The Immaculate Conception
By Rev. M Hamon, SS
Invoking Mary Immaculate
Inasmuch as nature has placed in the hearts of mothers a certain kind of weakness, by which children obtain from them more than they ask, there exists also in the heart of Mary a more loving feeling towards those who honor her under the title of the Immaculate Conception. Mary conceived without sin has been invoked by tempted souls, and they have triumphed over temptation; by afflicted souls, and they have been consoled; by troubled hearts, and they have recovered peace; by courage ready to fall, and it has been fortified. Besieged cities, threatened with pillage, have been known to inscribe on the doors of their houses, “Mary was conceived without sin,” and they were preserved; buildings in the act of being consumed by a conflagration, individuals menaced by a thousand perils, have been saved by the inscription, or by pronouncing the same words.
The medal bearing the effigy of Mary conceived without sin has filled the whole world with marvels; it has driven away misfortunes, brought down graces, converted sinners, and it has deserved to be acclaimed everywhere by the title of the miraculous medal. The sanctuary of Our Lady of Victories at Paris, at one time almost entirely forsaken, no sooner dedicated itself to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, than it became the most celebrated sanctuary in the world, the one most frequented, and where miracles have been multiplied.
Pope Pius IX, lastly, when exposed to the attacks of his enemies raging against him, recommended himself to Mary conceived without sin, and in tranquil Rome, surrounded by furious enemies, he was able to hold an ecumenical council, the freest and the most independent of the powers of the earth which has ever been held. The accomplishment of this great fact is a guarantee to us that whatever trials may happen, the Church will triumph over them all, as she has done over the preceding ones, through Mary Immaculate. Is anything more required to show that the mystery of the Immaculate Conception is a treasure of graces to which we ought to have recourse with full confidence in our temptations and trials?
A Precious Lesson
This mystery, in fact, teaches us: the purity of conscience which it is necessary to bring to Holy Communion; for if it was requisite that Mary should have been so pure in order to receive into her womb the Word Incarnate, how reprehensible would those be who did not bring to Holy Communion a conscience without reproach, seeing that the God of the Eucharist is the same as the God of the Incarnation. How pure ought those to be who receive this Incarnate God, not once only, as Mary did at the Annunciation, but so often during their lives!
This mystery teaches us to watch over ourselves, our imagination, our mind, our hearts. For if Mary, in whom all was upright, pure, innocent, exercised the most active vigilance over her virtue, how carefully ought we to watch over ourselves, and mistrust ourselves, we who are so fragile, so inclined to evil, so easily seduced.
This mystery teaches us ceaselessly to progress towards perfection; for if, as is certain, Mary, although eminently holy, ceaselessly aspired, during her whole life, to a still higher degree of holiness, if she labored without a pause to become more holy by means of a constant correspondence with grace, how shall we, so imperfect as we are, dare to place limits to our perfection, remain always the same, which is the same thing as going back, according to the maxim of the saints, “Not to advance is to go back.” How, continually receiving, as we do, graces from God, shall we allow them to remain sterile in us, without being determined to break off our attachments, without advancing there where God calls us? Let us keep this lesson of the Immaculate Conception in the bottom of our hearts, and let us conform our conduct to it.