|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:
Week 1: Saturday
The light of the moon will be like that of the sun and the light of the sun will be seven times greater (like the light of seven days). On the day the Lord binds up the wounds of His people, He will heal the bruises left by His blows. (Isaiah 30:26)
God, while His ways are still mysterious to us, is not on the sidelines of our lives. Just as Isaiah predicted, He has come, in Jesus, to bind up the hurt of His people, and through Jesus presence is still active in the world.
Find an opportunity today to be the hands of God, and "bind up" someones hurt. Say a kind word and listen with compassion to someone who is suffering.
Before going to bed, say a decade of the rosary for your mother.
Lord, flood me with Your light, and help me to brighten the lives of those whom I find most dark.