Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M. 2019

Murillo: The Immaculate Conception
Murillo: The Immaculate Conception

The solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is one I seem to have written about in most years. In 2011, for example, I tried to explain as simply as possible what the feast is and what it is not, and the theology that lies behind it. You can read that post here. I make no apologies for its being rather dry (though it does end with some lovely lines from Hopkins). Since then I have mused on different aspects of the feast, on Marian devotion in general and its unfortunate tendency to inspire bad art, and my own irritation with the syrup that obscures the real strength of Mary as the pre-eminent mulier fortis.

This morning, however, with storm clouds intensifying the darkness of our Herefordshire skies, I think of Mary as an image of the silence that lies at the heart of our Advent observance. She heard; she obeyed; and she pondered. Luke’s account of the Annunciation (Lk 1. 26–38) does not say that she did not question, in fact, rather the reverse. She asked the biggest question of all, ‘How can this be?’ Our Advent silence isn’t the silence of zombies, of those who think that to become holy is to become less human. Mary reminds us that every quality of mind and heart is necessary. Silence, too, is necessary because it is only in silence that we can overcome the superficial clamour of our lives. It is in silence that the Word takes shape and form and is born upon earth and in time.

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2 thoughts on “Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M. 2019”

  1. This is always a challenging Feast Day. I was delighted at your reference to Gerald Manley Hopkins poem.Some of his poems seem to overwhelm me, make me stop and think, and then move on treading more lightly on God’s earth.

  2. Flesh fade, and mortal trash
    Fall to the residuary worm; | world’s wildfire, leave but ash:
    In a flash, at a trumpet crash,
    I am all at once what Christ is, | since he was what I am, and
    This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, | patch, matchwood, immortal diamond,
    Is immortal diamond.

    (From Hopkins’ “That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire”)

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