BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches

Lk 1: 26-38

The Immaculate Conception is the third of the four Marian dogmas. It was solemnly and infallibly defined by the Magisterium of the Church through Pope Pius IX in the papal document “Ineffabilis Deus” on December 8, 1854. It simply states that Mary, at the first moment of her conception in the womb of her mother, St. Anne, was free from any taint of sin. In view of her role as Mother of the Incarnate God, Jesus, she was given by God this unique privilege of being preserved from any kind of sin, even original sin.

By reason of her election as the Mother of the Savior, Our Lady receives more grace than all the angels and saints combined. In his encyclical, “Ineffabilis Deus”, Pope Pius IX said, “God loved her with a unique predilection. He filled her with the greatest abundance of His celestial gifts, and her participation in the divine nature exceeds that of all the angels and saints together. Her life is so great a fullness of innocence and sanctity that a more exalted creature cannot be conceived of, except by the Creator Himself.” The Church proclaimed that this doctrine “is revealed by God and must, therefore, firmly and constantly be believed by all the faithful.”
It must be noted that in 1830, twenty-four years before the declaration of this Marian dogma, the Blessed Mother appeared to a French nun of the Daughters of Charity, St. Catherine of Labouré. She showed her the design of the medal, and on it was the inscription, “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” That is why this medal is called the Medal of the Immaculate Conception, and is now known as the Miraculous Medal.


And then, in 1858, four years after the dogmatic pronouncement, the Blessed Mother appeared again in France, and this time to a fourteen-year-old maiden, St. Bernadette Soubirous, in Lourdes. When asked about her name and identity, she solemnly declared: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” This is heaven’s confirmation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

On this feast, we honor Mary. With the Archangel Gabriel, we proclaim: “Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women.” However, Mary is not the only one blessed by God. Through her Son, Jesus, we, too, have been blessed by God, both materially and spiritually. The only reason why we do not realize this, and why we continue to have inner conflict and disharmony is the reign of sin in our lives. Sin is basically disobedience to God. Mary is great, not only because of her unique gift and privilege of the immaculate conception, but mainly due to her total and unconditional obedience to the will of God: “Be it done unto me according to your word.” Complete rejection of sin and total obedience to God made Mary truly great and “blessed among women.”

We can also be great if we follow the example of Mary. We cannot follow her as Mother of God. We cannot be like her as the Immaculate Conception. But we can imitate her in being totally obedient to God’s will and commands. May she always inspire us to be humble and obedient children of God. In these times of trouble and uncertainties, may we always have confident recourse to her motherly protection and care.

Pope St. John Paul II invites us to be close to our Heavenly Mother: “We look up to her as on a Star that guides us, shining through the dark clouds of human uncertainty. The annual Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception shines bright from within the background of the Advent Liturgy. We contemplate Our Lady in the divine economy of salvation as the ‘Gate of Heaven’ through which the Redeemer comes into the world.”

Let us conclude with these inspiring words from St. John Damascene: “Our Lady is rest for those who work, consolation for those who mourn, and relief for those caught in the storms of life, a fountain of compassion for sinners, a sweet relief for the sorrowful and a sure source of aid for those who pray.”

Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches



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