When you think about it, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is the celebration of the result of a sexual act.
God deemed in his infinite wisdom and generosity to bestow in human beings a deep drive and desire to connect with other human beings in a very physical, intimate and pleasurable way. This act which combines the fullness of our human natures, physical, emotional, and spiritual results in what is supposed to be the bonding of human beings in a unitive and again pleasurable way that results in the creation of a new soul in a new body. The whole process and all the steps involved is quite mind-blowing when you stop to ponder it, and all the details involved in the process.
When my father’s sperm hit my mother’s egg over 50 years, this act of mutual pleasurable self-giving resulted in the future writer who is composing this blog post that you are reading. I mention pleasurable again because God made this act that way. I find it fascinating to ponder that God would design the process of begetting this way. God made the creation of new people not in a destructive and painful act, but in one where one person pleases and delights another in a very unique way. This act is often misused and abused as individuals focus solely on the pleasurable aspect of it and ignore the commitment and exclusivity that God designed it for, namely Marriage.
I was conceived in the typical normal spiritual way. The necessary original sin of Adam was transmitted to me, and I was born with a sinful nature. My soul was waiting for the baptismal waters of regeneration to be poured on me years later. My granddaughter who was born not too long ago was also conceived in the same way that I was and inherited the fallen human nature passed on for generations since the fall of man. Thus, this is true of every man, woman and child ever conceived.
Except one human person.
Jesus of course was conceived without original sin, but He is not a human person. To think otherwise is to technically be a heretic.
Jesus is a Divine Person. One person with two natures. Not two different people with one nature each. One district person.
He existed before time. When he was conceived in time, it was without the transmission of an already existing human man.
God created Jesus’s human nature which includes a human soul from scratch, Creatio ex nihilo.
Mary was created in the usual way. She was conceived when St. Joachim’s sperm hit his wife St. Anne’s egg, resulting in the existence of Mary. But God did something different with Mary, that he hadn’t done since Adam and Eve. He did something he would not repeat afterwards. He silently and miraculously halted the transmission of original sin in Mary. The stain of separation from God did not touch her. God the Father bestowed favor on his beloved child so that he could prepare a fitting place for his only begotten child, God the Son, so that she could be his mother. God the Holy Spirit enveloped Mary in an act of coming into being not seen since the creation of the universe. When Mary the mother conceived, she would forgo the usual act of physically legitimate pleasurable self-giving. She would conceive Jesus not in a miraculous spiritual manner, but in a miraculous physical manner.
But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. Luke 2:19
The song Mary Did You Know is a song that I think really ponders the mystery of Christ and ponders Mary’s ponderings and the wonder and awe she felt of the role God destined her to have. In this season of Advent, we also get to ponder Mary in her Immaculate Exemption from the rest of sinful humanity. We also get to ponder her miraculous appearance to St. Juan Diego on December 9th as Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrated on December 12th. And Pope Francis has given us a new Marian feast to ponder on December 10th. The Feast of Our Lady of Loreto.
Tradition holds that a small house in Loreto, Italy originated in Nazareth and is the actual home of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The dimensions are very small, one-room measuring 30 x 13 feet. It is composed simply of stones and mortar found in Palestine and hand-chiseled in a style consistent of the time of Jesus. This was thought to be the home of Saints Anne and Joachim, Mary’s parents. The Immaculate Conception occurred in this house. It is here that the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, and with her “ Fiat” the Incarnation happened in this very house. This was also the house that the Holy Family lived in Nazareth after returning from their time in Egypt. Jesus lived here until he was 30 and began his public ministry. Here also is where St. Joseph died.
Since apostolic times this house was a place of pilgrimage and worship. In 313 AD Constantine built a basilica around the Holy House of Nazareth to protect it. The basilica was destroyed by the Saracens in 1090, but the Holy House was untouched. Another basilica was built during the twelfth century but this was destroyed by Moslems in 1263 during the Crusades. The Holy House was again unharmed. When the Christians were driven completely out of the Holy Land in 1291, the Holy House disappeared from Nazareth and suddenly appeared in modern day Croatia. It is said that angels transported it. The house was again moved (by angels) on December 10, 1294 (hence the date of the new Optional Memorial), due to the Muslim invasion of Albania. The house landed first in Recanti, Italy, but soon after moved for a third time to its present location in Loreto, Italy.
Jennifer Gregory Miller The New Advent Feast, Our Lady of Loreto (Dec 11, 2019)
It is fitting that celebrate the spiritual miracle of the Blessed Mother in the same season as the physical miracle of her son.
As Mary pondered these things in her heart may we ponder them in ours.
For more on the Immaculate Conception please see The Immaculate Connections