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Our Lady’s soul was entirely filled with grace

The statue of the Virgin Mary adorned with a wreath of flowers on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in 2013 (AP)

“You are weirdly obsessed with the Blessed Virgin Mary! She was a nice person, but she was just like the rest of us! When you stress her importance, you take from Jesus’s importance.” Which of us hasn’t heard this accusation, or a variation?

Most of us try to defend Our Lady by arguing that she was a wholly good person. But I think we make a mistake here by getting the order of our defence back to front. Our mistake is that we talk about Our Lady as a person first and about her soul second.

Granted, Our Lady’s great humanity is easy to emphasise. We can point to real events from scripture, such as Our Lord’s first miracle. Our Lady entreated Our Lord to turn the water into wine so that the couple who were celebrating their wedding would not lose face. Concentrating on Our Lady’s humanity – and not her soul means people think that Our Lady was chosen to bear the Messiah – because she was always nice.

Nice doesn’t cut it – and our peers know that – it gives them the means to relegate Our Lady to the realms of other ‘nice’ people which was not the supreme reason she became the Mother of the Messiah. Long before Our Lady grew to be a woman and nine months before she was born, she was conceived in the womb of her mother, St Anne in the normal biological way. At the precise moment St Anne conceived Our Lady, God the Father ensouled Our Lady with an exceptionally beautiful soul that was not discoloured by original sin.

Think of what would have happened had the Mother of our Saviour been tainted with original sin. Our Lord’s Divine Soul would have been there within the body of one who had a soul dirtied with original sin. Had Our Lady been a sinner like all other woman, why should she have been chosen to be the Mother of the Messiah and not any of the rest of us women who offend God with our sins?

Here lies the problem with people who do their utmost to say that Our Lady was a sinner “like the rest of us”. If Mary was like the rest of us, what marked her as worthy of carrying the Messiah?

Our Lady was endowed with a soul that was totally immaculate by virtue of the sanctifying grace that filled her soul so that sin had no room. For those who dispute this and say that sin did find a space in Our Lady’s soul, why did the Angel Gabriel say, “hail Mary, full of grace”? The Archangel Gabriel did not leave a clause, and say to Mary that she had, “mostly grace, some sin”.

Every time you or I offer a Hail Mary we are re-affirming our belief in the way Our Lady’s soul was entirely filled with grace. Every time we thoroughly confess our sins and make our souls as decent and clean as possible before Mass, we are doing our best to be worthy of receiving Our Lord.

There was, however, only one woman in creation worthy of carrying Our Lord in her womb. She is the Blessed Mother and when we defend her soul as being beautifully sinless we are simultaneously honouring Jesus as one whose Divinity was appropriately honoured when he took His flesh from the one woman who had a gleaming white, perfect soul.

Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception!