Elsewhere in this space, we have looked at the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, officially defined by Pope Piux IX in 1854. We have looked at why the Immaculate Conception must be true, and we have looked at a popular Christmas song that Catholics should avoid because it denies the Immaculate Conception. We also looked at the fact that Mary identified herself to St. Bernadette Soubirous as the Immaculate Conception at Lourdes, in 1858 -- just four years after the dogma was defined -- and that at the time, St. Bernadette did not understand what she meant. This was a sign that Mary really did appear at the grotto, and that heaven approved the definition.
Now, in a world that grows uglier by the day under the sway of atheism, materialism and licentiousness, let us take the time to stop and consider the beauty of this dogma. The Old Testament abounds with clues to Mary's surpassing purity, from the promise in Genesis of the woman who would crush the serpent's head to the Burning Bush of Exodus, to the Mother of Fair Love in Ecclesiasticus, to the all-fair woman in whom is no blemish and the lily among thorns in the Song of Solomon, to the virgin of Isaiah who would conceive and bear a son. Each and every privilege of Mary, including her great sufferings, flows from the fact that God preserved her free from the dominion of Satan from the first instant of her existence. In The Glories of Mary, St. Alphonsus Liguori says that Mary possessed the use of reason from the moment of her conception, so that she might love God and acquire merit even in her mother's womb; quoting St. Vincent Ferrer, he says that even before her birth, the sanctity of Mary surpassed that of all the saints and angels put together. It is more than we can comprehend; and Mary is a creature, and not divine! How much greater must the God be Who made her what she is.
The Gradual of the Mass: Salve, Sancta Parens, from the Common of Feasts of the Blessed Virgin in the 1962 Missal:
Benedicta et venerabilis es, Virgo Maria: Quae sine tactu pudoris inventa es mater Salvatoris. virgo Dei Genitrix, quem totus non capit orbis, in tua se clausit viscera factus homo.
Alleluia, alleluia. Post partum Virgo inviolata permansisti: Dei Genitrix, intercede pro nobis. Alleluia.
Blessed and venerable art thou, O Virgin Mary: who without loss of purity wert found to be the Mother of our Savior. Virgin Mother of God, He whom the whole world cannot hold enclosed Himself in thy womb, and became man.
Alleluia, alleluia. After His birth a Virgin entire thou didst remain: O Mother of God, intercede for us. Alleluia.
Who could not love the woman, about whom such lines are written? Who could not love the woman who inspired this beautiful hymn:
Inviolata, integra et casta est, Maria, quae es effecta fulgida coeli porta. O Mater alma Christi carissima, suschipe pia laudum praeconia: nostra ut pura pectora sint et corpora, te nunc flagitant devota corda et ora. Tua per precata dulcisona, nobis concedas veniam per saecula. O benigna, O Regina, O Maria, quae sola inviolata permansisti.
Inviolate, immaculate, and chaste art thou, O Mary, who hast become the glowing gate of heaven. O Mother of Christ, so kind and most dear, receive our devoted hymns of praise: that our minds and bodies may be always chaste, with fervent heart and tongue we now implore thee. Obtain for us, through thy sweetly sounding prayer, pardon for ever. O Mary, O thou tender Queen, who alone inviolate didst stay.
Queen conceived without original sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.
Oh, and by the way:
DON'T FORGET TO GO TO MASS!
Even if you are dispensed from the obligation in your diocese...go anyway. It won't kill us to attend Mass two days in a row.