in the Month of the Divine Infancy
The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (17 B.C.).
This is the mystery of Mary to which our whole country, the United States of America, was dedicated at the Sixth Provincial Council of Baltimore in 1846. The meaning of this mystery is that from the instant of her conception in the womb of Anna, her mother, Mary was without original sin. Nothing of the guilt which Adam bestowed on the whole human race, because of his sin in the Garden of Paradise, was allowed to touch the perfect soul of the Blessed Virgin Mary. God created the soul of Mary in sheer holiness, full of every grace He could bestow on her. In our own day, which is rightly called "the age of Mary," in the year 1854, on December 8, the courageous and holy Pope, Pius IX, defined the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary as a Dogma of the Catholic Faith. Anyone who does not believe in this dogma can never enter Heaven. Four years after the definition of this dogma, Our Lady, in 1858, in one of her eighteen apparitions to Saint Marie Bernadette of Lourdes, a little fourteen-year old girl who lived in southern France, said, by way of innocently emphasizing the papal definition of Pius IX and its meaning, not "I was immaculately conceived," but, "I AM the Immaculate Conception." This she said on the feast of the Annunciation, March 25. Mary let us know thereby that she was the very notion of this grace in the mind of God from all eternity. Mary is God's love, His dove, His beautiful one.