The Immaculate Conception and the Trinity

St. Bernadette Soubirous and Our Lady of Lourdes

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.

John 14:9

Jesus’ response to Philip’s request at the Last Supper, “Show us the Father,” is packed with infinite mystery and depth. To know Christ Jesus is to enter into the presence of God the Father in whom the monad of divinity and the triad of hypostasity (unique personhood) are simultaneous and interpenetrating.

As the unique God-man and mediator Jesus Christ, the Son also ushers us into the heart of his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, who revealed the secret of her identity to St. Bernadette Soubirous, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” This took place on the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25, 1858, at the Lourdes grotto in France.

The Son received his divinity from his Father and his humanity from his mother—Immaculate Son from Immaculate Virgin. The Father is the Virgin unbegotten and unconceived; Mary is the Virgin begotten and conceived in the mind of the Father from “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). The Incarnate Logos in the Father’s eternal plan is inseparable from the Theotokos, for the God-man has no existence as God-man apart from the Virgin Mother. Jesus Christ is the Son of God subsisting in two natures, divine and human.

The Son of God assumed humanity anew at the Annunciation, for without Mary’s consent, the Incarnation would not have taken place. Human nature had to be received, for “the holy Body of Christ” was not “brought from heaven” but bestowed by the generosity of the Virgin Mother, wrote St. Cyril of Alexandria in a letter that was read at the Council of Chalcedon in 451.1

Mary’s role is not “necessary” in the way that the Son is essentially begotten of the Father primordially, but she was conceived from before all ages to play a pivotal role in salvation history.

The Father shaped the Son in the Mother and the Mother in the Son as one Immaculate Conception by the Holy Spirit who “proceeds from the Father” (John 15:26). Ultimately, the Immaculate Conception returns to the Father as Source and Fountainhead of persons.

Mary Immaculata and her Son, Emmanuel, are the staircase and ladder of Jacob ascending and descending between heaven and earth (Genesis 28:10-19). The Theotokos is the door and gate for the earthly missions of the Son and Spirit from the Father, from whose womb poured forth the deifying grace of the Most Holy Trinity. 

“The ultimate end of the whole divine economy is the entry of God’s creatures into the perfect unity of the Blessed Trinity.”2 Our return to the Womb of the Immaculate Virgin Father passes through the womb of the Immaculate Virgin Mother: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). 

-GMC

1 Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451).

2 Catechism of the Catholic Church 260.

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