The Immaculate Conception
Feast Day: December 8
Roman Catholic dogma holding that from the first instant of its creation, the soul of the Virgin Mary was free from original sin; this doctrine is not to be confused with that of the Virgin Birth, which holds that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin mother. Despite divergent scholarly opinions, the Roman Catholic church has consistently favored belief in the Immaculate Conception; a festival of that name, the significance of which is now indefinite, was celebrated in the Eastern church as early as the 5th century and in the Western church from the 7th century. Opposition to the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was conducted in the 12th century by the French monastic St. Bernard of Clairvaux and in the 13th century by the famous Italian philosopher St. Thomas Aquinas. Among those who supported the doctrine was the 13th-century Scottish theologian John Duns Scotus. The theological controversy over the Immaculate Conception gained momentum in the 19th century. Finally in 1854, Pope Pius IX issued a solemn decree declaring the Immaculate Conception to be a dogma essential for the belief of the universal church. Under the title Immaculate Conception, the Virgin Mary is invoked as the patron of the United States, Brazil, Portugal, and Corsica.
If Jesus, the Son of God, could choose for His Mother her who pleased Him most, He would surely choose one acceptable to the Blessed Trinity and worthy of the great honour for which she was destined. Mary was, therefore, not only free from all actual sin, but she also remained exempt from original sin; otherwise, she would not have been a Mother suitable for Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
God Himself has testified to Mary's Immaculate Conception by miracles. Who can number the wonders that have been wrought at Lourdes, where she appeared eighteen times and declared to Bernadette and to the world: "I am the Immaculate Conception," just four years after this doctrine was defined as a dogma of faith? Mary declared to the wholel world her approval of this doctrine and that she was not only immaculately conceived, but that she is the Immaculate Conception.
THE WORD OF GOD
You are the glory of Jerusalem, the surpassing joy of Israel; you are the splendid boast of our people .May you be blest by the Lord Almighty forever and ever. (Jdt 15:9-10)
I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul; for He has clothed me with a robe of salvation, and wrapped me in a mantle of justice, .like a bride bedecked with her jewels. (Is 61:10)
A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. (Rv 12:1)
Look graciously upon me as I implore this special favour: (Mention your request).
Virgin Immaculate, Mother of God and my Mother, from your throne in heaven, turn your eyes of pity upon me. Filled with confidence in your goodness and power, I beg you to help me in this journey of life, which is so full of dangers of my soul. I entrust myself entirely to you, that I may never be the slave of the devil through sin, but may always live a humble and pure life. I consecrate myself to you forever, for my only desire is to love your Divine Son Jesus.
Mary, since none of your devout servants has ever perished, may I, too, be saved. Amen.
Prayer to Mary Immaculate
Mary, Mother of God, your greatness began at the first instant of your existence with the privilege of your Immaculate Conception. After Almighty God and the Sacred Humanity of Jesus, there is no being so great as you. It is true, you are a creature, and, therefore, far beneath the Supreme Being. But you are a creature so holy and so perfect that you are superior to all other creatures. God alone could make you so holy and so beautiful, and He did so to make you worthy of the dignity of being the Mother of Jesus, the Son of God, the Divine Word.
It was fitting that you, a virgin Mother, should conceive the Man who was also the Son of God. It was fitting that you should be adorned with the greatest purity ever possible to a creature. You are the Virgin to whom God the Father decreed to give His only Son the Divine Word, equal to Himself in all things that entering the natural order He might become your Son as well as His. You are the immaculate Virgin whom the Son Himself chose to make His mother. You are the immaculate Virgin whom the Holy Spirit willed to make his bride and in whom He would work the tremendous miracle of the Incarnation. The privilege of the Immaculate Conception was suitable to your dignity.
Mary, my immaculate Mother, help me to imitate your sinlessness by keeping my soul free from every willful sin by the faithful observance of Gods commandments. Help me to imitate your fullness of grace by receiving Holy Communion frequently, where I shall obtain the sanctifying grace that will make my soul holy and pleasing to God, and the actual graces I need to practice virtue. Through prayer may grace fill my soul with the life of God and transform me into a living image of Jesus, just as you were.
|December 08, 2006
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
Old Calendar: The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the solemn dogma defined by Blessed Pope Pius IX in 1854. As Our Lady Immaculately Conceived is the patroness of the United States of America, this is a holyday of obligation in the United States.
Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, "full of grace" through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed on December 8, 1854: "The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin." Catechism of the Catholic Church
"Tota pulchra es! O Mary, thou art all fair, unstained by original sin" (1st Ant. at Vespers; All.). This cry of admiration, which the Church puts on our lips, expresses the feelings of fallen man before the spotless purity of our Lady. From all eternity God had chosen Mary to be the Mother of the Word Incarnate; He therefore decked her in holiness, preserving her from all stain and making her a worthy dwelling for His Son. The Blessed Virgin's perfect redemption which, from the moment of her conception, preserved her from original sin cannot, therefore, be dissociated from our redemption by Christ; and so, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, coming in the course of Advent, heralds the splendours of the Incarnation of the Redeemer.
Pope Pius IX in his bull Ineffabilis Deus of December 8, 1854, declared the Immaculate Conception to be an infallible teaching of the Church as well as "a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful that the Blessed Virgin Mary in the first instant of her conception was, by a unique privilege and grace of Almighty God in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, preserved exempt from all stain of original sin." The stain of original sin was excluded from her soul, not removed from it. Many confuse the meaning of this dogma, thinking it refers to Mary's conception of the immaculate Jesus. That is the Incarnation, which we celebrate on the Solemnity of the Annunciation on March 25. This dogma of the Immaculate Conception, on the other hand, refers to St. Anne's conception of Our Immaculate Lady in her womb.
Patron: United States.
Symbols: crown and monogram; lily; enclosed garden; crown of stars; glass (symbol of purity) lily often placed in a vase of transparent glass; lily of the valley.
Things to Do: