Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception: 8 December
Fr. Jean Galot, S.J.
Called to admire Mary's Immaculate Heart
In Mary, beauty and holiness are combined. The privilege of the Immaculate Conception makes us see in the Mother of Jesus an unparalleled beauty, superior to all forms of beauty we can admire in created beings.
The supreme model of beauty is God himself, who possesses perfect beauty. When he created the world with all the beings that are part of it, he made a reflection of his own beauty shine out in them all. Creatures have received from the Creator a beauty that likens them to the divine.
Mary was specially privileged because the Father wanted in his work of creation to create in the woman destined to become the Mother of his Son the most exalted resemblance to divine perfection. The Father desired that Mary would reveal a masterpiece of beauty, which would elicit the admiration of the entire heavenly world.
More specifically, Mary's most pure beauty was created to inspire Jesus' admiration. It was necessary that this beauty be wholly immaculate, free from any spot or blemish, to be contemplated with boundless joy by the One who desired to give humanity a face of absolute purity.
The most beautiful fruit of the work of grace had to be set before the Redeemer's gaze in order to develop in him the joy he would transmit to all people. Only the Holy Spirit could create a face of such sublime beauty.
On the one hand, he was the only One who could produce a creature who had never been touched by the shadows or corruption of sin, a thoroughly holy creature who could be called a creature of pure light.
On the other, as a Spirit of love he was able to kindle in Mary's heart the fire of the most intense love.
Superficially, the purity of an immaculate conception might have suggested a certain coldness, destined to protect the soul from any untoward impulse or deviation in its innermost affections.
In reality, however, the perfection of this soul could not but consist in the very lively warmth of a love that invaded and transformed all things.
From the very first instant of Mary's existence, the Holy Spirit had to kindle in her heart a flame that would fill her entire life with the most ardent love, so that the Father's supreme plan would be fulfilled.
If theologians had fully recognized this omnipotence of the Holy Spirit, the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception would have been defined much earlier than it was, in 1854.
But the entire work of the dogma's definition had to face several major doctrinal obstacles. For example, the universality of original sin that involved all human beings in the sin of Adam seemed to exclude any exception.
When this obstacle was overcome, another was advanced: the need for redemption. To assert that Mary had been preserved from all sin, it seemed necessary for her to have been redeemed by Christ; but to be redeemed, it seemed that she ought first to have been subject to sin, if she were subsequently to be delivered from it.
This problem was overcome when theologians understood better that by virtue of a more perfect redemption, Mary was liberated from sin by being preserved from it. Consequently, she was never contaminated by sin; she remained totally pure, a purity bestowed upon her by the Holy Spirit's divine power.
If Christ could admire the Immaculate Heart of his Mother, we are invited to do the same.
With the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the Church urges us to open our hearts to the joy that wells up from contemplation of perfect beauty.
This joy comes from the totally pure face of the woman whom Jesus never ceased to admire, and whom, in his admiration, he gave to each one of us as Mother.
Weekly Edition in English
29 November 2006, page 10
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