Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This dogma of the Catholic Faith was formally declared on December 8, 1854 by Pope Pius IX, although it was believed for many years prior to the official declaration. The teaching of the Church is that Mary was conceived without any traces of original sin. In other words, she was immaculately conceived.
Many times Catholics are unfairly criticized for “worshipping” Mary. The official Catholic teaching is that we venerate or honor her, but worship God alone. Certain non-Catholic Christian even attempt to refute the dogma of the Immaculate Conception by using Scripture. As evidence that the early Christians did believe in the Immaculate Conception and the veneration of Mary as the Mother of God, let’s look at a few quotes from several centuries ago:
“The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart.”
“Is Christ only to be adored? Or is the holy Mother of God rather not to be honored? This is the woman who crushed the Serpent’s head. Hear us. For your Son denies you nothing.”
“It is a sweet and pious belief that the infusion of Mary’s soul was effected without original sin; so that in the very infusion of her soul she was also purified from original sin and adorned with God’s gifts, receiving a pure soul infused by God; thus from the first moment she began to live she was free from all sin”
“She is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin—something exceedingly great. For God’s grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil.”
“One should honor Mary as she herself wished and as she expressed it in the Magnificat. She praised God for his deeds. How then can we praise her? The true honor of Mary is the honor of God, the praise of God’s grace…Mary is nothing for the sake of herself, but for the sake of Christ…Mary does not wish that we come to her, but through her to God.”
Those statements were made in the 15th and wonderfully express the Catholic veneration of The Blessed Mother and her Immaculate Conception. I will tell you further that they were all stated by the same person. It is obvious that this individual had a deep devotion to Mary and realized that when we honor her, we give praise to The Lord. Were these comments made by one of the popes or a canonized saint? No.
All of those quotes come from Martin Luther, the father of the protestant reformation. But he got it right when it came to Mary! Don’t forget to go to Mass today, as it is a holy day of obligation. While you’re there, say a prayer for the soul of Martin Luther.
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.