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 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.
" gave to the world the Life that renews all things, and she was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role.
"It is no wonder, then, that the usage prevailed among the holy Fathers whereby they called the mother of God entirely holy and free from all stain of sin, fashioned by the Holy Spirit into a kind of new substance and new creature. Adorned from the first instant of her conception with the splendors of an entirely unique holiness, the Virgin of Nazareth is, on God's command, greeted by an angel messenger as 'full of grace' (cf. Luke 1:28). To the heavenly messenger she replies: 'Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word' (Luke 1:38)" (Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 56).
Patron Saint of:
Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
"I stand at the door and knock," says the Lord.
If God were trying to tell me something, would I know?
Consciousness I exist in a web of relationships - links to nature, people, God. I trace out these links, giving thanks for the life that flows through them. Some links are twisted or broken: I may feel regret, anger, disappointment. I pray for the gift of acceptance and forgiveness.
I exist in a web of relationships - links to nature, people, God. I trace out these links, giving thanks for the life that flows through them. Some links are twisted or broken: I may feel regret, anger, disappointment. I pray for the gift of acceptance and forgiveness.
The Word of God
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,
Responsorial Psalm ps 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4
R. (1) Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
Reading 2 eph 1:3-6, 11-12
Brothers and sisters:
Alleluia See Lk 1:28
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel lk 1:26-38
The angel Gabriel was sent from God
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Begin to talk to Jesus about the piece of scripture you have just read. What part of it strikes a chord in you? Perhaps the words of a friend - or some story you have heard recently - will slowly rise to the surface of your consciousness. If so, does the story throw light on what the scripture passage may be trying to say to you?
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
Meditation: Luke 1:26-38
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The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you! (Luke 1:28)
From a 2014 homily by Pope Francis on the feast of the Immaculate Conception:
Mary was preserved from original sin, from that fracture in communion with God, with others and with creation, which deeply wounds every human being. But this fracture was healed in advance in the Mother of the One who came to free us from the slavery of sin. The Immaculata was written in God's design; she is the fruit of God's love that saves the world ...
The mystery of this girl from Nazareth, who is in the heart of God, is not estranged from us. She is not there and we over here. No, we are connected. Indeed, God rests his loving gaze on every man and every woman! By name and surname. His gaze of love is on every one of us. The Apostle Paul states that God "chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him" (Ephesians 1:4). We too, from all time, were chosen by God to live a holy life, free of sin. It is a plan of love that God renews every time we come to him, especially through the sacraments.
Pope Francis went on to tell us that in Mary we can see our primary vocation: not to do all manner of things but simply to be loved by God and transformed by his love:
Look to , our Mother, and allow her to look upon us, for she is our mother and she loves us so much; let us allow ourselves to be watched over by her so that we may learn how to be more humble, and also more courageous in following the Word of God; to welcome the tender embrace of her Son, Jesus, an embrace that gives us life, hope, and peace.
"You are all-beautiful, O Mary! Hear our prayer, graciously hear our plea: May the beauty of God's merciful love in Jesus abide in our hearts, and may this divine beauty save us and the entire world" (Prayer of Pope Francis).
Genesis 3:9-15, 20
Today is a Mass of Obligation for Catholics. For what? The solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. As faithful Catholics, we are to celebrate this act that is not in the bible, but it is, much like the Sacraments, things that happened and happen inside the soul. Pure breed comes from a breed, and we are not talking about animals, but God's children, from Genesis, to Revelation. It is a family story and the Holy Family is revealed. This is why Pope Francis is coming to the United States, to be with the world meeting of families. And every family has a mother. It begins with Eve, the fall, and Mary, the rise of creation, and we are spaking of the family of God. I like the 5minutos reflection booklet for December, on the back cover it reads ( i will attempt to translate):
Eve loses us, Mary saves us giving us Jesus
It was in Bethlehem and it was Holy Night.
The door barely creeked when she entered.
It was a dry woman, ragged, and dark,
with a wrinkled forehead and a curved back.
She came dirty with clay, dust of roads.
The moon illuminated her and she had no shadow.
Mary shook when seeing her; the mule did not, nor the ox
rummaging through straw and oats as if any thing happened.
She had long hairs the color of ashes,
color of much time, color of old winds;
In her eyes opened the first look,
and every step was as a century.
Mary was afraid to see her come up to the crib.
En her earth hands "Oh God, what did she have?..."
She bent over the Child, and he cried infinitely
and she offered what she had hidden.
The Virgin astonished, saw her finally arise.
She was a beautiful woman, slender and luminous!
The Child would look at her. Also the mule.
The ox would see her rummaging as if any thing happened.
It was in Bethlehem, and it was Holy Night.
The door barely creeked as she left.
Mary, once recognizing her yelled and called "Mother!"
Eve saw the virgin and called her "Blessed"
What clamor, what joy for the rock and the star!
Outside was though pure, hard snow and cold.
Inside, ultimately, God asleep, smiling holding
in his childish fingers the bitten apple.
Again, today we celebrate the Immaculate Conception. Where God conceived, it would be before being born, chosen. Before He formed you in the womb, He knew you. He knew what He would make of you, a child of God. And Mary? The chosen virgin, purity in its ultimate sense.
In a world that wants to make her unholy, God says otherwise. In my truck I always carry an image of the Mother carrying a child and on the other hand, a lamb. The unblemished lamb of God in hand, spotless, to be offered as the purest sacrifice for you and for me.
In a world of many protestants that declare her an obstacle, we Catholics declare her the ultimate way of God to reach us on earth.
In a world that wants God silenced, she appears, even to a poor little unlearned girl St. Bernadette and the Virgin said "My name is the Immaculate Conception".
She had no idea what that meant, but we do now, it means what God wants on earth, His light, His children.
This is our life story unraveling at the unraveling of time before our eyes. And we unravel the gift at Christmas, the light. Little by little as we peel away at the covers of our Life...there He is, all in peace and in my heart...at the sight, pure Joy for that holy night.
This is Christ and this is Mass. A celebration of the light unto darkness. So it is fitting that the day we remember the birth of our Lord it fits on the pagan days of the light. Because Christ, the light shines, is for all and every one...
Today is an obligation, obligated to participate just like Mary in the plan of our Lord in Heaven, and our response as was hers...yes