10 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Today, in the Catholic Church, we celebrate one of the great solemnities associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary – the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. This doctrine was declared dogmatic on December 8, 1854, by Blessed Pope Pius IX through an ex cathedra statement. For a full explanation of this dogma, I would encourage you to read my article, Special Friday Edition: “Mondays with Mary” – The Immaculate Conception: Explained.

Since you all know that I am a big Pope St. John Paul II fan, I thought I would focus today’s article on some of his quotes about this great Marian solemnity. Taken from a variety of his Angelus’ during his reign, here are 10 quotes from John Paul II on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception –

1. “The background for today’s solemnity is the biblical icon of the Annunciation, when the angel’s mysterious greeting resounded: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you” (Lk 1:28). “Full of grace”! Here is Mary, as God conceived of her and desired her in his inscrutable plan: a creature filled with divine love, all goodness, all beauty, all holiness.”

2. “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Sm 16:7). And Mary’s heart was fully disposed to the fulfilment of the divine will. This is why the Blessed Virgin is the model of Christian expectation and hope… In her heart there is no shade of selfishiness: she desires nothing for herself except God’s glory and human salvation. For her, the very privilege of being preserved from original sin is not a reason to boast, but one for total service to her Son’s redemptive mission.”

3. “This important Marian feast occurs during Advent, a season of watchful and prayerful preparation for Christmas. She who knew better than anyone how to wait attentively for the Lord guides us and shows us how to make more vital and active our journey to the Holy Night of Bethlehem. With her, we spend these weeks in prayer and, guided by her bright star, hasten to make the spiritual journey that will lead us to celebrate the mystery of the Incarnation with greater intensity.”

4. “What happened to Mary turns our attention to Jesus Christ, the only Mediator of salvation, and helps us to see life as a loving plan with which we must cooperate responsibly. Mary is not only a model of the call, but also of the response. Indeed, she said “yes” to God at the beginning and at every successive moment of her life, fully complying with his will, even when she found it obscure and hard to accept.”

Immaculate Conception – Bartolomeo Murillo

5. “Today we contemplate the humble girl of Nazareth who, by an extraordinary and ineffable privilege, was preserved from the contagion of original sin and from every fault, so that she could be a worthy dwelling-place for the Incarnate Word. In Mary, the New Eve, Mother of the New Adam, the Father’s original, wondrous plan of love was re-established in an even more wondrous way. Therefore the Church gratefully acclaims:  “Through you, immaculate Virgin, the life we had lost was returned to us. You received a child from heaven, and brought forth to the world a Saviour” (Liturgy of the Hours, Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturday, Benedictus Antiphon).”

6. “The Immaculate Virgin however invites us not to fix our eyes on her but to pass beyond, and as much as possible, to enter into the mystery in which she was conceived: the mystery of God who is One and Three, full of grace and fidelity. As the moon shines with the light of the sun, so the immaculate splendour of Mary is totally relative to that of the Redeemer. The Mother leads us to her Son; passing through her, we reach Christ. For this reason, Dante Allighieri notes fittingly: “that her radiance alone can dispose you to see Christ”.

7. “Mary was pleasing to God because of her docile humility. To the heavenly messenger, she replied, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1,38). It is with the same interior disposition that believers are called to accept the divine will in every circumstance.”

8. “Today the Church is celebrating the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. If Christ is the day that never fades, Mary is its dawn, shining with beauty. Chosen in advance to be the Mother of the incarnate Word, Mary is at the same time the first-fruits of his redeeming action. The grace of Christ the Redeemer acted in her in anticipation, preserving her from original sin and from any contagion of guilt.”

9. “The Immaculate Conception shines like a beacon of light for humanity in all the ages. At the beginning of the third millennium, it guides us to believe and hope in God, in his salvation and in eternal life. In particular, it lights the way of the Church, which is committed to the new evangelization.”

10. “Hail, full of grace. What do these words mean? The Evangelist Luke writes that Mary (Miriam), at these words spoken by the Angel, “was greatly troubled…, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be” (Lk 1:29). These words express a singular election. Grace means a particular fullness of creation through which the being, who resembles God, participates in God’s own interior life. Grace means love and the gift of God himself, the completely free gift (“given gratuitously”) in which God entrusts to man his Mystery, giving him, at the same time, the capacity of being able to bear witness to the Mystery, of filling with it his human being, his life, his thoughts, his will and his heart.”

Our Lady, the Immaculate Conception…Pray for Us

Pope St. John Paul II…Pray for Us

“Mondays with Mary” – St. Francis de Sales on the Immaculate Conception

As we enter the month of December, we enter the Season of Advent – four weeks of hopeful preparation anticipating the coming of Jesus Christ on Christmas Day. As important as the Season of Advent and Christmas are in the life of the Church, we also celebrate the great Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on December 8. This is the feast where the Church commemorates the Conception of Mary immaculately in the womb of her mother. On Friday, I will post a special edition of “Mondays with Mary” explaining the fourth doctrine which is so important in the life of the Church.

As for today’s post, I want to share with you some words of wisdom from one of the great Doctors of the Catholic Church – St. Francis de Sales St. Francis de Sales. Over the past months, it has been my great pleasure to share with you the words of this holy and learned saint. On August 6, I wrote the post, St. Francis de Sales on the Assumption of Mary and on November 19, there was The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Today’s post is St. Francis de Sales on the Immaculate Conception of Mary. It is important to note that at this time in Church history, the Immaculate Conception had not been formally declared dogmatic as of yet – that came in the year 1854 by Blessed Pope Pius IX. It was also not a holy day of obligation in France yet, where St. Francis de Sales lived and preached.

The excerpt below is from a sermon given on December 8, 1622 –

“As for Our Lady, the most holy Virgin, she was conceived in the usual way of generation. But since in His plan God had predestined her from all eternity to be His Mother, He kept her pure and free from all stain, although by her nature she could have sinned. There is no doubt about that, as far as actual sin is concerned.

Let me make a comparison in order that you may understand better. Do you know how pearls are made? (Many ladies desire pearls but they do not care about their origin.) Mother-of-pearl fish do as the bees do. They have a king and choose for that role the largest among them, the rest following him. They come on ocean waves when the air is freshest, which is at break of day, principally in the month of May. When they are all there they open their shells toward Heaven, allowing drops of dew to fall into them. They then clamp shut upon these drops in such a manner that they incubate this dew drop and convert it into a pearl, which is then considered so valuable. But notice, they close their shells in such a way that no salt water enters.

This comparison will serve my purpose well. The Lord has done the same for the Blessed Virgin, Our Lady, because at the instant of her Conception He placed Himself between her and sin – or rather, one might say, under her, to prevent her from falling into Original Sin. In the above example, if the drop of dew does not find the shell to receive it, it will fall into the ocean and be converted into briny and salty water. But if the shell receives it, it is changed into a pearl. In the same way the most holy Virgin was cast into the sea of this world by the common way of generation, but preserved from the salty water of the corruption of sin. It was fitting that she have this particular privilege because it was not reasonable that the devil be able to reproach Our Lord with the claim that she who had carried Him in her womb had [in Original Sin] been subject to him. It is for this reason that the Evangelist does not make mention of the father and mother of the Virgin, but only of Joseph, the husband of a Virgin named Mary. It was of her that Jesus who is called the Messiah was born. [Matt 1:16]. Thus by a special grace her soul possessed nothing [of Original Sin] from her earthly parents, as is the case will all other creatures.”

immaculate conception #2

You can see why St. Francis de Sales is a saint and Doctor of the Church. In three small paragraphs, he explains with the eloquence of angels the beauty of the Immaculate Conception. We are truly blessed to have such words at our disposal in the Church today. These words help us understand the mysteries of God’s kingdom more and more each day. They also display the importance of the Blessed Mother immaculately conceived through the power of God.