By: Fr. Roy Cimagala
Of course, this is the biggest privilege given to a human person. Mary, of all people, was exempted from original sin from her conception in the womb of her mother, St. Anne, and remained immaculate, unstained by any sin all throughout her earthly life.
The basis for this dogma is, first of all, the general acceptance of this belief in the early Christians. Of course, the Church authorities had to come up with the theological basis for this dogma and succeeded in doing so.
In the gospel, Mary was addressed by Archangel Gabriel during the Annunciation that she was “full of grace.” That assertion from a most reliable messenger of God can already tell us that Mary was not lacking in grace even from the moment of her conception.
We have to remember that original sin is not a sin that a person commits. It is rather a state of being conceived and born without God’s grace as we were meant to be in the original design of God before the sin of our first parents. With this dogma of the Immaculate Conception, we affirm our belief that Mary was conceived and born already in the state of grace.
Besides, as the one chosen from all eternity to be the mother of the Son of God who had to become man, it is but fair to presume that she must be filled with grace from the beginning without any stain of sin. Also it can be presumed that the inclination to sin that is associated with anyone who lacks grace was not with her all throughout her life.
The question to ask now is whether in the whole lifetime of Mary, she was exempted from the usual condition of man where temptations, sin and all sorts of evil abound, and if she could manage to remain immaculate all throughout her life.
I believe the answer to this question is, No to the first, and Yes to the second conjecture. Like Christ, with whom she was so identified that no one else could attain a better identification, she had to grapple with all the temptations, sins and evil in the world.
We can even say that next to Christ, it was she who was exposed and tried by all the dirt in a world that is alienated from God. And still she remained immaculate, sinless!
How could she manage?
Again, I believe that it was her perfect identification with Christ that enabled her to remain immaculate all throughout her life. She reflected in a perfect way the love that Christ showed to all of us and commanded us to emulate.
It was this love that both exposed her to all the evils in this world and protected her from all of them. It is the love that we have to learn to develop ourselves, with God’s grace and our effort.
We may not be immaculate like Our Lady, but we can always try to follow her, since by following her, we ultimately follow Christ. She is actually the shortest, easiest and surest way for us to be with Christ and to be like him, unafraid of all the evils in the world and bold enough to conquer all of them.
May we have this love that can embolden us to reach out to those who are lost, unafraid of the effort and the dirt that may be involved in doing so. If we want to at least minimize our sinfulness and work more in reaching out to the others, we have to learn to have the real love, the one Christ and Mary are showing us.