Today is Feast of the Immaculate Conception in the Catholic Church, a holy day of obligation. The Church celebrates the dogmatic truth that the Blessed Mother was conceived “free of original sin and with the plentitude of divine grace,” as Pope Pius IX said in 1854 when he elevated this doctrinal truth of the Church to be the third dogma regarding Our Lady (her roles as Mother of God and Perpetual Virgin preceding and her Assumption following in 1950).
The explanations and spiritual reflections about this dogmatic truth and today’s holy day have filled theological books and prayer devotions through the centuries. What I would like to do on this post is offer a reflection that pertains to the life of single Catholics.
Artists have sought to capture the image of the Immaculate Conception and the most enduring one is that of Our Lady standing on the head of the serpent, the portrait of Genesis 3:15 — “she will crush thy head and thou wilt lie in wait for her heel.” It was the Old Testament prophesy that Mary, through her obedience in accepting the invitation to be the Mother of God, would undo Eve’s disobedience and start the process by which Christ would enter the world and bring about man’s salvation.
Thus, it is through invoking the Blessed Mother’s intercession that offers the surest way of defeating the power of original sin in our lives and of wiping out the constant grinding away that the Evil One wants to do with each one of us.
In the lives of single Catholics perhaps none of Satan’s taunts are more effective than the one that says who one is isn’t good enough, with singlehood being offered up as the principal proof. Giving intellectual assent to the lie results in people making all kinds of foolish decisions, twisting themselves into being someone they are not.
Or it can be on the reverse end and believing that what one wants out of life and a spouse is somehow not good enough and has to be changed— “settling” would be the operative word here. Getting us to accept these lies is how Satan inserts himself into our lives and wreaks havoc, not just with us but our entire familial and social circles.
Christ is the answer, and Mary is the pathway to Christ. Who better to remind everyone that God created and loves them as they are than the woman who is humanity’s mother? And what better day to remind oneself of that than the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, celebrated every Dec. 8?