“Glory to God in the highest.” “We come to you, Father, with praise and thanksgiving.” “All creation rightly gives you praise.” “Lord, we thank you for counting us worthy to be in your presence and minister to you.”
Our celebration of Holy Mass reveals to us the fundamental meaning of human life, the reason why we exist: to praise and glorify God.
He made us. He made everything that gives us life, sustains us, and makes us happy. His infinite beauty has given us everything beautiful; His endless truth has given us everything worth knowing. No relationship we have involves more intimacy or more ecstasy than our religion, our relationship with God. We do not live a single moment in time without Him. And our destiny to live in His glory forever gives our pilgrims lives their peace.
Worshiping God, praising Him, and adoring Him, then, constitute the heart and soul of human life. Let’s meditate briefly on Our Lady’s immaculate conception in light of this.
When our First Parents disobeyed God, they disrupted their worship. Adam and Eve could have adored their Creator in peace, offering themselves as a pleasing sacrifice to Him. But they did not do that. So they bequeathed to us a fallen human nature, prone to false religion. Left to ourselves, mankind does not worship God in spirit and truth. Rather, we offer meager and base sacrifices, which are unworthy of our dignity, to false gods, which are unworthy of our adoration.
We can see in Our Lady’s beautiful life, however, that a higher power had preserved for from all that. Her soul never had any paganism in it. It was as if the original religion of the Garden of Eden had returned to the earth—in her interior life. When the Archangel Gabriel came to her, he found a woman who worshiped the one, true God in spirit and truth.
Now, how exactly do we know this? The key to understanding it, I think, is: the fact that mankind’s one pleasing sacrifice to the Father is Jesus Christ.
Mary’s son Jesus has Himself revealed true religion, which means He has revealed the inner significance of our life. Christ’s entire pilgrimage, from His conception in Mary’s womb through His death and Resurrection, to His Ascension into heaven—all of it was fundamentally a perfect act of worship, a pleasing sacrifice. In His life on earth, Christ essentially did one thing: He gave Himself over to the Father, in love.
And Our Lady assisted at this sacrifice with pure, faithful co-operation. “Will you consent to mother the eternal Word?” “Yes.” “Will you accompany Him to the Temple and teach Him the ancient covenant?” “Yes.” “Will you let Him leave you and His home, so that He can travel, teach, heal, and proclaim the divine kingdom?” “Yes.” “Will you go with Him to Jerusalem, bear Him up as He carries His cross through the streets, receive His body in your arms after He expires, then meet Him in the garden after He rises from the dead, let go of Him again when He ascends, and then accompany His beloved apostle in the work of building up the Church, until your own pilgrim life runs its course?” “Yes! Be it done unto me according to your word.”
Mary worshiped immaculately. She accompanied the incarnate True Religion through His entire priestly sacrifice of Himself. Mary united herself with her Son’s sacrifice in everything. She never so much as drew a breath that was not consecrated to the Father through the Paschal Mystery of her Son.
In Our Lady, we Christians see true religion, immaculate religion—which means immaculate life. By God’s grace and Mary’s help, may we, too, faithfully practice that religion.