The Immaculate Conception in Mary

Updated: May 30, 2020

Before starting to consider what makes Mary the Immaculate Conception, it is good to stress, as St. Maximilian Kolbe did, that these distinctions we make, and which our intellect needs in order to see more clearly and to understand better the reasons why we should love, must not turn into occasions of diversion and distraction in our life of worship.

Our imagination leads us to think of God the Father, of Jesus, of the Immaculata, as the objects of "devotions" which are more or less similar. Instead, we should think of them as links in a single chain, as elements all leading to a single goal: God, who is One in his Trinity. (Letter to Niepokalanów, Nov. 10, 1934)

He insists on this idea:

Day by day, let us strive to belong more and more to the Immaculata, and in her and through her, to Jesus and to God; never should we try to go to Jesus without her. We do not serve God the Father, and Jesus our Lord, and the Immaculata; but we seek to serve God in Jesus and through Jesus, and to serve Jesus in the Immaculata and through the Immaculata. (Letter to Fr. Salezy Mikolajczyk, July 28, 1935)

Whenever we examine the relationships between Mary and God, we must always keep in mind these affirmations which put into proper perspective the trends of St. Maximilian’s thought. The Virgin Mary occupies the central position in the effort of doctrinal reflection carried on by this great apostle of Mary. The formal veneration of Mary the Immaculata absorbs all his attention. Still, he has not failed to place her in her correct position, which is that of a creature, even if the position she occupies is the noblest of all; for she is Mary, the Mother of God and our Mother. "No one should disapprove," says Paul VI, "if Blessed Maximilian and the Church together with him show such enthusiasm for the formal veneration of the most Blessed Virgin; this enthusiasm will never be too great considering the merits and the advantages we can derive from such veneration, precisely because a mysterious communion unites Mary to Christ, a communion that is documented convincingly in the New Testament. Never let us think of this as ‘Mariolatry’; we know that the sun will never be dimmed by the light of the moon; and never will the ministry of salvation entrusted to the Church’s solicitude in particular be impaired, if the Church is faithful to honor in Mary her most exceptional Daughter, and her spiritual Mother." (Beatification homily, Oct. 17, 1971)

The Immaculata Is a Creature

The Mother of God is a creature. It follows that all she is, she has from God. But she is God’s most perfect creature. For this reason, the homage paid to her is, by the very nature of the case, paid to God himself. If we admire a statue, we honor the artist who created this masterpiece. If we honor Mary most holy we honor God. The more we pay homage to the divine perfections found in Mary, the more perfect is our homage to God; this is perfectly in order, since God created her in the highest state of perfection (Conference, April 9, 1938).

Why do we love Mary Immaculate and consecrate ourselves to her unreservedly? Not because of what she is in herself, but because she is wholly God’s…. We love her because we love God (Conference, April 4, 1938)

Michelangelo produced a masterpiece, no doubt; but his "Moses" did not completely satisfy him, for he knew how far the realization fell short of his inner ideal. True, his "Moses" done in marble revealed the wealth of the artist’s spiritual conception, which was in him all light and love. A true masterpiece is a work in which the artist—because he possesses the genius to do it—is able to transpose his inner conceptions into marble, or onto canvas, or into music. But he cannot, of course, confer on his creation the kind of existence it has in his own mind; it remains only a symbol of the inner, ideal conception; and like any other symbol it remains distinct from what it symbolizes. A flag is not the same thing as the country it stands for.

In terms of human procreation, human parents know perfectly well that they cannot produce the spiritual soul of their child, even though they have already "conceived" him in their minds. That is why we call their action "procreation"; in this process of human generation God himself immediately creates the spirit and soul of man. God alone is the wonderful artist who is able to create a being in his own "image and likeness."

What does this mean?

St. Maximilian explains very precisely how a creature must go back to the principle from which it sprang, in order to achieve the complete fullness of being that the Creator intended it to reach:

Everywhere in this world we notice action and the reaction which is equal but contrary to it; we find departure and return, going away and coming back, separation and reunion. The separation always looks forward to union, w