"When discussing the Immaculate Conception, an implicit reference may be found in the angel’s greeting to Mary. The angel Gabriel said, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you" (Luke 1:28). The phrase "full of grace" is a translation of the Greek word kecharitomene. It therefore expresses a characteristic quality of Mary. "
Catholic Answers Tract on the Immaculate Conception (Catholic.com)
I love this feast day. To me this is the day that explains the extraordinary give and take between God and His creatures, the incredibly love the Creator has for all of us. For unlike the myths of old (the ones that ALMOST get it right), God does not force Himself onto Mary in order to get His way. Rather, like the perfect Father He is, God asks His creature if she is willing to give herself totally to Him. Is she willing to trust completely in He who knew her before she was knitted in her mother's womb? Is she willing to say yes to the destiny that allowed her to be saved from the stain of Original Sin, outside of time and space and by the merits of the Sacrifice of God Himself - Jesus Christ, True God and True Man.
The entire salvation of the world depended upon the willingness of a simple, loving, devout Jewish girl - would she trust God to protect her? Would she trust that God would allow her to give birth when she lived in a time and a culture that women for the sin of conceiving a child out of wedlock, even if that woman had been forcibly raped?
We have become almost desensitized to the experience of Mary, daughter of Anne and Joachim. However, as a woman who found herself multiple times in a position of being abandoned by the men she thought loved her, I cannot imagine the leap of faith it took for her to say the words we are all so familiar with: Let it be done unto me, according to thy word.
Granted, Mary had some advantages over me. For one thing, she was sober. During my pagan days I was never sober - I was usually drunk or wasted and so my judgement as to who was a reliable sexual partner and potential father to my children was not very sound. Mary was conceived without the stain of Original Sin - she was 'full of grace', the New Eve and therefore not hampered by the same fallen nature that hampers me. Mary had an angel show up and talk this over with her. The closest I have ever come to actually seeing my angel was when it chose to take the form of a Scottish Terrier named Shaw's Roddy McDuff for five years.
The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is often a stumbling block for evangelicals and some fringe protestants. Most mainstream protestants, in my experience, come to an understanding of how God would create the living tabernacle to hold His Divine Self without too much resistance once they see the logic in it. However, the problem most others have is because they misunderstand the Catholic view of Mary - they think we worship her and so take away from Jesus Christ. However, that could not be further from the Truth.
Mary spends her existence pointing us to her Son. She is not God, she is the Mother of God. For that reason she is due a great deal of respect and love. In fact, I cannot imagine what it will be like for someone to stand before Jesus and say, "Sure I loved You, but I think your mother was just an incubator".
Anyway, today I visit the lawyer for some business and then get to attend Mass. It is a Holy Day of Obligation. I am so grateful to the Church. I have a mother, and I have a Holy Mother.
Could it get any better than this?