Here was the ahandout given at RCIA at our parish regarding the I.C.
December 8 The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
In the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December, 1854, Pius IX pronounced and defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary “in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin.”
The dogma of the Immaculate Conception brings us to Jesus and is important to our faith because it shows God’s the power of God’s promise of redemption through Christ.
Through the Immaculate Conception, we see God’s promise in action with Mary that brings us back to innocence and communion with God, what we lost at the Garden of Eden.
The power of the cross is so strong that Jesus’ merits are applied to Mary in an anticipatory way.
- The example of falling into the pit. We can be saved from falling into the pit (Sin) in two ways.
Someone can pull us out after we have fallen into the pit and save us.
Someone can grab us just as we are about to fall into the pit, saving us from falling in.
Our redemption is of the first kind. Mary’s redemption is of the second kind and it is this redemption that we celebrate, as this grace was singular and unique.
Why is it fitting that God would do this?
Scripture tells us that Jesus is the new Adam (Rom 5:12-17), the one who redeems mankind from the sin and death that entered the world through Adam. So too, Scripture indicates that Mary is the New Eve in that she cooperated with Christ’s saving work in a unique way (by saying YES (Lk 1:38), just as the first Eve cooperated in Adam’s sin (Gen 3:5-6). (More on this on the 12-18 B.O.W. session).
Mary is the Mother of Jesus, and is rightly called the Mother of God (cf. Lk 1:43) since she gave birth to Christ, who is fully God and fully man. As such, she is seen as the New Ark of the Covenent, for in her womb, she bore the New Covenent of God, Jesus who died on the cross for our sins.
Why do we call Mary the Ark of the New Covenant?
Because of the parallels we see between Mary and the Ark of the Covenant of the Old Testament.
A) The ark of the Covenant held the tablets of the 10 commandments, the word of God in stone (Deut 10:3-5), the manna from the desert that came down from heaven (Exo 16:10-18), and the staff of Aaron (Heb 9:14) the sign of the priesthood.
In Mary, she held the word of God in the flesh (John 1:1-5), Jesus is the bread of life in the Eucharist (John 6:41), and Jesus is the true high priest (Heb 8:1; 10:12).
B) The ark of the covenant was called the mercy seat (Exo 25:10-22). Mary is the fountain of mercy in that she bore Jesus, who is mercy himself.
C) When Moses had finished making the Ark and the tabernacle, the glory cloud of the Lord (the Shekinah Glory) covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle (Ex 40:34-35; Num 9:18, 22). This glory cloud is the Holy Spirit that rested upon the Ark. In the same way, we see that the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary and remained with her (Lk 1:35)
So what does it all mean?
These things we see about Mary point us to God through Jesus. God’s work in Mary’s life, is our promise as heirs of God’s covenant through faith and baptism. The grace and privilege that God gave to Mary is now ours in Christ. We celebrate this feast because it is a celebration of what we all posses in Christ and is the Hope of what is to come as God completes his work in us.