Friday, 12/8/16 Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Sometimes it’s hard to take in the power behind the Immaculate Conception. After all, our human hearts cannot comprehend just how expansive God’s love is. I mean seriously, I’m a flawed human being and I make my fair share of mistakes, yet his love is so huge it covers all of my sin – and the sins of the entire world. Then I look at our Blessed Mother, the Immaculate Conception, and I am reminded of the power of his love. Through her his love entered into the world in human form and by emulating the Blessed Mother we too can be God’s servant.

Mother as Comforter

God knew we would need the tender love of a mother, which I write about in my blog post Mother as Nurturer/Comforter. You see, God created Eve for Adam because there was something Adam needed – feminine love and comfort. Eve would be his perfect complement and he would be hers. Together man and woman would be the expression of God’s love in the world.

However, planet earth is subject to the influence and powers of evil. Our first parents fell prey to evil’s trap. Still a truth remained, the potential for love and comfort was already woven into the fabric of the world and this would not be undone. However, love and comfort would now be intertwined with pain and heartache.

I will intensify your toil in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Yet your urge shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you. – Genesis 3:16 (NABRE)

Husband and wife were set against each other when fear and shame entered into their hearts of our first parents. Eve (and Adam) would now suffer pain. They will witness suffering in the bodies, hearts, and minds of their children and the generations that follow them. As a mother and grandmother myself, who is also subject to the evils of this world, I understand this type of pain. Family heartache would now be woven into the tapestry of the world alongside love and comfort.

Eve’s Urge for Her Husband

After partaking of the fateful apple, Eve’s desire became orientated towards her husband and his rule over her began. Since Antiquity many have found this verse to be confounding. It has caused confusion, outright anger, frustration, and division in the hearts of many of God’s children. Yet, it is better for Eve to have her urge directed towards Adam then the serpent and the apple right? After all, Adam was created in the image of God and the serpent rejected God. However, Adam is also subject to sin – all human husbands are. Does God offer a better way?

Adam’s human weakness is revealed in today’s first reading. We see how quickly Adam turned against Eve during her moment of need, which was also his first moment of fear. Instead of protecting her, his fear left her vulnerable. What followed was their first experience of shame – something they experienced together. Throughout history, pain and heartache has often resulted from the orientation of the feminine towards the masculine – a discussion that is beyond the scope of this reflection. However, through all the pain and heartache imbedded in this new dynamic, the seeds of love continue to take root and produce good fruit.

Our Blessed Mother, the Immaculate Conception, can show us the way into love that produces good fruit. By following her example the hearts of men and women alike become filled with love. As our hearts fill with God’s love we step into a fullness that only God offers.

Mary’s Urge For Her Husband

Mary’s life began with many blessings. What we know of her childhood is taken from the Gospel of James (like many ancient works this gospel is not in the Bible). Mary was an only child born to elderly, devout Jewish parents Joachim and Anna. Her mother Anna, who only became pregnant after much prayer and supplication to God, raised Mary to be pure. To show her gratitude for this little girl, Anna dedicated Mary to the service of God in the Temple. From the beginning Mary was given every grace necessary to become the mother of Jesus.

However, Mary, like the rest of humanity, was also given free will and she used her free will to fall in love with God. It was Mary’s choice to say yes to Life when God asked her to become the mother of his son. Her yes opened up a space for our savior Jesus Christ to enter into the world and we are eternally indebted to her.

The Immaculate Conception

Now, normally a woman doesn’t say yes to bearing a man’s child until she has fallen in love with him. The moment of conception is preceded by time spent together getting to know one another. And this is what Mary’s life was all about – falling in love with and getting to know God. Mary experienced a divine courtship with God long before the angel Gabriel appeared.

Mary spent significant time with God. She communed with him and her urge for God was well-developed when Gabriel appeared – even at her tender young age. St. Augustine would later refer to Mary as the Mother and Spouse of God. (Sermon 208). Mary’s heart was fully orientated towards her divine spouse and, as a result, she enjoyed his loving rule over her. We are now the beneficiaries of this divine union. Mary has become the new Eve and we are invited to trust in the rule of her divine spouse just like she did.

Mother Mary’s Heart

Even though Adam and Eve missed the mark when they allowed the serpent in, God in his faithfulness has been with mankind the entire time. Mary’s life is evidence of this. She is an example for all humanity to follow, we (male and female alike) can trust in God like Mary did. When we do miracles will follow. God is, after all, in the miracle business; however, we must first say yes to him. Allowing our hearts to conform to his heart creates the space for miracles to happen. Like seeds planted in fertile soil, God’s seeds will burst into new life with our yes.

Pondering the great miracle that happened when little Mary said yes is mind-blowing. God’s infinite love for humanity was revealed when Jesus Christ entered the world. Beauty was set into motion with the Immaculate Conception and my human heart can’t even begin to adequately take all of this in. All I can do is give gratitude and ask Mary to guide me as a daughter of God. Hopefully a bit of rich soil can be found within me and God’s divine seeds can sprout.

God bless all of you – see you next week Friday! – Carolyn

Heart of Jesus – have mercy on us.

Father God – consume us.

Holy Spirit – enter into us.

Immaculate Conception – pray for us.

Today’s Readings: Reading 1 Genesis 3:9-15, 20, Responsorial Psalm 98:1, 2-3AB, 3CD-4, Reading 2 Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12, Alleluia Luke 1:28, Gospel Luke 1:26-38

About the Author

Carolyn Berghuis MS, ND, CTN is a best-selling author, inspirational speaker, traditional naturopath, and free-lance Catholic writer. She has spent over 20 years helping individuals experience real transformation in their body, heart and soul. Carolyn credits her frequent time spent in Eucharistic Adoration and regular Mass attendance for her spiritual growth and internal peace. Carolyn Berghuis is creator of The LIVE Method (Love is Victorious Everywhere) and the founder of Trinity Holistic Wellness. A woman whose compassion and determination are a powerful portrait of the human spirit, she has discovered the path to real happiness and peace. Her weekly on-line reflections on inspire readers across the globe and her heart for healing propels her forward as she seeks to assist those on their journey towards happiness and wholeness. Carolyn is also the author of Understanding The Jesus Code. A book written from her heart to help individuals who seek to experience greater happiness and peace. Additionally, Carolyn is currently pursuing an MA in Pastoral Theology at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology. Carolyn also holds a BS in Mathematics, a MS in Holistic Nutrition and a doctoral degree in Naturopathy. Together with her husband, Scott Berghuis, Carolyn enjoys a rich family life with their three beautiful children and seven amazing grandchildren. Carolyn is available to speak on a variety of Catholic topics. If you would like Carolyn to speak at your local event please contact her at You can learn more about Carolyn's ministry at

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  1. Adam was a better object of adoration for Eve than the serpent??? You better check out your theology! We don’t worship other human beings! Your column is now deleted from my list of favorites.

  2. Thank you for this reflection.
    @Michaeleen,I believe that was metaphoric and not meant to be taken literally.

  3. Thanks Carolyn for your very beautiful reflection on the immaculate conception of Mary Mother of Jesus Christ. Thanks
    for the love that God gave to us by having a saviour of the world born by a woman making her a vessel for our salvation

    God bless you Carolyn and your family for this wonderful preaching

  4. Thank you Carolyn, that was insightful and moving. When we take our eyes off God we lose our identity and our complementary charisms of manhood and womanhood, and our relationships become disordered, just as Adam and Eve’s did.

  5. I’m not sure if you understand the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, or if you are being vague so as not to alarm other Catholics over its real meaning. The doctrine says that ANNA conceived MARY without original sin, aka the Adamic nature. Most Catholics erroneously believe the doctrine says that MARY conceived JESUS without original sin, but this is wrong. Pius IX created this doctrine, and it is described as such in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
    However, this doctrine is incorrect for this reason. Jesus did not have the Adamic sin nature because he was born of “the seed of the woman” as Genesis predicted. However, Mary DID have a human father. In Jesus’ case, it is very possible that, because of the prediction in Genesis, two sets of chromosomes came from the two ovum, rather that a set from the mother and a set from the father. This does occur in the animal kingdom, but with great rarity. It has happened only once in human history, the birth of the Messiah of Israel.

  6. You have created a very stirring emotional response to this false doctrine… I understand why you would. But it is clear this devotion should be aimed at Jesus himself. Mary is not omniscient, omnipresent, or all-powerful. But because “the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily in the man Christ Jesus”, he is willing and able to hear your prayers and respond to them. Another false doctrine of the Catholic church is Mary as “Mediatrix of all graces”. No she is not. “There is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus”. We are no longer under the Mosaic Law, we are under Grace because “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not counting men’s sins against them”. Jesus achieved this for us by his death and resurrection. Mary’s only role in this plan of redemption was her Virgin birth of Jesus. But now we “no longer know Christ after the flesh” … That is, his human relationships from his earthly ministry are not relevant, but we are to know him as Messiah of Israel, and Savior and Redeemer of us Gentiles.

  7. I am not trying to diss the Catholic Church here, because most doctrines are correct, such as Virgin Birth, the Triune Godhead, the Resurrection, etc. But the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was proclaimed by Plus IX in 1854…
    “The most blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ Savior of the human race, preserved from all stain of original sin.”
    No, as a Jew, Mary was born under the covenant of the Mosaic Law. The Law was strict and unyielding and as Paul said “ALL HAVE SINNED AND FALLEN SHORT of the glory of God.” If God would have made an ARBITRARY exception, the strict nature of the Mosaic Law would have been voided. The Catholic Church has historically failed to recognize the difference between the Mosaic Law and the new covenant Jesus began, and the dispensation of Grace that began with the rejection of the Messiah by Israel. Paul quite clearly spells out our relationship with God in Christ by Grace apart from the Law in Galatians. God could not be ARBITRARY in his dealing with mankind under the Mosaic Law , because that is the nature of the Law… it cannot have arbitrary exceptions to satisfy the whims of human beings.

  8. Hello Alan,

    I appreciate the time you took in your response to my post. However, I believe most Catholics do indeed understand that Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin – I certainly do. This is why we refer to her as the Immaculate Conception. Mary, in her great humility, points to her Son as our savior and redeemer. She never points to herself. By following Mary’s example we too are called to fully orientate our hearts towards our Triune God and follow Jesus Christ. I invite anyone who is confused on this matter to reflect upon the church’s Catechism – specifically 490 – 493. Below you will find the section of the Catechism you referenced in your post – 491 and 492. I hope this is helpful.

    491 Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:

    “The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.”

    492 The “splendor of an entirely unique holiness” by which Mary is “enriched from the first instant of her conception” comes wholly from Christ: she is “redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son”. The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” and chose her “in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love”.

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