When our church was young, Bp. Hodur and the Church’s Holy Synod transformed the so called Feast of the “Immaculate Conception” of Blessed Virgin Mary to the Feast of Divine Love.
The entire construct of the so called immaculate conception was based on a legalistic understanding of “original sin.” If everyone is born in a sinful state, in original sin, inherited from their parents through the sexual act of procreation, then there has to be a specially created individual – Mary – who was preserved from original sin. Some have even extended Mary’s uniqueness and separateness from the rest of humanity by arguing that Jesus’ birth was a bloodless, painless event where the infant simply floated out of the Blessed Virgin’s womb.
St. Thomas Aquinas wrote against the innovation that Mary’s birth was unlike that of others. He argued that this contradicted the very purpose of Jesus’ Incarnation, which was that He received our human nature through Mary. If her nature is unique, then Jesus’ connection with the rest of humanity is severed. (ST 27 2r).
We have not dogmatized this belief, nor do we recognize it. This is not an article of Divine revelation. As Polish National Catholics we believe that Mary was preserved from sin, and remained sinless and pure from the time of her birth. But, we do not need to construct a special status for Mary because her birth and our birth are all without sin. We do not countenance the idea of original sin in such a legalistic way. We do not accept accept that humans are sinful in their birth.
Instead, we teach that we are all created in the image and likeness of God. We profess that creation is not evil, but that it is an expression of Divine Love. Evil is certainly real, and present in the world, the result of humanity’s fall. We all fall into sin, but it is our responsibility for failing to act according to goodness of our creation.
Creation is good says Genesis, and human creation is very good. Rather than speak of the unique status of Mary, the Feast of Divine Love speaks about the goodness of creation in general as an expression of a good Creator.
The Feast of Divine Love encapsulates so much of what is positive about our Church, its focus on love and human potential. To the 1928 Synod our organizer declared: “Everything else [besides God] is transitory, but this divine element [of love] is immortal.” God never abandons His love toward us even though we do fall into the sinfulness that exists in the world.
Our Church sees Divine Love in God’s sharing of wisdom and free will. The Divine Love of creation is that we are made “very good” (Genesis 1:31) in the image and likeness of God. When we fall into sin, we know that we can always turn to God. God loves us so much that He sent His only Son to us to redeem us from our fall into sinfulness; from our unfortunate propensity to reject God’s Divine Love.