ON THE CONCEPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN
Tota pulchra es, Maria, es macula originalis non est in te.
Consider first, how man who was originally created in justice and sanctity – to be happy here in grace and innocence, and eternally happy hereafter in the enjoyment of his creator – having wretchedly fallen from God by sin, and forfeited his original justice with all the advantages annexed to it; and incurred at the same time all kinds of miseries, both for time and eternity; out of which it was not in his power to extricate himself, by anything that he could do of himself – the infinite goodness of God, out of pure pity and compassion, was pleased to decree that his own eternal Son should come down from heaven to be our Saviour; to redeem us from all our sins with his most precious blood; to bring along with him mercy, grace, and salvation to us, and by his death to open to us the gates of everlasting life. O Christians, it is this infinite goodness of our God that we must never forget. It calls aloud for all the return we are able to make of love and gratitude, of adoration, praise, and glory; and a total dedication of our whole being to the service of our great deliverer, for all our time, and for all eternity. O may all heaven and earth, with all the angels and saints, bless and glorify his mercy, bounty, and love for us!
Consider 2ndly, that God, having thus decreed to give us his only Son for our Saviour, was pleased to reveal this great mystery from the very beginning to our first parents; and afterwards from time to time to the patriarchs and prophets, and others his servants; to the end that this might be in all ages the capital object of the faith of all true believers; and that as non could ever attain to eternal salvation but through the merits of the Son of God made man for us, so all might approach to God, for mercy and grace, through faith in him. In the meantime the divine wisdom, which had created the world in six days, was pleased to employ full four thousand years in preparing the world for this great redeemer. All the most remarkable passages of sacred history, recorded in holy writ, have all some relation to him or his church; all the most eminent servants of God and deliverers of his people, were so many figures and forerunners of him: the whole law, with all its sacrifices and ceremonies, alluded to him, and to the great sacrifice he was to offer. The writings of the prophets and the psalms are full of him. Now, when the time of his coming drew near, God, who had done great things long before for the whole people of the Hebrews in general and for that family in particular of which he would have his Son to be born into the world, was pleased to do still greater things in favour of her whom he had chosen, in his eternal decrees, to bring forth this Lord of glory and Saviour of the world. These great things wrought for her, even in her very conception, we celebrate in the festival of this day; to glorify him that wrought them; and to honour her for whom they were wrought. Our Lord, in taking her for his mother, and us for his brethren, has authorized us to consider her as our mother also; to have recourse to her as such; and to rejoice in all her advantages. We cannot love the Son of God, and be indifferent in what relates to the honour of his mother.
Consider 3rdly, that the Son of God, making choice of this blessed Virgin to be his mother, was pleased to prepare her for this near alliance with him, by that extraordinary grace of keeping her ever pure from sin, either original or actual, mortal or venial; for so it was becoming that she who was to bear in her womb, and to bring forth to the world purity itself, should never be defiled with any spot or stain of sin. Learn from hence, Christian souls, the care you ought to take to keep yourselves pure, if you hope to be agreeable to the eyes of this same Lord. Learn to purify yourselves from all sin, as often as you approach to him, to receive him in the sacred mysteries: an as the particular devotion of this holy time of Advent should be to prepare yourselves in such manner for worthily celebrating the birth of Christ, as that you also be partakers in this great mystery by his coming to you, and being spiritually born in you – see you make it your business now to dispose yourselves for so great a happiness, by purifying yourselves from all defilement either of the flesh or of the spirit, and thus preparing a proper place within you for the Lord of glory to be born in.
Conclude to honour the immaculate conception of the blessed Virgin, by a perpetual love of purity in all its branches; and an imitation of her purity, as far as thy frailty and corruption will admit of: thus mayest thou hope that the fountain of all purity will come also to thee, and be spiritually born in thee.