What is the Immaculate Conception?

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Time, Love, and the Immaculate Conception

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By Terry Peloquin (Dec 7, 2019)
Einstein's theory of relativity suggests that the only true constant, the speed of light, means that time can run faster or slower depending on your altitude and how fast you are traveling.

To test his theory, the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colorado, did an experiment in 2010 with two atomic clocks (which can measure time to billionths of a second). In confirmation of the theory, the clocks' differences showed the effect of gravitational pull.

So, if you live high above sea level, sorry, but you'll age a smidge faster. At least 90 billionths of a second over a lifetime.

One of the first things we learned in catechism is that God is eternal. So, He is not constrained by time. He also is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in what we call His attributes. But "love" or "mercy" is more than an attribute for the Eternal One. God is Love. God is Mercy (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 221). And love is how God reveals Himself. Let's look at the Catechism again, emphasis added:

In the course of its history, Israel was able to discover that God had only one reason to reveal himself to them, a single motive for choosing them from among all peoples as his special possession: his sheer gratuitous love. And thanks to the prophets Israel understood that it was again out of love that God never stopped saving them and pardoning their unfaithfulness and sins (218).

God's "gratuitous love" and the element of time are key components in the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The defined dogma of the Immaculate Conception states:

We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.

How does this dogma point to the significance of time? One, "the first instance of Mary's conception" and two, "in view of the merits of Jesus Christ the Saviour of the human race," meaning looking ahead to the graces from the Cross before it happened.

The Immaculate Conception as part of God's eternal plan for salvation also goes back in time.

Creation is the foundation of "all God's saving plans," the "beginning of the history of salvation" that culminates in Christ. ... [F]rom the beginning, God envisaged the glory of the new creation in Christ (Catechism, 280).

God chose Mary from all time, among all women, and gave her a unique gift to prepare her to bring the Redeemer to the world. Look at how St. John Paul II captures the mystery of this back-and-forth in time in relation to the Immaculate Conception:

Chosen in advance to be the Mother of the incarnate Word, Mary is at the same time the first-fruits of his redeeming action. The grace of Christ the Redeemer acted in her in anticipation, preserving her from original sin and from any contagion of guilt (Angelus, Dec 8 2003).

Now, what about the gratuitous love?

God freely gave Mary a unique gift — not due to her own merits, but out of His love, for her sake and for ours. This unique gift was so that Mary would be worthy to be the mother of God.

But let's not forget that Mary was only able to receive this grace because Christ would later redeem all humanity through His Passion, Death, and Resurrection.

No one is saved except by God's mercy. And no one has been saved in such a fashion as Mary. In Ineffabilis Deus (Defining the Immaculate Conception), Pope Pius IX confirmed the uniqueness of her redemption as more of a pre-redemption. That is, he stated that Mary was not cleansed from sin, as the rest of redeemed humanity. Instead, she was completely prevented from contracting original sin in view of the foreseen merits of Jesus Christ, our Savior.

That brings us back to that relative idea of time. We have an interesting occurrence for this year's observance of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. In 2019, Dec. 8 falls on a Sunday — which means the solemnity is moved a day later to Dec. 9.

Whatever time we celebrate this solemnity, let's say with confidence, gratitude, and joy a favorite prayer of Marian Founder St. Stanislaus Papczynski: "May the Virgin Mary's Immaculate Conception be our health and our protection."

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Helen - Dec 12, 2019

Thank you for sending this!

Earl and Sherida - Dec 9, 2019

Our Lady of Perpetual Help, thank you as we continue to place all in you Immaculate Heart...

Maggie - Dec 9, 2019

Bl Mother wrap your mantel around my two sons and help them to take the first steps to speak to one another again.
Please let them feel Jesus calling them to church.

Alison - Dec 9, 2019

Dear Mary,
I have ever asked that you would imprint your beautiful portrait on my daughter Sheila (and me, too). Pray that she may again be receptive to your Son's Love and grace.Amen.

Mike - Dec 9, 2019

Mother Mary, Please pray for me and my estranged daughter Lindsey. She has not spoken to me in 14 years. Heal our relationship. Amen

Lilly - Dec 9, 2019

Thank YOU Sweet MOTHER for a LOVE so GOOD, for a HEART so pure that you could give so MUCH. We are FOREVER GRATEFUL to YOU and TO ALL THAT IS OF GOD for YOUR immeasurable GIFTS.

- Dec 9, 2019

Thank you Blessed Mother Queen of the Universe for your love & guidance!

- Dec 9, 2019

- Dec 9, 2019

T.A.M. - Dec 9, 2019

I love you sweet sweet Mary!!
Thank you for your “Yes!”
Immaculate Mary
Chosen before time
To be the Mother of Salvation, Mercy, and Love
Mother of the Church
Our Mother
And is the Morning Star
Who reflects the Light of Jesus Christ
To the whole World!!
“Mother Mary, may I hold baby Jesus in my arms today and tomorrow and all the days of my life?”

Maureen - Dec 9, 2019

Mary our mother please pray for our families and all the families of the world. With love and gratitude now and forever.

Florence Hedges - Dec 8, 2019

Prayers for families to get back to God. Peace in the world

Mary Anne - Dec 8, 2019

I pray for the ff. intentions -

- my complete healing from the hypertension, essential thrombocythemia and gallstones
- spiritual growth of my children and Joseph
- peace and harmony among the residents in the house where we stay
- grant healing for all the sick
- peace and harmony in this world
- jobs for the unemployed
in Jesus' name. Amen.

Phyllis - Dec 8, 2019

Mother Mary please pray that our son can be healed and have a conversion of his heart. Also for peace in all our hearts and conversion of all my family and my husband and I as well.

Grandma - Dec 8, 2019

Please pray that my great granddaughter will be baptized in the Catholic faith.

T - Dec 8, 2019

Please pray for my husband Mary. Lord exonerate him. Mother Mary Please intercede healing for my son and my family. Bring peace to our situation. Amen

- Dec 8, 2019

Please pray for Leonardo, having problem keeping is food down , he is 14 years Old,
For healing,
Thank you ????

- Dec 8, 2019

Pray for us Dear Blessed Mary, our Families and
All the families is the World.

Debbie - Dec 8, 2019

Please pray for Emma who was born on this date, 12 years ago
Please pray for my husband, BILL F, who is ill with leukemia and heart blockages and symptoms
Thank you

- Dec 8, 2019

Amen ????

Bob - Dec 8, 2019

Mary, conceived without sin, Pray for Us.

Johanna - Dec 8, 2019

Thank you Mother Mary for saying yes to the Angel Gabriel even though this was anticipated since she was born without sin.

Marge - Dec 8, 2019

Dearest Mother Mary, I love you. Thank you for saying "Yes!" to God to being the Mother of His Divine Son. And thank you for saying "Yes!" to Jesus to being our Mother in heaven and on earth.

David K - Dec 8, 2019

Ave Maria, gratia plena!

Richard Bérubé, Gatineau Québec Canada - Dec 8, 2019

The real whole beauty of the Blessed Virgin Mary is to magnify God, and not herself.

Kathy Quarti - Dec 7, 2019

We were told today at Saturday mass that this Marian feast day is not to be a holy day of obligation??? How come??? It always has been in the past. I am confused.

Sarah - Dec 7, 2019

What a wonderful reflection and meditation on our Lady. She is indeed the best model we could've ever hoped for. I hope that I continue turn to her for guidance and encouragement. She always pointed everything back to her son, Christ. May she intercede for us all.

Marlena - Dec 7, 2019

Praise God ! Thank you, Blessed Mother for saying “Yes” to Gods Will.

Andrea - Dec 7, 2019

Thanks be to God for the Immaculate Conception. Thank you for this insight.

Elizabeth - Dec 7, 2019

I am so grateful to have and know Mary as my Mother and to be her "special" child through baptism and consecration to Jesus through Mary. May I live in and love through her heart and may she guide me to be a holy mother as I live Under her Mantle - totus tuus!

Mildred - Dec 7, 2019

It is such a beautiful consolation to know that each one of us were in the mind of God even before the foundation of the world.Thank you Jesus.

ROLAND - Dec 7, 2019

I pray daily to the Blessed Mother. I was born on December 8, 1933. This was also the day that St. Bernadette was canonized.

Teresa - Dec 4, 2019

Mary pondered in her heart, when situations occurred..When Mary and Joseph bad been serching for their Child for 3 days and 3 nights (foreshadowing of Christ's death and resurrection);they found Him in the temple and Mary told Him,"CHILD, your father and I have been serching for YOU" Christ answered her,"Do you not know that I must be about MY Father's business?" We can ask our Virgin Mother in prayer, to please lend us her heart in our troubling situations. She will always answer us through the grace of God our Father.

Mike - Dec 1, 2019

I've always found that there is something absolutely refreshing when you ponder the Immaculate Conception in your heart.

Bernice - Dec 1, 2019

I love reflecting on time in God's Mind. It all passes before him as a great panorama in which He can intervene when He chooses in light of what is coming.