mary-crushing-the-head-of-the-serpentOn our recent pilgrimage to Poland I was reminded again of St Maximilian Kolbe’s devotion to Mary who he referred to as “the Immaculata”

In the face of the growing evil in Europe during his lifetime he formed the Militia of the Immaculate because he wanted an army of Catholics totally dedicated to the spiritual warfare with the Blessed Virgin Mary as commander in chief.

Why does this matter? It matters because Mary is the one who crushes the head of the serpent. By virtue of her Son’s passion, death and resurrection, she is empowered as Mother of the Church to lead the warriors against the ancient foe. But there is more to it than that.

Mary Immaculate matters not just for an arbitrary reason, but because she engages in this world as the highest of all created beings in a way that no one else can and does, and the key to her power in this realm is her immaculate conception and her continued providential purity.

The Immaculata matters because purity is power. To understand this we must understand the nature of Mary’s purity. When we call her “the Blessed Virgin” we often define this in a negative way simply as being the fact that she never had sexual intercourse. This is an immature and simplistic understanding. While it is not incorrect, it is incomplete. Defining Mary as “someone who has never had sexual intercourse” is about as smart as defining a person from Kansas as “a person who has never been to Paris, France.” While that fact may be true, it is hardly a proper and full way to describe the person from Kansas.

Likewise, we need to understand that Mary’s purity was far, far more than her remaining a virgin throughout her life. Saying she is “pure” is to say she is natural and whole and complete. She is a “virgin” as an unspoiled forest or a spring of mountain water. She is pure with a fullness of humanity and life and love that our soiled and spoiled natures cannot understand. This is why the Fathers of the Church call her “the second Eve”–because she was re-created at her Immaculate Conception as the new creation by God’s grace and by virtue of her Son’s saving work.

This purity is power. It is what conquers evil. We must understand therefore that evil is not defeated by evil means. Yes, sometimes people must use force against force in self defense, but this is not the primary way to battle evil. The primary way to battle evil is by being good. The way to overcome darkness is to light a lamp. The way to overcome cold is to light a fire. Likewise, the way to overcome evil is not to rage against it, not to establish yet more rules and regulations to force people to be good by virtue of the law. Instead it is to become more like Jesus and Mary: to be pure.

This, then shed light on the church’s battle against sexual immorality because the distortion and destruction of the sexual drive is the first and easiest way Satan has to destroy the purity and innocence in the world which he most hates and despises. This is why he wants to spread the poison of porn. This is why he wants to destroy marriage and celibacy. This is why he wants to destroy children through abortion and broken homes. It is because he hates even the smallest attempt on our part to establish purity.

He hates purity because purity is power and he wants us to remain weak and spiritually impotent

So this is why the Immaculata Matters, and why our devotion to her must increase. It is so we can most ably fight the good fight and win the prize that is laid up before us.

Image: Planet Zion