The struggle to be immaculate
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
By Fr. Roy Cimagala
The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, celebrated annually on December 8, reminds us of that most wonderful truth of our faith that we all are actually meant to be immaculate, that is, sinless, completely holy which means we are truly and entirely identified with Christ who is holiness himself.
Yes, we may not be conceived immaculate like what the Blessed Virgin Mary enjoyed as a divine privilege given to her, but we should strive, with God’s grace, to be sinless, always fighting against sin and against anything that can lead us to sin. In a sense, we have to develop a zeal to be immaculate, like Our Lady, which definitely would involve constant struggle against sin and temptations.
That may be an impossible pursuit, since we all know that we are all sinners, but it should not prevent us from doing our best to struggle to be as sinless as possible. In this regard, we should never forget to develop and strengthen our personal skills in handling temptations. This concern never goes passé, and it touches a basic, indispensable aspect of our life in all levels.
These days, temptations can come to us in the subtlest and trickiest of ways. This can be due, at least in part, to the increased level of sophistication both in people’s thinking and in world developments, especially in the area of technology and ideology.
With these developments, temptations can easily come undetected, and sin can be committed in a most hidden way and can even be easily rationalized. How important therefore it is for us to always grow in humility and simplicity, aggressively finding practical ways to achieve them! If not, we would just be lost.
As can be easily noted these days, the healthy fear of God is disappearing. In its place, a most heinous sense of self-importance is dominating. The criteria to determine what is good and bad have become blurred. They have gone almost completely relativistic and subjective, declaring total independence from any absolute and objective rule or law that comes from God.
Truth is, we always need God in our battle against temptations. We should disabuse ourselves from the thought that with our good intentions and our best efforts alone, we can manage to tame the urges of temptations.
We cannot! That’s the naked truth about it. We only can if we are with God. And we have to be with him in a strong, determined way, not in a passive or lukewarm way. Do flies flock on a hot soup? No. But they do on a cold or lukewarm soup.
We need to do everything to be with God. Our mind and heart should be fully and constantly engaged with him. We always have reason to do so—at least, we can thank him for what we are having at the moment: health, food, air, work, etc.
And to be with God can mean that we have to be actively involved in the lives of others, since our relation with God always passes through our relation with others. The more we get involved in the lives of others, knowing them well, praying for them, helping them in any we can, etc., the more we get to be with God. And the more we are with God, the stronger we become to resist sin and temptations. This is the way toward the ideal of becoming immaculate like our Mother Mary.