Let us begin with a little reflection on the most of important of today's events; the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
There is one thing that I get asked often by non-Catholics especially around the 8th December, mainly from people who don't understand what 'conception' is; the 'statement' is "You Catholics are strange; you believe either that Mary had the shortest pregnancy in the history of man, or that Jesus was late by over 3 months!"
Now I don't care who asks this question but they do get a look off me that is usually reserved for small animals and children, the look of "are you serious?!"
I then explain to them that the 'conception' is not that of Jesus, but of Mary. The feast commemorates her conception! On it we honour Mary without whom (if we look at Mary as co-redeemer) our redemption would not be possible.
After explaining that and going further to explain that Mary could only have borne Jesus unless she was sinless they then ask "but how? she was only human!" I am then reminded of the passage from Luke, when Gabriel visits Mary and announces to her that she will bear a Son; Gabriel salutes Mary with "full of grace" therefore making it impossible for us to deny that Mary was conceived without sin, or at the very least that Mary had been 'cleansed' of her sins. To be in a state of grace is to be without sin.
Pope Pius IX in Ineffabilis Deus states;
The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.Mary was chosen by God to bear His Son she is the first human to receive the grace of redemption, because as Pius IX made clear; God gave Mary this special grace and privilege so that she would be able to carry Himself incarnate.
Onto the second event of today. A joyous event in the Archdiocese of Birmingham!
Today was the installation of Archbishop Bernard Longley as Archbishop of Birmingham! Let us pray for him in his new position!
The third and final event of today is that I have finally caught up with the modern age and have a new mobile phone, no, not an iPhone... I went with the Blackberry Bold instead!