Giovanni Battista Salvi Sassoferrato
IMMACULATE CONCEPTION: These words fell from the lips of the Immaculata herself. Hence, they must tell us, in the most precise and essential manner, who she really is.
Since human words are incapable of expressing Divine realities, it follows that these words, “Immaculate” and “Conception”, must be understood in a much more profound, much more beautiful and sublime meaning than usual: a meaning beyond that which human reason at its most penetrating commonly gives to them.
Who then are you, O Immaculate Conception?
Not God, of course, because He has no beginning. Not an angel, created directly out of nothing. Not Adam, formed out of the dust of the earth. Not Eve, molded from Adam’s rib. Not the Incarnate Word, Who exists before all ages, and of Whom we should use the word “conceived” rather than “conception.”
Humans do not exist before their conception, so we might call them created “conceptions.” But you, O Mary, are different from all other children of Eve. They are conceptions stained by Original Sin; whereas you are the unique, Immaculate, Conception.
Everything which exists, outside of God Himself, since it is from God and depends on Him in every way, bears within itself some semblance to its Creator; there is nothing in any creature which does not betray this resemblance, because every created thing is an effect of the Primal Cause.
Who is the Father? What is His personal life like? It consists in begetting, eternally, because He begets His Son from the beginning and forever.
Who is the Son? He is the Begotten-One, because from the beginning, and for all eternity, He is begotten by the Father.
And Who is the Holy Spirit? The flowering of the love of the Father and the Son. If the fruit of created is a created conception, then the fruit of Divine love, that prototype of all created love, is necessarily a Divine “conception.” The Holy Spirit is, therefore, the “uncreated, eternal conception,” the prototype of all the conceptions that multiply life throughout the whole universe.
The Father begets; the Son is begotten; the Spirit is the “conception” that springs from their love; there we have the intimate life of the Three Persons by which They can be distinguished from one another. But They are united in the Oneness of Their Nature, of Their Divine existence. The Spirit is, then, this thrice holy “conception,” this infinitely holy Immaculate Conception.
The creature most completely filled with this love, filled with God Himself, was the Immaculata, who never contacted the slightest stain of sin, who never departed in the least from God’s will. United to the Holy Spirit as His spouse, she is one with God in an incomparably more perfect way than can be predicated of any other creature.
What sort of Union is this? It is above all an interior union, a union of her essence with the “essence” of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells in her; lives in her. This was true from the first instance of her existence. It was always true and it will always be true.
And in what does this life of the Spirit in Mary consist? He Himself is uncreated Love in her; the Love of the Father and of the Son, the Love by which God loves Himself, the very love of the Most Holy Trinity. She is a fruitful Love, a “Conception.” Among creatures made in God’s image, the union brought about by married love is the most intimate of all. In a much more precise, more interior, more essential manner, the Holy Spirit lives in the soul of the Immaculata, in the depths of her very being. He makes her fruitful, from the very first instance of her existence, all during her life, and for all eternity.
This eternal “Immaculate Conception” [the Holy Spirit] produces in an immaculate manner Divine life itself in the womb or depths of Mary’s soul, making her the Immaculate Conception, the human Immaculate Conception. And the virginal womb of Mary’s body is kept sacred for Him; there He conceives in time the human life of the Man-God.
… she, the Immaculata, grafted into the Love of the Blessed Trinity, becomes, from the first moment of her existence and forever afterwards, the “complement of the Blessed Trinity.” In the Holy Spirit’s union with Mary we observe more than the love of two beings… . … in this union, Heaven and Earth are joined; all of Heaven with the Earth, the totality of eternal love with the totality of created love. It is truly the summit of love.