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Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

<em>The Immaculate Conception</em> | Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
Image: The Immaculate Conception | Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Saint of the Day for December 8

 

The Story of the Immaculate Conception of Mary

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.


Reflection

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


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Forgiving Mother

The post Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared first on Franciscan Media.

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin

"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, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin." In 1854, Pope Pius IX's solemn declaration, "Ineffabilis Deus," clarified with finality the long-held belief of the Church that Mary was conceived free from original sin. Mary was granted this extraordinary privilege because of Her unique role in history as the Mother of God. That is, she received the gift of salvation in Christ from the very moment of her conception. Even though Mary is unique in all humanity for being born without sin, she is held up by the Church as a model for all humanity in Her holiness and Her purity in her willingness to accept the Plan of God for her. Every person is called to recognize and respond to God’s call to their own vocation in order to carry out God’s plan for their life and fulfill the mission prepared for them since before the beginning of time. Mary’s “Let it be done to me according to Thy Word,� in response of the Angel Gabriel’s greeting, is the response required of all Christians to God’s Plan. The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is a time to celebrate the great joy of God’s gift to humanity in Mary, and to recognize with greater clarity, the truth that each and every human being has been created by God to fulfill a particular mission that he and only he can fulfill. “The word of the Lord came to me thus: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you." (Jeremiah 1:5-6)

A Season of Transition

Transitions are tender seasons, not unlike the nine months when a woman gestates a seed prior to the birth of a child. New awareness can be fragile, and our old ways of being have the strength and energy of long-lived habits to give them considerable momentum and power. As the image of being attentive to a seed implies, you have to become more watchful. Care needs to be exercised. Fresh insights and new awareness have not yet been tested outside of your own heart, nor subjected to the gaze of others. It takes practice.

—from the book Stars at Night: When Darkness Unfolds As Light by Paula D'Arcy

God’s Promise of Fulfillment

One of our deepest longings as human beings, as social beings, is to be understood even (or perhaps especially) in our most perplexing and difficult moments. We long to be loved for who we are, with the worst of our shortcomings and the best of our gifts. We want people in our lives who will rejoice with us, who will weep with us, who will simply be present to us. In these moments of deep connection with one another, we truly experience the presence of God in our midst, renewing us in his love. This is the promise of the prophets, a promise that came to fulfillment in the incarnation.

—from the book Simple Gifts: Daily Reflections for Advent by Diane M. Houdek

Let Yourself Go

The excesses common during the Christmas season—too many gifts, too much partying, traveling great distances to see family members—are part of this traditional license common to festivals, especially, as we’ll see, those festivals associated with the solstices. It’s tempting to judge ourselves and others for going too far, but it might be more in the spirit of the season to find it in ourselves to allow such excesses. The whole idea is to drop some of the limitations that we usually bring to serious areas of life and be free momentarily of their weight.

—from the book The Soul of Christmas

 

Don’t Lose the Wonder

If you don’t have special times in your life that are liminal, that put the ordinary into eclipse, then you are condemned to a dull life of facts and predictability. You have no enchantment, and without the charm of the liminal your soul goes to sleep and you become like a robot. Your very humanity depends on the interplay of the ordinary and the wondrous. We all know that children are especially susceptible to the thin veil of Christmas, but in our own way we adults could be more open to its impact. You don’t have to “believe” in Santa Claus to get into the spirit of the season or to be uplifted by its special charm, but you have to be aware of your need for light and have some hope and vision that light will be there.

—from the book The Soul of Christmas by Thomas Moore

 

A Fresh Start

Advent is far more than just preparation for Christmas. It has beauty and inspiration in its own right. It’s a fresh start, an invitation to enter into the silence and the mystery of whatever is waiting to be born or reborn in our lives. Paradoxically it’s an invitation to slow down, to come away to the quiet, at the very time our daily lives are immersed in activity—shopping, parties, baking, cleaning. It’s a reminder that the promise of Christ is “already but not yet.”

—from the book Simple Gifts: Daily Reflections for Advent by Diane M. Houdek

Let the Lord Enter Your Life

Pope Francis has proven to be a trusted guide in dealing with the stress of the Christmas season and the anxiety of daily life in general. In his apostolic exhortation Rejoice and Be Glad, he puts his finger on the dangers of a frenetic quest for happiness: “The presence of constantly new gadgets, the excitement of travel and an endless array of consumer goods at times leave no room for God’s voice to be heard. We are overwhelmed by words, by superficial pleasures and by an increasing din, filled not by joy but rather by the discontent of those whose lives have lost meaning. How can we fail to realize the need to stop this rat race and to recover the personal space needed to carry on a heartfelt dialogue with God? Finding that space may prove painful but it is always fruitful. Sooner or later, we have to face our true selves and let the Lord enter.”

—from the book Simple Gifts: Daily Reflections for Advent by Diane M. Houdek


Advent Is Construction Season

The call of Advent is clear. From both the prophet Isaiah and John the Baptist, we hear, “Make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” Isaiah was writing to the people exiled far from their homeland. John the Baptist was talking to people who had lost their way in a tangle of politics and religion. In our own lives, we hear this call as well. We all have some roadwork to do in our souls. We might say Advent is construction season.

—from the book Simple Gifts: Daily Reflections for Advent by Diane M. Houdek


Light the First Candle

Advent begins quietly, with the lighting of the first candle on the Advent wreath. As the days grow shorter in the northern hemisphere, we move to a place of increasing light both indoors and in our hearts. Instead of adding more things to do and and more challenges to meet in an already busy time, Advent calls us to rest, to step back, to learn to appreciate the small events and simple gifts that flow through our days.

—from the book Simple Gifts: Daily Reflections for Advent by Diane M. Houdek