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제목 LivIng in the light of God - Immaculate Conception(2015-12-08)
작성자 관리자 작성일 2015-12-09


 

LivIng in the light of God - Immaculate Conception(2015-12-08)


My dear Brethren,


The Blessed Virgin Mary was Immaculate in her Conception: she is “The Immaculate Conception”. What does this dogma of faith mean? It means that by a special privilege of God, in view of the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary was preserved from original sin.

Original sin was the great catastrophe at the very beginning of mankind, when Eve and then Adam disobeyed to God, and ate of the forbidden fruit, preferring their own will rather than the Will of God, refusing their obedience to God, and trusting the Devil’s words rather than God’s Word, hoping to acquire the knowledge of good and evil by their own selves, that is, to decide for themselves what was good and what was bad for them: they wanted no law above their own selves, they rejected God’s Law!


They did this sin in full knowledge and with a huge ingratitude to the Good Lord, Who had given them not only a wonderful paradise, but also the gifts of impassibility and immortality and knowledge and justice and above all sanctifying grace. Sanctifying grace is a wonderful friendship with God, which was manifested by the friendly evening conversation which they had with God. “And when they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in paradise at the afternoon air, Adam and his wife hid themselves from the face of the Lord God, amidst the trees of paradise.” (Gen 3:8)

After their sin, they immediately realise that this friendship was broken, so they hid themselves. They also felt the rebellion of the flesh, so they covered themselves with fig leaves. They had lost sanctifying grace; they had lost the “preternatural gifts” of knowledge, justice, impassibility and immortality; they were subject to death; their nature had been deeply wounded, that is, they now felt an evil inclination to sin.

That sin of Adam passes onto the children of Adam. Why is it so? It seems unjust! In order to understand that, one must consider that God had given sanctifying grace not just to Adam and Eve, but He intended that this sanctifying grace be passed onto their children: if Adam and Eve had not sinned, they would have transmitted the life of the body bound together with the life of the soul. In a certain way, the preternatural gifts were like a “bond” between nature and grace, perfecting human nature so that it be fit for children of God.


That Adam was an adoptive child of God is found in the Gospel itself, when St Luke in the genealogy of Christ ends by saying that “Adam was son of God”: not son by nature, but by grace: only our Lord Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son by nature, having the very same Divine Nature as the Father; but Adam was son by adoption, by grace. Now since Adam had lost these preternatural gifts, he could not give that which he had lost: so he could not pass on to us the preternatural gifts; but moreover, since he had lost the bond, he was no longer able to transmit the life of the soul (sanctifying grace) together with the life of the body. Hence the children of Adam are born deprived of the life of the soul, by the fault of Adam. The privation of that original grace is precisely the very essence of original sin. And with it, we inherit the wounded nature of Adam! Original sin was indeed the great catastrophe at the very beginning of mankind!
 
Original sin is a dogma of Faith: St Paul indeed writes to the Romans: “as by one man sin entered into this world, and by sin death; and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12). When one looks at mankind, and sees so many evils, such inclination to sin, one wonders how could that be if God’s work is always good?! Only such tragedy at the beginning of mankind can explain this sinfulness of men.

Original sin has three consequences: 1/ the privation of sanctifying grace, 2/ the punishment of death, and 3/ the wounds of sin: wound of ignorance in the intelligence, wound of malice (selfishness) in the will, wound of weakness and of concupiscence in the appetites. But God did not abandon mankind. He promised a Saviour, Who would “save His people from their sins” (Mt. 1:21). We “were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his exceeding charity wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together in Christ, by whose grace you are saved.” (Eph. 2:3-5). Our Lord Jesus Christ “appeared to take away our sins, and in him there is no sin” (1 Jn. 3:5).

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God, He is equal with the Father, He is the Almighty Who came down from heaven to save us from sin. He is All-powerful to save. And the proof of this is precisely the feast of today: it is the Immaculate Virgin. She has been so perfectly saved from sin that sin has had absolutely no power over her, no hold of her at all: she is perfectly immaculate, not only in her conception but continued to be so during her whole life, she is The Immaculata! She is the Virgin of virgins, extending the meaning of virginity to all domains: perfect innocence, never touched by sin. She received the best remedy for sin, the preventive remedy: she was preserved from all sin, from the very first instant of her Conception. She never committed any mortal sin, never committed any venial sin, and she was never infected by original sin, she had no inclination to sin at all, on the contrary: she is absolutely Immaculate.
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Now there were some heretics who denied original sin: they were called Pelagians. As a consequence, they denied the need of grace for salvation: they claimed it was possible to be without sin by our own natural powers, to obey all the commandments of God and go to Heaven without the help of our Lord Jesus Christ. Their heresy is continued in our modern times by Naturalism, which also denies original sin, and claims that all men are born good and it is society that makes them bad.


This is the philosophy of Rousseau and many others. Pope Pius IX, when he defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception on 8th December 1854, explained that this dogma is a remedy against the errors of Pelagianism and Naturalism. One might say: if our Lady did not have original sin, she did not need the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. But this would be a grave misunderstanding: indeed, it is by the very grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that our Lady has been preserved from original sin! Far from not needing grace, the Blessed Virgin Mary is precisely “full of grace”! And she is the first one to acknowledge that it was God Who did in her great things: “He that is Mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is His Name. And His mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear Him” (Lk. 1:49-50).

In our Lady, we find the antithesis of original sin: she is full of grace. She was not obliged to die, but since her Son chose to die to pay the debt of our sins, she chose to unite herself with him and so passed away, but came back to life and was assumed body and soul into heaven. And also, she had absolutely no wound of sin, no evil inclination, no selfishness, no weakness, no concupiscence.

St Bernard said that she “found grace with God” (Lk. 1:30), not only for herself but also for us. She has been given to us to be our mother (Jn. 19:27): she distributes to us the graces which our Lord has earned on the Cross; she gives us those graces that heal the wounds of original sin in our soul. WE NEED THE GRACE of our Lord Jesus Christ! “I am the vine: you the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5).


We need the grace of faith to enlighten our intelligence and heal the wound of ignorance; we need the grace of charity to enkindle our will with the love of God above all things and heal the wound of selfishness and malice; we need the grace of fortitude to heal the wound of weakness and overcome all the difficulties in our way to Heaven, the many difficulties especially due to the obstacles of the world; we need the grace of temperance and mortification in our sensibility to heal the wound of concupiscence and resist the evil inclinations in us towards immediate satisfactions and earthly pleasures, so that our soul can go up to God especially in prayer: “Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God” (Mt. 5:8). Our Lady was filled with those graces, “full of grace” and she will obtain all of them for us. She is not only an external model which we should contemplate, but also an active intercessor who will obtain for us interior grace that transforms and heal our soul.

God draws good out of evil: original sin is useful for us in order to keep us humble. Sin entered into the world by pride; Adam and Eve, who did not have original sin, became proud and fell grievously. For us, who were born with original sin, when we acknowledge our spiritual misery, this acknowledgement keeps us humble. After baptism, the remaining wounds also keep us humble. The Blessed Virgin Mary, by the grace she had received, always kept the deepest humility: “he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid;” (Lk. 1:48). She is powerful to help us in the practice of humility.

The first act of humility is the acknowledgement of our dependence on God: all that is good in us, we received it from God. Our Lady acknowledged that “He that is mighty, hath done great things to me” (Lk. 1:49). Gratitude is a beautiful virtue. We give thanks to God is in particular by the offering of the perfect Sacrifice of Thanksgiving, the Holy Eucharist.

God alone is “ens a se – Being by Himself”; He did not receive existence; all creatures are “ens ab alio – being by another, made by another”: we received existence ultimately from God. Hence God is absolutely independent from His creatures; but on the contrary, we are completely dependent upon Him. This transcendence of God is the very reason of adoration: our Lady acknowledged that transcendence in the same sentence of her Magnificat: “and holy is his name” (Lk. 1:49). Humility is intimately bound with reverence for God and adoration. So we offer to God the perfect Sacrifice of Adoration, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Our Lady understood so well both this dependence of God and His infinite perfection that she remained in perfect humility in front of Him: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word” (Lk. 1:38). But unfortunately, all other human persons fall in many sins, for some only venial sins, for many even mortal sins. And this is one additional very important reason for humbling ourselves in front of God: we are unworthy of standing in His sight; we are miserable sinners. St Peter, after the miraculous catch of fish, fell in his knees and said: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Lk. 5:8). So we absolutely need the Redeemer; we need to offer to God the perfect Sacrifice of Propitiation, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, to make reparation for our sins.

Our Lady helps us to acknowledge our sinfulness: by contrast with her perfect purity and innocence, our sins appear in the true light, in their ugliness: not only our mortal sins, which we should absolutely reject from our lives: NO MORE! But also our venial sins, which still displease God: we should strive to be more and more faithful to grace and pure as our Lady, as the Immaculata, with her help. In the fight against sin, she is most powerful: she crushed the head of the devil, this monster of pride, by her humility: “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head” (Gen. 3:15). We need her help to win the battle against sin, and for our all needs here below, that she helps us out of our many miseries; we need the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to ask for it, we offer the perfect Sacrifice of impetration, Sacrifice of petitions, the holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
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 The Immaculata living is all clean, all pure because she lived constantly in the light of God, in the Light of our Lord Jesus Christ: “In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (Jn. 1:4). “I am the Light of the world: he that followeth me, walketh not in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (Jn. 8:12). She perfectly followed our Lord Jesus Christ from the beginning of his life on earth till the end, till the foot of the Cross; hence she deserved to follow Him even further into Heaven by her Assumption. The Assumption is the ultimate reward of her fidelity to her Immaculate Conception. As the Immaculate Conception is the beginning of her life, full of grace, so is the Assumption the end of that same life, full of grace. Our Lady is full of grace, because she is full of our Lord Jesus Christ, “the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:14).

So let us draw the fruits of this feast, fruits of a deeper esteem for the marvellous gift of the Immaculate Conception to our Lady, a deeper trust in the power of our Lord Jesus Christ to save when we see the marvels He did in His mother, a deeper humility when we consider our misery, consequence of original sin, a deeper humility when we consider our dependence on God and strive to imitate our Lady, a greater fidelity to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, living of Him, living for Him, living in His Light until the blessed day when – by His grace – we shall come and see Him face to face in Heaven, with the Father and the Holy Ghost for ever and ever. Amen.


Fr. Laisney (sspxasia)