Immaculate Conception: the World’s Most Powerful Woman
In order to relax and unwind, I have been enjoying the most recent season of the Netflix show The Crown. It’s an interesting show that dramatizes the reign of Elizabeth II, Queen of England. I’ve had a fascination with the royal family for as long as I remember. I remember watching Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding when I was in high school and feeling green with envy over the beauty and luxury of it all. It seemed like a fairy tale.
This family who seems like normal average people have been given a pedestal and their only qualification is that they were born into or married into the Windsor family. Their reign is the culmination of generations of stories and individuals who thirsted for power and sacrificed to get it. I won’t go into the history of how the House of Windsor obtained the highest seat in England, but know that it was not done without scandal.
Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It’s perhaps the most widely misunderstood and bizarre feasts that Catholics observe. We cannot ignore the gravity of the feast, especially since it’s a Holy Day of Obligation outside of COVID-19 dispensations.
On this day, we celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin, not to be confused with the Annunciation which occurred on March 25, almost nine months ago. During the Annunciation, we celebrate the Archangel Gabriel visiting the Blessed Mother who asked her to be the mother of God. Nine months from today, on September 8, we celebrate the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin.
St. Ambrose describes the Blessed Mothers as “not only undefiled but a virgin whom grace has made inviolate, free from every stain of sin.” From the moment of her conception, Mary was completely and totally free from sin.
When we are baptized, the stains of original sin are washed away and we are made whole. But through free will, we still deal with sin and temptation. Mary was born free from sin and completely whole. This seemingly ordinary, simple woman whom history could have easily forgotten is now the most celebrated woman in the world.
To avoid the consequences of mankind’s fall from grace is woven into her very nature in order to create a perfect vessel by which Christ enters the world on Christmas. She isn’t “full of grace” strictly by virtue built by avoiding temptation. It is ingrained in her very nature.
Through Christ’s kingship, she is made Queen of Heaven and Earth. She is the most powerful woman in the world and beyond. This power is given to her by her son when he suffered and died on the Cross. It was not earned by war, greed, and selfishness. It was obtained through surrender, complete love, and sacrifice. It has never been done in the history of any monarch.
That should give us hope. Pope John Paul II said, “The Immaculate Conception shines like a beacon of light for humanity in all the ages. At the beginning of the third millennium, it guides us to believe and hope in God, in his salvation, and in eternal life. In particular, it lights the way of the Church, which is committed to the new evangelization.”
Let us pray especially for the intercession of the Blessed Mother during this great feast day. Through her example and the example of Jesus, we might imitate the love and surrender as we navigate the uncertainties of the world. Our Lady the Immaculate Conception, pray for us.