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Preparing for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8
By Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC (Dec 5, 2014)
The Divine Mercy devotion is one of the fastest growing "spiritualities" among Catholics today. With the canonization of St. Faustina and the establishment of the second Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday, the Church officially recognized the urgent need in the world to practice the core elements of the devotion: imploring mercy, trusting Jesus, and being merciful through the practice of both the corporal and the spiritual works of mercy. This is undeniably a great gift for our times!
Jesus Christ is the Divine Mercy; the Immaculate Conception is the created masterpiece of the Divine Mercy. Outside of the gift of the Savior Himself, both in the Incarnation and in the Eucharist, the greatest manifestation of Divine Mercy that God has given to the world is the Immaculate Conception. How can this be? This is so due to the fact that the privilege of the Immaculate Conception is a pure gift flowing from God's goodness.
For example, in all the other aspects of the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Divine Motherhood, Perpetual Virginity, Queenship, etc.) she fully participated in the acquisition of the graces required for that particular role. From her virginal motherhood to her assumption into heaven, she fully participated with God's saving plan. However, the Immaculate Conception is the sole gift that she neither merited nor acquired by participation. Thus, this gift is solely dependent upon Divine Mercy.
The Immaculate Conception is the prevenient grace that explains why we call Mary the "cause of our salvation." The causal dimension of the Immaculate Conception can be seen when we consider that this unique act of mercy given to Mary both prepares the way for, and will make her able to cooperate with, Jesus, The Divine Mercy Incarnate, who has come to save mankind.
In a similar way, the Immaculate Conception can also be understood as the "cause of creation." God initiated creation, allowing for its fall, because He planned to spiritually renew and elevate all creation according to the pattern of the Immaculate Conception; thus, the Immaculate Conception is not an after-thought but, rather, the instrument through which God sees the world. It is as though the Immaculate Conception were a set of bifocals given to us by Divine Mercy so that we can come to see both creation and salvation as God sees them.
Saints such as Maximilian Kolbe have pondered the intimate relationship between the Divine Mercy and the Immaculate Conception and concluded that the relationship is so mysterious that its brightness overwhelms the intellect. These two mysteries are so intimately connected that it will take a whole host of saintly theologians, mystics and scholars to unveil the wonder. Just as the mystery of the Trinity is that which sheds light on all things, so the mystery of the Immaculate Conception is that which sheds light on the mystery of both creation and redemption.
Father Donald Calloway, MIC, is vocation director for the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. He lives in Steubenville, Ohio.