Homily on the feast of the Immaculate Conception
Tota pulchra es, Maria
Homily on the feast of the Immaculate Conception
of Mary Most Holy
Tu gloria Jerusalem, tu lætitia Israël,
tu honorificentia populi nostri.
You are the glory of Jerusalem, the joy of Israel,
you are the highest honor of our race.
Today’s celebration represents a bright ray of divine light that anticipates Holy Christmas, in which that Light shows itself in all its splendor to the world to illuminate it. Et tenebræ eam non comprehenderunt (Jn 1:5): the light shines in the darkness, but the darkness did not welcome it. Let us not be surprised therefore if this ray that illuminates us on the feast of the Immaculate Conception is even less understood than the Divine Sun of which it is a reflection. In contemplating the wonders that the Holy Trinity deigned to accomplish in the Virgin Mother, preserving Her from original sin, it is essential to have the clear eyes of those who do not belong to the darkness of sin, or rather, of those who, despite being sinners, have the humility to raise their gaze towards the One who is so dear to the Lord precisely because She is Immaculate, and thanks to Her humble awareness of Her own nothingness, the Lord has made Her the Advocate and Mediatrix before the Throne of God.
The virginal purity of Mary Most Holy is purity of both body and soul, a purity that is the prerogative of a creature that knows no hereditary or personal guilt, like a clear and shining mirror in which no clouding prevents the Grace of the Lord from being reflected and reverberated unchanged: speculum iustitiæ; like a meadow on which a white blanket of immaculate snow has settled that no one has dared to trample on. And if we remain in admiration of Her singular privilege of being free from the guilt of our Progenitors, our admiration is even greater in understanding that the miracle of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary was intended by the wise Omnipotence of God so that She could be the Living Tabernacle of the Most High, Domus Aurea, the Imperial Palace, so that every fiber, every tissue, every cell that formed the body of Our Lord in that Blessed Womb came from a most pure creature and from the action of the Holy Spirit. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. It is in fact in view of the Incarnation, Passion and Death of Our Lord propter nos homines et propter nostram salutem, for us men and for our salvation, that the Virgin Mother is Immaculate. That supernatural and unique gift, which made Mary Most Holy the only creature preserved from original sin, is a miracle ordered to our Redemption: ex morte eiusdem Filii tui, as we have just sung in the prayer. We thus understand the reason why the Church chose the passage from the book of Wisdom as the Epistle of this feast: Ab æterno ordinata sum, et ex antiquis, antequam terra fieret (Prov 8:23). The promise of the Protoevangelium, after the fall of Adam and Eve, is fulfilled in the Woman of the Apocalypse, and the enmity between her lineage and the lineage of the Serpent – which in the eschatological vision sees Christ and the Antichrist facing each other – is motivated first of all by the ontological irreconcilability between the humility and purity of Our Lady and the pride and sin of Satan. Humility and purity are the most precious gems that adorn the royal crown of the One whom the Angels and Saints recognize as their Queen, whom Our Lord loves as his Mother – the Παναγία Θεοτόκος – and whom the Holy Spirit has chosen as his most chaste Bride.
The enmity between the Woman whose head is crowned with stars and the infernal Serpent is shown in all its reality the closer the day and hour of the definitive defeat of Satan approaches, whose head will be crushed by Her Virginal foot and – as we see in some sacred representations – by the little foot of the Child Jesus. This irreconcilability emerges clearly in the attempt to distort and pervert the female figure, who in the divine order is bride and mother, to tear from every woman the virginity that prepares her for marriage, fidelity to her husband, marital sanctimony, and fruitful motherhood in the family. Thus we find the debased and brutalized idea of woman as merely an object of pleasure, a rebellious instrument of vice and damnation, a sterile propagator of death. And what else could we expect from Satan, who sees in woman his epochal Enemy, the guardian of the domestic hearth, the loving companion of man, the educator of holiness of many young souls? He acted no differently against man, corrupting his virtue and honesty, devirilizing his strength and courage, making him a slave to the most abject passions and timid in the face of those who threaten the Church, society, and the family.
This infernal work of destruction of the natural order and subversion of the supernatural order is not limited to destroying the woman as wife and mother, but also extends to the young virgin, because in the corruption of customs and in the crazy claim of an impossible independence from man that chastity of the soul is lost which is a necessary premise of holiness, of the love of God above all things. The female convents and monasteries are empty because in a vision devoid of supernatural impetus it is impossible to understand the immolation of one’s femininity – and therefore of the vocation to marriage and motherhood – in the spousal union of the virgin consecrated to the divine Spouse. It is shuddering when the delirious demands of feminism – whose matrix is intrinsically satanic and anti-christic – are made their own by the Hierarchy itself, whose members demonstrate that they have not understood either the complementarity of man and woman in the plan of Creation, nor much less its intrinsic coherence with the economy of the Redemption. Half-men, corrupted in intellect by heresy and in will by fornication, claim to tamper with the work of God by imposing on women a role that the Lord has established for man, as Saint Paul teaches us: Wives, be submissive to your husbands, as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the Church, which is his body (Eph 5:22-23). If the Revolution succeeded in demolishing civil society by undermining the hierarchical order between men and women precisely because it was congruent with the superiority of Our Lord compared to the Mystical Body, it now hopes to achieve the same destruction by introducing the same subversion also within the Church, knowing full well that the Priesthood separated from the male priest in the image of Christ cannot exist, just as a female ministry cannot exist, a ministry that Providence did not choose to recognize in Holy Mary, who due to Her purity and humility would have deserved it much more than many men even though they were saints. And so the rebellious man – whether lay or cleric – dares to violate the divine order by usurping a role that he does not have, while he abdicates what God has given him and unduly hands it over to the woman.
Most Holy Mary, the new Eve, restores in humility and immaculate Virginity the order that was broken by the Progenitor, just as Jesus Christ, the new Adam, restores in obedience to the Father and in the Incarnation the proud disobedience of the Progenitor, tempted by the Serpent to be like God. Eritis sicut dii: Satan’s deception wanted to delude creatures into thinking that they could become creators, while the Son of God takes on human nature and truly makes us participants in His divine nature through sanctifying Grace. In the Ever-Virgin Mary something similar takes place, because precisely in her humility she became omnipotent through Grace. Let us not forget that the victory of Christ, by divine decree, will take place through the Mother of God, so that a creature docile to His will – both humble and very chaste – will avenge the rebellion of a proud and rebellious creature.
Dum medium silentium tenerent omnia, et nox in his cursu medium iter haberet, omnipotens sermo tuus, Domine, de cælis a regalibus sedibus venit. In silence, the Mystery of the Incarnation was accomplished. In the silence of the Bethlehem cave, the Child King is born. In the silence. A divine silence, a very simple and ineffable harmony that avoids noise and confusion. A silence that we find in the moment of the Resurrection and also when the Holy Spirit descends on the Apostles and Mary Most Holy in the cenacle. It is the same silence that accompanies the Holy Mysteries, and in particular the sacred moment of the Consecration, when everything human is silent around the altar and not even the words of the priest can be heard by the faithful, much less by the profane. This silence was the only witness, in the eternity of time, of the Holy Trinity, when it decreed that in reparation for our sins the Eternal Son of the Father would be made incarnate in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and that this Virgin, of royal lineage, was preserved from original guilt in order to be dignum habitaculum of the Man-God. It would be enough to look at the chaos of this world to understand how far it is from the silence of God. And it is enough to find that sacred silence in a small church, in a religious community, or in a Christian family to understand where the Lord deigns to live.
Too often, despite being Catholics, we forget a fundamental reality, namely that the Lord is Omnipotent, that He can do everything. All. And this everything, consistent with the essence of God, can only be the highest Good driven by absolute Truth. It is through the omnipotence of God that Adam’s guilt was changed into felix culpa, deserving the Incarnation and Redemption of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. It is through the Omnipotence of God that the Virgin Mother is awarded the most ineffable privileges, such as to make her the One who is Blessed among women, our Co-Redemptrix and the Mediator of all Graces. It is through the omnipotence of God that Grace manages to overcome our inclination to evil and guide our immortal soul towards the blissful eternity of Heaven. And it will be through the omnipotence of God that the pusillus grex, the little flock, will be preserved in the moment of tribulation and that his enemies and ours will be scattered at the breath of his lips (Is 11: 4).
Let us never stop honoring the august Queen of Heaven, the Immaculate Virgin, with our lives: a chaste, humble, hard-working and holy life that is based on the model She has given us. Let us listen to her in the warning given by Holy Wisdom: “Now, children, listen to me: blessed are those who follow my ways! Listen to the exhortation and be wise, do not neglect it! Blessed is the man who listens to me, keeping vigil every day at my doors, guarding the posts of my threshold. Indeed, whoever finds me finds life and obtains the favor of the Lord; but whoever sins against me hurts himself; those who hate me love death.” (Prov 8: 32-36). And so may it be.
+ Carlo Maria VIganò, Archbishop
December 8, 2023
In Conceptione Immaculata B.M.V.