Thursday, December 07, 2006

Conceived Without Sin... the Buck stops here!

Tomorrow is the feast of the Immaculate Conception, celebrating the fact that the Mother of Our Lord was conceived without sin. She participated fully in the Redemption which was to be accomplished by Her Son so that she might be a fitting, sinless vessel for God incarnate.

I know sometimes people have a hard time with this dogma.

However, it does make some sense. If God is to become Incarnate, it is reasonable to expect that God would only be able to become a part of humanity in a sinless way. So, the fact that Mary herself was sinless is in reality a reflection both of the holiness of our God and the utter sinfulness and need of humankind.

In essence, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception proclaims loud and clear that the Buck stops here. At this juncture in human history, Mary's conception, the firewall of God's ineffable existence is raised against the forces of sin. From this beachhead, accomplished in the young teenage maiden of Nazareth, God enters our human existence in order to become as we are, in everything except our sin. He does this so that we can become as he is, sinless, loving and perfect, like our Mother Mary already is.

Here are some words from Pius IX, penned when the dogma was recognized by the Church in the 1800's. Forgive the exalted language... and look to the heart of the message, which sings like sweet music of our Glorious Lord and His Holy Mother.

"The Ineffable God -- whose ways are mercy and truth, whose will is
omnipotence itself, and whose wisdom "reaches from end to end mightily, and
orders all things sweetly" -- having foreseen from all eternity the lamentable
wretchedness of the entire human race which would result from the sin of Adam,
decreed, by a plan hidden from the centuries, to complete the first work of his
goodness by a mystery yet more wondrously sublime through the Incarnation of the

This he decreed in order that man who, contrary to the plan of
Divine Mercy had been led into sin by the cunning malice of Satan, should not
perish; and in order that what had been lost in the first Adam would be
gloriously restored in the Second Adam. From the very beginning, and before time
began, the eternal Father chose and prepared for his only-begotten Son a Mother
in whom the Son of God would become incarnate and from whom, in the blessed
fullness of time, he would be born into this world. Above all creatures did God
so loved her that truly in her was the Father well pleased with singular

Therefore, far above all the angels and all the saints so
wondrously did God endow her with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured
from the treasury of his divinity that this mother, ever absolutely free of all
stain of sin, all fair and perfect, would possess that fullness of holy
innocence and sanctity which, under God, one cannot even imagine anything
greater, and which, outside of God, no mind can succeed in comprehending

Bull "Ineffabilis Deus" Apostolic Constitution issued by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854

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