Today is the feast of the Immaculate Conception.
It’s important to understand what the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is and what it is not. Some people think the term refers to Christ’s conception in Mary’s womb without the intervention of a human father; but that is the Virgin Birth. Others think the Immaculate Conception means Mary was conceived “by the power of the Holy Spirit,” in the way Jesus was, but that, too, is incorrect. The Immaculate Conception means that Mary, whose conception was brought about the normal way, was conceived without original sin or its stain—that’s what “immaculate” means: without stain. The essence of original sin consists in the deprivation of sanctifying grace, and its stain is a corrupt nature. Mary was preserved from these defects by God’s grace; from the first instant of her existence she was in the state of sanctifying grace and was free from the corrupt nature original sin brings.
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.
The traditional translation, “full of grace,” is better than the one found in many recent versions of the New Testament, which give something along the lines of “highly favored daughter.” Mary was indeed a highly favored daughter of God, but the Greek implies more than that (and it never mentions the word for “daughter”). The grace given to Mary is at once permanent and of a unique kind.Kecharitomene is a perfect passive participle of charitoo, meaning “to fill or endow with grace.” Since this term is in the perfect tense, it indicates that Mary was graced in the past but with continuing effects in the present. So, the grace Mary enjoyed was not a result of the angel’s visit. In fact, Catholics hold, it extended over the whole of her life, from conception onward. She was in a state of sanctifying grace from the first moment of her existence.
Before her debut on the hit reality TV show, America’s Next Top Model, and the subsequent years as a professional model, Leah earned a bachelor degree in psychology from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, graduating with Magna cum Laude honors and President of the Psychology Honor Society, Psi Chi. Leah is currently working towards her Masters in Pastoral Theology, in the IPT program, at Ave Maria University.
Now, as a full-time apologist for Catholic Answers, Leah brings her experience of the fashion world and the Catholic world to the masses. Leah has appeared on numerous secular and non-secular television and radio programs, including EWTN’s Life on the Rock and Faith & Culture programs. Leah, also spoke on behalf of international youth at the United Nations’ panel discussion in July of 2011.
Leah speaks internationally to people of all ages on topics of mercy, conversion, human dignity, modesty and chastity.
Inspired by John Paul II, Mother Teresa and Pope Benedict XVI, Leah reaches out to all those lost in sin, scared to change and offers them the lighted pathway to Christ, our Hope and our Salvation. Pope Benedict XVI said, “The world promises you comfort but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness!” Leah inspires and challenges her audiences to accept the mercy of Christ, embrace true love, and welcome conversion.