The Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the Mother of God, updated 2014

Today, December 8, we honor the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of our Savior and by His infinite goodness and mercy, our Mother, too.

The Immaculate Conception, because God hates sin!
O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

The dogma of the Immaculate Conception is an affirmation of just how much God hates sin. And so, it is an antidote for the heresy of modernism. Last year, Pope Francis essentially rejected the dogma of the Immaculate Conception when he remarked in a homily (see here) that perhaps Our Lady may have doubted the promise made at the Annunciation that “He shall reign forever” as she witnessed Our Lord’s crucifixion. Francis said that Mary may have thought, “lies, I was deceived”. This means that the Vicar of Christ speculated that Mary may have sinned against the Holy Spirit, by doubting the truth of God. Now, for the pope to sin personally is one thing, but to preach sin in a homily is quite another. The pope’s remark brings to mind what Our Lord Jesus Christ told Sister Lucia about the need for reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

On May 29, 1930, during Sister Lucia’s weekly Eucharistic Holy Hour, Our Lord told her that the reason He demanded the First Saturdays of Reparation was because of the five types of offenses and blasphemies committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the first of these was “Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception”.  (The True Story of Fatima, from Father Gruner’s Fatima Center.)

When I first read that revelation, it seemed that it referred to protestants who deny Mary’s Immaculate Conception; it never crossed my mind that our Holy Father the Pope would blaspheme against Our Blessed Mother’s Immaculate Conception. But it helped me to understand why, so long ago, the Angel of Fatima was crying out, “Penance, penance, penance!”. Even though the pope’s blasphemy passed by unobserved by most mainstream commentators, true Catholics need to come to her defense. Pope Francis’s errors must be pointed out and reparation to Our Lady is of the utmost importance. Also, it helps us to defend Our Blessed Mother if we are well-informed and knowledgeable about basic Church doctrines such as the Immaculate Conception.

St. Anselm, a Doctor of the Church, tells us, “It was just that this holy Virgin be adorned with the greatest purity which can be conceived after God Himself, since God the Father was to give to her, as her Child, that only-begotten Son, whom He loved as Himself, as being begotten to Him from His own bosom, and this in such a manner that the selfsame Son of God was by nature the Son of both God the Father and this blessed Virgin. This same Son chose her to be substantially His Mother and the Holy Ghost willed that in her womb He would operate the conception and birth of Him from whom He Himself proceeded.”

In his treatise, The Glories of Mary, St. Alphonsus Liguori remarks, “How can we believe that God, when He was able to give His Son a noble Mother by preserving her from sin, would have consented that He should be born of a mother defiled with sin, thus permitting Lucifer to reproach Him with the opprobrium of being born of a mother who once was his slave and an enemy of God! ” Indeed, of two things we can be absolutely certain, firstly, that God is generous and merciful and secondly, that God hates sin, which destroys His grace in us. Mary could in no way have been “full of grace” as the Angel Gabriel said to her, if she had any sin at all.

The dogma of the Immaculate Conception was infallibly proclaimed on December 8, 1854 by Blessed Pius IX in his Apostolic Constitution, Ineffabilis Deus. He is the same Pope who issued the Syllabus of Errors, which is so despised by today’s hierarchy. Here is a brief quote or two from Blessed Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus. The entirety may be found at Papal Encyclicals Online.

“From the very beginning, and before time began, the eternal Father chose and prepared for His only-begotten Son a Mother in whom the Son of God would become incarnate and from whom, in the blessed fullness of time, He would be born into this world. Above all creatures did God so love her that truly in her was the Father well pleased with singular delight. Therefore, far above all the angels and all the saints so wondrously did God endow her with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured from the treasury of His divinity that this Mother, ever absolutely free of all stain of sin, all fair and perfect, would possess that fullness of holy innocence and sanctity than which, under God, one cannot even imagine anything greater, and which, outside of God, no mind can succeed in comprehending fully.”….

“…By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, for the honor of the holy and undivided Trinity, for the glory and adornment of the Virgin Mother of God, for the exaltation of the Catholic Faith, and for the furtherance of the Catholic religion, by the authority of Jesus Christ our Lord, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own: We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance 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, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.”

“Hence, if anyone shall dare — which God forbid! — to think otherwise than as has been defined by us, let him know and understand that he is condemned by his own judgment; that he has suffered shipwreck in the faith; that he has separated from the unity of the Church; and that, furthermore, by his own action he incurs the penalties established by law if he should dare to express in words or writing or by any other outward means the errors he think in his heart.”

“Let all the children of the Catholic Church, who are so very dear to us, hear these words of ours. With a still more ardent zeal for piety, religion and love, let them continue to venerate, invoke and pray to the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, conceived without original sin. Let them fly with utter confidence to this most sweet Mother of mercy and grace in all dangers, difficulties, needs, doubts and fears …. She presents our petitions in a most efficacious manner. What she asks, she obtains. Her pleas can never be unheard.”

The message of Fatima, explains why the Church has from time immemorial proclaimed that the Blessed Virgin Mary will crush the head of satan and counter all heresies. In Our Lady’s Matins, the Nocturne for today, we pray:

“Rejoice, O Virgin Mary for thou alone have destroyed all heresies in the whole world.
Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O Sacred Virgin, give me strength against thine enemies.”

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

There has never been a better time to pray Our Lady’s rosary and confound the devil!

~ posted by evensong ~

The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple

Our yearly repost for the Presentation:

"Hearken O Daughter and consider, and incline thine ear, forget also thine own people, and thy father's house. And so shall the King desire thy beauty, for He is the Lord thy God."
“Hearken O Daughter and consider, and incline thine ear, forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house. And so shall the King desire thy beauty, for He is the Lord thy God.”

On this day, 21 November, the Church, informed by the Holy Spirit and Tradition, honors the Blessed Virgin Mary in remembrance of her Presentation in the Temple. According to tradition, Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anne, consecrated her to serve the Lord when she was just three years old. The Feast of the Presentation of Mary is especially observed by the Congregations of Consecrated Religious since we believe that at that time, when she was just three years old, the Blessed Virgin Mary offered the Lord four sacred vows during a beatific vision of the Most Holy Trinity.

Mary offered the vows of chastity, poverty, obedience and enclosure in the temple of the Lord. However, the Lord, knowing what Mary did not then know, only allowed the vow of chastity and commanded her to observe the other vows according to His will which He would manifest to her at the appropriate time. The Lord then added, “Thy desire shall be fulfilled through many other virgins in the coming law of grace; for in order to imitate thee and to serve Me, they will make these same vows and live together in community and thou shalt be the Mother of many daughters.”

Venerable Mary of Agreda tells us that this is the fulfillment of David’s prophecy in Psalm 44, “After her shall virgins be brought unto the King.” This psalm is recited as part of the Little Office Second Nocturn of Matins on Tuesdays and Fridays.

We are all called to the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience insofar as our state of life permits. Chastity can and should be observed in marriage by a right understanding of the purpose of marriage, by modesty and faithfulness. Poverty is a virtue all Christians are called to and obedience means nothing less than to serve Our Lord Jesus Christ in all circumstances, in all our daily duties. This is also the admonition of Our Lord in the visions Sister Lucia had after the initial apparitions. Our Lord requested that the faithful offer all the efforts of their daily duties of life in reparation for sins.

St. Alphonsus Liguori has a lovely prayer for this day of the Presentation:

“O dearly Beloved of God, most amiable Child Mary, would that today I could offer to you the first years of my life and consecrate myself to your service, my blessed and sweet Lady, as you presented and consecrated yourself in the Temple for the honor and glory of God … but time has slipped away and so many years have been spent in serving the world and my own caprice, forgetful of you and of God. Woe to the time when I did not love you! But better late than never. Behold, O Mary, I present myself to you this day, offering myself entirely to your service for the number of days, be they few or many, that are left to me on earth. I renounce all creatures as you did and vow myself entirely to the love of my Creator.

“I consecrate to you, my Queen, my intellect that it may always think upon the love that you deserve, my tongue that it may praise you, my heart that it may love you. Accept, Most Holy Virgin, the offering which this wretched sinner presents to you; accept it, I beg, by the consolation your heart felt when you gave yourself to God in the Temple. And if I am late in putting myself at your service, it is but fitting that I redeem the time lost by redoubling my devotions and my love for thee.

“O Mother of Mercy, help my weakness by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your Son, Jesus, the strength to be faithful to you until death. Grant that after having served you in this life I may go to praise you eternally in Paradise. Amen.”

~ posted by evensong ~

And Mary, Rising Up in Those Days…

And Mary, Rising Up in Those Days…

“And Mary said: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word.” And the Angel departed from her. And Mary, rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda. And she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth.

Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

“And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leapt for joy. And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken of thee by the Lord.” Luke, 38-45.  Continue reading “And Mary, Rising Up in Those Days…”

Magnificat

We begin May, the month of Mary with a brief meditation on the Magnificat.

“And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because He hath regarded the lowliness of His handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For He that is mighty, hath done great things unto me; and holy is His name. And His mercy is from generation to generations unto them that fear Him. He hath shewed strength in His arm: He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He hath sent empty away. He hath helped Israel his servant, being mindful of His mercy: As He spoke unto our fathers, to Abraham and his seed for ever.” [Luke 1, 46-55]  Continue reading “Magnificat”

The Annunciation 2014

Just a few days ago, we celebrated the Feast Day of St. Joseph, my favorite saint. And now we have the beautiful Feast of the Annunciation, in which is nestled the Incarnation of our Savior.

In the Gospel of St Luke, the Holy Spirit reveals the unique importance of the Blessed Virgin Mary in God’s plan of Salvation for us. Let’s see what He tells us: 

 Luke, Chapter 1, 26-35. “And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God.

Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a Son; and thou shalt call His name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of David His father; and He shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of His kingdom there shall be no end. And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man? And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

Continue reading “The Annunciation 2014”

The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

On December 8,  we celebrate the beautiful feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of our Savior and by His infinite goodness and mercy, our Mother, too. St. Anselm, a Doctor of the Church, tells us, “It was just that this holy Virgin be adorned with the greatest purity which can be conceived after God Himself, since God the Father was to give to her, as her Child, that only-begotten Son, whom He loved as Himself, as being begotten to Him from His own bosom, and this in such a manner that the selfsame Son of God was by nature the Son of both God the Father and this blessed Virgin. This same Son chose her to be substantially His Mother and the Holy Ghost willed that in her womb He would operate the conception and birth of Him from whom He Himself proceeded.”  Continue reading “The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary”

Thoughts on the First Joyful Mystery

The Rosary is a beautiful prayer composed by the Father, Son and Holy Ghost in honor of the most beloved daughter, mother and spouse of the Most High Trinity, and is meant to be a sure path to lead us through the darkness of this life. We often hear how much Our Lady loves for us to pray her Rosary, but not enough is said about how much Our Lord Jesus Christ loves for us to pray the Rosary. Do people understand, really understand that we could never pray our Rosaries attentively without Our Dear Lord’s help? And when we prepare to pray it, we must understand that of ourselves, we are completely unable to pray worthily to Mary, the Mother of God. It is only through Jesus, who loves both Mary and ourselves and wants to see us united in His love, only through Him that we can pray her Rosary worthily.

But once you grasp that simple fact; surrender all attempts to pray well on your own, and beg Him, of His infinite mercy to abide with you and assist you as you attempt to honor His dear Mother, He will open the treasures of this incomparable prayer for you. You will be delighted as He unfolds the Rosary for you, for it is an exquisite album filled with His loving memories. With it, He will show you how He desires you to approach Him, how to best serve Him and what plans He has for you.

The very first thing you will notice, once you understand the Rosary from this perspective, is that Our Lord Jesus Christ introduces us to His Mother at the very beginning. When someone loves you, they want you to meet, and love, those who matter the most to them, for love always unites good to good! In the First Joyful Mystery, the Annunciation, Our Lord introduces us to His beloved Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. He paints us a picture of her, so that we can appreciate her beauty and virtue. Let’s see what He tells us.

“And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’ s name was Mary.  And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God.

Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call His name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of David His father; and He shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of His kingdom there shall be no end. And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man? And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

 And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren: Because no word shall be impossible with God. And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1, 26-38)

Now, the very first thing He tells us about Mary is that she is pure and innocent, a virgin. At the same time, He tells us that God the Father sent His angel Gabriel, who stands before the throne of God, to Mary. Gabriel’s name means Power of God and he is only mentioned by name in Daniel (in the Old Testament) and in Luke. Note the respect that Gabriel shows to Mary, referring to her as “full of grace” and “blessed among women”. He also states that “the Lord is with thee”, all of which confirm the purity of Mary and her fullness of grace.

After Gabriel tells her that she is to become the Mother of Jesus, Mary speaks her first words. “How shall this be done, because I know not man?” Now, Jesus is showing us with what beautiful virtues His Mother is arrayed. Her purity, far from being a negative thing, merely the absence of sexual activity, is a powerful affirmation of God. Mary’s virginity, like her Immaculate Conception is the indwelling of God’s grace and mercy. Whereas Eve, the first ‘Woman’, withdrew herself from her Creator in order to seek her own good, Mary, the ‘Woman’ of the New Testament, yielded herself totally to God, allowing Him to fill her with His life, thus, she is ‘full of grace’. The virtues shown by this simple verse are Mary’s perfect love of God,  her total consecration to Him, her purity, and her perseverance in keeping her vow.

Gabriel explained that the Incarnation of the Son of God would be accomplished by the power of God through the Holy Ghost. Mary then said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word.” With this verse, Our Lord shows us Mary’s humility and obedience, two of the most essential virtues. I call them ‘working virtues’ because you really cannot get through a day without them if you are intent on living close to Jesus and Mary. You must always beg Our Lord for an increase in these because it is a constant war to keep them. They are most hateful to the devil and he strives mightily to strip us of them.

So, Our Lord Jesus Christ has painted us an incredibly beautiful picture here, portraying His Mother so that we can see her beauty, her excellent virtues and her unique stature before the Holy Trinity. By showing her to us in this way, He sets out the virtues He wants us to acquire and the means He intends us to use. “Here is My Mother”, He is saying. “I give her to you. See, we shall have the same Mother!  She will be your example of the necessary virtues and she will teach you how to grow in them and advance toward union with Me, so that we can rejoice together in Heaven.”

If you will take a moment before beginning your rosary to put yourself in His presence and acknowledge your wretched unworthiness to pray fittingly to Our Blessed Mother, and ask His help so that together you can honor and love her, He will draw close and teach you and you will have the peace that only comes from truly being a child of Mary. He so wants to bring us to her, and she so wants to bring us to Him! Only ask and you will be astonished at the profligacy with which these two Sacred Hearts pour out their blessings on you!

O my Jesus, it is for love of Thee and of our Virgin Mother, I offer these prayers, in reparation for my sins, the sins of my family, the sins of the Church and for the conversion of sinners. I beg the reign of Thy Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary in my heart, my life, my family and the Church. My Jesus, grant that I may love Thee always and then do with me what Thou will. Amen.

Pray the Rosary and confound the devil!

~ posted by evensong ~