Presence of God – I place myself in the presence of Mary Immaculate, my loving Mother, and listen to her invitation: “Come over to me all you who desire me, and I will declare to you what great things God has done for my soul” (Roman Breviary).
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is in perfect harmony with the spirit of Advent; while the soul is preparing for the coming of the Redeemer, it is fitting to think of her, the all-pure one, who was His Mother.
The very promise of a Saviour was joined to, or rather, was included in the promise of this peerless Virgin. After having cursed the insidious serpent, God proclaimed: “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head” (Gen 3:15). And behold, the Virgin whose coming was foretold, approaches, “white as snow, more beautiful than the sun, full of grace, and blessed above all women” (Roman Breviary).
Precisely in view of the sublime privilege which would make her the Mother of the Incarnate Word, Mary alone, among all creatures, was preserved from original sin. Yet in Mary Immaculate we see not only her preservation from original sin, and the complete absence of the slightest shadow of an imperfection, but we also see the positive side of this mystery which made her, from the very first moment of her existence, “full of grace.”
Theologians teach that the Most Blessed Virgin Mary began her spiritual life with grace much more abundant and perfect than that which the greatest saints have acquired at the end of their lives. When we consider also that during her whole life, the Blessed Virgin corresponded fully and most perfectly to every movement of grace, to every invitation from God, we can understand how charity and grace increased in her with incessant and most rapid progress, making her the holiest of creatures, the one most completely united to God and transformed in Him.
O Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, what light and strength your sweet image brings me! The most beautiful, the holiest, the purest of all creatures, so “full of grace” that you were worthy to bear within you the Author and Source of all grace, you do not disdain to give yourself to me—a poor creature, conscious of my sin and misery—as a model of purity, love, and holiness.
The privileges of your Immaculate Conception and divine maternity are inimitable, but you have hidden them within such a simple, humble life that I am not afraid to approach you, and ask you to take me by the hand and help me to ascend the mountain of perfection with you. Yes, you are Queen of heaven and earth; but because you are more Mother than Queen, you encourage me to have recourse to you, saying, “O my child, hear me; blessed are they who keep my ways…. He who finds me, finds life, and will obtain salvation from the Lord” (Roman Breviary). And I answer you in the words of the Church, “Draw me, O Immaculate Virgin, I will run after you in the odour of your ointments” (ibid).
Yes, draw me, Immaculate Mother, draw me above all by the luminous charm of your spotless purity! I feel so impure and stained by the things of earth compared with you, the all-pure, so detached from everything, so forgetful of yourself that nothing moves you to act apart from the divine will, apart from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
If I see you always docile and ready to respond to every least divine invitation, even though it be hidden under the most human, ordinary circumstances; if I hear you gently repeating your “yes,” Ecce ancilla Domini … fiat, in all the happenings of your life, big and little, agreeable and disagreeable, it is because you are the Immaculate. No shadow of creatures or purely human interests or affections touches your heart; and therefore, nothing can delay your most rapid course toward God.
O Immaculate Virgin, I am so reluctant, indolent, and miserly in giving myself to God, so immersed in the things of earth! Teach me how pure my heart ought to be, so that I will never refuse anything to the Lord, and will always be able to repeat with you my sweet, prompt fiat.
Illumine my mind, then, with the light which emanates from your resplendent purity, so that no attachment, no earthly affection may remain hidden in me to prevent my leading a life truly and fully consecrated to my God.
To you I entrust, in a very special way, my vow of chastity; guard it and make me pure, not only in body, but also in mind and heart. With your help, O Mother, I am ready to renounce any affection, even if slight, which could still bind me to creatures. I want my heart to belong wholly to God, for whom I would keep its every throb in a spirit of perfect chastity.