Devotion to Mary, handed down to us by the Founders, has always been a big part of the Vincentian Family’s heritage right from the beginning. The apparitions and the message of 1830 reinforced this attachment to Mary, enriched it and gave it contemporary relevance.
When he founded the first Confraternity of Charity at Chatillon on 23rd August 1617, Saint Vincent wrote, ‘And when the Mother of God is invoked and chosen as the Patroness for important undertakings, everything cannot do otherwise than go well and redound to the glory of her Son, Jesus, these said Ladies take her as the Patroness and Protectress of their work’ (Coste XIV, p. 125).
Saint Louise’s devotion also leads her to imitate Mary and to contemplate her in the mystery of her relationship with God in faith. ‘I am yours, Holy Virgin, in order to belong more perfectly to God’. Louise’s devotion is also one of praise, particularly for Mary’s Immaculate Conception.
The Mother of God’s Immaculate Conception and her Assumption – “these two privileges are most closely bound to one another” (cf. Apostolic Constitution MUNIFICENTISSIMUS DEUS, #4). Celebrating in August the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, let us listen to Fr. André Cabes, Doctor in theology, and let us be fascinated by the fact that…
… Mary’s privilege of the Immaculate Conception is a privilege for us, too!
Mary is the creature who welcomes grace and allows herself to be continually changed by the gift God has given her. She respects God’s freedom, she allows love to do its work, her life is totally immersed in grace that was hers from the beginning.
When we speak of a privilege being granted to Mary, we forget that this privilege was meant to be shared and that it involves all of us. The dogma does not add a pearl to Mary’s crown, it illuminates the very reality of our lives. The poor and the lowly are illuminated by God’s glance in their direction.
Now, what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception is telling us is the essence of the mystery of God’s gift. It shows us that the Incarnation and Redemption have been achieved in this lowly person, Mary, who is at the heart of our human sinfulness.
Our Lady represents the Marian part of us that has always been there. She is a lowly disciple, wholly clothed in the beauty of her God, something that we, too, are called to become, thanks primarily to the sacrament of baptism and renewed by the sacrament of reconciliation.
God looks on us in the way that the father in the parable looked on his prodigal son. He did not see the ‘prodigal’, he saw his ‘son’. In every woman and man God sees the person who will be His well beloved child for all eternity. In his Letter to the Ephesians, Paul tells us that we are called to be ‘holy and blameless in God’s presence, in love’. The privilege of the Immaculate Conception is for us, too!
Mary is the finest illustration of one of the truths of faith that transcends historic divisions among Christians: we are saved by God’s free gift. It is creation being restored to its original state, it is the world being created anew, a world that is utterly transparent and receptive to grace, the gift of God. The “yes” uttered by God when He created the world, hears the echoed reply of Mary’s ‘yes’. That is why the world exists. And it is not just marginal to the life we have to live….