What’s the Deal with Catholics and the Immaculate Conception?

by Advent and Christmas, Liturgical Seasons, Mary - The Blessed Mother, Mass

As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, it is a great day to ask some important questions about Mary, like: “What’s the deal with Catholics and Mary? Why do Catholics worship her? (We don’t.) How could a virgin give birth? What is the Immaculate Conception?” and “Why do Catholics pray to Mary?”

These are questions to ask throughout the time of Advent. It is a time when are all invited to accompany the go deeper into the mystery of the Incarnation.

Why does God ask for the help of a young Jewish Girl? How is it that he would entrust his Son to her care? What keys can we discover for our own Christian life when we reflect on Mary and her life, found in the Gospels?

What’s The Deal With Catholics And Mary?

Father Edison, a friend of Catholic Link, offers us some thoughts and reflections:

Mary’s Participation

When she visited her cousin, Elizabeth, Mary proclaimed, “Behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. The mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is His name” (Luke 1:48-49). Mary proclaimed these powerful words not in arrogance but in humble recognition of the wonderful plan of God for all men and women, meaning, for you and me.

In unfolding His plan, God invited Mary to actively participate in it. Such an invitation to man and woman by God to participate in the divine plan is not something new. This began from the beginning of creation: Adam and Eve were invited to become stewards of all that God has made (Genesis 1:28-30). However, Adam and Eve failed to play their parts with respect to God’s plan. With Mary, on the other hand, that all generations will call her blessed is a simple recognition that she indeed played her part precisely according to God’s plan. Along with her son, Jesus Christ, we see the new Adam and the new Eve. Jesus and Mary offer themselves to us not only as examples but the models for all men and women who desire to cooperate and collaborate with God.

Mary’s Magnificat

We are created by God “in His own image and likeness” (Genesis 1:26-27). Wow! Anyone who reflects on this wonderful reality could definitely live a happy life and die a happy death. This, of course, means that we need to take ourselves more seriously. We cannot and should not settle for living our lives only on the “natural” plane, but rather we must open our eyes to something greater, something supernatural.

Mary teaches us to do precisely this in her Magnificat. There, she recognizes and gives thanks for the Lord’s action in human history: God is not a far away God, He is one that cares for his Creatures. Out of love, his supernatural grace penetrates, illuminates, and transforms the natural reality. In her Fiat, her “yes” to the Lord and his Plan, she becomes the model for all Christians, for all those who open their lives to the concrete action of the Lord and cooperate with it.

The Virgin Birth

This is utterly inconceivable in human terms but not for God. But that Mary was, is and remained a virgin after the birth of Jesus points to two realities:

  • Jesus is the Son of God and has Mary for his mother.
  • When God invites us to work with Him, divine grace does not destroy but rather perfects our human nature (Saint Thomas Aquinas).

The Immaculate Conception

That Mary was conceived without sin and remained unstained by sin throughout her life only indicates the power of God’s grace, given to us through and in Jesus Christ. In the “natural” plane, no one could affect any influence on the past. But in the “supernatural” plane, God’s grace in Christ flows not just in the present but also overflows in the past and in the future. Mary stands as a witness that God’s grace knows not the boundaries of time and space.

Mary’s Intercession

The Miracle at Cana (John 2:1-12) shows us two things:

  • That Mary is the mother who shows concern for all her children.
  • Her maternal voice is so effective that her Son, Jesus, hears it. For these reasons, Catholics have the courage to ask Mary our Mother to intercede, that is, to pray for us, her adopted sons and daughters in Christ.

How Can We Live Like Mary?

1. Be attentive to the Word of God as it comes to us in the Scriptures and in the Tradition of the Church. Allow it to grow in us. We may not find ourselves having to carry Jesus in our womb but we are invited to carry Jesus in our hearts and to give birth to him in the goodness of our thoughts, words, and actions.

2. Be attentive to Jesus Christ. As Christians, we are those who are like Christ. It is important that we encounter Jesus as a person in the Gospels, in our personal prayer, in the sacrifice of the Mass, and in one another. In as much as Jesus is true God, we encounter in him our very personal God. And in as much as Jesus is true man, we find in him our true selves – something that Adam and Eve failed to comprehend and achieve. Mary’s rosary is a concrete way of walking with Mary through the life of her Son, Jesus.

3. Be attentive to one another. We are a family: we have God as our Father, Jesus as our brother, and Mary as our mother. We live in communion and so it must “supernaturally” come to us to help one another – be it in the form of material assistance or spiritual help as in praying to God for one another.

This video is produced by Busted Halo, an excellent website for apostolic resources.

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