"I am the Immaculate Conception."
That is how Our Lady identified herself to St. Bernadette at Lourdes. It always makes my hair stand on end - on my arms - not my head.
All the "Fathers" who blog will have profound, wonderful teaching on this mystery of Our Lady, so I wouldn't dare discuss her prerogatives or what this feast day means. I'll just blabber on here.
For me, Our Lady is a paradise upon earth, a refuge for sinners, a consolation in this vale of tears. For the Church to make this feast a day of obligation is a delight. The joy of the Immaculate Conception overflows into our souls, preparing us for the wonderful feast of the Nativity. The Madonna is our Mommie, and she is the Immaculata!
I looked for a painting, but could find nothing to adequately represent Our Lady, so I chose this one by default - although it thrills me. I purchased a fine oil painting reproduction of Murillo's Immaculada, quite large, for my study where I pray. All of her images disappoint me now. No one can capture this mystery in art, it must be contemplated in spirit. (I'm so sad images no longer work for me - we cannot possess grace through images - they are so much better to glance at and allow the spirit to be raised, as opposed to attempting to somehow capture the spirit of the one portrayed by owning the image. Or something like that.)
I cannot explain the Immaculate Conception, nor can I explain the Trinity. Yet it seems to me I can experience Her...She encompasses the whole of humanity, my humanity and soul. "I am the Immaculate Conception". God is "I am" she is His "Immaculate Conception". What is that? I mean, what is that?
A favorite prayer of mine from St. Francis is his "My God! Who are you? And what am I?" Our Lady identified and revealed her name, when she told Bernadette, "I am the Immaculate Conception" - doesn't that thrill you? She causes the soul to go into ecstasy - if you simply wonder, allowing the awe-some to envelope your soul.
It is wonderful to know as the Doctors and Fathers know, the truths of our faith, dogma and definitions, yet it is so much more wonderful to be suspended in awe-some unknowing before the majesty and mystery of the Immaculate Conception. The little ones know this.
I wish I had words, that no one ever has heard, to express this wondrous mystery, this perfect love, this purest being, this paradise wherein sinners find refuge, consolation and healing. If ever I felt like I had the gift of tongues, I could let loose now, in a holy babble of praise.
O Mary, Conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee! Repeat that over and over and over.
Or pray, "Thou art all fair O Mary, and the original stain is not in Thee! O Mary! O Mary, conceived without sin! Pray for us who have recourse to Thee!" Over and over and over.
(For her feast, I cannot blog or do email or surf the net, until after vespers tomorrow. May Our Lady, the Immaculate Conception enrapture your souls and enflame your hearts with the Holy Spirit of love! Ah! How I love the Blessed Virgin!)