The Immaculate Conception


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Today (Dec 8 2005) Catholics celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

The Marian doctrines are, I believe, unique to the Catholic and Orthodox churches, and even some Catholics, invarible ill-informed, find some of the teachings regarding the Immaculata questionable.

Two common errors are that Mary herself was conceived 'by the power of the Holy Spirit', or that the term refers to Jesus’ conception without the intervention of a human father (Virgin Birth).

Immaculate Conception means that Mary, whose conception was brought about by the normal means of generation, was conceived without the stain of original sin.

The effect of the Primordial Sin was the loss of sanctifying grace, and thus although human nature is regarded as 'blighted', 'wounded' or 'stained', it neverthess remains human ... and natural ... the loss of grace means the loss of the supernatural means by which man can transcend himself - the nature of the sin is his erroneous belief that he can become like God entirely through his own effort.

As one chosen for a specific destiny, her role as Theotokos - God Bearer - her soul was restored to its pre-Adamic state - and thus the angelic salutation as recorded in Luke, "Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee..." (Luke 1:28)

"Full of grace" is a translation of the Greek Kecharitomene, and is a more exemplary form of the term charis or 'favour' which occurs in verse 30 - the term utilised by St Paul with regard to the primary or the three theological or deifying virtues.

It therefore expresses a characteristic quality of Mary. The traditional translation, "full of grace," has recently been watered down to versions along the lines of "highly favored daughter."


She is the archytype of Interiority, the Divine Feminine, celebrated in the Song of Songs "I am black, but beautiful" (Songs 1:5).

"Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart" (Luke 2:19). The Greek word for "ponder" is sumballo - to bring or put together (from which we derive the term 'symbol' and which signifies its esoteric sense). Mary's silence in scripture, with but a few notable exceptions - denotes nothing less than her pefect and unquestioning faith "be it done unto me according to thy will" (Luke 1:38) which is itself the statement of the pure soul in the face of its Creator.

Mary in Scripture speaks to God the Father - through the intermediary of the Archangel Gabriel - in the Incarnation; to God the Son at his presentation at the temple, and to God the Holy Spirit at the wedding at Cana - a dialogue saturated in symbolic meaning.

She is the model for the soul, the church, the natural world; she encompasses the simple joys of motherhood and nurture, to the Eckhartian metaphysic of Incarnation - she is gnosis personified - the true gnosis that is not a mode of knowledge, but a participation in Divine Love.

Catholics are accused of an excessive devotion to the Immaculata, even of placing her alongside her Son - but we know otherwise - she is the Queen of Heaven but even as we pray for her intercession, we acknowledge her admonition is always and everywhere the same "Do whatever he tells you" (John 2:5).