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Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2013/12/06 at 12:00 AM

 Although Advent is at its heart a penitential season – as evidenced by our use of the color violet – celebrating this great Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception with great rejoicing is in perfect keeping with this season.

Advent is our annual time to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord, to divest our souls of all that is not of Him so as to make room for our dear Lord’s coming: both His arrival as man in the Nativity, and ultimately His second coming at the end of time.

And today’s feast commemorates the marvelous and singular preparation our Lord completed in the soul of His august mother so that she would be ready to receive Him into her very womb.

Specifically, from the very first moment of her conception, our Lady’s soul was preserved free from any trace of sin so that she might be worthy to be the Theotokos, the Mother of God – a living tabernacle of God’s holy presence.

Not only did our Lady preserve her spotless, sinless nature throughout the entirety of her life on earth, but she also increased in holiness throughout the course of her life such that she attained a level of holiness that far surpasses that of any creature living before her or after her. No saint can or ever will challenge our Lady’s degree of holiness.

So as we continue our dutiful preparations for the coming of this Lord in this beautiful season of Advent, it is most appropriate for us to pause on this feast, and to consider and even celebrate the all-pure one whose child Christ is.

It is most appropriate for us to turn our hearts and minds upon her who is the fairest honor of our race, to contemplate her beauty, and to do our best to imitate her sinless holiness in every way.

Indeed, she is the one who is as white as snow, more beautiful than the sun, full of grace, and blessed above all women (Roman Breviary).

As we all know, the goal of every Christian soul is to attain the salvation won and promised to us through our Lord’s redemptive acts on the cross. But while we will not fully realize this goal until we die, it is possible to begin enjoying a foretaste of the Heavenly banquet even now.

In Heaven we will be perfectly united with the Godhead as we enjoy the Beatific Vision for eternity. But that union with God that is perfected in Heaven can begin in earnest even now. The great mystics of the Church point out for us the way to this mystical union.

From these saints we know that there are two essential conditions for achieving this mystical union with God now. Firstly, we must learn to detach ourselves from everything that is not of God. There can be nothing that we will that goes against the will of God.

It is for this reason that we must divest ourselves of any attachments that impede or hinder our love for God in even the slightest way.

Secondly, we must allow our own human will to be moved only by the will of God. The Holy Spirit and the inspirations He provides must be the sole cause of our actions.

We see both of these conditions perfectly fulfilled in the life of Mary. Never was she attracted to anything but God and His most holy and adorable will in all her life.

Indeed, our Lady was so completely focused on God and His will that she was only moved by the impulse of the Holy Spirit throughout the entire course of Her life – so much so that Mary is known as the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, the one most intimate with Him.Our Lady perfectly and fully corresponded to the will of God in all things and in every circumstance, even in the smallest details, throughout her earthly life, and it is for this reason that of all the marvelous creatures our Lord has created, she is the most marvelous; she is the most holy.

But while our Lady was created to give herself fully to God and has always done so, she does not draw away from giving herself to us, too, sinful and unworthy though we may be.

As the Refuge of Sinners and the Help of Christians, Mary is always quick to shower her maternal aids upon us.

She is joyful in helping us overcome our faults and failings, inducing us to repentance when necessary, and spurring us on to holiness of life through the practice of virtue.

She is the faithful and true mother who never forgets her children, but who is always attentive to their needs, ready to listen to their complaints, to soothe their woes, and to calm their fears.

So in all things we should be willing to entrust our cares to the one our Father in Heaven entrusted His only begotten Son.

My dear brothers and sisters, on this most glorious feast day, let us all turn with supreme confidence to the Holy and Immaculate One. Let us pray that through her maternal intercessions we may learn to overcome all earthly attachments that keep us from loving her Son as fully as we should.

Let us hope that by entrusting ourselves fully to her, our spotless and sinless Lady will help us to be fully prepared for our Lord when He comes to meet us.

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

Copyright 2011 Rev. Timothy Reid, Pastor of St. Ann Church, Charlotte, NC

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