Transcription of Audio

Translation for the Epistle for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception

From the Book of Proverbs

The LORD begot me, the first-born of his ways, the forerunner of his prodigies of long ago; From of old I was poured forth, at the first, before the earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no fountains or springs of water; Before the mountains were settled into place, before the hills, I was brought forth; While as yet the earth and the fields were not made, nor the first clods of the world. When he established the heavens I was there, when he marked out the vault over the face of the deep; When he made firm the skies above, and poised the fountains of waters; When he set for the sea its limit, so that the waters should not transgress his command; When he fixed fast the foundations of the earth. Then was I beside him as his craftsman, and I was his delight day by day, Playing before him all the while, playing on the surface of his earth; and I found delight in the sons of men.”So now, O children, listen to me; Happy those who those who keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Happy the man who obeys me watching daily at my gates, waiting at my doorstep; for he who finds me finds life, and wins favor from the LORD.

Continuation of the Gospel According to St. Luke

At that time: the Angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph of the house of David: and the Virgin’s name was Mary. And when the Angel came to her, he said: Hail, Full of Grace, the Lord is with you: Blessed are you among women.

The Saving Words of the Gospel

Hail, Full of Grace, the Lord is with you.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, the Holy Ghost, Amen.


Raul Berzosa, Arte Sacro 023 599

The poet Wordsworth called her nature’s greatest boast. This is a feast of hope. Normally, we think of hope as pointing towards the future. And this feast, nonetheless, although already taken place in salvation history, is still a feast of hope. It’s our hope because we see what our Lord has done in one who has cooperated perfectly with His will. He made her just as beautiful as He could.

We see different translations of this term full of grace. Here we have the translation from the Vulgate; gratia plena. We have “full of grace”, others say “highly favored one”. They’re not wrong, but they don’t reflect the fullness. They don’t reflect the fullness of the Greek texts. If you know Greek, and if you’ve read the Gospel of Luke, you would know that the title that Gabriel says to Our Lady is κεχαριτωμένη, kecharitoméni. Κεχαριτωμένη. And, this is what’s called in linguistics a nonce; it has never happened before. This word is not used for anyone else. It hasn’t been used before, it hasn’t been applied later. We do see, “full of grace” applied to our Lord in John 1. We see it also in the martyrdom of Steven in Acts 6 “full of grace”. It is called “full of grace”, but it’s not the same text. It’s a different usage of the word. It’s a different word form: πλήρης χάριτος, plíris cháritos, full of grace. So it’s an adjective used for our Lord, it’s used for Stephen, but for our Lady it’s not an adjective, it is a past participle, which means it is a fait accompli and still continuing. It is a title. It’s a noun. It’s her identity. It’s not an action. It’s not a description. It’s not an adjective. It is a title. And that’s how Gabrielle addresses her: Κεχαριτωμένη.

Why all of this fuss then over nouns and adjectives, over πλήρης χάριτος or κεχαριτωμένη? Well, it makes all the difference in the world because of her role. The Blessed Mother is the New Eve and the Church Fathers go to great lengths to describe her role as New Eve. And they often describe her in terms that point to the Immaculate Conception, but she did not have, she did not suffer, the wounds of Original Sin. Many of the Fathers, they speak about how no midwives were called to the birth. There were no cries from birth pangs, because there were none. When the original Eve was created, she was created in grace, just as Adam was created in grace. But she’s not called Eve. She’s called Woman in the first two chapters of Genesis. Only after Original Sin do we learn her name. Only after her name, does she lose that office and title called Woman. And what does the Father say? He says to Satan, I will put enmity between you and the Woman. So who is this Woman? Certainly not Eve. She and Satan are getting along quite fine, thank you at this point. So who is it?

Raul Berzosa, Arte Sacro 40

This is a prophecy of a New Eve who is to come, a new Woman. And who is this Woman? Well, our Lord uses that title of her office at Cana when He speaks to her and she alerts Him that they have no wine; Woman, what to me and to you? Then He calls her Woman again on the cross, Woman behold your son. She’s also called Woman in Revelations 12, A Woman clothed in the sun. And so this New Eve, also created in grace, is the one who is at enmity with Satan. If she were in any moment of her life in a state of original sin or actual sin, she would not be in enmity, and this perfection of grace would no longer be a perfection in grace.

The fact that our Lord could create the Blessed Mother without Original Sin points to a certain propriety that He would do so. If he could, why would He not? If you could make your mother you, would make her just as beautiful as you could. And that’s exactly what He did. And she is indeed our greatest boast and our hope.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, the Holy Ghost, Amen.

— Fr. Ermatinger