Grace to you!
December 8 (today) is one of my most memorable days. It’s a time to stay beside my bed and gaze at the statue of Our Lady of Grace, Blessed Virgin Mary, through whom the foundation of my spiritual life is built. She is rightly called Our Lady of Grace, the Immaculate Conception, the only figure in the bible to whom was appropriate the angelic greetings: “Hail, full of grace” (Luke 1:28).
Hail is old English for expressive greetings, and shouldn’t be understood as the more popular negative connotation of arrogance or command. “Grace” is the preferred translation of the text instead of “favor” as used by many bibles. Pope Pius XII’s Fulgens Corona made a strong argument for the use of grace in the text, and many Scripture scholars (I am not one) agree. Though favor is a synonym of the Greek word charis (grace).
Permit me to be a little personal. My intentional awareness of God and my relationship with God came through three strands of grace-moments. It began with devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary through daily praying of the Rosary. Mother Mary connected me to the Holy Spirit, an experience that happened when I was fourteen and a half years. I call it my true conversion. Then the Holy Spirit introduced me to Jesus in the Eucharist, renewing my love and commitment to reverence Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. This is the shortest version of my conversion story. I leave the remainder for another day.
I believe each and every one of us has their stories about how they witnessed the power of the grace of God and the life of God. Each story is unique and means much to those individuals. Mine is unique too. I see in my spiritual journey, the three-pillar growth relationships —through Mary, to Jesus in the Eucharistic devotion, in the Holy Spirit. So, every feast day of our Lady means much to me.
From Mother Mary, I have learned what it means to contemplate the face of Jesus. Through her, I have been introduced to the appreciation of God’s grace. Through her, I understand what Incarnate Spirituality is and what the Mother Church means for believers. Providentially, my deceased beloved mom’s name is Grace. Hence, I move or should I say, I connect from a human love to the love of the Mother of my Lord and, ultimately, with all my brokenness and weaknesses, to an intense love for her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, my devotion to Our Lady of Grace isn’t coincidental. It’s providence.
Also, December 8 was the day I was totally consecrated to Jesus through Mary Our Mother, in the way of Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort in 2000. It’s a powerful rite. I treasure this day and I know of many, all over the world, who are passionate about what this day means for the Church and for them.
You may not feel it or see it the way I do, but I tell you from my personal spiritual life experience, deep relationship with the Blessed Virgin Mary has a way of connecting us to the humanness of the Lord, and making very deep and personal our relationship with Jesus. Please, don’t ask me to explain this because it would only be scratching the surface. Jesus and his mother, Mary, know how they work that out in any child devoted to the two Hearts of Love. What I do know is that it’s for real.
In all of creation, three people were born in the state of original righteousness. The first two were Adam and Eve. One could say they had fullness of God’s grace. They were in the state of grace, sanctifying grace. They lost it through their personal sin, which we call Original Sin. We are implicated in that sin, not in a personal way, but by privation of what we should have been. It’s contracted and propagated to us through the fallen state of human nature.
The third person conceived in the state of fullness of grace is Mother Mary. The Catholic Church teaches that it is by God’s special grace, preventive grace (some call it prevenient or anticipatory grace—similar idea), in view of the role she, as the Second Eve, would play in the redemption of humanity because she would be the Mother of Our Savior.
You may want to read a beautiful explanation of this feast of Immaculate Conception and the biblical proofs from the article by Father William G. Most.
May Mary, full of grace, the Immaculate Conceived, pray for us. Amen
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.