God Ineffable – whose ways are mercy and truth, whose will is omnipotence itself, and whose wisdom reaches from end to end mightily, and orders all things sweetly – having foreseen from all eternity the lamentable wretchedness of the entire human race which would result from the sin of Adam, decreed, by a plan hidden from the centuries, to complete the first work of His goodness through the Incarnation of the Word. And, in an even more hidden plan, from the very beginning, and before time began, chose and prepared a Mother.
In Her, the Son of God would become incarnate, and from whom, in the blessed fullness of time, He would be born into this world, in order that man who, contrary to the plan of Divine Mercy had been led into sin by the cunning malice of Satan, should not perish; and in order that what had been lost in the first Adam would be gloriously restored in the Second Adam. Above all creatures did God so love Her that truly in Her was the Father well pleased with singular delight. […]
The creature most united to God
The most glorious Virgin was resplendent with such an abundance of heavenly gifts, with such a fullness of grace and with such innocence, that She is an unspeakable miracle of God – indeed, the crown of all miracles and truly the Mother of God; that She approaches as near to God Himself as is possible for a created being; and that She is superior to all the praise of men and Angels.
Hence, to demonstrate the original innocence and sanctity of the Mother of God, not only did the Fathers of the Church frequently compare Her to Eve while yet a virgin, while yet innocent, while yet incorrupt, while not yet deceived by the deadly snares of the most treacherous serpent; but they have also exalted Her above Eve with a wonderful variety of expressions. Eve listened to the serpent with lamentable consequences; she fell from original innocence and became his slave. The most Blessed Virgin, on the contrary, ever increased her original gift, and not only never lent an ear to the serpent, but by divinely given power She utterly destroyed the foundations, force and dominion of the evil one.
Accordingly, the Fathers have never ceased to call the Mother of God the lily among thorns, the land entirely intact, the Virgin undefiled, immaculate, ever blessed, and free from all contagion of sin; She from whom was formed the new Adam, the flawless, brightest, and most beautiful paradise of innocence, immortality and delights planted by God Himself and protected against all the snares of the poisonous serpent; the incorruptible wood that the worm of sin had never corrupted, the fountain ever clear and sealed with the power of the Holy Spirit, the most holy temple, the treasure of immortality; the one and only daughter of life – not of death – the plant not of wrath but of grace, through the singular providence of God growing ever green contrary to the common law, coming as it does from a corrupted and tainted root.
As if these splendid eulogies and tributes were not sufficient, the Fathers proclaimed with particular and definite statements that when one treats of sin, the holy Virgin Mary is not even to be mentioned; for to Her more grace was given than was necessary to conquer sin completely.
They also declared that the most glorious Virgin was Reparatrix of her race, the giver of life to posterity; that She was chosen before the ages, prepared by the Most High for Himself, foretold by God when He said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the Woman” (Gn 3:15). […]
Splendor and bulwark of the Holy Church
The most Blessed Virgin, the all fair and immaculate one who has crushed the poisonous head of the cruel serpent and brought salvation to the world: She is the glory of the prophets and Apostles, the honor of the martyrs, the crown and joy of all the Saints; She is the safe refuge and trustworthy helper of all who are in danger; She is, before her only-begotten Son, the most powerful Mediatrix and Conciliatrix in the whole world; She is the glory, ornament, and impregnable bulwark of the holy Church; in Her who has destroyed all heresies and snatched the faithful people and nations from the direst calamities; in Her do we hope who has delivered us from so many threatening dangers.
We have, therefore, a very certain hope and complete confidence that the most Blessed Virgin will ensure by her powerful patronage that all difficulties be removed and all errors dissipated, so that our Holy Mother the Catholic Church may flourish daily more and more throughout all the nations and countries, and may reign “from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth” (Ps 72:8), and may enjoy genuine peace, tranquillity and liberty. We are firm in our confidence that She will obtain pardon for the sinner, health for the sick, strength of heart for the weak, consolation for the afflicted, help for those in danger; that She will remove spiritual blindness from those in error, so that they may return to the path of truth and justice, and that there may be one flock and one shepherd.
Under her protection, we have nothing to fear
Let all the children of the Catholic Church, who are so very dear to Us, hear these words of ours. With a still more ardent zeal for piety, religion and love, let them continue to venerate, invoke and pray to the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, conceived without original sin. Let them fly with utter confidence to this most sweet Mother of mercy and grace in all dangers, difficulties, needs, doubts and fears.
Under her guidance, under her patronage, under her kindness and protection, nothing is to be feared; nothing is hopeless. Because, while bearing toward us a truly motherly affection and having in her care the work of our salvation, She has maternal solicitude for the whole human race.
And since She has been appointed by God to be the Queen of Heaven and earth, and is exalted above all the choirs of Angels and Saints, and even stands at the right hand of her only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, She presents our petitions in a most efficacious manner. What She asks, She obtains. Her pleas can never go unheeded. ◊
Excerpts from: PIUS IX.
Ineffabilis Deus, 8/12/1854