THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION & ADVENT
Reflections from Fr. Reginald Martin, O.P.
Our faith tells us Jesus was like us in all things but sin. This means he was unlike us in one very important way. Our faith also tells us that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was like us in all things - not in sin, of course, but by sharing humankind's common need to be delivered from it, she by a special act of God's grace before her conception, we by God's grace at Baptism.
The Immaculate Conception is an event of immense importance in Mary's life, and it is one that gives us immense hope, as well. For what God has done for Mary, He does for us all - for her before her conception, for us, after. And for the same reason. So that we, like Mary, might give flesh and blood to God's word and present the Incarnate Christ to the world.
In their gospel narratives, the evangelists relate many accounts of Jesus' healing individuals who are ill. Those illnesses that beset individuals in the gospel are symptoms of a deeper illness that besets the world as a result of sin. Our First Parents closed their eyes for just a moment in the Garden, and the world has been blind ever since; they disobeyed God's commandment with their bodies, so our bodies disobey and disappoint us every day. Finally they die, and the victory of sin is complete.
But this material kingdom of illness and death receives a great setback in our Blessed Mother. Our first parents said "no," but God's grace - which we celebrate in Mary's Immaculate Conception - enables Mary to say "yes," and with that "yes," the remedy has begun.
Our bodies are no less material by Jesus' taking on our mortality from the Virgin Mary, but the Incarnation that begins remotely with Mary's Immaculate Conception, gives our bodies a new vocation. We are no less mortal, but grace enables us to say "yes," too, and that same grace charges us to present the human face of God's Word to the world, and to touch the world with Christ's just, loving and healing hands.
God prepared Mary by a unique grace to say "yes" to the Incarnation. That same grace enables us to say "yes" - to a special invitation to refine within us the image of the Incarnate Christ.
St. Francis of Assisi composed a "Salutation to the Blessed Virgin," in which he addresses Mary as "the virgin made church." What a remarkable tribute! Especially when we consider that, in the early days of our faith, church buildings we called, "the house of the Church." For Mary to be "made church" means she is the vessel that harbors all of us, beginning with Her Son. St. Francis' greeting continues, "Hail, His Palace, Hail His Tabernacle, Hail His Home!" And hail the vocation we have received with our Baptism, to follow Mary's example, especially in this Advent season, when our liturgy invites us in a very special way to identify with Mary as she journeys to Bethlehem. May we listen to God's Word during these days, and may we allow it - as Mary did - to take flesh within us, so that, like Mary, we may give birth to God's Word and touch the world with the healing hands of Her Son.
The Rosary Center always tries to offer something new and inspiring for Christmas, and this year we are pleased to share a charming children's book, The Little Star. The story relates the heavenly hosts' gathering to celebrate the birth of the King of Kings. But when they discover he is to be born in a stable, they conclude a mistake has been made and return to their original places in the sky. All but one, the smallest and least noticed of the stars.
We believe you might also be interested in the Scriptural Desk Calendar. The calendar's witty title, "No Bible, No Breakfast! No Bible, No Bed!" belies its beautiful design and its serious purpose, which is to give the faithful Catholic two apt Scriptural passages with which to begin and end each day. And don't forget The Christmas Mouse, which has been a favorite among friends of the Rosary Center for a number of years. This is another children's book, telling the story of a little mouse who is being chased by a cat finds himself inside a home, gazing at a beautifully decorated Christmas tree. He comes upon a book and falls into it. To his surprise, he is in a stable, and Jesus has just been born. 30 pages, 8" x 8".
You will find these items, as well as many other inspirational options on our secure order page. The Rosary Center is proud to offer a wide variety of devotional material dedicated to the Rosary, Mary, spiritual devotion, and the Church's teaching.
2 Novenas of Masses in honor of
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