“The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.”
In 1854, Pope Pius IX’s solemn declaration, “Ineffabilis Deus,” clarified with finality the long-held belief of the Church that Mary was conceived free from original sin. Mary was granted this extraordinary privilege because of Her unique role in history as the Mother of God. That is, she received the gift of salvation in Christ from the very moment of her conception.
Even though Mary is unique in all humanity for being born without sin, she is held up by the Church as a model for all humanity in Her holiness and Her purity in her willingness to accept the Plan of God for her.
Every person is called to recognize and respond to God’s call to their own vocation in order to carry out God’s plan for their life and fulfill the mission prepared for them since before the beginning of time. Mary’s “Let it be done to me according to Thy Word,” in response of the Angel Gabriel’s greeting, is the response required of all Christians to God’s Plan.
The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is a time to celebrate the great joy of God’s gift to humanity in Mary, and to recognize with greater clarity, the truth that each and every human being has been created by God to fulfill a particular mission that he and only he can fulfill.
“The word of the Lord came to me thus: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” (Jeremiah 1:5-6)
Mary’s holy and immaculate conception, by Francisco Rizi, Museo del Prado, 17th-century, Oil on canvas.