Photo: Felix Carroll

The Very Rev. John Rokosz, MIC, is Superior General of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception.

Sinless So That We Might Be Forgiven

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by Fr. John Rokosz, MIC

We are so familiar with the phrase "Immaculate Conception" as a title of Mary that it's easy to lose sight of its significance.

Though references and allusions to Mary as the Immaculate Conception can be found in Scripture going back to Genesis, she was not formally designated as free from the stain of original sin upon conception until 1854. The Lourdes apparitions began less than four years later. The world had to discover the meaning of this title.

What does it mean when Mary refers to herself as "the Immaculate Conception," and what are the implications for us?

The Immaculate Conception is the sign of the gratuitous love of God. On Dec. 8, 2007, I wrote a few words to my Marian brothers about the Immaculate Conception I would like to share with you. I hope the following words will help you in your resolve to strive for goodness, even holiness.

Within each of us, there is an inclination to sin, which wants to dominate us. If we establish that our primary goal is to fight evil, then our entire thinking will revolve around sin, which we will want to conquer. This will lead to a haughty type of ascetic "muscles" and a dangerous concentration of moral perfection.

The truth of the Immaculate Conception reminds us that Christ saves us. He waits until we come to him with all our misery and helplessness.

The Marians of the Immaculate Conception daily celebrate Mary's immunity from sin. Mary's privilege, unique in human history, reminds us of our salvation through the sacrifice of her Son, Jesus. In this way, Mary continually calls us to faithfulness in our redemption, purchased at so great a cost.

Each of us falls short of Mary's sinless nature, but all of us can claim salvation through faith in God. The motherly fruits of the Immaculate Conception, therefore, remain our priceless inheritance, the forgiveness and exclusion of sin.

The Very Rev. John Rokosz, MIC, is Superior General of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception. He is based at the Marian house in Rome, Italy.

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Moderator - May 18, 2008

For additional information on this topic, I would also recommend the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) paragraphs 496-511.

Inge - May 11, 2008

Dear Sharan: In regards to your question regarding Matthew verse 1:25 I recommend that you read the explanations found in Patrick Madrid's book "Where is That in the Bible?", page 76. The Church teaches that Mary remained a Virgin prior to given birth, during birth and after given birth of our Lord, that she remaind a virgin.
God bless.

Sharan - May 9, 2008

I'm a little confused. We say "Blessed Mary, ever Virgin" but in Matthew it says Joseph took Mary as his wife "but knew her not until she gave birth to a son" Since Mary asked the angel Gabriel how this could be "since I do not know man" , does this not imply that Mary & Joseph had sexual relations after Jesus was born? Please clarify this for me. I tell people that Mary remained a virgin, but they argue this point with me because of Matthew. Help!