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Feast of The Immaculate Conception

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Feast of The Immaculate Conception

Mary, the New Eve!

Nine months prior to the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (8 September), the Church celebrates the Solemnity of her Immaculate Conception. The Immaculate Conception of Mary is one of the four Marian dogmas of the Catholic Church, signifying that it is held to be a divinely revealed reality whose disagreement is heresy. The Immaculate Conception of our Mother Mary is one of the most misunderstood doctrines in conjunction with the virginal conception of Jesus. The Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception has nothing to do with the conception of Jesus rather it’s about the conception of Jesus’ mother- Mary in the womb of her mother traditionally named Anne.

The doctrine here has to do with the fact that Mary was conceived without any stain of original sin and that she was preserved immune from all stains of original sin from the moment of her conception like Eve in the Old Testament created without sin but we all know that Eve was deceived by the serpent. The doctrine also involves the fact that Mary committed no sin her entire life long as She has been the recipient of God’s grace to such an extent that Angel Gabriel truly addresses Her with a title like- “hail graced one, hail favored one” or as Saint Jerome puts it- “hail full of grace the Lord is with you.”

Irenaeus of Lyon, Justin Martyr and Cyril of Jerusalem developed this idea of Mary as the New Eve, depicting comparison to “Eve, while yet immaculate and incorrupt that is to say, not subject to original sin before the fall.” In the second century AD Irenaeus of Lyon said, “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary.” Cyril of Jerusalem in the fourth century AD said the same thing, “death came through a virgin- Eve, and therefore, it was essential that life also should come through a virgin- Mary.” Thus, Mary spent her whole life in a perfect relationship with God, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

When the Old and New Testament is read together, Mary is portrayed not just as the mother of the promised Messiah alone but She is very much depicted as the new Eve as the one who fulfills the prophecy from Genesis chapter 3 verse 15 of a woman who is going to be at war with the serpent and whose son will conquer the serpent. And that new woman is a kind of new Eve along with her Son, the new Adam. Mary’s identity as the new Eve is the source for the other ancient Christian belief that Mary was preserved free from all stains of sin as the only other person after Jesus- the new Adam.

Adam does not fall by himself; he falls with Eve. They cooperate in bringing transgression and death into the world. They both were active and cooperated in the fall. The same cooperation is going to be true in the salvific plan of redemption. If Jesus is the new Adam according to Saint Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:45, 47, who comes into the world to undo the effects of the fall, then the new Eve- Mary cooperates when Angel Gabriel appears to Her and thus, She accepts by saying, “let it be done unto me according to your word” and through Her ‘yes’ new Adam- Jesus Christ comes into the world.

Mary is the most perfect and immaculate fruit of Christ’s redemption. The first and most perfect fruit of Christ’s work of redemption appeared in His Virgin Mother, conceived without sin. A stupendous miracle, a miracle of Christ the Redeemer! The miracle worked in Mary was a singular privilege, a singular kind of redemption reserved by God for his Mother alone. She was not merely freed from original sin, but preserved from it, so that from the first moment of her conception she was immaculate. To be a Christian and as a kind of living icon of the Church itself, be holy and blameless in the eyes of Christ not through our own efforts but through God’s grace and through the love of Christ, is the only call of this feast.

+ In Christ, 

Father Henry Peter MSFS,

Sacred Heart Church,

Bhusawal, Maharashtra, India.

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