We celebrate tomorrow the feast of the Blessed Virgin under the title of her Immaculate Conception. Our Blessed Mother is com- memorated in different feasts during the year; how- ever this is one of the most important of those cele- brations, since in it we recognize the fact that she was conceived without original sin.

We believe “That the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faith-

ful” (Ineffabilis Deus).

The Image of Mary that we venerate is the image of an incomparable mother who was at her Son’s side his whole life and who also continues to be present to us, protecting us, caring for us, and worrying about us.

The great difference between Mary and us is that while we have to deal with all of the consequences of original sin, Our Blessed Mother began her exis- tence without that difficulty. For this reason, saints have written that she started where the saints had arrived, since sin never had a place in her heart.

Imagine for a moment the most wonderful mother (that is usually our own mother), well… the mother of Jesus will have all the best qualities of all of our own mothers taken together, without any of their flaws. She is the first person since Adam and Eve who pos- sessed the fullness of grace; we call her “Gratia Plena.” Upon Mary, the Almighty looked with favor, for even though the Lord had done great things for her, Mary remained humble.

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary reminds us of the original plan that God has for humanity, that all may live in the fullness of our existence which is no other than the fullness of grace, which can only be achieved when we leave behind sin and open our lives to Jesus in the way Mary did.

She is the woman who received in her womb the most precious gift from God: Jesus; and during all of her life she was like all mothers in her dedica- tion to her Son. We know that the heart of all moth- ers is special, however the heart of this mother sur- passes all of our thoughts or imagining.

During this time of Advent, Mary is given to us as a model to imitate, that in the same way she ac- cepted and received and nurtured the life of Jesus within her, each one of us may also dedicate this time of the year to make the presence of God who is alive in us grow until that day when He will trans- form our lives, and that Jesus whom we bear within us may be known to all around us.

-Fr. Sergio