|Stained glass window of the Immaculate Conception, IC Chapel, Mount St. Mary's Seminary|
The first from Fr. Frederick Miller, Professor of Systematic Theology at the Mount. He's deeply learned, a great teacher, a holy and devout priest, and deeply in love with the Blessed Mother. He gave this sermon for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception a few years back in the seminary oratory, dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. Columbia magazine, run by the Knights of Columbus, just published it: "Younger than Sin."
On our own strength it is impossible to remain faithful; grace alone makes us capable of fidelity and fruitfulness. God fills us with his grace in baptism, and Mary, conceived without sin, helps us to cooperate with grace as she did. She teaches us true poverty of spirit, true spiritual littleness; she teaches us to rejoice in poverty of spirit so that God can do his mighty works in us; she teaches us to become like little children in Christ.The second is from Fr. Larry Donohoo (once with the Hounds of Dominic), Asst. Professor of Systematic Theology, and one of the most brilliant men I've ever met, with a wry sense of humor that always enlivened class. This epic homily is titled "Our Lady of Freedom" and was preached on the Solemnity in 2011. It is totally epic. It's not been published, but Fr. Donohoo shared the text with me a few years ago, and I've uploaded it to Scribd.
Already we have more than enough evidence to build the case to call the Immaculate Conception Our Lady of Freedom. And what is her freedom? It is the space where virtue flourishes, the garden where desire lives, the womb of hope, and the field of vision. Freedom is the question that admits a divine answer, the possibility that awaits divine resolution. It is the Annunciation.
Mary was free from the start, of course, because she was immaculately conceived. But she was also free because without wrinkle or hesitation, without stain or cowardice, she immaculately conceived ever new ways of responding to the Lord's grace. She executed what she conceived. Our Lady of Freedom teaches us in this way that the one most passive to receiving God's will is the one who is most active in implementing it.
She is a Lady of Life, of power, of dynamism, of life, of charism, in possession of each situation because she is fully in possession of her own self, her womanhood, her vocation, her lovableness, her greatness. She continues to defy expectations and sometimes propriety, using her feminine charm for the sake of the reign of God.
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!