Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a dogma of the Church which recognises Mother Mary as being free from the stain of original sin. This existed as part of God’s redemptive plan for mankind. As Blessed Pope Pius IX, the Southerner’s Pope, explained in his 1854 pronouncement Ineffabilis Deus concerning the great romance which God had initiated:
God Ineffable . . . having foreseen from all eternity the lamentable wretchedness of the entire human race which would result from the sin of Adam, decreed, by a plan hidden from the centuries, to complete the first work of his goodness by a mystery yet more wondrously sublime through the Incarnation of the Word. This he decreed in order that man who, contrary to the plan of Divine Mercy had been led into sin by the cunning malice of Satan, should not perish; and in order that what had been lost in the first Adam would be gloriously restored in the Second Adam. From the very beginning, and before time began, the eternal Father chose and prepared for his only-begotten Son a Mother in whom the Son of God would become incarnate and from whom, in the blessed fullness of time, he would be born into this world. Above all creatures did God so loved her that truly in her was the Father well pleased with singular delight. Therefore, far above all the angels and all the saints so wondrously did God endow her with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured from the treasury of his divinity that this mother, ever absolutely free of all stain of sin, all fair and perfect, would possess that fullness of holy innocence and sanctity than which, under God, one cannot even imagine anything greater, and which, outside of God, no mind can succeed in comprehending fully.
Our Lady was preserved by God from the snares of Satan so that Christ’s redemptive work might be more perfectly accomplished, that He might have a mother suited to the divine nature of God, and that we inheritors of the sins of Adam and Eve might have a champion of faith instead of failed forefathers’ legacy of fear. The early Church ascribed to Our Lady the highest virtue and honour, as St. Ephraim the Syrian stated (c. 4th Century AD):
Most holy Lady, Mother of God, alone most pure in soul and body, alone exceeding all perfection of purity . . . alone made in thy entirety the home of all the graces of the Most Holy Spirit, and hence exceeding beyond all compare even the angelic virtues in purity and sanctity of soul and body . . . . my Lady most holy, all-pure, all-immaculate, all-stainless, all-undefiled, all-incorrupt, all-inviolate spotless robe of Him Who clothes Himself with light as with a garment . . . flower unfading, purple woven by God, alone most immaculate” (Precationes ad Deiparam).
Truly, we can proclaim as the Scriptures do, “Fair [art thou] in every part, my true love, [and there is] no fault in all thy fashioning!” (Song of Songs 4:7).