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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Immaculate Conception: Being Heroically Holy

In 1854, with the Papal Bull, Ineffabilis, Pope Pius IX solemnly proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception: "We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which asserts that the Blessed Virgin Mary, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God, and in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, was preserved free from every stain of original sin is a doctrine revealed by God and, for this reason, must be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful."


God asks for extreme courage in trusting Him and in loving others.  For someone to be united fully to the Holy Spirit,  a person must respond with strength that seems to be almost like God’s strength.  As impossible as it may seem,  the Blessed Virgin Mary did this!

You know,  it would have been a lot easier for our Blessed Mother, if she had been asked to bring forth Christ in secluded, cloistered security somewhere.

It would have been so much easier for our Blessed Mother had she received from the Angel Gabriel at least a guarantee of safety for herself and for the Precious Burden -- Jesus -- growing within her.

But our Blessed Mother did not have it easy just because she said “Yes” to God.

Our Blessed Mother consented to bear her own Child, Jesus, only!

When our Blessed Mother said "Yes" to the angel Gabriel,  she agreed to bear Jesus Christ into her own lifeBut she also agreed to bear Jesus Christ into all lives,  into all times,  in every human being: Not only into secure, protected lives, but into the lives of people troubled by poverty, by fears and temptations; people subject to disease, to persecutions, to chance, to misfortunes.

And while Mary, our Blessed Mother, consented to give birth to Christ, Christ Himself  consented to become completely dependent on Mary during His advent into our human lives.   Christ was absolutely helpless.  He could only go wherever Mary chose to carry Him.  Her breathing supplied His breath.  His heartbeat was enveloped within her heartbeat.

Today and in the future,  Christ is still dependent on human beings.   
Christ depends on us, like the Blessed Mother, to bring Him forth -- to carry Him into our world as it is right now!  Christ dwells within us  through the same Holy Spirit who dwells in the Blessed Mother.

Christ’s dependence on us  shows that He places a great deal of trust in us.  
We must carry Christ in our hearts  to wherever He desires to go -- and there are many places Christ may never go ... unless you and I take Him.

That calls for courage. Courage like Mary’s. Courage to be heroic. To be heroically holy!

Many, many people have the idea that  they can attain heroic holiness only if God sends them a special revelation,  perhaps through an angel;  a revelation from God for them to do something awesome. They can imagine themselves going cheerfully to be thrown to the lions,  or to be burned at the stake,  or to be drawn and quartered! 

But if God doesn’t send that mystical revelation to them, they think that God has not called and chosen them to be heroically holy and to bear witness to their faith in Christ to others.

And so, 

  • If God seems to let us go on ...   working at our usual jobs ... or doing our household chores day after day;   
  • Or if God asks us to continue being patient and gentle towards a cranky spouse or uncooperative children;   
  • Or if God asks us to just continue with our daily lives ...   and to face the anxieties and perplexities of living in the third millennium --     
Then,  we are not willing to become heroically holy and carry Christ within us to others.  We will not trust God to know His Own Will for us!

At times, it may seem to us that there is no glorious, Divine purpose to our going to work every day, or working around the home year after year.  
But it may be that God has placed us right where we are -- because, if it were not for us being there, then Christ would not be there!  If our being there means Christ is there,  that alone makes everything worthwhile.

The Blessed Mother’s Visitation to Elizabeth shows us this is true!   Mary -- carrying the Son of God within her --  set out to Elizabeth’s,  proceeding in haste.

If you and I go “in haste” and with eager wills to wherever our life’s circumstances compel us  -- because of our faith that Christ desires to be in that locale, with these people, in that situation  -- Then, we will find that we are driven more and more to act on the impulse of Christ’s love within us. And to act as the Blessed Mother acted all her life,  saying over and over again to God, ‘Yes -- let it done as YOU say.  I am the servant of the Lord!'

Mary’s “Yes” was her consent to become a living tabernacle,  carrying Jesus Christ,  allowing Him to take flesh, and to grow -- in silence, in humility -- within her.

It takes courage to bear Christ to others.  
It takes courage to trust in God’s word.
It takes courage to be holy in today’s world.   
God asks you and me for extreme courage in trusting Him and in loving others.
For us to united fully to the Holy Spirit, we must respond with strength that seems to be almost like God’s strength. Mary did this!

That’s why we pray with our Blessed Mother on this Feast day of her Immaculate Conception. 

May her example  help us to realize that we  are  carrying Christ within us amid all of the troubles,  anxieties, uncertainties, and sufferings that we face courageously -- day by ordinary day.

Holy Mary,  Mother of God,  prays for us sinners and teaches us how we have been consecrated by God as living vessels for the Lord Jesus,  carrying Him everywhere He desires to be found.

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