Category Archives: Blessed Virgin Mary

Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Immaculate Conception Diego Velazquez.jpgLord our God, as we celebrate Mary, daughter of Zion and figure of the new Jerusalem that descends from heaven, we await the coming of your Son Jesus Christ in glory. Hasten the day of his coming, and all the nations, together with all of Israel, will find salvation in your eternal kingdom. We ask you this through the Holy Spirit, who consoles us and intercedes for us now and forever.

Today’s feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary ought to be interpreted on the basis of sacred Scripture (Zeph 3:14-18a; Gal 4:4-7; Lk 1:39-55), sacred Tradition and the Magisterium. This feast is best understood from the point of view of the eschatological context of Advent which focuses our attention essentially on the coming of the Lord at the end of time. Consider what the prayer above notes. Christians, remember, live in the end times now.

Mary’s conception (through her parents Anne and Joachim) celebrated in the liturgical season of Advent is a fitting time in which we long, really desire, the Lord’s coming. Our waiting for the Messiah, now for the second time, is a true hope of all hopes.

The Church in the Eastern Roman Empire, known as Byzantium, has observed this feast with great interest before it reached the Western Empire by the 10th century. In the East today is also called the Conception of Saint Anne.  If you recall, the Franciscan and Doctor of the Church Saint Bonaventure has a clear teaching on the Immaculate Conception of Mary, defended and promoted by other Franciscan theologians and made part of Catholic dogma in 1854.

The precise Catholic theological teaching of the Immaculate Conception is not shared by some Protestant ecclesial communities and the Orthodox Churches. “For them, Mary’s conception has the value of a sign: through the divine intervention that was needed to heal Anne of her infertility, all of humanity has been healed of its sterility, brought on by sin, and has become the womb capable of welcoming the Word’s Incarnation. It is the Lord himself who, in his infinite mercy, prepares the way for his decisive intervention in history.” In many ways there is not that much difference in substance but acknowledged nonetheless here.

Under the title of the Immaculate Conception, Mary is the patroness of the United States of America.

Feast of the Miraculous Medal

Miraculous medal.jpgThe feast of the Miraculous Medal may be surprising to a few. Catholics honor buildings, theological ideas, people and medals. The Miraculous Medal is known as the Medal of the Immaculate Conception, the medal that Our Lady on this date in 1830 instructed Saint Catherine Labouré to have struck. There is nothing miraculous about the medal. What is miraculous is the fact that it is a sign that God does miraculous things in our lives. In a boring world there are events that turn reality on end.

Do you believe in miracles? Do you believe that God cares for each of his creatures enough to make His presence known through signs?
The devotion to the medal is nothing more and nothing less than a person having trust in Mary’s instrumentality before the Throne of Grace. It is a devotion to the hearts of Jesus and Mary. Miracles of conversion, healing, cure, renewed faith, and more. Those who are devoted to the wearing the medal receive special graces at the time of death.
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Entrance of the BVM in the Temple.jpgThe liturgical memorial celebrated today is an odd feast for some in the West: The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary; in the Byzantine East it’s sometimes referred to as the Entrance of the Virgin in the Temple. A slight difference with no real distinction.

Liturgical history tells us that the feast was observed in Jerusalem in the 6th century. A church was built to Mary’s honor. In the West the feast was introduced in the 11th century but it has disappeared for a time from the Church’s calendar and then in the 16th century it was given to the Church to be observed universally.
The tradition of the Church –that is, it is only spoken of in apocryphal literature– is that the parents of Mary, Saints Joachim and Anna, praying for the miracle of a child received from God a baby they longed to have: Mary. Their prayer and vow to God was dedicate the child to Him, and His service. One slight possible problem. Jews at this time in history only brought to the Temple their baby sons, not their baby daughters. At least that’s what some scholars of the Law taught. This unhistorical account of Mary’s presentation known to us from the Protoevangelium of James gives the churches a liturgical observance. Nevertheless, little did Mary’s parents realize what it meant to fulfill their promise of dedicating their daughter in the Temple to God’s service. Salvation history would never be the same.
Psalms connected with the Presentation in the Temple: with lighted candles: Ps. 44/45: 14-15; 119/120 to 133/134.

BVM undamaged in storm


Something you don’t see everyday: the Wall Street Journal published a photo of the statue of Our Lady
of the Miraculous Medal undamaged following Sandy’s destructive path of terror in NYC!

Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, pray for us.

OL Miraculas Medal WSJ Oct 31 2012.jpg

Portsmouth monks talk about their Lourdes Grotto

Portsmouth CofA.jpegThe month of October is devoted to the theme of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. The Rosary is the official prayer for the Year of Faith. As Pope Benedict recently said, “I would like to suggest to everyone to renew the prayer of the Rosary in the upcoming Year of Faith. With the Rosary, we allow ourselves to be guided by Mary, model of faith, in meditating on the mysteries of Christ.”

On May 4, 2012, Abbot Caedmon, the religious superior and chancellor of Portsmouth Abbey and Portsmouth Abbey School dedicated the new shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes. I wrote a post on it, “Portsmouth Abbey Monks Dedicate Lourdes Grotto.”
The Portsmouth Abbey folks have finally produced a beautiful background video on the meaning of the Grotto for the monastic community, the school and the greater Catholic community. “The Grotto at Portsmouth Abbey” may be watched here. The video is the fruit of Jamie Macguire with the assistance of several monks. It’s well done, and informative.
This is the first of many good things to come from Portsmouth Abbey and School in light of the Year of Faith.
May Our Lady of Lourdes, Mother of the Rosary, pray for Portsmouth Abbey and for us.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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