DEVOTION TO MARY’S IMMACULATE CONCEPTION CAN RENEW THE CHURCH

           

       “I am the Immaculate Conception” (The Blessed Virgin at Lourdes)

The Kingdom of the Incarnation – that is, the Kingdom founded by Jesus – is built on purity. “Since all God’s works are a disclosure of Himself,” we can look  backwards to the commencement of the Kingdom of the Incarnation to see that Christ’s Kingdom is built on purity (we cannot deny that God’s love is an even deeper foundation for this Kingdom, but love and purity go hand in hand).

The basis for our conclusion is simply the overwhelming purity of the four main members of Christ’s Kingdom at its very inception:

FIRST, we have the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose Immaculate Conception is, in essence, the hidden beginning of Christ’s Kingdom. Jesus chose to enter humanity through the Immaculate one, who is both Virgin and mother.

SECOND, we have our Lord himself, the “Celibate Bridegroom,” who is nothing short of INFINITE PURITY.

THIRD, we have Saint John the Baptist,  Jesus’ forerunner, who is a man of “mighty mortifications” and consecrated to celibacy.

FOURTH, we have Saint Joseph, a preeminent model of purity in the church (often depicted in art holding a lily of purity).

From these telling facts, we can see very clearly that not only was the Kingdom of the Incarnation built on purity, but that, in fact, this new Kingdom ushered in a monumental purity revolution. From these providential works of God (namely, the persons Mary, Jesus, John the Baptist and Joseph), which came at the very beginning of the Kingdom of the Incarnation, we reach the very important conclusion that the Eternal Father has the highest regard for purity (and thus that purity and holiness are inseparable). Stated differently, God’s Eternal and Infinite Purity shines forth at the commencement of Jesus’ Kingdom.  “…God’s works are so many mirrors in which He allows His creatures to behold the reflection of His invisible perfections and hidden beauty….” (F.W. Faber).

And yet when we look at the current condition of the Church there is great confusion being sown (by some Catholics) about sexual morality, even at very high levels (even within the Vatican). And there are certain priests and even Bishops who give impetus to the idea of approving homosexual relationships in some way, even while the Church is embroiled in a clergy sex abuse crisis which has rocked the very foundations of her existence. The only remedy out of this crisis is for the Church to lead the life of purity that has always been taught and preached by the Church. Trying to revise Catholic morality to fit the times is a complete disaster.

We are in need of power in the spiritual life in order to live lives of purity consistent with our baptismal consecration into the Kingdom of Christ. Here is a devotion full of power because Mary’s Immaculate Conception was a spiritual revolution in human history. It was a revolution because it brought forth a human being no longer contaminated by sin (Mary), who was fit to be the mother of the Savior of the world (Jesus). It is the Saints themselves who understood the marvelous union of Mary and Jesus.

Mary entered human existence by a remarkable grace that preserved her from original sin, and which set her apart to become the Mother of God and the harbinger of God’s own human existence in the person of Jesus.  Mary’s Immaculate Conception thus warrants a special devotion, and wearing the Miraculous Medal (first called the medal of the Immaculate Conception), and saying the prayer each morning, “Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you,”  is one way to effectively practice this devotion. Saints who have been devoted to Mary’s Immaculate Conception include Saint Catherine Laboure (the nun who received the Miraculous Medal devotion from the Virgin Mary), Saint Bernadette, Saint Maximilian Kolbe, and Saint Mother Teresa (whose nuns have given out millions of Miraculous Medals).

Father Faber, who I am essentially relying on for this note, talks about the power of this devotion to Mary’s Immaculate Conception; he indicates that her Immaculate Conception “is the first dawn of the world’s redemption.” He further indicates that devotion to Mary’s Immaculate Conception is calculated to help us greatly in our “present needs…against the torrent of modern impurity” (and Faber was writing around 150 years ago, so how much more do we need this devotion now!). Perhaps you know someone battling impurity: here is a devotion “eminently calculated” to sanctify our unruly passions. Faber recommends immense devotion to Mary and her Immaculate Conception, calling such devotion “a special power with God.” Of the power of Mary’s mediation Saint Pope John Paul II once said:

“In Mary’s case we have a special and exceptional mediation…Jesus Christ prepared her ever more completely to become for all people their ‘mother in the order of grace’ ” (Saint Pope John Paul II, Mother of the Redeemer, 39)

This “preparation” began with the Immaculate Conception. If you are interested in the Miraculous Medal devotion, I recommend you read about the amazing conversion story of a Jewish man, Alphonse Ratisbonne. To do so, click on the post below:
The Miraculous Conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne

“…even the worlds of grace with which the angels were so munificently endowed, were as drops to the ocean compared with the grace of the Immaculate Conception” (F.W. Faber, The Precious Blood, p.145).

Renewal of the Church will come through devotion to Mary Immaculate. Otherwise, without devotion to the purity of Mary and Jesus, the Church is not true to her mission and suffers the horrible consequences of its own impurity.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8).

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Note: A short but powerful prayer invoking the Immaculate Conception is: “Oh Mary, by thy Immaculate Conception make my body pure and my soul holy.”  The tone and content of this note owing to the writings of Father Faber, and in the first two sentences I am copying him.

Image: The Virgin of the Lillies by William-Adolphe Bouguereau,1899 (Public Domain, U.S.A.)

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