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As I was preparing to celebrate this Feast Day with you, I was reading through some of the lives of the Saints and what they had to say not only about Mary but about this singular grace of the Immaculate Conception. I’d like to read a few of them and reflect on them with you.

The first is from Saint Irenaeus, who said, “The Lord then was manifestly coming to His own things, and He was sustaining them by means of that creation that is supported by Himself. He was making a recapitulation of that disobedience that had occurred in connection with the tree.” He’s referring back to Eve and the fruit of that tree and the tree which Christ will hang upon. 

“Through the obedience that was upon that tree. Furthermore, the original deception was to be done away with.” So, the original deception of Satan on Eve would be done away with the conception of Mary.

“That this was to be overturned was happily announced through the means of the truth by the angel to the Virgin Mary so if Eve disobeyed God, yet Mary was persuaded to be obedient to God.” So, Mary was given the singular grace to undo all of the sins of humanity that occurred with Eve’s Original Sin.

“In this way, the Virgin Mary might become the advocate for us.” So, Mary is our advocate. “And thus, as the human race fell into bondage to death by means of a virgin.” So, Eve was a virgin when Original Sin happened. “So, it is rescued by a virgin. Virginal disobedience has been balanced on the opposite scale by virginal obedience. For in the same way the sin of the first man was received amendment by the correction of the first begotten of God.” That’s a quote from Saint Irenaeus, who was one of the early church fathers.

This is by Saint Ephraim, who is a doctor of the church: “You alone and your mother are more beautiful than any others for there is no blemish in you nor stains upon your mother who my children can compare in beauty to these.” We look at Jesus and Mary as being so pure and so holy.

When we are baptized, we are given the white garment, the Baptismal garment. In Baptism, we are free from that stain of Original Sin. We celebrate today that Mary was conceived without sin. She was given the singular grace for the redemption of all humanity, and she was given that grace by and through her son, Jesus.

Finally, a quote from Saint Augustine. He says, “Our Lord was not averse to males for He took the form of a male not nor to females for a female was born. Besides, there is a great mystery here that just as death comes to us through a woman, life is born to us through a woman. That the devil defeated would be tormented by each nature masculine and feminine as He had taken delight in the defection of both.” That’s by Saint Augustine, who’s also a doctor of the church.

I think that one stuck with me because of just everything that’s going on with gender identity and politics with that. We believe in our faith that there is goodness in males and females. “In the beginning, God created them male and female, and He looked at them, and He found them to be very good.”

Our culture and society tend to look at the power play of males and females. Jesus and God, through the Immaculate Conception of Mary and the birth of Jesus, wanted to reveal to us that there is something good and holy about the feminine. Mary was the first to be conceived without sin, and there is also something beautiful and good, and holy about the masculine Jesus and how God wants to redeem the world through Mother and Son.

Mary also is for us, both mother and virgin. She is the mother to all of us. When Jesus was dying on the cross, He pointed to His mother, Mary, and said, “Behold your mother.”

I have a really good mother, a saintly mother, and a good father too. But my mother is not perfect actually, by the way, you find that out as you grow older. Mary is perfect, so you have a perfect mother in her, and she’s your mother. 

Today, just think about those mother wounds that you may have or that we may have where we’ve been hurt in some way because of the imperfection or sinfulness of our own earthly mothers, but that God gives us our Heavenly Mother. Maybe you’ve lost your mother earth, and God gives you this heavenly to be with you, to journey with you, to walk with you, and to intercede for you. The good thing is if you follow Mary, you can’t go wrong because she is without sin and has always been without sin, and that’s what we celebrate on this great Feast of the Immaculate Conception.