Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. It is a day we honor the fact that, from the moment of her conception, Mary was “preserved immune from all stain of original sin.” It is an important aspect of our Catholic faith, and a wonderful opportunity to ponder the role of Mary in our lives and in the life of the Church.
Father Richard Simon, host of Father Simon Says™ shared his own thoughts on the Immaculate Conception, and how we can recognize the importance of Mary in our life of faith.
“This is a wonderful feast day, the feast of the Immaculate Conception,” he said. “As I was celebrating Mass yesterday I was looking at the Blessed Sacrament, and it’s kind of an intimate moment for me as I was praying. And it occurred to me that this wonderful meal, this sacrificial meal in which we participate, in which a billion people participate, was given to us by the Blessed Mother. The Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us. He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.”
Fr. Simon shared, “This is God’s greatest gift to us – the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ – this great, messianic, sacrificial banquet. And I realized it was the gift of a little Jewish girl. I was overwhelmed by that.”
Fr. Simon also reflected on Mary’s role in the Church. One of Mary’s titles is Mother of the Church, but Fr. Simon pointed out that not only is she the Church’s mother, but she is also her first member.
“Think about it, there was a time in history when there was only one person in the Church,” he said. “She was the first in history to accept Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. She was the first person in history to be saved by the grace of Christ on Calvary. She was faithful to Him at that Cross on Calvary and she was there on Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Church. The Bible says so. That means that she is the first member of the Church.”
“So why does she have to be immaculately conceived?” Fr. Simon asked. “Because it is a holy Church. One, holy, catholic, and apostolic. There are sinful people in the Church, like me, and if it were just me in the Church it wouldn’t be a very holy Church. But I am part of something that is wonderfully holy because it has always had members of it who are holy, the first one being the Blessed Mother.”
Father Simon encouraged listeners on this Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception to reflect on the holiness of Mary, and how important her Immaculate Conception is in the life of the Church and in our own life of faith.
“She is the guarantor of the holiness of the Church,” said Fr. Simon. “This is a very important idea. It may sound to you like some sort of parsing of things or picking at fine hairs. No no. This is very important. She is the guarantor of the holiness of the Church. She is the model of the Church, the paragon. If you want to know what the Church is like, don’t look at me, look at her. She is the icon of the Church.”
“In these troubled times, you may look at us old guys in the black shirts and the plastic collars and you may be very disappointed,” he said. “Because we too, like you, are sinners and are saved by grace. Don’t look at me to see the Church. Look at her.”
Listen to the full reflection below: