Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary--8 December AD 2013

“The depths were not as yet and I was already conceived.”[1]

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Latin and English
Immaculate Conception of the BVM
In Conceptione Immaculata - December 8

    On this day in 1854, Blessed Pope Pius IX wrote: “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 Savior 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.”[2]

    To understand the Immaculate Conception, it is necessary to consider it both from the perspective of eternity, and from the perspective of created Earth and time.  If we begin with Earth and time we will more easily proceed to consideration in eternity.

    Roughly fifteen years before the birth of Jesus Christ, in a small suburb of Jerusalem, the elderly Jewish priest Joachim and his wife Anna conceived a baby girl in the normal and natural manner.  Apart from their age it was normal and natural in the physical sense, but when God endowed the child with her soul He created that soul as He had created the souls of Adam and Eve, in the state of sanctifying grace.  This has not happened since the fall of our first parents from grace.

    Adam and Eve had lost grace and, consequently, could not pass it on to their descendants.  We refer to this as the state of "original sin," although, in fact, it is more the absence of grace than any sort of sin committed by Adam's descendants.  At the time of the conception of this baby girl, whom we know as the Blessed Virgin Mary, everyone alive was born and remained in the state of original sin—the lack of sanctifying grace.  Tiny little Mary was different, for God allowed her to benefit in advance from the perfect redemptive act which He knew that their Son would offer one day on the Cross.  From all eternity God knew that this girl would be the perpetually sinless mother to their divine Son.  For made her perfectly sinless for He knew that one day she would become the Mother of God.

    From the perspective of eternity—even before creating anything out of nothing—God knew that mankind would abuse its free will, refusing to conform to His divine will, and thus would sin.  Mankind would be estranged from God, being unable to offer Him anything to make up for the immeasurable insult of offending the infinite God.  From eternity He knew the details of what would transpire in the Garden of Eden—how the serpent would successfully tempt Adam and Eve—and how He would promise a woman whose offspring would figuratively crush the head of the serpent, destroying sin and death.

    From eternity He knew that He would promise an offspring of Adam who would be "at enmities" with the devil—that is to say what she would be the polar opposite of the devil-- perfectly holy, perfectly humble, perpetually chaste, and never opposing her will to His.[3]  That such a woman could ever lack sanctifying grace was repugnant to His divine mind.  The Blessed Virgin Mother of God had to be without original sin from the very instant of her conception.  The Immaculate Conception was willed by God from all eternity.

    This is why the Church is justified in accommodating the verses you heard from the Old Testament book of proverb, which you heard before the Gospel to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  “The depths were not as yet and I was already conceived.”

    Some object that the Immaculate Conception was a modern creation of the Church, and not part of sacred Scripture or Tradition.  Pope Pius answered all such objections in his Apostolic Constitution, recounting the promise of God in Genesis, and the nearly unanimous teaching of the earlier Popes, Councils, and theologians.  Not to mention being memorialized in the Sacred Liturgy.  Not to mention Mary’s being the sacred vessel which carried God Himself for nine months.

    Some who object will claim that Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Church’s preeminent theologian rejected the Immaculate Conception, and that others of his Order suggested a conception in original sin followed shortly thereafter by an infusion of grace.  To be more precise, Saint Thomas held that redemption was necessary for all mankind, including the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is true, but not the same as saying that she had original sin.[4]  Saint Thomas was also handicapped by the natural science of his time, which held that there was a time interval between conception and the reception of the soul, causing him to hold that the Blessed Virgin could not have received grace until this period had elapsed.[5]  If Saint Thomas was wrong, his assertions are merely negative.  I think it would be appropriate to close with a positive statement made by Saint Thomas:

       Purity is constituted by a recession from impurity, and therefore it is possible to find some creature purer than all the rest, namely one not contaminated by any taint of sin; such was the purity of the Blessed Virgin, who was immune from original and actual sin, yet under God, inasmuch as there was in her the potentiality of sin.[6]

    Mary was obviously less than God in that she could potentially sin, but, as Saint Thomas tells us, in actuality she committed no sin of her own and was “immune from original sin.”

 “The depths were not as yet and I was already conceived.”



This sermon was already printed and transferred to the Internet when it occurred to me that while I had described the Immaculate Conception to you, I failed to suggest the way in which that Immaculate Conception should form our personal lives.

By virtue of our Redemption, our Baptism, and the Sacrament of Confession, we can be very much as Mary was from the time of her Conception to the time of her Assumption into Heaven—that is to say that we can be sinless and in the state of sanctifying grace.

We should recognize that Mary could have sinned, but did not.  If we want to imitate Mary in her Immaculate Conception, we must resolve to do likewise.  So on this day of Mary’s sinless conception, let us all resolve to imitate Mary in saying “No!” to sin.  Let it be said that “we could have sinned, but did not.”



[1]   Epistle, Proverbs: 8: 22-35

[2]   Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus

[4]   Summa Theologica –I-II, Q.81 a.3

[5]   Summa Theologica –III, Q.27

[6]   From the Commentary on the Book of Sentences, quoted in



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