Holiness and beauty are in her Conception: declare her glory among all people.
Traditional Roman Breviary
1969 was a very important year in my unimportant life. It was also a pivotal year in our culture. It was the year of Woostock (peace, love, mud, sex, drugs and rock and roll), Altamont (Rolling Stones, Hell's Angels, murder, sex, drugs and rock and roll), man landing on the moon, "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice", the Charles Manson murders, "Midnight Cowboy", "Easy Rider". The gay rights movement was born with the Stonewall riots in New York City's Greenwich Village in June of that year. 1969 saw the last public performance of the Beatles, the group who had defined my childhood in many ways. The Vietnam War was going strong with thousands of young American men dying for seemingly no reason. People were "tuning in and dropping out." And on December 8, 1969, the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception, I attended Mass and then decided to hang it up as a Catholic.
Up until just a couple of years before that momentous day in December 1969, I had actually been a pretty devout little Catholic girl. I even had a Marian altar in my bedroom at one point. But then my parents took my brother and me out of Catholic school in 1965 when the tuition went up to a whopping $50 a semester, and they put us in public school. It was all downhill from there, especially as the culture in which I lived started basically spinning out of control and taking me with it. In 1969 I was a young teenager coming of age and beginning to comprehend that the world in which I lived was basically mad, and I decided that even if there was a God, he didn't matter because he sure wasn't trying to do anything to stop all the madness. I was done with God and I was most certainly done with the Catholic Church.
And I walked away.
I did sort of come back to God in the next few years when I joined a fringe Christian group. But it took many decades before I found my way back home to the Catholic Church. It was on August 14, 2007, one day before the Feast of Mary's Assumption into heaven, that I went to confession and was quite literally snatched from the jaws of hell through absolution and forgiveness of the sin that had accumulated and blackened my soul since leaving the Church 38 years previous. I had to learn and re-learn many things, such as how to say the Rosary. And I, who as a little girl had been very devoted to my Blessed Mother, actually had to re-learn Marian devotion. Like other Protestants, I had completely turned away from our Blessed Mother and denounced all Catholics as Marian worshippers.
I decided last year to do St Louis de Montfort's Total Consecration to Mary. I knew this was a meritorious act that draws us close to Mary which in turn leads us directly to Christ because the Holy Mother and her Son are never separated. Mary's will has always been and will always be 100% in line with the Will of her Son. But I would not be telling the truth if I said I fully understood at that time what Total Consecration to Mary means in all its many aspects, and a year later I'm still learning. But I also know that understanding is not a pre-requisite when it comes to obeying our Lord and doing His Will. Our Blessed Mother showed us that when she said "Yes" to the angel Gabriel in agreeing to be the Mother of God. There was no way she could have known the consequences of her "Yes." But she knew it was the Will of God, and that was enough for her. Not understanding is never an excuse for disobeying God.
“We never give more honour to Jesus than when we honour his Mother, and we honour her simply and solely to honour him all the more perfectly. We go to her only as a way leading to the goal we seek – Jesus, her Son.” Saint Louis Marie de Montfort, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, #94
“If anyone does not wish to have Mary Immaculate for his Mother, he will not have Christ for his Brother.” Saint Maximilian Kolbe
“Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.” Saint Maximilian Kolbe
“Let us not imagine that we obscure the glory of the Son by the great praise we lavish on the Mother; for the more she is honored, the greater is the glory of her Son. There can be no doubt that whatever we say in praise of the Mother gives equal praise to the Son.” (“Non est dubium, quicquid in laudibus matris profermius, ad filium pertinere.”) Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Father and Doctor of the Church, Horn. 4, Sup. Miss.
“No matter how sinful one may have been, if he has devotion to Mary, it is impossible that he be lost.” Saint Hilary of Poitiers – Bishop, Father, and Doctor of the Church
|Mary was the living Tabernacle|
for her Son
Today, December 8, is the Feast Day of Mary's conception, and it is called the Immaculate Conception because Mary, unlike any human being other than her Son, was born without original sin. Adam and Eve were created without sin, but only Mary and Her Son were born without sin. It is a wonderful feast day to give glory to God for this magnificent creation and to our Blessed Mother for being that perfect servant of God and for always loving us and drawing us to Her Son. I personally give all credit to our Blessed Mother for bringing me back to the Church. I believe she remembered that little girl who was so devoted to her, and even though I fell far, far away from the Truth, she never gave up on me and brought not only me, but also my husband, back to the Church. It was Christ's redeeming sacrifice on the Cross that cleansed my soul, but it was Mary who pulled me back from eternal perdition and to the cleansing sacrifice of her Son. Only the love of God surpasses her love for her children.
I have included a meditation from today's Traditional Breviary that I feel is especially eloquent in discussing the Blessed Mother's role in our salvation. Our Lord certainly doesn't need His Mother in order to save us, and Mary does not have any ability apart from her Son to save our eternal souls. But just as Queen Esther in the book of the Bible named after her saved the Jewish people from certain death by appealing to the King, our Lady, Queen of Heaven and all the universe, saves us by appealing to the King of the Universe.
Homily by St. Germanus the Bishop
Hail, Mary, full of grace, holier than the Saints, higher than the heavens, more glorious than the Cherubim, more honourable than the Seraphim, and the most worshipful thing that the hands of God have made.
|Mary, Queen of all of God's Creation|
Hail, O dove, bearing in thy beak the olive-branch of peace that telleth us of salvation from the spiritual flood,―dove blessed omen of a safe harbour, whose wings are of silver, and thy feathers of gold, shining in the bright beams of the Most Holy and Light-giving Spirit.
|Mary is compared to the dove that Noah released|
to let him know that the world was saved from the flood;
Mary leads us to the true Salvation of the world
Hail, thou living garden of Eden, planted towards the East by the right hand of the Most Merciful and Mighty God, wherein do grow to his glory rich lilies and unfading roses, for the healing of them that have drunk in death from the blighting and pestilential breezes of the bitter West ; Eden, wherein hath sprung that Tree of life, whereof if any man eat he shall live for ever.
|Mary is like the Garden of Eden in which the Tree of Life, Her Son, is planted|
Hail, stately Palace of the King, most holy, stainless, purest, House of the Most High God, adorned with his royal splendour, open to all, filled with Kingly dainties ; Palace wherein is that spiritual bridal chamber, not made with hands, nor hung with divers colours, in the which the Eternal Word, when he would raise up fallen man, wedded flesh unto himself, that he might reconcile unto the Father them who had cast themselves away.
|Mary is like a stately palace in which the King dwells|
Hail, O rich and shady Mountain of God, whereon pastured the True Lamb, who hath taken away our sins and infirmities,―mountain, whereout hath been cut without hands that Stone which hath smitten the altars of the idols, and become the head-stone of the corner, marvellous in our eyes.
|Mary is the mountain upon which the Lamb of God grazed|
Hail, thou holy Throne of God, thou divinest store-house, thou temple of glory, thou bright crown, thou chosen treasure, thou mercy-seat for the whole world, thou heaven declaring the glory of God. Hail, thou vessel of pure gold, made to hold the manna that came down from heaven, the sweet food of our souls, even Christ.
|Mary is a precious golden vessel holding the true Manna of God|
Hail, o purest Virgin, most praiseworthy and most worshipful, hallowed treasury for the wants of all creatures ; thou art the untilled earth, the unploughed field ; thou art the vine full of flowers, the well overflowing with waters, Maiden and Mother;
|Mary is like a beautiful flowering vine|
thou art the Mother that knew not a man, the hidden treasure of guilelessness, and the clear, bright star of holiness ; by thy most acceptable prayers, strong from thy motherly mouth, obtain for all estates of men in the Church that they may continually tend unto him who is the Lord, and God, and Maker of thee, and of them, and of all, but of thee the Son also, conceived without man's intervention ; obtain this, O Mother, pilot them to the harbour of peace.
|Mary always leads us to her Son|
Be it thine to clothe God's priests with righteousness, and to make them shout aloud for joy in approved and stainless, and upright and glorious faith. Thine be it to guide in peace the sceptres of orthodox princes, even of princes who put their trust in thee to be the crown of their Majesty, and the Royal Robe of their greatness, and the firm foundation of their dominion, more than in purple, or fine gold, or pearls, or precious stones ;
|Mary always guides our Priests to her Son|
thine be it to put under their feet the unfaithful nations, nations that blaspheme thee, and the God that was born of thee ; thine be it to keep in meek obedience the people that are under them, according to the commandment of God. Behold, this is thine own city, which hath thee for her towers and her foundations,―crown her with victory, gird the house of God with strength, keep undefiled the loveliness of his tabernacles,―as for them that praise thy name, be thou their deliverer from strife and bitterness of spirit.
|Mary comforts all of her children with more|
love than we have ever known
Free thou the prisoner, protect the wanderer, and if there be any that hath no refuge, be thou him a consolation. Stretch forth thine hand help the whole earth―so shall we year by year keep this and all thy feasts, and at last be found with thee in Christ Jesus, who is Lord of all, and verily our God. To him, with the Holy Father, who is the Fountain of Life, and the coeternal Spirit, Three Persons and One Substance, even as there is one Kingdom, be glory and strength, now and for ever. Amen.There is no end to how we can praise our Lady. She gave her all when she was on earth, and she has continued to do so as Queen of heaven and earth. Our Lord has given us His Mother to comfort and love us and lead us to Him, and she will never fail any of those who put their trust in her.