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(S)he Will Be Great

Updated on December 10, 2019

”Writing is 1 percent inspiration, and 99 percent elimination.” ~ Louise Brooks

I love words. Anyone who knows me can attest to that. Especially esoteric, ostentatious, seldom-used words. As a writer, one of my flaws ~ of which I am fully aware but nonetheless in no hurry to address ~ is my obstinate use of fancy words when a simple one will do. See what I mean? Why go with obstinate right there when stubborn would do just fine? Just last week, I wrote an essay on the Feast of Saint Andrew which I entitled “An Apostolic Augury.”

Does anyone even know what the word ‘augury’ means? Don’t feel bad... I didn’t either until I went synonym shopping, as I like to call it.

On the flip side however, I appreciate straight talkers, those who know how to make a quick, concise and powerful point. Maybe it’s the New Yorker in me, maybe it’s the fact that I admire those traits which I cannot emulate, but in any event, the Angel Gabriel scores one for perfect brevity in today’s Gospel (Luke 1:26-38) when he visits a very young virgin who was betrothed to a quiet carpenter named Joseph, who hailed from a tiny town called Nazareth.

“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you,” says the great Archangel, going on to immediately alleviate the young girl’s troubled mind by explaining that she has indeed “found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end."

He will be great.

With those four words, the life of Jesus is, for all intents and purposes, summed up perfectly.

But what about the woman who gave birth to him, nursed him, raised him? The woman who fed Jesus with her very body, just as Jesus would go on to feed us with his very body by way of the Holy Eucharist? The woman who first said to God “this is my body, which is given up for you” so that her son could go on to utter the very same words? The woman who, just like her son (Isaiah 11:1-10) was clothed in the fire of the Holy Spirit from the beginning of time, chosen to be the Mother of God since the beginning of time?

Never mind the fact that she was the first person to whom the Holy Trinity was revealed. I can do you one better. Is there someone you know, perhaps in your Bible study group or even in the pew next to you, who refuses to fully acknowledge Mary’s role in our salvation story? Tell them that without Mary, there is no Holy Trinity. As Pope Pius XII once said, “to desire grace without recourse to the Virgin Mother is to desire to fly without wings.”

Today is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that day in which our church acknowledges the fact that Mary was born free of the stain of original sin.

Mary had faith. She had courage. She had a very hard life. Of her powerful intercession, Saint John Chrysostom said “Mary was made Mother of God to obtain salvation for many who, on account of their wicked lives, could not be saved according to the rigor of Divine justice, but might be saved with the help of her sweet mercy and powerful intercession.”

As Mary was called to bring Jesus into the world, we too are called to do the same, through our thoughts, words, choices and actions. From Mary we learn devotion and perseverance, and through devotion to her, we may be sure that we will never be lost. Mary is the “Mysterious Book of Predestination to glory” as Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini once said.

I’d like to leave you with this thought from Saint Anslem, who had this to say about those for whom our Blessed Mother intercedes:

“Hell is not the lot of any true client of Mary for whom she prays even once, and for whom she says to her Son that she wishes him to be saved ... It is sufficient that you desire our salvation, O Mary, and we cannot help but be saved.”

“O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”


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    • Peopleofthebook profile image

      B A Johnson 

      3 months ago

      That would seem to contradict Paul, who applies applies the effects of Adam's sin to all mankind in Romans 5. Not to mention that original sin is the cause of our sinfulness which the scriptures say is universal (Romans 3, Mark 10:18) without any exception being made for Mary.

      I understand from your position the pope's definition is sufficient, but Paul had to correct Peter (Galatians 2), and not every pope has taught in alignment with what the Roman Catholic Church holds to be true today. If Pius IX is contradicted by scripture, surely we must accept that he was simply wrong.

    • Patrick44 profile imageAUTHOR


      3 months ago

      Thanks for the question B.A. . .

      In the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December, 1854, Pope 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."

      For more on this topic, you might find this article interesting:

    • Peopleofthebook profile image

      B A Johnson 

      3 months ago

      What is the basis for believing Mary was born without original sin?


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