In our last editorial, as we strugged with the flu bug, we talked about how many needed to be educated as far as what Advent truly means. The same is true for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception which we celebrate Tuesday. By the responses from the Confirmation candidates, who this editor teaches, there evidently are a lot of Catholics who believe it means the Blessed Mother Mary conceived her Divine Son Jesus in her womb. That is not what the Immaculate Conception is, but, because of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, she was able to conceive the Christ Child through the mystical impregnation of the Holy Spirit at the time of the Annunciation when Our Lady gave her fiat to the Angel Gabriel. Gabriel greeted this simple, humble maiden with the famous words we repeat constantly in the Hail Mary recorded in Luke 1: 28, and Mary responded with "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to Thy word." Gabriel confirmed after Mary had questioned how that could be since she was still a virgin and the Angel replied that "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee; and therefore the Holy One to be born shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1: 35)
The question so many ask is "why Mary?" Our question is "Why not Mary?" Mary provides the "female presence" in the Church, something so vital to a family and the Church is a family - the Mystical Body of Christ. Her Divine Son is the Head of the Church, she is the heart! What better personage than the Mother of God? She was God's perfect choice because He had prepared His vessel to be the purest of the pure from all eternity. The Father created His daughter to be totally free from Original Sin, the only such person to be gifted among all His creations. And it makes perfect sense for He would want the most perfect tabernacle to contain His Only-begotten Son. But Mary was not just a temporary tabernacle during the time she carried Our Lord. Like a devoted Mother she carried Jesus in her heart all her life and has continued to carry Him in her heart and share Him with all God's children ever since. By carrying Him in her heart, she also bears both the Immaculate Heart and her Sorrowful Heart for she shared everything with her Divine Son from the bitter cold that starry night in Bethlehem to the Presentation of Our Lord in the temple when Simeon prophecied that a sword would pierce her heart; from the rugged travels over rock-hewn terrain enroute to Egypt to the loss of His foster father Joseph and her chaste earthly spouse and protector; from the day He left their humble abode in Nazareth to begin His three-year public ministry to the pangs and pain of watching Him tredge up Calvary and die ignominously on the cross. But Mary knew this was all part and parcel in the mission God had intended for mankind and she played her role to perfection in perfect obedience. The Father knew this. That is why He chose this earthly daughter of Saint Anne and Saint Joachim, who provided the ideal preparation for their precious bundle of joy by submitting her to the temple to study Mosaic law. This was something few women were ever allowed, but because she was of the House of David, she was granted this special privilege. Anne and Joachim didn't know of Mary's special mission when she was a child, but we suspect intuitively Anne knew something was special about her daughter from the second she was conceived. From that time on no person in history - world history or Church history has ever been depicted in more various forms than the loving, humble, obedient ever-virgin Mary.
Today she is known by so many titles. Just peruse and pray the Litany of Loreto, also the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and you'll see just how involved in salvation she is for she is the Daughter of the Father, the Mother of the Son, and the Spouse of the Holy Spirit. Many of her titles have been bestowed, many have been designated by Our Lady herself in her apparitions - from Zaragoza when she announced she was "Our Lady of the Pillar" to Medjugorje where she let all know through the visionaries that she was the "Queen of Peace." At one of her more memorable appearances - that of Lourdes in 1858, she told Saint Bernadette Soubiroux, "I am the Immaculate Conception." This Heavenly pronouncement confirmed, in a nutshell so to speak, the Dogma Pope Pius IX had proclaimed four years earlier on this date that the Mother of God had been conceived without the stigma of Original Sin, therefore: Immaculate Conception.
But this dogma has been misunderstood by so many Catholics and rejected by non-Catholics. They cannot fathom that God could do something so wonderful, that He would choose a human being to be so elevated. Protestants demean the role Mary plays in salvation by demeaning God's Will, supplanting that with their own finite will which cannot comprehend such a mystery of faith. That stubbornness is the very reason many have left the Church down through the centuries, unwilling to acquiesce to the Will of God expressed through His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church on earth - the ONLY True Church founded by the Son of God which has continued unbroken for two millenniums. No other faith derives its origins directly from Christ even though the common nomenclature today for non-Catholics who believe in Jesus is "Christians" but that is truly a misnomer for they forget obedience is at the root of faith and by breaking away from the apostolic succession, by breaking with the Universal Church, by breaking from the Holy alliance of the Divine Will, and by refusing to submit to the Bishop of Rome as the legitimate successor of Peter, they have turned their backs on what Christ intended. In short, they have become allies with the devil. There is the doctrine that, for some reason or other, quite possibly because of the liberals push for ecumenism, has been buried for too long. That is "Outside the Church there is no salvation." Does that mean what we think it means? Basically, yes! All are obliged to belong to the Catholic Church in order to be saved. Jesus affirmed this in John 3: 5 when He says, "Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Ah, but the Protestants will refute that, pointing to "being born again in the Spirit" at some revival or another. But they forget that the Catholic Church is founded on the Apostles, those whom Jesus imparted the commission to baptize. Through the Sacrament of Baptism we are made a member of the Church, we become part of the Mystical Body of Christ. In other words, Baptism is indispensable. Therefore, the syllogism follows that the Church has to be indispensable as well! Again, it must be noted this teaching is understood that those who do not know the Catholic Church is the True Church, or through no fault of their own cannot join, can still be saved. However, it speaks volumes for those who do know and by their own grevious fault, usually through pride, refuse to embrace ALL THE TEACHINGS of Holy Mother Church. This includes both non-Catholics and "Cafeteria Catholics."
Because of the importance of the above statement, we will delve into this important doctrine in the coming year. In our editorials and in our feature "WHERE IS HOLY MOTHER CHURCH HEADING AS WE NEAR THE MILLENNIUM?" we will focus on the true teachings and simple apologetics throughout 1999 - the "Year of the Father" - for the harvest is ripe, but we need to tend the fields. We have many readers who teach CCD, RCIA and Confirmation classes in their parishes as they heed the call of Jesus and His Mother, echoed by His Holiness Pope John Paul II. Therefore, we are going to emphasize the truths in the simplest ways so 1999 can be a banner, landmark year in the history of salvation. We already know how pivotal it is because Our Lady has told us. Her Immaculate Heart is about to Triumph. We need to be ready to tend to the crops of converts who will come back in droves. We'd like to think this will become the year of the "prodigal sons and daughters" and we have Our Lady to thank for keeping us ever mindful of her role as Mother of the Church and our role as obedient children to her Divine Son's Will. We have no better example to profess and teach our faith to others than this "Second Eve" for God has given us the perfect vessel. Yes, it cannot be doubted or debated. God truly knew what He was doing when He deigned that Mary would be conceived without Original Sin. Now, as the hour grows late and the second millennium dwindles to one year, the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit and, by Their Will, the Immaculate Conception, urgently beckon us all to heed the dogmas, doctrines and teachings of the Church. We've been warned many times. Now, we all have one last chance to act on what the Perfect Ones ask! It is time to come to the Tabernacle where Christ resides and there, to remember the living Tabernacle God has deigned to be Immaculate. And also to remember that Immaculateness cannot be compromised!