Pope Pius IX issued the Papal Bull “Ineffabilis Deus” on this date in ARSH 1854 in which the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary was defined.
We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.
To confirm this, God sent The Blessed Virgin herself to a tiny village in southern France called Lourdes to appear to an illiterate teenaged peasant girl – at the town garbage dump. Note that the Blessed Virgin did not appear to the theological faculty at Paris, or Louvain or Rome to confirm a nuanced and debated truth about her very existence. No. She appeared to an illiterate peasant girl who had just recently been reprimanded in her catechism class for not knowing THE THREE PERSONS OF THE TRINITY.
It is shocking to think: how could someone who didn’t even know the Three Persons of the Trinity be deemed worthy to converse with the Mother of God? First, because Bernadette Soubirous was 100% Catholic by virtue of the Sacraments, in which GOD IS THE ACTOR upon the person. But it is clear that Bernadette was deemed worthy because of her CHARITY and her HUMILITY. She went to Mass and Confession and prayed the Rosary and did these things WELL without being able to pass a catechism test because her soul was pure and filled with love of God and of her fellow man, and because she was filled with humility.
It is also one a species of miracle – which the local clergy and bishop eventually realized – that an illiterate peasant girl like Bernadette could report back to the Bishop, per his request, that the Lady said to Bernadette that the Lady was the “Immaculado Councepcioũ”. For an illiterate peasant girl who struggled to name the Three Persons of the Trinity, for her to drop this phrase – and not in French, and not in Latin, but in her own local dialect of the Occitan language, which is itself an interstitial branch between French and Spanish – was basically impossible unless Bernadette was taught the phrase by The Lady herself, exactly as Bernadette said. Bernadette even said that the Lady had her repeat the words multiple times so that she wouldn’t forget, and then Bernadette kept repeating them as she walked back to town to tell the Bishop so that she wouldn’t forget them.
But why does it even matter if the Blessed Virgin was conceived without the stain of Original Sin? Because the Immaculate Conception speaks directly to the Divinity of Our Lord.
This dogma and non-negotiable tenet of Christianity teaches that Mary was, by the grace of God, prevented from carrying the stain of Original Sin from the moment of her conception. To deny this is a deal-breaker. The logical consequences of denying the Immaculate Conception inevitably lead to denying the Incarnation and Divinity of Jesus Christ Himself. When the Blessed Virgin appeared to Bernadette and told her in no uncertain terms and in St. Bernadette’s local micro-dialect of the Occitan language, “Qué soï era Immaculado Councepcioũ” the Dogmatic Definition of just over three years earlier by Pope Pius IX was underlined by Heaven itself. All that remained was for science to progress sufficiently to confirm this – and that has now happened. More on that in a second.
Mary was saved from Original Sin by her Son, saved by Him like all of the other faithful, it is just that the timing of her salvation was different from everyone else. This is why Mary, sinless though she is, still calls God “my Savior” in her Magnificat in Luke 1:46-55. Instead of letting Mary fall in the mud puddle of Original Sin like the rest of us, God stuck out His Arm back through time from the Cross and kept her from falling in the mud puddle of Original Sin in the first place – but if it weren’t for God’s positive action of reaching out across time from the Cross and holding her from falling, she would have fallen. This is called “grace”, and is what the Angel Gabriel was referring to when he greeted Mary at the Annunciation with the words, “Hail! Full of grace! The LORD is with thee. Blessed art thou among women.” Luke 1:28
Full of grace means FULL. OF. GRACE. How full is full? Full is totally full. To the brim. Full does not mean half-full or mostly-full. Full means full. Mary was FULL OF GRACE.
And because Mary was FULL of grace, as we know directly from the inerrant words of the Gospel of Luke, there was absolutely no room for sin. Mary didn’t sin because God her Savior had filled her with grace and therefore she just COULDN’T sin. Most of us reading this have a tiny taste of what this is like. For example, I’m guessing that everyone reading this would be incapable of killing a baby. We just COULDN’T do it. No matter what threat was made against us, no matter what the adverse consequences to our own lives might be, we would take any adverse consequence before killing a baby. We are simply incapable of performing that act. Why? What is that internal force of energy that prevents us from committing acts of evil even when under intense duress and threat? It is grace. Pure and simple.
Sadly, most of us have a little grace, but are not in any way FULL of grace. I am personally much closer to being full of crap than of grace (which many of you have already pointed out to me – thank you very much), hence the daily, persistent, repeated sinning on my part. And I suspect it is a similar situation with you, dear reader, with the grace-to-crap ratio being much higher for you than for me. I really am quite full of crap. With Mary there was no crap because God her Savior had FILLED her with grace, and thus there was no room for crap, and thus there was no sin. It’s really just 2nd grade math if you think about it. But WHY? Why was it essential for Mary to be sinless and sinless from the moment of her conception? That’s where the science comes in.
There are two phases to Mary’s existence. The first phase was from the moment of her conception until the Annunciation, which is when Jesus was conceived in her womb by the Holy Ghost. The second phase was from that moment of Jesus’ conception forward for all eternity. Each phase has its own physiological delight attached to it which required Mary to be a sinless vessel for Our Lord.
First, the pre-Annunciation period. As it has been discovered just within the last few decades, all baby girls have all of the eggs that are ever going to be in their ovaries fully formed not just at birth, but fairly early in their fetal development phase. Unlike men who are continuously producing new sperm, a woman’s eggs aren’t created and formed with each menstrual cycle. All that is happening during a cycle is that an egg, which has been fully formed in a woman’s body since she was a pre-born fetus, is released into the reproductive tract. What this means theologically is that the egg containing the 23 chromosomes that God would miraculously fertilize with 23 chromosomes that He miraculously supplied (including a Y chromosome) to become the Word Made Flesh, Jesus Christ, was physically present inside Mary’s body from the time that Mary was inside of her mother’s, St. Anne’s, womb. That egg, and those chromosomes, that physical constituent of Our Blessed Lord was present inside of Mary’s body, waiting to be . . . if I may use the word . . . consecrated. The word consecrate, when broken into its Latin components means:
Ate: Territory of a Ruler
And so, Mary was, from the time she was inside St. Anne’s womb, already carrying a portion of Our Lord’s physicality, namely 23 of His chromosomes. And thus Mary was, from her very beginning, already a proto-tabernacle, already the Ark of the New Covenant, carrying within her what would be consecrated into The Law Incarnate, The High Priest, and The Bread of Life – just like the Old Ark, except perfected and fully fulfilled as God Incarnate. And as we know from the book of Exodus, the Old Ark had to be “perfect”. And thus, the Ark of the New Covenant was TRULY perfect, except this perfection was a perfection that only God Himself could accomplish: the perfection of Mary, full of grace and thus saved from all sin, including Original Sin.
The second phase is actually broken into two sub-phases. The first sub-phase is when Mary was pregnant with Jesus and His entire body was inside of hers.
The second phase is that phase from the time of Jesus’ birth forward into all eternity. Jesus is STILL, to this day, right now as you are reading this, physically inside of Mary in a unique way. It was discovered just a few short years ago that immune cells pass from a pre-born child to the mother across the placenta. Not only do these immune cells, which are the child’s and thus carry the exclusive and complete DNA of the child, pass across the placenta, but they persist in the mother’s body for the rest of her life. A woman who has carried a son has immune cells with Y-chromosomes in her bloodstream that can now be filtered out of her blood and observed. Female children also pass cells to their mothers.
Thus, a woman truly does carry her children around inside of her, with their DNA coursing through her heart, for the rest of her life. That isn’t just a sentiment – it is a physiological fact.
Thus, Mary continued and continues to this day to be a perpetual, living physical tabernacle of her Son, as she carries cells with His DNA in her bloodstream. And so now we see why Mary was and had to be filled with grace and thus saved from the stain of sin from the moment of her conception eternally forward – because she was and is a perpetual Ark of the New Covenant.
This also explains why Mary’s body was assumed into heaven immediately at the end of her earthly life, because her body literally contained living cells of Our Lord and thus her body could not remain on earth in physical death to decay in any way.
Knowing that Christ rising again from the dead, dieth now no more, death shall no more have dominion over Him.
Scientes quod Christus resurgens ex mortuis jam non moritur : mors illi ultra non dominabitur.
-Romans 6: 9
She simply was afforded the same physical resurrection that all of the faithful will receive, albeit instantaneously for her, given her very special state, both spiritually and physically. This is what is doctrinally referred to as “The Assumption”.
St. Bernadette, pray for us.
Our Lady, conceived without the stain of Original Sin, pray for us.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us.