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The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Let’s just calm down now. You have been making great progress with your evangelical Christian friends, working together on the evangelization of college culture. If they don’t understand your special love for the Virgin Mary, you have to remember that it’s not entirely their fault. They have been wrongly taught that all Marian devotion is based on pagan traditions that infiltrated the early Christian communities (how they can overlook the biblical prophecy referring to this devotion, “and all generations will call me blessed”, is, I admit, hard to fathom). They also have been wrongly taught to think that Marian devotion insults Christ, that it steals due reverence from him. This is why they have so aggressively challenged you today, putting a damper on your would-be joyful celebration of the patroness of the United States.
If you can keep these things in mind, it will help calm you down. Then, instead of just taking their blunt attacks like a martyr, you can take advantage of them in order to help your friends understand the truly Christocentric nature of Catholic Marian devotion. I mean, think about it, would Mary want to take any credit away from Christ? Of course not. So, will she let us do so? Hardly. Today’s feast is a case in point.
As you know, it commemorates both the conception of Mary in her mother’s womb, and the dogma (officially defined in 1854, after being believed and celebrated by the whole Church for centuries) explaining that that conception was “immaculate.” It was in order to be a fitting tabernacle for God’s incarnate Word that Mary was preserved from the slightest tinge of original sin even from the moment of her conception. This meant that her heart was completely free from any innate selfishness, any inherent tendency to sin – she, unlike anyone else since Adam and Eve, was COMPLETELY FREE to love God with an undivided love, to respond to him with her whole heart, mind, soul and strength. No internal divisions inhibited her total self-giving to the Lord. And ever since she was made mother of the Church and mother of all Christians (see John 19), she has borne that same untrammeled love for each one of Jesus’ brothers and sisters – that includes you and me. She loves each of us with the tenderness and attention of the most devoted mother, but without any of the insecurity or possessiveness that original sin tends to inject into most motherly love. Therefore, all her prayers and hopes for us have to do with bringing us into closer communion with her Son, the one Savior, who alone can give happiness and meaning to our lives. Jesus didn’t have to come to earth through Mary; he chose to. And he continues to come to us through her: he is the New Adam, and she is the New Eve; in them, mankind, created “male and female” in the “image and likeness of God” has already achieved its glorious destiny. It remains for us to join them – if we are willing to do so on their terms.
So Mary is great and worthy of reverence and blessing precisely because of her special relationship with Christ, willed by God. You know that. But your friends don’t. Why not ask Mary to give you opportunities to help them understand. I doubt she’ll ignore you.
Your loving uncle,