Faith

Immaculate Conception: An Unwavering Focus on God’s Will

The Blessed Mother has endless lessons to teach

Think about it: Our Blessed Mother was not only preserved from all stain of original sin, but she never sinned during her earthly life.

Aside from receiving a special grace from God, Mary was totally focused on doing God’s will, with her love — all the time, regardless of the cost.

Related: Mystery of the Immaculate Conception

Pope Pius XI declared the dogma of the Immaculate Conception on Dec. 8, 1854: “We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of the Omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and therefore should firmly and constantly be believed by all the faithful … ”

What is a sin? Some think of the Ten Commandments; others refer to the inherent rule of our conscience to do good and avoid evil; and still others may refer to an infraction against civil law.

Pope Francis, in a recent audience, declared, “In Christ, and only in Him, the Decalogue stops being condemnation (Cf. Romans 8:1) and becomes the authentic truth of human life, namely, desire of love — born here is the desire of the good, to do good — desire of joy, desire of peace, of magnanimity, of benevolence, of goodness, of fidelity, of meekness, of self-mastery. From that ‘no,’ one passes to this ‘yes’: the positive attitude of a heart that opens with the strength of the Holy Spirit.”

I would define sin as “getting in God’s way,” which ultimately prevents us from a fulfilled and happy life as well.

People will often say, “How can the church say premarital sex is a sin when everyone is doing it? That train has left the station.”

Or some men might say, “How can I not look at an attractive woman? And then my mind just naturally begins to wander. What’s the problem?”

Or, “After a long day at the job, three or four beers help relieve so much stress.”

Or, “The business world is so cutthroat that if you don’t step on people, they’ll step on you — and if you don’t work the system like everyone else, you simply cannot get ahead.”

Or, “Look, I go to Mass three out of four Sundays. If I were a baseball player, that would be a .750 average and I would be in the Hall of Fame. You expect me to go to Mass every Sunday? Seriously?”

(Somebody recently said this last one above to me verbatim in New York City.)

God, as our loving Father in heaven, wants us to be extremely happy. The happiest person in the history of mankind is the Blessed Virgin Mary, because her focus was always on doing what pleased God the Father — and God blessed her abundantly with his peace and grace.

Sin is choosing to go our way instead of God’s way — and this often will hurt and offend others.

In an October 1946 radio message, Pope Pius XII stated, “Perhaps the greatest sin in the world today is that men have begun to lose the sense of sin.”

Related: Without Patience, We Will Learn Less in Life

Pope Francis recently repeated this same phrase in a homily.

So how can we recover this sixth sense?

Spend time with Jesus in prayer. Go to the Eucharist, go to sacred Scripture, allow His love to penetrate your heart.

It needs to be a deep and personal friendship — then our main concern will be to please and never hurt our best friend Jesus.

Selfless people are joyful people.

People who are focused on pleasing God and serving others do not have time for sin. They are too busy doing good and spreading God’s love all over the place!.

Fr. Michael Sliney is a Catholic priest based in the New York City area and an adviser to the Lumen Institute, a professional business group.

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