Feast of the Immaculate Conception Dec. 8

A window depicting the Immaculate Conception at the Cathedral, Wichita.

By Christopher M. Riggs
The Immaculate Conception of Mary is often confused with the Virgin Birth of Jesus, Monsignor William M. Carr says in a video series just introduced by the Catholic Advance.
The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin, Msgr. Carr says, deals only with Mary.
“We say it is the privilege by which Mary was preserved from all stain of sin – original and actual – from the first moment of her existence,” he says.
To understand what that means, Monsignor adds, we have to understand what the church teaches about grace.
There were some people, especially during the 18th century Enlightenment movement, who thought man was naturally good, that everything about him was good, Msgr. Carr says.
“Conversely during the Reformation,” he said, “Many of the reformers taught because of sin, man is totally depraved, he can never do anything right.”
The Catholic position is on grace, Monsignor Carr says in the video.
“God intended all of us to share his divine life,” he said. “When he created Adam and Eve, he created them into his own likeness – his image.”
Unfortunately, they lost that share of divine life by their sin, he says, adding, “We say that that loss of grace has been passed to every human being. That’s what we call original sin.”
It doesn’t mean that we are depraved, it means we have been deprived of something that God wants us to have. “He wants us to share his life, but we’re born without it. All of us except one.”
The Blessed Virgin was preserved from Original Sin and all actual sin, he says, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t need redemption.
“All of us are redeemed by the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ,” Msgr. Carr says.
So how was Mary redeemed if she was immaculately conceived?
After much reflection and debate the church concluded that the Blessed Virgin Mary was indeed redeemed, but that she was redeemed in advance of her conception.
“It’s as if Christ by his merits foreseen, protects her from all stain of sin,” Msgr. Carr says, “so that she is redeemed by the passion, death, resurrection of Christ, but she is redeemed by him - protecting her in advance.”
Msgr. Carr added that Mary is the one we should have been had there not been Original Sin.
“She is the one in whom all the things that were intended by God for us human beings are preserved,” he says. “And she’s the model of what we should be.”

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Download the audio here.