooperate in the redemption of the world, at least was not less endowed with power from on high than she who, given as helpmate to her husband, did in the event but cooperate with him for its ruin? If Eve was raised above human nature by that indwelling moral gift we call grace, is it rash to say that Mary had a greater grace ? And this consideration gives significance to the angel's salutation to her as "full of grace" — an interpretation of the original word which is undoubtedly the right one as soon as we resist the common Protestant assumption that grace is mere external approbation and acceptance, answering to the word "favor," whereas it is, as the Father's teach, a real inward condition or super-added quality of soul. And if Eve had this supernatural inward gift given her from the first moment of her personal existence, is it possible to deny too that Mary had this gift from the very first moment of her personal existence? I do not know how to resist this inference — well, this is simply and literally the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. I say the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is in substance this, and nothing more or less than this…and it really does seem to me to be bound up in that doctrine of the Fathers, that Mary is the Second Eve. (The Mystical Rose, pp. 10-11)

From the earliest centuries, the Eastern liturgies hailed the Blessed Virgin as Panagia (all-holy one), Achranatos (the one without even the slightest stain), and Hypereulogoumene (the one blessed beyond all others). How can Mary be called all-holy, without any stain if from the first moment of her existence her soul lacked a complete outpouring of the Holy Spirit and sanctifying grace and she thereby carried within her soul that disorder, corruption, and inclination to sin that is passed down to all of us from Adam and Eve?

Implicit in the teachings of the early Fathers and early Liturgies, therefore, is the doctrine of Mary's fullness of grace, right from the start of her personal existence. In other words, her Immaculate Conception.

Some Protestants Object
Some Protestant Evangelicals object to the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception on the grounds that Scripture teaches, in several places, the universal "falleness" of humanity. That is to say, "there is no one righteous, no not one" (Ps 14:1-3; 53); "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23); and "through one man's offence, judgment came to all men" (Rom. 5:18).

But the Bible often uses broad language, even hyperbole, in order to make a point. For example, when the Bible says "all have sinned" or "all we like sheep have gone astray," it obviously does not intend to include children, who have never committed any personal sins (and if they die before attaining the age of reason, never will). Again, when the Bible says "as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (I Cor 15:22) it evidently does not mean to tell us that the whole human race will be saved through Christ. Clearly, some souls will be eternally lost. The passages in Scripture that speak of the universal sinfulness of the human race, therefore, may be said to refer to the mass of mankind in general, without excluding special cases such as the Blessed Virgin Mary (preserved from the wound of original sin) and little children (not yet guilty of actual sin).

Following in the footsteps of St. Paul, Protestant Evangelicals traditionally have sought to show how every mystery of the faith expresses the saving mercy of God. "To know Christ is to know His benefits," the early Lutheran theologians liked to say. In other words, speculative theology is of little value if its conclusions fail to glorify God's free grace and mercy. And yet, properly understood, that is precisely what Mary's Immaculate Conception magnifies most of all!

The Doctrine Proclaims Divine Mercy
After all, what is Divine Mercy? It is God's undeserved, unmerited, often even unsought for divine grace — the grace that our compassionate God pours out upon us to help us overcome our miseries and meet our true needs.

Theologians call one form of that mercy God's "prevenient" grace, from the Latin prae-venire, which means to "come before." In other words, even before we ask for it, and quite apart from the fact that we do not deserve it and have not earned it in the least, God graciously takes the initiative and comes to our aid. Prevenient grace is this completely free gift of God's Mercy. We see a faint reflection of it in a parent's love for a child. A child is loved by its parents not because the child has earned it, or even asked for it in any way. Rather, the parent's love comes right from the start, a completely free gift, just because the child is the parent's own child. That is human mercy, "par excellence," and it is a mirror image of the divine.

When you think about it, that is exactly what is on display in the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I have said this before (in a column several months ago), but it is worth repeating here: the Immaculate Conception is really the supreme manifestation of God's prevenient, unmerited mercy. After all, Mary did not "merit" her Immaculate Conception. Nor could she ask for it. It was something done in her and for her by the Father of Mercy, and solely on the basis of the foreseen merits of His Incarnate Son, Jesus Christ.

As Pope John Paul II wrote in his encyclical Dives in Misericordia (Rich in Mercy, section 9): "Mary is the one who experienced mercy in an exceptional way — as no one else." Father Seraphim Michalenko, MIC , once explained the matter this way:

The mystery of the Immaculate Conception … is the expression of the first act of the heavenly Father's mercy in Mary's regard — an act of absolute gratuity. This is why we can see in it the Father's mercy in its pure state. The first act is the Father's prevenient mercy for this very tiny child that is to be born.

In fact, we can go further and say that the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary was the great divine act of grace that lay at the foundation of God's whole work of salvation through Christ. The Father of Mercy took the initiative with sinful mankind, fashioning Mary's soul from the moment of conception, preserving it from the effects of original sin, making her soul the very masterpiece of His Mercy, and it was this unique and extraordinary foundation of grace in Mary's soul that enabled her, years later, to respond to the angel Gabriel's message with total, trustful surrender: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to Thy word."

By God's prevenient grace, therefore, she was made the masterpiece of the Father's mercy. And in the fullness of time, this special grace enabled her to receive our Savior into the world. In short, the whole world's salvation began with a foundational act of unmerited, unprompted, freely given Divine Mercy. That act of mercy was Mary's Immaculate Conception.

This is what Catholics celebrate on this great Feast Day every Dec. 8: By her Immaculate Conception, Mary was prepared to be the Mother of our Savior. Her Immaculate Conception is, thereby, a sign of God's free grace, making her the gate of the dawn and the cause of our joy. All of us are called to "honor your mother and father," according to the Ten Commandments. The Son of God honored His earthly mother by pouring His grace into her heart from the first moment of her life.

As disciples of Jesus, called to follow Him in everything, let us also honor His Mother by celebrating God's special gift to her, Mary's "original grace." After all, it was given to her not just for herself, but for the good of the whole world, for by this grace Mary welcomed the Christ Child into the world for the salvation of us all!

For more information on St. Faustina's devotion to the mystery of the Immaculate Conception, read my series on Mary, Mother of Mercy.

Robert Stackpole, STD, is director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy. His latest book is Divine Mercy: A Guide from Genesis to Benedict XVI (Marian Press). Got a question? E-mail him at





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P. — Dec 5, 2009 - 5:22 EST

Happened to read something rather amazing , in Bl.Emmerich's book ( private revelation , hence does not have to be free from errors ), in the account on the creation of Adam and Eve - how in The Original plan , we all would have been made by spoken word - 'the sunbeams around Adam's mouth bore reference to a holy posterity from God,which, had it not been for the fall, would have been effectuated by the spoken word ' (and as an example, how our hair as it is now, represents the ruined , extinct glory of the glittering beams that we carried in our original state!)

As Theology of Body helps us to grasp the holiness of our person , in totality , the awareness of our sexual nature as subordinate to our spiritual identity also brings a sense of unity to our foundational truths - Eucharistic miracle ,at every Holy Mass through The Word, the exalted state of celibacy for the ministry of The Word as not a deprivation but even more in line with the original plan , The Word as Salvation from our fallen state and finally , may be even a glimpse of the 'how' for those who wonder about the Immaculate Conception !

We thus have more balance to contemplate the spiritual side , through this revealed Dogma and truth of The Immaculate Conception of our Mother , The New Eve, Mother of all and of the Infinite Mercy of our Father , shown in all this !

Nicole — Dec 6, 2009 - 23:46 EST

dear Dr. Stackpole,
After reading your essay, I wondered about the following. Maybe another logical way to see why Mary had to be immaculately conceived is simply tolook at Genesis. To be be consistent God had to create Mary free from sin like He had initially created Adam & Eve, giving Mary the absolute freedom unstained from sin to chose between serving Him or not, so Mary would be able to make if she wished it the reverse decision made by Adam & Eve in the same initial state? From this perspective, the decision of one humble human being to completely accept Divine Will to bring the momentous First Coming of Our Lord and His Salvation could only occur if that person was in the same state Adam & Eve were in to apprehend God's Message. Adam & Eve were in free flowing communication and understanding of God at all times, as described in their conversation with Him in Genesis when He came to dwell in the garden. So then must have been the state of Mary, sin-free and hence in the state of fullness of Grace where she was able to listen God's message at the very first moment the Angel spoke and ask him genuine questions (unlike Zechariah, who rejected the same angel's message a priori on a lesser matter, and who was as close as any regular person can get to hear God's voice through the angel - he was in the Holy of Holies offering prayers and incense and he only cooperated only after being struck mouth for 9 months!). Zechariah's response 6 months before the Annunciation shows that Mary's state of Grace was absolutely necessary. I was wondering what your thoughts might be about this

P. — Dec 12, 2009 - 8:47 EST

Good points above ; could Zecharia's being mute be also not indicative of the lost original plan to effect even children through the spoken word ..if Zecharia had not doubted, could it have been same for them too ..and they , in turn could have been joyful support for Mary and Joseph ; in the fallen world , it was not to be so and after the 6 months, biblical number indicatiing incompletion, God in His mercy , sends His Mother , to accomplish His plans , to sanctify John The Baptist , who himself also seemed not spared the scourge of possible unbleief ,as seen by the questions of his emissaries while he is in prison !

Happy Feast of our Lady of Guadalupe, whose silent picture has spoken much , to many hearts, to change the history of a whole continent !

May the silent screams of the many unborn babies and their parents be taken up into The Word, who alone can bring in the peace of silent adoration of His mercy , to all the needy !

Humble servant of God — Dec 15, 2009 - 19:53 EST

God and man stood facing one another at a distance that permited no ultimate intimacy, because man was no longer in his original state of being turned toward God but rather had to be called back repeatedly from his state of being turned away from God. He was unable to correctly grasp the image that God wanted to show him because he could not look at or see it correctly. The Son, however, is the man who looks and sees, the Man who has the vision. He lives in this vision, in this looking toward and seeing the Father. What His loving followers have to learn from His vision is to remain turned toward God, to conform themselves to God's Will. And this attitude is not forced, but rather assumed in the freedom of love. The Son, who sees the Father and is obedient to Him unto death, is not able to do otherwise because Divine Love cannot do otherwise. This is not, however, a love that cloaks itself in baffling mysteries; rather, it is a love unveiled in the Son. The Son sees the Father and thereby reveals Him.

Men thus receive the Son in Christian teaching as the example of the correct attitude to assume. When the Father spoke with the first human beings in Paradise, they stood facing Him as creatures who were more in awe of Him that in love with Him. After their turning away, God no longer showed Himself as Himself; He lets His voice be heard and gave instructions and commandments; men coould not claim that God had left them on their own but had to concede that sin alone had created the distance between them. Men had to look through their guilt to God; in the best case this could lead them becoming watchful but not to a glimpse of a spiritual vision of God. Man had become like one who strains his eyes in order to see a picture that is not sufficiently illuminated.

In the New Testament, the believer knows that the Son sees the Father. However, the Son mediates, not His vision, but something that is derived from it - Faith. Faith is like a shaft of light that leads to God. This light reaches the believer, not unbroken, but rather through the prism of Christian Doctrine. That the Father gives to us has the form of vision for the Son, but it has the form of Faith for us because it requires mediation through the Son who says, "No one comes to the Father but by Me." And Christian Doctrine is the word of the Son given to men. In the bosom of the Father, Son and Word are One. But when the Son lives among us as Man, it is possible to distiguish two aspects of His Reality: He is a living Man with Flesh and Blood, the humble Messsenger of the Father, and His teaching is the epitome of the message He brings. So that the Son and His teaching can remain living among us, the Lord establishes the Church. He creates the Church for Himself as His bride, which therefore keeps Him, the Bridegroom, "in her vision". The Church is a mysterious, living, and spiritual reality. She is not, however, a creaturely person. Were such a person, she would dwell in the permanent vision of the Bridegroom subjectively as well; however, as an institution, it is objectively that she stands before Him. The expression for this objective relationship of the Church to the Lord is the ecclesial office; in this way, the Church's vision of her Lord is meant to be universally valid. Everything that bears the character of subjective vision in the individual believer must necessarily bow to the ecclesial norm. The Son therefore mediates His vision in a twofold way: He gives to the office an objective vision that, as such, cannot be realized subjectively; and He gives to individuals a vision that takes effect in a subjective-objective way but that must be affirmed in the sight of the Church, just as our entire Chritian Faith is affirmed to the highest degree through the Son's simple loving contemplative gaze directed toward the Father. If the Son has come to reveal the Father, the Church exists in order to reveal the Son. The Church has to be an expression of the Son's Will, just as the Son is the expression of the Father's Will. But both are Eternal Divine Love - both the Will of the Father and the Son as an expression of this Will; and so the Church, too, is a representation of this same Merciful, Eternal Love. While the individual believer leads a transient human life, the Son fashions a house beyond this transience that is intended for the duration of the world - the Church, which as such is a reflection of eternity and hold transient life within herself, as the one that she is and a community. When an isolated individual is received into the Church, he is placed in the communion of saints at a fixed point, at a place determined personally by God that is, at the same time. a place of community. Through the founding of the Church, the Son reveals the Father to the individual but also to the community, The Father allows Himself to be revealed, through the One who is the Son, to the one that is the Church and is communion. The Redemption through the Death of the Son on the Cross is mediated to the many by this one Church. This is bound, not just to the Person of the Son alone, but also to His life revealing the Father in the Spirit. The Church is therefore, bound immediately to the Father by the mediator and the faithful finds the Father whom the Son reveals through the Church that reveals herself in the Son.

In the fullness of time, the Son appears as a little human child; but His divinity is made known when the angel Gabriel appears to Mary and when the star appears to the 3 kings. Mary's Immaculate Conception and Virginity is required to elevate the Son's becoming man above the beginning of life of all other men; the star is used in order too show that the Creator stands in a special relationship to this particular Divine Child and the the heavens are willing to bend their rules to the needs of the Son which makes known the superior might of heaven. The 3 kings learn an obedience which is the opposite of blind obedience: it is a seeing obedience; it is an obedience that is already sight that leads to a real sight - into the vision of the Son as they stand as good as disempowered before the superior sight of God; their genuflection becomes the conversion of all human relations. Thier Faith becomes the renunciation of all that is theirs, whoch they lay at the feet of the Holy, Divine Child. The supernatural, which accompanies the manifestation of the Child, has shown itsel in the form God wanted. The consequence of the exchange: the unprepossessing nature of the Child appears as the invisible, naked divine nature, yet not as that of the Child Himself, but as the being the Father in the Child, as the Father's self-extiguishing in the Son whio is becoming manifest; for the Son, however, this means a new vision of the Father. His vision is now that of one who has become man and sees the Father in heaven - He does not merely see the open heavens, but He truly sees the Father; He does not simply have a certain inkling of what is happening in the eternal heavens; rather, He contemplates this life as one who comes from the life of heaven. The Holy Spirit is constantly cooperating in the life of the Son recognizable in the Son's Incarnation. Throughout His life, the Son will dwell in the threefold relationships that were already foreshadowed in the threefold relationship of Mary's Immacualte Conception. As one who believes and makes a gift of herself, Mary is given the vision of the heavenly angel Gabriel. In the vision of the Annunciation she experiences the descent of the Holy Spirit. And when the Son becomes man - sent by the Father and carried and accompanied into the Mother's womb by the Spirit - He reveals in this becoming what sort of Being He will have on earth: an existence of Mission through the Father, accompanied by the Spirit, coming from the vision, proceeding into abandonment, with a dynamic center that, when transferred to those who follow Him, can becaome the spiritual attitude of Faith.

When the Lord established His Church, His Mother was still alive. The highest love that can bind two people to one another prevailed between them, a love that is both God's Love for His creature and the believer's love for his Redeemer. This love is there both a human and an ecclesial love. When the Son of God emerges as the Bridegroom, and Mary becomes the template for the Church-bride, human love and the love proper to Faith are elevated to a state that bestows the highest objectivity upon them. Mary loves her Son, not only as the one who has been born of her, but also as her neighbor in accordance with His Commandment of Love. It is arguably not difficult to love one's own son in the sense of a Christian love of neighbor, especially when the love has been given so completely and there can be no possibility of it being disappointed. It can be difficult, however, to perceive love as a commandment when it is fulfilled with such perfect spontaneity, naturalness, and reciprocity. It is this difficult to apprehend as an objective "you must" something that is experienced as a subjective "you may" and as an innermost need. But this transformation is simultaneously a confirmation that this is the right path. The loving yearning becomes the rule, not as a concession to the Mother from the Son, but as a confirmation of the rectitude of her holy life. She is so right that she is elevated to become the rule: the unique is to become the repeated, and, in her limitless Yes - her limitless love, the one person is to represent the Church. Official, ecclesial love and spontaneous, personal love complete one another out of this ultimate example. Only in Mary does this becomes perfect reality in the subject. All other look to her as the ideal but without ever totally reaching it... office and personal discipleship complete one another in the answer of the Church. When the Lord prepared to leave the earth, the Sacraments come alive in the Church and confirmed by the Holy Spirit. The eucharistic life of the Lord is sunk into her above all so that when He ascends into heaven He withdraws nothing from her. Now the Mother's hope can be fulfilled, not only in the Son's being, but equally in the Church as well... And it is no linger the Virgin alone who gives her Yes but, together with her, the new Christian Church that has been founded and is coming into being. Henceforth, the faithful have the certainty that the Church's answer to the Infinite God means that she puts herself at his disposal completely in a way that has been pre-formed in Mary's limitless Yes, fulfilled in the life of the Son, co-fulfilled by the Church as she administers the Sacraments in the Way of Life that the Lord gives her. It is no longer the Yes of an individual Virgin who promises and makes a complete gift of everything - a complete gift of herself. It is the Yes of a safely founded community that is blessed with every promise. It is a Yes that bridges, a string on which ecclesial happenings are strung like pearls - the form of the ecclesial unity of life that bestow upon all the faithful a safe place in the Church. The Yes of the individual is no longer endangered by his weaknesses; it is fulfilled in the Church. This fulfillment proceeds through the Mother's Yes, thorough the whole of the Lord's human life, through His entire ecclesial life from the Cross until His Ascension, and He takes it wwith Him into heaven in order that through the fullness of the Spirit it might be brought to men at Pentecost in a living and present memory. The Son has taken the Yes of His weak Church up on high with Him, and in the ten days before Pentecost it is subject to an examination by the Triune God. And when the Spirit descends, He brings the fullness from heaven, the visible evidence of the Yes that now capable of enduring the millenia and of again and again being expressed anew and personally, but also again and again anonymously and exxclessially. That does not mean the the word that the Mother gave is in any way diminished, for she gave her word when she was alone with the angel in a reality that at first only she could experience, although it was so concrete that it led to the Incarnation of the Son. Through her Yes, the Mother allowed a piece of heaven to become a Church that encompasses the world. Thus, hers is no longer with her a lonely Yes or a Yes to an excessive demand. Instead, it is the communion of saints' Yes before the Triune God, a Yes in the certainty that the Incarnate God has given her and in the steadfastness out of which He Himself said, "Not my will, but thine, be done." It is the INDIVISIBLE YES that bridges every situation and gives the liveing life of the Lord to all the faithful. Hence the answer that the Father now receives is a single and yet multiform answer. He does not hear it as a voice of an isolated individual; for the individual is always invited by the Son to satisfy the demands of the Father with the strength of the Holy Spirit, in the unity of the Son who lives on in the communion of the saints, and with the definitive wherewithal of the Mother's limitless Yes. The answer is ecclesial. And God recieves it in the Spirit out of which He has formed the Son's mission. And He receives it as the Son's return to heaven having suffered the Cross. This reception means that the Father places the whole of heaven at the Son's disposal, that He receives the Yes of men included in that of the Son in heaven, and that He bestows upon it the value of eternity. the whole concrete Yes of the man who wants what God wants and who places himself at God's disposal is received in heaven as a word that has been completed: a word that can do nothing other than offer a human existence; a weak human word that becomes an eternal word, already spoken by the Son, confirmed by the believer, and bestowed with such strength that in a moment it becomes eternity and the boundedness that is ultimatlely characteristic of human words is elevated unto God.

Mary and the Church come to the fore at the same time. Through the Redeemer, the Virgin becomes Mother and the Church becomes bride all all the relations of creation are established anew because its feminine half shines forth in the arrival of the Son and in the Father's affirmation of everything: the fruitfulness of the Church depends on the Virgin, and SHE DEPENDS ON THE FRUITFULNESS OF HEAVENLY GRACE. This, in turn, was necessary in order for the Father to acquire the face befitting Him in the teachings of the Church as the First Person of the Triune God.

If the Son is the Word of the Father, He is consequently the witness to the Father's infinity and has come to give this eternity meaning on earth and, through His own Loving Sacrifice - a higher dying of the most living Love, to place all men under obligation to the Father. He found the perfect fulfillment of His own life in His Mother's Yes, for SHE IS PRE-REDEEMED AND HAS RECEIVED THE GRACE AND DIGINITY IN UTTERING THE VALID WORD, IN THE SON, THAT HE HIMSELF WILL UTTER. He has fulfilled Himself in this word just as she has fulfilled herself through it; He has given this word the significance of the Chruchs's eternal Yes to the Triune God. He has thus made it capable of eternity. But He has not left it as an isolated word; rather; He has given it the vocal resonance of all the faithful. The Father recieves it filled in this way: as the Son's word together with those who are His. Nothing can happen to this word in the individual believer or in the the Church except that it be used to the ever glorification of God... finally, how everything redounds to the best for those who love God: in heaven. Their Yes is the opening onto the eternal vision of the Father, Son, and Spirit's eternal life where our souls live as if in heaven: "by God alone" or "as it pleases God, let it be done unto us".

P. — Dec 8, 2011 - 6:22 EST

Science can come to the help too , in letting us see that eternity is timeless , thus the truth and beauty in the Dogma of our Lord's merits having been made available , to His Mother , through her holy parents - good day to honor Saints Ann and Joachim too !

That truth of the timelessness of eternity can help us , to plead down His mercy , into the death beds of our departed , into our own end struggles , to our Lord , whom love made so small in His Mother , to whom we can have the joy of bringing the whole world , along with its tears , that He would use same , to bring new life of love and gratitude !

DR — Dec 5, 2012 - 21:51 EST

I think the term Immaculate Conseption applies as to how Jesus was to be conceived. Mary was conceived by man, immaculately, through the will of God, thus allowing the conseption of Jesus by the Hoply Spirit. Had Jesus been conceived by man he would have born the stain of origional sin with which God punished Adam and Eve for diobeying him.

M. ShelleyAlexa — Dec 7, 2013 - 20:48 EST

"Ineffabilis Deus" did indeed resolve the problem of original sin; then again, was it a problem that needed solving? We are all spiritual beings living human lives, each with work to do to return to the Father, but any sin is ours, not Adam's or Eve's. What I see in the eyes of every child at birth is the clear connection to the Father.

Dcn. Bob — Dec 8, 2013 - 11:07 EST

By the way, because Sunday takes preference over other feastdays and since the feast of The Immaculate Conception is transfered to the 9th - which in the early church was the original feast day and this is the date on December 9th 1531 that Our Mother first appeared to St. Juan Diago as The Immaculate Mother !

December 8th by the way was the date in Japan in 1941 that Pearl Harbor was attack although it was Dec. 7th in the US at that time because of the internation date line. Also, the war ended in Toko harbor on Our Lady's feast day of the Assumption and Fr. Joe Roesch's father was on his submarine sitting in that harbor on that historical day.
Just sharing some interesting news. God Bless!
May Mary's Immaculate Conception be our health and protection.

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