Today we celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. It is a feast that some have anticipated for the last nine days in a novena; but its primary theme is thanksgiving, thanksgiving to the Trinitarian God. Every year it is celebrated during Advent, which gives this celebration a solemn flavor.
Someone once said that hell trembles at Mary's fiat. I'd add that "something flashed in the air" when the Immaculate Conception took place. For it is a divine move, in response to man's fallen state, and is something totally unmerited. Like all occasions of grace, it is first initiated by God.
Mary, bearer of our hope, is also the throne of grace, the star of the sea. Our pope Benedict XVI wrote a beautiful prayer to Mary, in the closing of his 2nd encyclical Spe Salvi:
"Ave maris stella. Human life is a journey. Towards what destination? How do we find the way? Life is like a voyage on the sea of history, often dark and stormy, a voyage in which we watch for the stars that indicate the route. The true stars of our life are the people who have lived good lives. They are the lights of hope. Certainly, Jesus Christ if the true light, the sun that has risen above all the shadows of history. But to reach him we also need lights close by — people who shine with his light and so guide us along our way. Who more than Mary could be a star of hope for us?"
Afterwards, our Pope reiterated that Mary, of all people, suffered what seemed like a betrayal of promises made to her by the prophecies, but her faith was one that shone even in the darkest moments below the Cross of her son.
In this solemn season of Advent, let us enkindle our hope for salvation looking to Mary, the first fruits of grace, who trusted Him, cuius regni non erit finis.