Full of grace! This is how God saw her from the first moment of his loving design. He saw her as beautiful, full of grace. Our Mother is beautiful! Mary sustains our journey toward Christmas, for she teaches us how to live this Advent Season in expectation of the Lord. For this time of Advent is a time of waiting for the Lord, who will visit us all on the feast, but also, each one, in our own hearts. And Our Lady never distanced herself from that love: throughout her life her whole being is a "yes" to that love, it is the "yes" to God. But that didn't make life easy for her! 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. His gaze of love is on every one of us. Let us also recognize our truest destiny, our deepest vocation: to be loved, to be transformed by love, to be transformed by the beauty of God.
†Saint Quote "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
†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. See More About Today's Feast >
† VERSE OF THE DAY "Beloved, do not look for revenge but leave room for the wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." Rather, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head." Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good." Romans 12:19-21
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St. Patapios (4th c.) was born in Thebes, Egypt. His parents were prominent Christians, and his father was the governor of the region. Patapios was well-educated by the best tutors, and his learning awakened in him a desire to shun the world and its materialism and seek a life of asceticism. Inspired by the manner of life of the Church Fathers, Patapios became a desert hermit upon his father's death. He later moved away to live in a cave near Corinth, and then sailed to Constantinople to live as a simple monk in the Monastery of Blachernae. There he fasted, prayed, and performed miracles until his death at the age of 83. In the early 20th century, a local priest planning renovations discovered his relics after the saint appeared to him in a dream and informed him where they were located. His relics were found the next day holding a large wooden cross on his chest and a parchment scroll bearing his name. St. Patapios' feast day is December 8th.
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.
Daily Meditation: Luke 1:26-38
Hail, full of grace! (Luke 1:28)
The Scripture passages that we hear in today's Mass have long inspired the Church's teaching about the immaculate nature of Mary's conception. But it's worth considering why God even bothered to reveal this astounding truth to us. Here's a spoiler: it's because the grace Mary received at her conception foreshadows the grace that is ours now and that will be fully revealed when we join her in heaven.
What were the first words the angel Gabriel said when he appeared to Mary? "Hail, full of grace!" (Luke 1:28). These are the same words we pray in the Hail Mary. The Greek word for "grace" (charitoo) speaks of blessings that have already been given but that are still being poured out. As one theologian has put it, Mary was "completely, perfectly, enduringly bestowed by God with unmerited grace." So on this feast of the Immaculate Conception, we celebrate that God, in his mercy, poured his grace into Mary and continues to pour it out as an abundant, ongoing gift to every one of his children.
This is your heritage! You may not have been conceived free from original sin as Mary was, but that doesn't mean God is withholding grace from you. On the contrary, he wants nothing more than to fill you to overflowing with his grace so that you can overcome the allure of sin and eventually come to see him face-to-face in your heavenly home. As Paul said in today's second reading, God "has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens" (Ephesians 1:3, emphasis added). In other words, in Christ, God has made it possible for us one day to be like Mary: perfectly holy and united with Jesus in eternal life.
Go ahead and tell yourself this today: "I am filled with grace!" Rejoice in what God has done for you. Celebrate his mercy and his love. And thank Mary for being such a beautiful model of what it means to live in the grace that God has lavished upon you!
"Thank you, Lord, for giving us Immaculate Mary as our Mother and our great model of faith!"
In the same way that lies have gone out from people's hearts, penetrating throughout the world and destroying it, so should—and so will—the truth begin its healing service within our hearts. — Fr. Alfred Delp, S.J. from Advent of the Heart
my2cents: "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 book of Genesis speaks about Eve. Why these Scriptures on the day of the Immaculate Conception?
And why speak about nakedness? Nakedness is a term that was cast because of sin. The devil accused "now you are naked, and now you will die". It is then, about purity. The devil accused "you are impure". And the world of hurt began. But Mary, the Immaculate Conception is the restart, of a call to holiness, and she sets the bar, but not only that, she helps us attain the state of Grace God desires for us all. Nowadays, with such an impure world, how movie stars dress, the idols, the sexual idols, is how you see ordinary women and men try to dress. I told a brother in Christ, "I am disgusted now, to see so many women, unattractive", and he said "you think that way, but that's not how most think or see, they like that". Lures to hell. I once was awakened by a nightmare of a dream, that the devil of Lust was standing before me, and its look was a goblin whose eyes were bulging like the bosom of a woman and the face was the body of the rest of a woman. To this day, the thoughts haunt me. Nakedness is a treat that the devil serves. It's almost as if God asked "who told you that you were ugly?" when He asked "who told you that you were naked?". "You have been deceived". You have been cursed by taking the curse drink of the curse cup. Adam was now afraid of God. He hid from God. How many hide from God today? How many are afraid to be known as God people? My job and your job is to help the scared come to our Lord, and some of the most scared are the most violent. How do you treat a wild creature? How do you treat a wild child? Doom comes to the devil, but the devil holds on dearly to souls to drag them down too. In the second reading we hear "...he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. " First, be Holy. First be pure. Then, the wild child will be reached, because words can convince, but the example drags souls to Heaven, in deeds, in actions, the word made into flesh, and now we recall Christ inside our heart, mind, and soul.
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." Why is there this talk about deeds, and victory? Because, this world is a big deal to our Lord. Why? Because, He decided to not be alone anymore. And so He destined you and every living creature to be with Him. The atrocity of the pandemonium we experience is the depression caused by dejection of separation. Only those in tight relation will survive, and we are speaking of the relation with Christ our Lord, the very body of Christ, which we form as the bride. Whence Mother of God appeared, a crown appeared for the bride.
In the Holy Gospel we heard: ""Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you." Some of the most dogmatic teachings are of the shortest phrases in Holy Scripture. This is a prime example, "Hail FULL OF GRACE". An Angel declares her BEING, revealing WHO she is before God. And we heard: "But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be." Some say Mother Mary was the only person in history to have encountered an angel and not been afraid, as if she was accustomed to angels. But then we heard: "the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God." She was afraid? Apparently she was "afraid she didn't understand". This message from Heaven was super powerful. She knew the message she was receiving bore world altering ramifications.
This can happen with us once we are caught off guard too, when something decisive strikes our life. And you would know what it means immediately, like when our Lord appears and says "Follow Me". Just two words, altering the course...of humanity...and eternity.
We are going long here but what is being announced is supremely important and the world needs to know about our Immaculate Mother: The Angel continued: "... you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus." She said basically "Ok, but how?" Because her life was given to God in virginity, purity, for she had consecrated herself to God since she was a little child. "How can this be?" She asked? And immediately, her faith and belief conceived the Word. AMAZING! The Spirit overshadowed her, came over her, like the waving of the Priest's hands at the altar, and it comes to BE, the very being is brought to the world.
Before the Angel leaves her, the Angel says "...for nothing will be impossible for God." Notice the Angel did not say "nothing was impossible" nor did the Angel say "nothing IS impossible", but that "nothing WILL be impossible" to our God. And Mother Mary believed, and she accepted it as the first Eucharist into her body and soul. "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." What Mother Mary says here is the Words of the Centurion "Lord I Am Not Worthy that you should come under my roof, but only say the word and it shall be done".
Everything Mary did was to take on the old and turn it into the new. She donated her body and blood for Christ to be formed, made, and live. The Body of Christ now thrives through the new Eve of Life. Mother, Immaculate, conceived without sin, such a magnificent Being from Heaven, and You are and forever will be MOTHER! I love you MOTHER, We need you now more than ever!
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