We're starting the Year of Mercy on this special feast day.
One of Mary's days, The Feast of the Immaculate Conception. December 8.
And like the way God does things, there is nothing more appropriate.
It's great to be Catholic. To belong to the church that Jesus founded, built upon the rock of Peter, sealed and guided by the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised that the gates of Hell would not prevail against his church. This is Scripture.
A few months ago, I completed a personal pilgrimage called Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary, guided by the writings of St. Louis de Montfort. It has been a life changer.
My consecration ended on August 15 which is the Feast of the Assumption of Mary. Yes, she was assumed into Heaven. Didn't suffer a mortal death. Why do we believe this? Well, there is no tomb that holds Mary's skeleton in the ground. I would think that the Mother of God would be commemorated that way, if she had; wouldn't you? Is is a stretch for me to believe that? No. Through Scripture we can infer that Elijah was assumed and also Enoch. For a fuller explanation, please see,
And there we may say, "But those cases are recorded in Scripture." If it's not in the Bible, it doesn't count. Not if you're Catholic. Why? Because we believe that the Church existed before the Bible was shared in 60 or so A.D. The church gave us the Bible. Look at 1 Timothy 3:15. Our Apostle Paul says, "f I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth. We take that scripture quite literally.
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception does not refer to Jesus' conception. We already know He was conceived and preserved from sin. He, being fully human, yet fully divine.
What I've come to learn and believe is that Mary was conceived and preserved from sin. St. Anna, Mary's mother was from a devout lineage of Hebrews, called the Essenes. They were looking for the promised Messiah. They devoted their lives to God in every detail of their earthly existence. This included the marriage bed. These devout souls took it all very seriously and only came together in order to conceive a child and give glory to God. This wasn't happenstance. Mary as the Mother of God wasn't a case of random selection. She was chosen by God; for God. Through His grace, she consented and said yes. She chose to cooperate with the divine will of God. Mary was not an everyday person. She was holy. Are we saying she was divine? No. She is not part of the Trinity, but she certainly plays an essential role in the salvation of every Christian, whether he or she acknowledges her or not.
This leads me to devotion to Mary, the Mother of God. I count her also as my spiritual mother.
Do I worship her? No. Like I've said before, we don't worship Mary. We just don't ignore her.
But where in Scripture does it say that Mary was sinless? Where does it say she was assumed into heaven? If it isn't spelled out in Scripture, "I don't believe it," many say.
Why is that?
The Catholic Church is not a secret society. The documents are public and for every one to read. Just like Jesus. He preached openly for everyone. The word, "Catholic" after all comes from the Greek word, katholikos, meaning universal: from kata ‘with respect to’ + holos ‘whole.’
Here's the thing. On the one hand, Catholics take Scripture literally. We recognize scripture to be All authoritative. Every word is sacred, every word is divinely inspired. All Scripture is derived from Truth. And because Jesus is the Way, The Truth, and the Life, we know that the Word of God is how He communicates with us. But because God is infinite, we know that every situation, every truth, every miracle, every mystery is not contained in a bibliography of 73 holy books. Scripture even tells us that!
John 21:25: But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
On the other hand, because God can not be contained and his truth is endless, and He gave us the church, we trust the Holy Spirit for discernment, for interpretation. We can through critical thinking, infer truth based in the Church and from Scripture.
I believe that Mary was preserved from sin. That fits what I've learned about how God does things. He loves his only begotten son. He is well pleased with Him. Why would He not specially preserve his son's mother from original sin? Why is that such a stretch? If you were God, wouldn't you? When I prepare food for my family in the kitchen, I try to make sure that the sink is clean, the pots are clean, and the dishes and silverware are washed; spotless, actually. And I'm only human. When a surgeon operates on a patient, every thing is as sterile as he can get it? Right? To prevent disease, or infection. Sin is disease. Sin is infectious. To me the question becomes, "Why wouldn't God preserve Mary from sin?"
Mary being preserved from sin doesn't take away from our worship of God. For me, it enhances my worship of God. My all knowing, all loving Creator, who doesn't leave anything out, doesn't waste anything, and thinks of everything.
Jesus was raised by Mary. God entrusted his son to her. In her humility, she relied not upon herself to care for Jesus, but with every fiber of her being, she trusted God her Father in Heaven. She didn't demand attention. She said in her canticle recorded in Luke 1: 46-55:
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
My Spirit rejoices in God my Saviour
For He has looked with favour on His lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
The Almighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His Name.
He has mercy on those who fear Him
In every generation.
He has shown the strength of His arm,
He has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
And has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of His servant Israel
For He has remembered His promise of mercy,
The promise He made to our fathers,
To Abraham and his children for ever.
There is nothing here where Mary demands the attention. To me, she is the perfect example of a Christian; one who leads all to Jesus.
I'm also thinking about Gabriel when, he said, "Hail! Full of grace! The Lord is with you." Luke 1: 28. When a container is full, that means there is no room for anything else. Mary was full of grace, full with Jesus. There was, is, and never will be any place for sin in the holy vessel that Mary is. Then there is St. Elizabeth who followed with, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb." Luke 1:42. And by the way, Scripture says that Elizabeth was full of the Holy Spirit when she said this.
I've asked myself these questions: "Why would I dig to find dirt on Mary? Would I do that to my own mother? Why is Mary's sinless condition a threat to my relationship with Jesus?" It is not a threat. Her Immaculate Conception is an affirmation to my belief in my savior Jesus Christ, conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He will come to judge the living and the dead and His kingdom will have no end.
Recently, I recalled verses from Revelation that helped me conclude that the ignorance of Mary that Christians have is rooted in Satan's ploy to divide the Church. When Satan failed in his attempt to murder the Christ child, Scripture says that he went about seeking to devour Mary's children. Revelation 12: 15-17:
15 The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with the flood. 16 But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river which the dragon had poured from his mouth. 17 Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus.
It is time to be bold about our faith. Let us not be ashamed of our salvation. Let us not be afraid to love Jesus and love his Holy Mother. Mary doesn't detract from our relationship to Christ, she enhances it.