Thursday, December 8, 2005
The Immaculate Conception
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Solemnity (1969 Calendar): December 8
Double of the I Class (1955 Calendar): December 8

Today is the Immaculate Conception of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, a holy day of obligation. The Immaculate Conception is a dogma of the faith stating that Mary was conceived sinless in the womb of her mother Anne, and Mary remained without sin throughout her entire life. Remember, Mary is not just an average woman but the Mother of God; she is extraordinary (Luke 1:42). She is, by no means, divine, but she certainly is the greatest of all saints. She is the perfect model of charity. Let us try and imitate Mary by wearing her Brown Scapular and praying the Rosary. To imitate Mary is to grow closer to Jesus Christ, Our Savior. Read more about what the Immaculate Conception really means.

Today should be treated as a Sunday - go to Mass, refrain from all servile work, pray more, devote time to good works, and to rest. Originally referred to as the "Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary," today became a Holy Day of Obligation in 1708 under Pope Clement XI, nearly 150 years before Pope Pius IX dogmatically and infallibly defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

Dom Gueranger writes on this Holy Day:

The feast of the blessed Virgin's Immaculate Conception is the most solemn of all those which the Church celebrates during the holy time of Advent; and if the first part of the cycle had to offer us the commemoration of some one of the mysteries of Mary, there was none whose object could better harmonize with the spirit of the Church in this mystic season of expectation. Let us, then, celebrate this solemnity with joy; for the Conception of Mary tells us that the Birth of Jesus is not far off.
 
The intention of the Church, in this feast, is not only to celebrate the anniversary of the happy moment in which began, in the womb of the pious Anne, the life of the ever-glorious Virgin Mary; but also to honour the sublime privilege, by which Mary was preserved from the original stain, which, by a sovereign and universal decree, is contracted by all the children of Adam the very moment they are conceived in their mother’s womb. The faith of the Catholic Church on the subject of the Conception of Mary is this: that at the very instant when God united the soul of Mary, which He had created, to the body which it was to animate, this ever-blessed soul did not only not contract the stain, which at that same instant defiles every human soul, but was filled with an immeasurable grace which rendered her, from that moment, the mirror of the sanctity of God Himself, as far as this is possible to a creature. The Church with her infallible authority, declared, by the lips of Pius IX., that this article of her faith had been revealed by God Himself. The Definition was received with enthusiasm by the whole of Christendom, and the eighth of December of the year 1854 was thus made one of the most memorable days of the Church’s history...

The Church, even before the solemn proclamation of the grand dogma, kept the feast of this eighth day of December; which was, in reality, a profession of her faith. It is true that the feast was not called the Immaculate Conception, but simply the Conception of Mary. But the fact of such a feast being instituted and kept, was an unmistakable expression of the faith of Christendom in that truth. St. Bernard and the angelical doctor, St. Thomas, both teach that the Church cannot celebrate the feast of what is not holy; the Conception of Mary, therefore, was holy and immaculate, since the Church has, for ages past, honoured it with a special feast. The Nativity of the same holy Virgin is kept as a solemnity in the Church, because Mary was born full of grace; therefore, had the first moment of Mary’s existence been one of sin, as is that of all the other children of Adam, it never could have been made the subject of the reverence of the Church. Now, there are few feasts so generally and so firmly established in the Church as this which we are keeping to-day.

Ad Diem Illum Laetissimum:
An interval of a few months will again bring round that most happy day on which, fifty years ago, Our Predecessor Pius IX, Pontiff of holy memory, surrounded by a noble crown of Cardinals and Bishops, pronounced and promulgated with the authority of the infallible magisterium as a truth revealed by God that the Most Blessed Virgin Mary in the first instant of her conception was free from all stain of original sin. All the world knows the feelings with which the faithful of all the nations of the earth received this proclamation and the manifestations of public satisfaction and joy which greeted it, for truly there has not been in the memory of man any more universal or more harmonious expression of sentiment shown towards the august Mother of God or the Vicar of Jesus Christ. 
ENCYCLICAL OF POPE ST. PIUS X ON THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION, FEBRUARY 2, 1904 

Sunday within the Octave of the Immaculate Conception:

Remember to pray the Pledge against Indecent and Immoral Motion Pictures, requested by the American Bishops in 1938.

Mass during Octave of the Immaculate Conception:


Prayer:

O God, Who, by the Immaculate Conception of the virgin, didst prepare for Thy Son a worthy habitation, we beseech Thee, that as Thou didst preserve her from every stain by the foreseen death of this Thy Son, so Thou wouldst grant that we also being cleansed from guilt by her intercession, may come to Thee. Through the same our Lord.

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal


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