What is the Immaculate Conception?, Mary: Day 176

What is the Immaculate Conception?, Mary: Day 176 January 13, 2016

year_with_mary_john_henry_newmanWhat is the Immaculate Conception?

Blessed John Henry Newman lays out in clear terms the meaning of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Since the fall of Adam, all mankind, his descendants, are conceived and born in sin. That sin which belongs to every one of us, and is ours from the first moment of our existence, is the sin of unbelief and disobedience by which Adam lost paradise. We, as the children of Adam, are heirs to the consequences of his sin, and have forfeited in him that spiritual robe of grace and holiness which he had given him by his Creator at the time that he was made. In this state of forfeiture and disinheritance we are all of us conceived and born; and the ordinary way by which we are taken out of it is the sacrament of Baptism.

But Mary never was in this state; she was by the eternal decree of God exempted from it. From eternity, God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, decreed to create the race of man, and, foreseeing the fall of Adam, decreed to redeem the whole race by the Son’s taking flesh and suffering on the Cross. In that same incomprehensible, eternal instant, in which the Son of God was born of the Father, was also the decree passed of man’s redemption through him. He who was born from Eternity was born by an eternal decree to save us in time, and to redeem the whole race. And Mary’s redemption was determined in that special manner which we call the Immaculate Conception.

It was decreed, not that she should be cleansed from sin, but that she should, from the first moment of her being, be preserved from sin; so that the Evil One never had any part in her. Therefore she was a child of Adam and Eve as if they had never fallen; she did not share with them their sin; she inherited the gifts and graces (and more than those) which Adam and Eve possessed in paradise. —Blessed John Henry Newman, Meditations and Devotions

What does it mean for my relationship with Mary to know that she was pre- served from all sin? How does knowing that strengthen my confidence in following her as a model of holiness?

From a prayer of Blessed John: Virgin most pure, conceived without original sin, Mary, pray for us.

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