Feast of the Immaculate Conception

December 08

Gen 3:9-15, 20; Eph 1:3-6, 11-12; Luke 1:26-38

Announcement of the Birth of Jesus

OTHER HOMILY SOURCES:

Immaculate Conception

By Scott P. Richert

Introduction to the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception:

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is the subject of a lot of misconceptions (so to speak). Perhaps the most common one, held even by many Catholics, is that it celebrates the conception of Christ in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. That the feast occurs only 17 days before Christmas should make the error obvious! We celebrate another feast—the Annunciation of the Lord—on March 25, exactly nine months before Christmas. It was at the Annunciation, when the Blessed Virgin Mary humbly accepted the honor bestowed on her by God and announced by the angel Gabriel, that the conception of Christ took

History of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception:

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, in its oldest form, goes back to the seventh century, when churches in the East began celebrating the Feast of the Conception of Saint Anne, the mother of Mary. In other words, this feast celebrates the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the womb of Saint Anne; and nine months later, on September 8, we celebrate the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

As originally celebrated (and as still celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox Churches), however, the Feast of the Conception of Saint Anne does not have the same understanding as the Feast of the Immaculate Conception has in the Catholic Church today. The feast arrived in the West probably no earlier than the 11th century, and at that time, it began to be tied up with a developing theological controversy. Both the Eastern and the Western Church had maintained that Mary was free from sin throughout her life, but there were different understandings of what this meant.

Development of the Doctrine:

Because of the doctrine of Original Sin, some in the West began to believe that Mary could not have been sinless unless she had been saved from Original Sin at the moment of her conception (thus making the conception “immaculate”). Others, however, including St. Thomas Aquinas, argued that Mary could not have been redeemed if she had not been subject to sin—at least, to Original Sin.

The answer to St. Thomas Aquinas’s objection, as Blessed John Duns Scotus (d. 1308) showed, was that God had sanctified Mary at the moment of her conception in His foreknowledge that the Blessed Virgin would consent to bear Christ. In other words, she too had been redeemed—her redemption had simply been accomplished at the moment of her conception, rather than (as with all other Christians) in Baptism.

Spread of the Feast in the West:

After Duns Scotus’s defense of the Immaculate Conception, the feast spread throughout the West, though it was still often celebrated at the Feast of the Conception of Saint Anne. On February 28, 1476, however, Pope Sixtus IV extended the feast to the entire Western Church, and in 1483 threatened with excommunication those who opposed the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. By the middle of the 17th century, all opposition to the doctrine had died out in the Catholic Church.

Promulgation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception:

On December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX officially declared the Immaculate Conception a dogma of the Church, which means that all Christians are bound to accept it as true. As the Holy Father wrote in the Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus, “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.”

catholicism.about.com/od/holydaysandholidays/p/Imm_Conception.htm?nl=1

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What Is the Immaculate Conception?

By Scott P. Richert

Question: What Is the Immaculate Conception?

Few doctrines of the Catholic Church are as misunderstood as the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Many people, including many Catholics, think that it refers to the conception of Christ through the action of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. That event, though, is celebrated at the feast of the Annunciation of the Lord (March 25, nine months before Christmas). What is the Immaculate Conception?

Answer:

The Immaculate Conception refers to the condition that the Blessed Virgin Mary was free from Original Sin from the very moment of her conception in the womb of her mother, Saint Anne. We celebrate the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary on September 8; nine months before is December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Fr. John Hardon, S.J., in his Modern Catholic Dictionary, notes that “Neither the Greek nor Latin Fathers explicitly taught the Immaculate Conception, but they professed it implicitly.” It would take many centuries, though, for the Catholic Church to recognize the Immaculate Conception as a doctrine, and many more before Pope Pius IX, on December 8, 1854, would declare it a dogma.

In the Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus, Pope Pius IX wrote that “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.”

As Father Hardon further writes, the Blessed Virgin’s “freedom from sin was an unmerited gift of God or special grace, and an exception to the law, or privilege, which no other created person has received.”

Another misconception people have is that Mary’s Immaculate Conception was necessary to ensure that Original Sin would not be passed on to Christ. This has never been a part of the teaching on the Immaculate Conception; rather, the Immaculate Conception represents Christ’s saving grace operating in Mary in anticipation of His redemption of man and in God’s foreknowledge of Mary’s acceptance of His Will for her.

In other words, the Immaculate Conception was not a precondition for Christ’s act of redemption but the result of it. It is the concrete expression of God’s love for Mary, who gave herself fully, completely, and without hesitation to His service.

catholicism.about.com/od/beliefsteachings/f/Imm_Concept_FAQ.htm

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SA LAKAS NG DIYOS POSIBLE: Reflection for the Solemnity of Immaculate Conception – December 8, 2013

Minsang pumasyal ako sa Bicol at pinuntahan ko ang matayog at magandang Mayon volcano. Swerte ako at maganda ang panahon. Maaliwalas ang kalangitan kitang-kita ang “perfect cone” ng bulkan. Ang sabi ng ilang tagaroon: “May paniniwala na tanging ang mga birhen lang ang nakakakita ng perfect cone ng bulkan.” Nang sumunod na araw ay naroroon uli ako at napansin kong may grupo ng mga madreng tinatanaw ang bulkan at ang sabi nila: “Ay sayang! Maulap di natin makita ang perfect cone ng bulkang Mayon!” hehehe! Uso pa ba ang pagiging birhen ngayon? Sa ibang progresibong pag-iisip ay makaluma na ang kahinhinan at kalinisan. Ngunit ang kapistahang ipinagdiriwang ngayon ay nagsasabing posible pa rin ang kalinisan! May ilan pa ring nalilito sa kapistahang ito: ang “Immaculate Coneception”. Akala ng iba, ito ay ang mahimalang paglilihi ni Maria kay Jesus o ang tinatawag nating “virgin birth” ni Jesus. Sino ba talaga ang ipinaglihi? Si Jesus o si Maria? Ang Immaculate Conception ay ang “kalinis-linisang paglilihi kay Maria” na pinaniniwalaan nating totoo bilang mga Kristiyano. Paano nangyari na ang isang tao ay ipinaglihing walang kasalanan gayung lahat ng taong isinisilang sa mundo ay nababahiran ng “original sin?” Marahil imposible para sa ating mga tao, ngunit hindi sa Diyos! Kung hihiramin ko ang slogan ng Globe telecom: “Sa lakas ng Diyos… POSIBLE!” Isang natatanging pribelihiyo ang ibinigay ng Diyos kay Maria na ipinaglihi siyang walang kasalanang mana sapagkat siya ang magdadala sa Anak ng Diyos sa kanyang sinapupunan. Hindi ata tama ang maglagay ng maputing bigas sa maruming kaldero! Dapat malinis muna ang paglalagyan! Ang sinapupunan ng Mahal na Birhen ay ihinihanda na ng Diyos sapul pa nung ipaglihi siya ng kanyang mga magulang. At ang kalinisang ito ay kanyang pinanatili! Kaya nga ang tawag natin din sa kanya ay “Ever-virgin!” Isang magandang paalala sa ating lahat. Marahil ay hindi natin mapapantayan ang kalinisan ng Mahal na Birhen. Ngunit inaanyayahan tayong mabuhay ng may malinis na puso! Nakakalungkot sapagkat kalat na sa mundo ang kalaswaan at sinisira ang murang pag-iisip ng ating mga kabataan. Hingin natin na sana ay protektahan ng Mahal na Birhen ang bawat isa sa atin. Wag tayong mawalan ng pag-asa sapagkat kaya din nating maging malinis tulad niya. Tandaan natin… “Sa lakas ng Diyos… POSIBLE!”

kiliti-ng-diyos.blogspot.com/2013/12/sa-lakas-ng-diyos-posible-reflection.html

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Immaculate Conception, preparation for Christmas

by Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD
December 7, 2013

A  famous  artist  once held an exhibition of  all  his  choice paintings.  One painting which bore the face of a woman  was  extraordinarily beautiful.

“Who’s  this?”  spectators ask. “Is  she  your  girlfriend?” “That,”  the artist replied smiling, “is the portrait of  my mother when she was younger. You know how it is. One has to give the best for his  mother.”

* * *

We can say the same of Mary, the Immaculate Conception, whose feast  we celebrate today. Incidentally,  the Immaculate Conception was chosen as the principal patroness of the Philippines.

As  the artist of that beautiful painting  put it, “One has to give his best for a mother.”  That is what God had bestowed on Jesus’ mother — that special honor and privilege to be conceived WITHOUT the stain of Original Sin.

* * *

The dogma (Church’s official teaching) of  the Immaculate Conception means everyone born in this world starts life in a state of  dis-grace  before God.

We  lack  the friendship of God or so-called sanctifying grace.  However,  God made  an exception of all humanity and that was Mary. She is “our tainted nature’s solitary boast!”

* * *

SPIRITUAL PREPARATION. We may not be able to reach Mary’s level of sanctity but it gives us a hint of how we can prepare for the coming  of Christmas. It teaches us that Christmas  is  not all  Sta.  Claus, Christmas bonus, exchange gifts, eats, drinks, and merry-making.

Like the sinless mother of Jesus Christ, we should prepare ourselves spiritually. And how do we do this?

* * *

St. John the  Baptist, the Christ forerunner,  cries out, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight  his paths, every valley shall be filled up.”

John’s words are metaphorical and  do not refer to public works like repairing our potholed roads. It means rather that our MORALLY CROOKED ways must be straightened, the valleys of our pride, laziness, vices, and corrupt practices must be leveled.

* * *

Once an old friend confided to me he had been trying hard to turn away from his vices. “How do you do it?” I asked. “Father, through will power. I gave up smoking through will power, drinking through will power…” “How about womanizing?” I butted in. He paused momentarily and said candidly: “Father, POWER FAILURE!” “But I’m trying hard to overcome it.”

* * *

Then there’s the need for reconciliation with God through the Sacrament of Confession,  and with people we’re not on talking terms with. Let’s not be like that lady who told me, “Father, I already forgave my enemy. But I don’t want to see her face again!”  How can you forgive when you refuse to let go of your inner hatred?

* * *

May the feast of the Immaculate Conception inspire us to keep on striving to change for the better, to be a loving person, morally upright, and caring for the needy.

mb.com.ph/immaculate-conception-preparation-for-christmas/

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See Today’s Readings: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Back to: Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Back to: Saints and Solemnities

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