Saturday, December 15, 2018

Immaculate Conception: Original Holiness, Justice, and Beauty

DECEMBER 8, 2018

JESUS, I trust in you!

The greeting of the angel Gabriel to Blessed Mary reveals the Immaculate Conception: “Hail, full of grace. The Lord is with you!” it was an appropriate description of Mary’s soul which was “full of grace” from the very beginning of her existence. Hers was a soul unlike all of us who were conceived and born deprived of God’s abiding presence: “All men have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.” By the disobedience of Adam, sin entered the world. This sin, which we call “original sin,” is a deprivation of holiness and justice. God created man in a state of original holiness and justice. St. Paul tells us we were “created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:24). God created Adam and Eve in a state of original justice and original holiness (CCC 375). According to the Catechism, original justice means Adam and Eve were in a right relationship with themselves, each other, and all of creation (CCC 376). Original holiness means Adam and Eve shared in God’s own life through sanctifying grace, so they were adopted children of God (CCC 375). After the fall, our first parents transmitted to all of us a human nature deprived of this right relationship with God, with one another, with ourselves, and with all creation. Ours is an inherited nature that is deprived of God’s own life, God’s indwelling which is called sanctifying grace.

But not so for Mary: she was full of grace from the very beginning of her mortal existence. This is because she was “chosen before the creation began.” In the world, people are chosen for certain positions according to their achievements and track record. But this is not the case with Mary. Even before she was created, she was chosen to be the Mother of God. Or better yet, when God created the Virgin Mary, he already intended her to be the Mother of his only begotten Son. Therefore, he infused into that little fetus a soul that is full of grace. From the very beginning, the Lord was with her and has never left her. Hers was a human nature that was endowed with original justice and holiness. She was the most beautiful creature that God has ever created. None will be lovelier than her. She is the loveliest of all God’s creation: Tota pulchra es, Maria, et macula non est in te.

This is why Mary is our fallen nature’s solitary boast. Mary shows us the original beauty of our human nature. Hers was the beauty of the human being before the fall. Hers is the beauty of human nature redeemed. In her, we see how God wondrously created man and how he even more wondrously redeemed him. Take away all the corruption, all the ugliness of sin, and you will find man as God originally intended us to be. We look at Mary and we see the original plan of God for creation: wonderfully sharing in his Divine Life.

And this is what we ask our Redeemer to make of us: transform us according to the pattern of Mary’s beauty! Save us from sin! Save us from our own selves!  Restore in us the beauty of your Divine likeness. O loveliest of all God’s creation, preserve us in the Baptismal grace. 

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

1 comment:

  1. Greetings,

    Perhaps you are being presumptuous when you assert that "Hail, full of grace" [Lk 1:28] means that Mary was conceived immaculate (without Original Sin). From Codex Sinaiticus, [Lk 1:28] is "Hail, highly favoured", so your translation may be misleading. In any case, it does not state that the condition of "full of grace" was from conception - it could have come from a pseudo-baptism performed by the angel Gabriel. (if you can fabricate something, so can I)

    It is not generally agreed that Ephesians is a genuine letter of Paul, so to suggest that Paul wrote [Eph 4:24] may be incorrect.

    If Original Sin is the absence/deprivation of Original Holiness, of Original Justice, and of Sanctifying Grace, and that a human would acquire Original Holiness, Original Justice, and Sanctifying Grace through divine intervention, it follows that Original Sin is not a thing - it is a name given to the collection of the absences - the absence of Original Holiness, of Original Justice and of Sanctifying Grace. So it is not the case that Original Sin is inherited, it is the case that Original Holiness, Original Justice and Sanctifying Grace are withheld by God at conception.

    This makes redundant the idea of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. If Original Sin is not inherited, but instead God withholds Original Holiness, Original Justice and Sanctifying Grace, there would be no possibility of Jesus inheriting Original Sin from Mary if she had not been conceived immaculate. Presumably Jesus (being part of the Trinity) would have Original Holiness, Original Justice and Sanctifying Grace already.

    btw, your photograph of Mary is a gross mis-representation of a young first century Palestinian female.

    rgds, Ian.