The Tiniest Miracles in God's Creation Christmas can become a celebration of artifice and manufactured wonders. From the dangling icicle lights along
The Tiniest Miracles in God's Creation
Christmas can become a celebration of artifice and manufactured wonders. From the dangling icicle lights along the roofline to the inflatable cartoon characters on suburban lawns, we run the risk of treating this holiday as a time of one-upping not only the neighbors but also God. But we know deep down that no factory in China can produce something as wonderful as the tiniest miracle in God's creation. —from The Peace of Christmas: Quiet Reflections from Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek
✞"Let us not imagine that we obscure the glory of the Son by the great praise we lavish on the Mother; for the more she is honored, the greater is the glory of her Son. There can be no doubt that whatever we say in praise of the Mother gives equal praise to the Son." — St. Bernard of Clairvaux
✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY "But as great as was St. Paul's devotion to our Lord, much greater was that of the Blessed Virgin: because she was his mother, and because she had him and all his sufferings actually before her eyes, and because she had the long intimacy of thirty years with him, and because she was from her special sanctity so unspeakably near him in spirit. When, then, he was mocked, bruised, scourged, and nailed to the Cross, she felt as keenly as if every indignity and torture inflicted on him was struck at herself. She could have cried out in agony at every pang of his. This is called her compassion, or her suffering with her Son, and it arose from this that she was the 'Vessel of Devotion' unlike any other." — Bl. John Henry Newman, p. 155 AN EXCERPT FROM A Year with Mary
TODAY'S FEAST DAY ⛪SOLEMNITY OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION⛪ The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the infallibly defined dogma of the Catholic Church that "God freely chose Mary from all eternity to be the Mother of his Son. In order to carry out her mission she herself was conceived immaculate. This means that, thanks to the grace of God and in anticipation of the merits of Jesus Christ, Mary was preserved from original sin from the first instant of her conception" (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church). Chosen by God to be the Mother of the Savior and the "New Eve," Mary Immaculate is a type of the Church and the perfect model of holiness for all Christians. Mary under this title is the patroness of the United States of America, and the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is a Holy Day of Obligation.
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY "Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.' No, 'if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:19-21
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Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
The Story of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
A feast called the Conception of Mary arose in the Eastern Church in the seventh century. It came to the West in the eighth century. In the 11th century it received its present name, the Immaculate Conception. In the 18th century it became a feast of the universal Church. It is now recognized as a solemnity.
In 1854, Pius IX solemnly proclaimed: "The most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin."
It took a long time for this doctrine to develop. While many Fathers and Doctors of the Church considered Mary the greatest and holiest of the saints, they often had difficulty in seeing Mary as sinless—either at her conception or throughout her life. This is one of the Church teachings that arose more from the piety of the faithful than from the insights of brilliant theologians. Even such champions of Mary as Bernard of Clairvaux and Thomas Aquinas could not see theological justification for this teaching.
Two Franciscans, William of Ware and Blessed John Duns Scotus, helped develop the theology. They pointed out that Mary's Immaculate Conception enhances Jesus' redemptive work. Other members of the human race are cleansed from original sin after birth. In Mary, Jesus' work was so powerful as to prevent original sin at the outset.
In Luke 1:28 the angel Gabriel, speaking on God's behalf, addresses Mary as "full of grace" or "highly favored". In that context, this phrase means that Mary is receiving all the special divine help necessary for the task ahead. However, the Church grows in understanding with the help of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit led the Church, especially non-theologians, to the insight that Mary had to be the most perfect work of God next to the Incarnation. Or rather, Mary's intimate association with the Incarnation called for the special involvement of God in Mary's whole life.
The logic of piety helped God's people to believe that Mary was full of grace and free of sin from the first moment of her existence. Moreover, this great privilege of Mary is the highlight of all that God has done in Jesus. Rightly understood, the incomparable holiness of Mary shows forth the incomparable goodness of God.
Mary as the Immaculate Conception is the Patron Saint of:
Brazil United States
Mass of Obligation
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Reading 1 Gn 3:9-15, 20
After the man, Adam, had eaten of the tree, the LORD God called to the man and asked him, "Where are you?" He answered, "I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid myself." Then he asked, "Who told you that you were naked? You have eaten, then, from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!" The man replied, "The woman whom you put here with me she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it." The LORD God then asked the woman, "Why did you do such a thing?" The woman answered, "The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it."
Then the LORD God said to the serpent: "Because you have done this, you shall be banned from all the animals and from all the wild creatures; on your belly shall you crawl, and dirt shall you eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel."
The man called his wife Eve, because she became the mother of all the living.
Responsorial Psalm PS 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4 R. (1) Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds. Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done wondrous deeds; His right hand has won victory for him, his holy arm. R. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds. The LORD has made his salvation known: in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice. He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness toward the house of Israel. R. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation by our God. Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands; break into song; sing praise. R. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
Reading 2 Eph 1:3-6, 11-12
Brothers and sisters: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved.
In him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will, so that we might exist for the praise of his glory, we who first hoped in Christ.
Alleluia See Lk 1:28 R. Alleluia, alleluia. Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 1:26-38
The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end." But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" And the angel said to her in reply, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God." Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.
Meditation: Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12
The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Patronal Feastday of the USA (Solemnity)
Blessed be . . . the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)
Blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing. Chosen to be holy and without blemish. Destined for adoption as children of God. While all of these phrases describe God's eternal plan for each one of us, they hold a special meaning when we consider the Virgin Mary and her Immaculate Conception.
On this special day, we celebrate Mary as the new Eve, a woman preserved from original sin by a unique gift of God before she was even born. When we wonder what humanity would be like if it weren't for sin, we can look to Mary for an answer. In her we see a humble trust in God's ways. We see a willingness to question God, coupled with a quiet, reflective heart that embraces his answers wholeheartedly. We don't always see perfect peace, but we do see perfect faith. That's why we are constantly encouraged to look to Mary as our mother and as the model of the Christian life.
At her Immaculate Conception, Mary received in advance all the blessings that we can now receive in Christ. Through the cross, we have all been made sons and daughters of God. Through baptism, we are all cleansed of original sin. Because of the gift of the Holy Spirit, we, too, can become bearers of God, bringing Christ into the world.
Just as we have received the same blessings as Mary, we can follow Mary as our example. Every day we can choose to embrace God's plan, even when it's hard to understand. Through quiet, listening hearts, we can become signposts to the heavenly kingdom, showing people a new way to live. When we give of ourselves to the poor or to help a neighbor, we build the kingdom of God. When we stay close to the Lord even through times of heartbreak, we receive his comfort and manifest his transforming power.
Yes, Mary is blessed above all people, but we, too, have received "every spiritual blessing" (Ephesians 1:3). Mary most perfectly shows us who we are in Christ. Let's not lose sight of it!
"Father, as we celebrate the gifts you gave to Mary, may we also be transformed by your grace to live as part of your new creation!"
Genesis 3:9-15, 20 Psalm 98:1-4 Luke 1:26-38
my2cents: The 1st Holy Word said "The man called his wife Eve, because she became the mother of all the living." Man called this the beginning. A whole new world began when Eve came. This book is a theological book, it speaks of mankind, it speaks of our relation with our God. It speaks about where we came from and where we went and where we are called to go. The book sets the tone for the rest of time...and then God comes in...with Mary. And a whole new chapter begins! How exciting that we live in this chapter but still in the same book!
We pray today "Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done wondrous deeds; His right hand has won victory for him, his holy arm." Being in wonder and awe of our God is a true sign of the Holy Spirit within you. It is a gift. Faith is a gift. Grace is a gift. Being amazed by Him is a gift, making you wonder "but how can this be?" These words exactly from the mouth of our Blessed Mother Mary. Don't say "the blessed Mother" say "OUR Blessed Mother!". God gave us His only treasure on earth...His whole life and His true blood...Mother Mary, mom, momma, mommy. Because Jesus dying on the cross said two things "Daddy, Daddy, Why have you abandoned me!?" And another "take your mom with you into your life" and He handed over His Spirit and His mother and all His blood, body and soul....for us.
"....as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him."
In comes the Holy Angel of God to our Mother ""Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you." Notice, FULL of grace. This speaks volumes and volumes. We, aren't so full of grace, some, act as we are full of something else. No. Mother Mary was full of grace. After reading the book by Blessed Sister Anne Emerich on the life of our Blessed Virgin Mother, my life looked at her in a whole new light. She was said to not have been seen really laughing like most, especially after the death of Christ, but she had this special holy little smile. She was truly crossed. I can only imagine she could sense sin a mile away. She would have no part in it, not be involved in it in any way. Not like us who dive into gossip, or insulting, or perverted or disgusting. No. She had this demeanor that meant "I am dedicated to God" always. They say she was offered as a child to be raised in the temple. I can only imagine she was devoted to chastity and even celibacy, all things purity, all things holiness. Rightly so. She would be the first living tabernacle in the world to hold and behold Jesus the living Word of God in flesh. People like to deny the purity of our Mother, but this is only a devilish attack to tarnish the Mother and in doing so, tarnish, that is lessen the fruit of her womb. Today, we are called as Catholics to attend Mass in honor of this celebration. The immaculate conception, the conception of the Mother of God. Immaculate, untarnished, untouched by sin, untouched forever by the devil. There would be no room for the devil here. To this day even in exorcisms, the devil flees when she appears. Her prayers are more efficacious than any holy person in the world, because she is in Heaven praying for us and for what? Holiness. So that we may be found ready because we are worthy. Ready for what? You mean, for who! Jesus. When she appears to Bernadette in Lourdes France she told this simpleton of a young little girl "I AM The Immaculate Conception". Verifying what was already believed for centuries. The new Eve from whence all the living would come in the Holy Spirit. Life has flourished since this creation began. And it continues to flourish. Last night, my cousin came in with his pregnant wife who is due at the end of this month and they said "maybe she'll be born on the same day as you, on Christmas day!" and the comments of birthday clashes began. To me, there is no greater honor than to have been born on the day we recall the birth of our Lord. Gifts don't matter. Jesus matters. People say this and that matters but to Mary, all that mattered was Jesus, God. That's the matter and matter is the makeup of things. Matter holds us together and God is the matter.
Let us be joyful with Our Mother who is in Heaven. Our model of holiness. Our model of how we should live once we carry Jesus inside of us.... The Holy Eucharist