Yesterday was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in the Catholic Church. So many people do not understand that the immaculate conception being celebrated is not Mary’s conception of Jesus, but the conception of Mary herself. She was full of grace, meaning that she was full to the brim with it. There was simply no more room available in her for sin. She was without stain; she had no flaws; she was perfect. That’s always boggled my mind. I’ve often wondered how many friends she had.
Have you ever had friends or known people who seemed perfect? Of course, they weren’t, but it seemed that they had perfect lives with perfect bodies and perfect hair, and, admit it, didn’t it drive you a little nuts? I’ve been accused of being a perfectionist, but there is a difference between striving for perfection in an area of our lives and actually BEING PERFECT. But Mary was perfect. She still is, for that matter. Being human, she had the option of saying no to the seemingly impossible and improbable request of the Angel Gabriel. But she had the grace to see beyond herself, and she had the faith to trust that God knew what He was doing. I’m in awe of that. I can try for perfection all I want, but I’ll never get there, and I know it. But I honor the only woman who ever achieved that lofty goal.
In his sermon yesterday, our priest talked about how Mary was God’s gift to the world. I’m thankful for that gift. I’m also thankful that on the day that the Catholic Church honors the conception, the very creation of the only perfect woman who will ever walk the face of this earth, that this day is also the anniversary of the day twenty-four years ago when my own mother left this world and joined God and Mary in Heaven. I’m thankful for the gift of her life and for the faith that she is enjoying eternity with Jesus and His mother to whom she was devoted throughout her life. The first thought I had at the moment of her death that long ago night was happiness that now she was reunited with my father. Of course, sadness overshadowed that joy on too many occasions since, and anger reared its ugly head, but that initial feeling was peaceful. I’m thankful that my mother entered Heaven on the day we honor Mary. And as Father spoke yesterday, my next thought was the gift we received last year on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. That was the December 8th that our first grandchild was born. Nathaniel James Ricke joined our family on that day, also a Thursday like it was the day Mom died. Our little Nate is one now. And what a gift is he! He is the busiest, happiest little guy! He has turned my youngest child into an amazing father and my daughter-in-law into a really great mother. I’m in awe of their seeming ease at parenthood. But then again, being his grandmommy, I can tell you that Nate is about as close to being perfect as I’ve seen. God chose the appropriate day for him to enter this world.
So, I was thinking of the gifts of two of my favorite people yesterday when Father was speaking, and then I remembered another Immaculate Conception that was a part of my life. When I started school, way back in my past, I went to Kindergarten in a convent by the name of Immaculate Conception. That is where I started my formal education and where I learned to read.
So, I’m pretty thankful for December 8th. It honors the woman I dedicated my life to on my wedding day so many years ago. It’s the day that God chose to call my own mother home to Him, and it’s the day that He gave us our first grandson. It’s no coincidence in my mind that He gave us these gifts on the feast day of the beginning of His own perfect mother who He was generous enough to share with the entire human family. Thank God!