December 2004 - District Superior's Letter
150th anniversary of the definition of Mary's Immaculate Conception. She was preserved from original sin in view of the merits of Christ and she also simultaneously possessed a plenitude of grace. Her immaculate heart will triumph!
150th anniversary of the Bull Ineffabilis Deus
This December 8th marks the 150th anniversary of the Bull Ineffabilis Deus in which Pope Pius IX defined thus the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady: That the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, in virtue of the merits of Christ Jesus, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and on this account must be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful.
This privilege, as all her other privileges, was granted to Mary because she was chosen to be the Mother of God, the Mother of Jesus.
The Immaculate Conception entails many things:
Preserved from original sin
The first is the fact that Mary was preserved from original sin. Original sin is the sin of nature, the hereditary stain which, all the children of Adam receive. It renders the soul the enemy of God, slave to the devil. It is a curse, a state of injustice, and a spiritual death. It makes us subject to the law of concupiscence, suffering and death, inasmuch as these are the punishment for the sin of our first father who, by his rebellion, lost not only sanctifying grace but also the preternatural gifts for himself and his descendants.
This could not be in the mother of the Redeemer who was to have an essential role to play in the salvation of mankind. It was impossible for the Mother of God to be at any time, even for an instant, the enemy of this same God, the slave of the devil, cursed, rebellious, and unjust. This is why Mary is so powerful against the devil and why Almighty God wants to use her to crush his proud head. She was also preserved from all actual sin and even from evil concupiscence. She is the Virgin most pure, the tower of ivory. Her intelligence and will were always perfectly submitted to God. She could not be deceived by error. She is the Seat of Wisdom, Virgin most prudent, Mother of good counsel. In her suffering and death were not consequences of sin like they are for us. In Jesus and Mary suffering and death were consequences of human nature, which without a supernatural gift, such as Adam received, is naturally subject to suffering and death. To be our Redeemer by His passion and death, Jesus was virginally conceived in mortal flesh and voluntarily accepted to suffer and die for our salvation. Mary, in the imitation of her Son, voluntarily made the same sacrifice to expiate with him in our stead and so cooperate in our redemption. Far from diminishing her power to suffer, the Immaculate Conception greatly increased her capacity to suffer because of her perfection and purity and charity. We suffer when our self-love, our pride, and our sensuality are wounded. Mary suffered from sin because of her great love for God who is offended by sin, and because of her love for her Son who was crucified for sin, and because of the damage it does to our souls.
Fullness of grace
Secondly, at the same time as she was preserved from original sin, she was filled with grace, such a plenitude of grace that St Gabriel makes special mention of it in his salutation: “Hail full of grace.” Sanctifying grace makes us partakers of the divine nature, of the very life of God. It is the seed of eternal life. It is what renders us capable of doing supernatural acts, meritorious for heaven, above all to love God, i.e. charity. Our Lady had this grace to the degree necessary for her to be the worthy Mother of God. St Thomas Aquinas teaches that: “we must reasonably believe that she who was to give birth to the only begotten Son of God, full of grace and truth, received more than anyone the greatest privileges of grace… The more one approaches to the source of all grace the more he receives: but Mary approached more than anyone the source of grace which is Christ.” Therefore she had a fullness of grace in a degree far superior to all the angels and saints combined. She received all the gifts of nature and grace necessary to make her the worthy Mother of Jesus. She is the masterpiece of God. And far from diminishing the glory of our Lord she increases it. Is an artist insulted when others admire his work of art? Could God be offended when we admire his masterpiece? Does not all the credit return to Him? This is what she herself did in the Magnificat.
Mary was redeemed in view of the merits of Christ
This definition does not mean that Mary escaped the universal law of redemption by Christ. The very opposite happened and as was fitting, she was redeemed in a more perfect way. In view of the merits of Jesus the one and only Saviour, Mary was not freed from original sin like we were, but she was preserved from it altogether. It is more perfect to prevent someone getting an infection than curing it after he has received it. This is what Jesus did for His mother. Jesus alone was preserved from sin by his own merits: because of the hypostatic union, that personal union of his humanity with the person of the Word and secondly by the virginal conception by the Holy Ghost so that he does not descend from Adam by way of natural generation. Mary was indeed redeemed by Jesus, not because of her own merit, but in view of the merits of her Son.
Importance of this mystery of the Immaculate Conception
Why is this mystery important? First, because part of the revelation which Almighty God has graciously made known to us. For this we must thank Him. Secondly, it shows the greatness of Mary and her essential place in the work of redemption. Thirdly, it marks the beginning of what St Louis Marie de Montfort calls “the latter times” in which Mary’s role in crushing the serpent will be, by the will of God, more prominent. “God wishes that His holy Mother should be at present more known, more loved, more honoured than she has ever been.” What better way than to have the Church define two great glories of Mary after Her divine motherhood: her Immaculate Conception and Her glorious Assumption? This is perfectly in line with the apparitions of Fatima where she says that in the end her Immaculate Heart will triumph. It is also very much in line with the apparitions of our Lady of Good Success in Quito in which after predicting the apostasy and widespread corruption even in the Church, she says: "In order to dissipate this black cloud, which impedes the Church from enjoying the clear day of liberty, there will be a formidable and frightful war, in which both native and foreign blood will flow, including that of secular and regular priests and other religious. This night will be most horrible, for, humanly speaking, evil will seem to have triumphed. This will mark the arrival of my hour, when I, in a marvellous way, will dethrone the proud and cursed satan, trampling him under my heel and chaining him in the infernal abyss, finally freeing the Church and the country from his cruel tyranny.
Her immaculate heart will triumph
So, my dear faithful, we need not worry, even as the corruption grows daily with every Supreme Court decision and with every act of Parliament. We must of course pray, sacrifice, protect ourselves against this corruption of faith and morals, but we must not worry. When we see these things happen we should look up and lift up our heads, because our redemption is at hand. Mary’s time is near. Her Immaculate Heart will triumph.
Each year Advent and Christmas remind us that our salvation is nearer than when we believed. These are times to show ourselves truly Catholics and not get all caught up in the commercialisation and worldly celebrations. There is more to Advent than Christmas parties and so many shopping days till Christmas!
We thank you for your continued fidelity. Be assured of our continued prayers for you and all your intentions. May you all have a blessed, happy and grace filled Christmas.
With my blessing,
Father Jean Violette