Mary’s Immaculate Conception: What It Means for You and Me

Dec 7, 2023 | Articles, Feast Days, Holidays, & Liturgical Seasons, Theology & Tradition

By Amber Kinloch

December 8th is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. The dogma of the Immaculate Conception teaches “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.” (Ineffabilis Deus, Bl. Pope Pius IX, 1854)

Mary was never touched by the stain of sin. What a stunning truth to consider. How can we relate to a woman so pure and exalted? She exists, quite simply, on a plane of her own.

Yet there are a number of things you and I can reflect on in relation to Mary’s Immaculate Conception. Consider the following.

Our Gifts are Given to Us for a Purpose

One thing I think people struggle with in regard to Mary’s Immaculate Conception is the elevated status it bestows on her. We grapple, perhaps, with the idea of her being preserved from Original Sin, thinking life must have been so easy for her and wondering what she did to merit such a privilege.

The truth is, life was not easy for Mary, nor did she merit this privilege. It was a gift, freely bestowed upon her by God for the specific purpose of her being a fitting mother for His Son. God already was humbling Himself to an unimaginable extent by taking on flesh in a woman’s womb. Would it be fitting for said woman to be tainted by even the slightest trace of sin? Of course not!

And it’s not just because He inhabited her womb. No, first He was conceived in her soul, as it were, by virtue of her sinless life. Thus Mary, unencumbered by sin, could offer God at the Annunciation the whole-hearted fiat He desired from her on behalf of all humanity.

We see then that whatever gifts God bestows on us are given to us for a purpose. Take a look at your own life. What gifts has God given to you, be they small or large? Are you using them in service of God and your neighbor? Do you recognize that you, too, in a way, are or can be filled with grace like Mary?

Sin is Abhorrent Beyond Imagining

Sin—too often we treat it like an abstract concept. Oh, we know something is bad and that we should not do it, but really, is it so bad if we let it go this once? There is always tomorrow for doing better (until one sudden day, there is not )

Imagine that you are standing in line for confession at church. Hopefully, you and I make it to such a spot regularly. But with what sort of sincerity do we go? Are we sorry for our sins because we fear punishment, or do we really abhor them? How much are we willing to give to overcome them? Would we truly do anything for Jesus if He asked it of us?

Mary has never known the stain of Original Sin on her soul. Such a stain  would not be fitting, given her vocation as Mother of God. But what of you and I? We do not have the vocation to be the Mother of God, but consider: God does come to dwell in our souls when we are baptized, and He remains present in us as long as we do not commit a mortal sin. In Holy Communion, He physically comes to dwell in our bodies as He dwelt in Mary’s womb. We are graced with God’s Presence in different yet similar ways to our Mother, but what thought do we give it?

Not enough, probably. How else can we explain all the habitual venial sins many of us cling to for years or even decades? How can we explain with what little regard people fall into and live in mortal sin? Why do we not break with sin? Why are saintly people not more common? I think it is because we do not see how ugly sin is.

Mary’s Immaculate Conception shows us how repulsive sin is to God. God does not want “good enough”. Rather, He calls us to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48).

Let us  examine our lives. Where have we “settled” with regard to sin? Do we combat it with all the means at our disposal (prayer, fasting, almsgiving, other acts of penance)? Are we truly sorry for our sins? Or do we take God’s forgiveness for granted?

We Are Privileged Beyond Compare

Mary was conceived free of Original Sin in order to be a fitting Mother for God. You and I are tainted by sin. And yet we are graced beyond compare.

Every day, we can walk into a Catholic church where Jesus is physically present in a Tabernacle. Our soul can be black as coal with the stain of mortal sin. It does not matter. No thunderbolts will come down from Heaven. Jesus still welcomes us into His Physical Presence and will  restore us to the state of grace in Confession, if we ask Him.

We are  free to receive Jesus in Holy Communion, provided we are in the state of grace, have a right intention, and have fasted for one hour. It does not matter if we have a mountain of venial sins on our soul: Jesus still allows us—even desires for us!—to receive Him so that He can sanctify our souls and purify them of those very same sins.

It is incredible to consider. Mary was pure in body and soul when God leapt down from His Throne into her womb. We are not completely pure (though hopefully we are trying to purify ourselves) and yet He allows us to receive Him physically. What a humbling thought. What a call, too, to sanctify ourselves and to strive to be more like our Mother.

A Sign of Hope

Mary, as the New Eve, shows us who we were meant to be when God first created man and woman. She is the model of holiness for all mankind. As such, she is a sign of hope.

Mary shows us we can be holy. And we do not need to be extraordinary! Mary was graced with extraordinary privileges but the majority of her life was lived in the most ordinary of circumstances doing mundane, everyday things—things in which you and I can imitate her.

Rejoice with Mary on her feast! Praise God that He created her, pure and sinless, for our sakes as well as His own. Go to her, tell her what is on your heart, and ask for her help. She will listen, as any good mother does, and intercede for you with God. You can be sure He will hear all that she has to say.

Mary Immaculate, pray for us!

Amber Kinloch

Amber Kinloch

Amber  writes from the bunker of her living room.  There she hunkers down with her laptop and a blanket while keeping an eye and ear tuned in to the activity of family life.  Music set on loop keeps her energy flowing as she muses on the deeper happenings of ordinary life and what food to restock the fridge with.


Before commenting, please read through our comment guidelines.

1 Comment

  1. Deacon Tom

    Beautiful article. Thank you! Mary Immaculate, Pray for Us!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

St. Joseph's Shelf logo

Welcome to St. Joseph’s Shelf!

Are you looking for ways to apply your Faith to your daily life and become a saint? We publish practical Catholic reflections on ordinary life every week.

You Might Like...