The Immaculate Conception
The first of the Hidden Mysteries of the Rosary is the Immaculate Conception of Mary, an event that was utterly hidden from the world. It's a teaching that is very misunderstood even among Catholics, who confuse it with the Annunciation - which is the conception of Jesus. Protestants object to the Immaculate Conception because there is no clear biblical warrant for the dogma, and even if true, it appears to them to be irrelevant to Christian life.
Well, it's certainly not irrelevant to Christian life. We are, after all, praying these fifty days in preparation for the worldwide consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on October 13. And Mary's immaculate heart is the result of both her Immaculate Conception (she is the only woman since Eve to have been spared the effects of Original Sin), as well as her lifelong cooperation with God's grace, which kept her heart pure and undivided.
Indeed, what we strive for is such an Immaculate Heart as hers. "Give to our hearts the dimensions of yours" we pray in our daily Genesian prayer to the Immaculate Heart, for an undivided heart of purity is both the result and the source of sanctification - of holiness. From such a heart true love springs unstained by sin and selfishness - in this sense an immaculate heart is the source of holiness; and allowing God to purify our hearts and make them immaculate is our lifelong goal - in this sense an immaculate heart is the result of holiness.
And so as we pray today a decade of the Rosary meditating upon the mystery of the Immaculate Conception (an event in which God prepared for His Incarnation by granting Mary in advance the graces her Son would later earn for us all on the cross), let us keep in mind what the Holy Spirit tells us about the necessity of having undivided hearts of integrity, hearts circumcised for His sake.
- Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life. - Prov. 4:23
- Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. - James 4:8
- And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart. - Acts 2:46
- I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. - Ez. 11:19
- As for God, his way is immaculate, the word of the Lord is tried by fire: he is the shield of all that trust in him. - 2 Sam. 22:31
Let us pray.
To you, Immaculate Heart of Mary, we consecrate ourselves – our hearts, minds, wills and lives and all those works we undertake so they may be for the glory of God, for the sake of the Gospel and the salvation of souls. Holy Mother, our Queen and our Joy, give to our hearts the dimensions of yours and form us in the image of your beloved Son.