December 8 Feast of the Immaculate Conception
“Have you been saved?” Maybe you have been asked that by one of our Protestant brothers or sisters. If our Blessed Mother had been asked, she could have given the loudest ”Yes!” the world had ever heard. Her personal salvation from the stain of Original Sin is celebrated today. Mary praised God’s salvation in her Magnificat and invited us to join her: “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior… henceforth all generations will call me blessed. (Lk. 1:47-48) As we all know, there are two ways to be saved from disease: once it has been contracted, a person can receive treatment, or a person can be prevented from contracting the disease in the first place! The first option is how God saves us, and the second, the way He chose to save our Blessed Mother. In both cases, the Father’s sanctifying grace isn’t given because of anything we have done, but because of God’s unmerited Love, and in response to the actions of Jesus. Mary’s salvation, too, is due to her Son – the effect of the Cross working backward in time. Mary’s Immaculate Conception can even be glimpsed in Gabriel’s greeting, when he called Mary ”Full of Grace,” Kecharitomene in Greek (Lk. 1:28). The term refers to a completed action – Mary has been, and remains, filled with God’s grace, His Life. As a perfect infilling, it occurred simultaneously with her conception.
Exercise: By the physical and spiritual exercises you are engaged in, the Lord saves you in both ways. Firstly, through personal and liturgical prayer, through exercise and diet, He is repairing the damaging effects of original and personal sin. Secondly, He is using these same exercises to build virtue and shield us from even larger tragedies (Jn. 5:14); each of us already shares some portion of Jesus’ Cross, no need to go fashioning additional ones! Today, express your heartfelt thanks to the Lord for the work of salvation He accomplished in Mary, and is completing right now in you. And there is no greater way to give thanks than by participating in the Eucharist. (Eucharistein is Greek for “thanksgiving.”) Give thanks with your whole being – thinking, singing, standing, sitting, kneeling, speaking aloud; keeping silence. Ask the Holy Spirit to let you praise Jesus and the Father with the same joy Mary had while praying her Magnificat (Lk. 1:46-55).
Editor’s Note: The above excerpt is reprinted, with permission, from the Kevin Vost, Peggy Bowes, Shane Kapler devotional Tending the Temple: 365 Days of Physical and Spiritual Devotions.