Our Sisters wear a blue habit and a white veil. Because of our vow of poverty we wear our habits for several days before they go into the laundry. I hate spots! And I’ve told the Sisters that spots lurk around me and when I am not looking they sneak onto my skirt and grab hold!
As I was praying today I thought about spots! Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the dogma of the Church that declares that our Blessed Mother was conceived in the womb of her mother, St. Ann, without the spot – the stain – of Original Sin.
Just what does that mean? Each one of us is conceived with the stain of Original Sin. When we are baptized - immersed into the very life of Christ - the stain is removed and we are filled with sanctifying grace. However, we continue to be weak in the area of sin so we have to battle the tendency to gather spots on our soul throughout most of our lives.
That was not so for our Blessed Mother. At the moment of her conception she was filled with grace and when she was born she did not have the weakness to sin, what the Church calls concupiscence. That is why, at the Annunciation, the Angel Gabriel addresses her as “Full of Grace.” By freeing her from Original Sin, God prepared Mary to be the sinless Mother of His Divine Son.
Each one of us, Mary included, was born with free will. Mary could have said no” to God when Gabriel asked her to be the mother of God’s Son. But, because she was filled with grace her will was one with God’s will and she was able to quickly say “yes”. That’s not so with us. Because of our weakness to sin we are often unable to conform our will to God’s will or we are slow to say “yes”.
Mary is our model, our goal if you will. The more we grow in our relationship with her Son, the more often we resist that tendency to sin, the more we will be filled with grace and the sooner we will be able to say “yes” to God. There is a great blessing in all of this – it is by God’s grace that we are able to grow in holiness; we are unable to do so by ourselves. So, let us pray to our Blessed Mother in a special way today to help us be open to God’s grace. Let us thank her for her quick response to God's invitation. Without her yes, we would not have a Savior. “Hail Mary, full of grace... pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.