Blasphemy Against Immaculate Conception
Last week I introduced the subject of the five blasphemies against the Immaculate Heart of Mary and explained the meaning of the forgotten sin of blasphemy. This week it is now time to turn my attention to the first of the five blasphemies, blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Last week, I distinguished between intentional blasphemy, which involves an intentional insult, and objective blasphemy, which is rooted in ignorance. I am going to focus here on the widespread objective blasphemy of denial of the Immaculate Conception. Under the influence of Protestantism it has become common to regard the Blessed Virgin as an ordinary sinner like the rest of us. This attitude effects Catholics as well.
Objective sins have real effects and one negative effect of denial of the Immaculate Conception is despair.
In the Immaculate Virgin Mary we see what God destines for all who believe in him; through her God reveals his plan for all mankind, his plan to conquer sin, his plan to transform us through the work of grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, his plan to heal, purify, elevate, and transform, making us worthy to share in his very own life.
This, however, is not our experience of life. Yes, we see and experience good in human life, but we also know well the experience of weakness, lies, and sin. Our experience of life is something of a mixed bag.
The dogma of the Immaculate Conception reveals to us the promise that while she was conceived without sin, the Lord destines all who believe in him to become like her, holy and blameless in his sight. (Eph 1:4) The dogma of the Immaculate Conception reveals to us that this transformation in grace is possible to us, despite our present sinful condition.
Belief in the Immaculate Conception should lead us to set our sights high; we are not like her, but we should aspire to become like her; in the next life, purified from sin, we shall indeed be able to enter into the presence of God as his beloved children, holy and blameless in his sight. The realization of that promise begins here and now.
Denial of the Immaculate Conception, on the other hand, tends to reduce our understanding of God’s plan to the level of our experience of sinful human nature; despairing of the possibility of any real transformation, we begin to aspire only for a goodness such as we see possible to our present condition, a mixed-bag sort of goodness. As a result we tend to set our sights low, according to the measure of our experience of human sin, according to a merely human standard.
Denial of the Immaculate Conception, with the despair that results from it, bears fruit in two ways that are very evident in our contemporary culture: glorying in sin and denial of sin.
Of itself the reality of sin is impossible for us to bear; to live each day with the acute consciousness that I have sinned, I have chosen what I know to be wrong, is unbearable apart from God’s mercy and the hope of forgiveness. Likewise, the knowledge that I am a sinner, apart from the hope of transformation, the hope that I will not always and forever be a sinner, is unbearable. Indeed, that is the reality of hell itself, when all lies and excuses will be stripped away and we will be face to face with truth about ourselves.
In this life, however, we can seek escape through lies, excuses, rationalizations, and all forms of denial.
One form of denial is simply the denial of sin altogether; “Sin, there is no such thing; that was a medieval invention of priests for the sake of controlling people; really the good news is ‘I’m okay and your okay’.” God’s mercy is then proclaimed not as the forgiveness of sin, but the revelation that really there is no sin. In the end we effectively claim that we are all immaculately conceived – such is the blasphemous line of thinking.
The other form of denial is to call good evil and evil good; to glory in our sins; to proclaim our sins holy; this sort of denial is epitomized in an expression like ‘gay pride’.
We might not see much in the way of outright blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception, but the fruits of the objective blasphemy are all around us.
The Blessed Virgin asked Sr. Lucy for the five first Saturdays of reparation. As part of that she asked that we meditate upon the mysteries of the rosary. This is a fundamentally contemplative activity, turning over in our minds, admiring, rejoicing in, and giving praise on account of the central events in the lives of Jesus and Mary, letting them take root in our hearts and transform our lives. The Immaculate Conception is not one of those mysteries, but it is a contemplative truth that teaches us the primacy of contemplation; it is not one of those mysteries, but the mystery of the Annunciation gives us a little window on the world of the sinless Virgin, full of grace, wholly transformed by grace.
We undo the irreverence of blasphemy by the reverence of worship and praise. We honor the Blessed Virgin not so much by our outward acts as by the inward contemplative delight of our mind, our delight in the reality of Jesus and Mary.