What did we hear today from the sacred Liturgy about the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary? How close to did you pay attention to the priest praying the Mass prayers on your behalf? What’s the import of the feast? To know the answers we have to look at the texts of today’s Liturgy. Did you notice when the priest prayed:
1. God preserved Mary from every stain of sin by foreseeing the death of His Son Jesus, and so we pray too, that is, we hope to be cleansed of sin and admitted to communion with Him;
2. we profess belief in God’s prevenient grace given to Mary and we hope that He will deliver us from sin;
3. in the Preface, the priest prays that in Mary who was “endowed with the rich fullness of your [God’s] grace … [there is] a worthy Mother for your Son and [which] signify the beginning of the Church; As Pope Benedict said today, “Mary, on the other hand,” he continued, “is Immaculate, free from all stain of sin. The Church is holy, but at the same time marked by our sins.”
4. in her yes to God’s invitation to be the Mother of Jesus, we have the “Lamb would wipe away our offenses”;
5. we pray that the singular grace given to Mary may also be given to us.
This Liturgy is a mix of liturgical, dogmatic and systematic theology. BTW, this is fitting way to celebrate the graces given to our nation.
The dogma of Mary’s Immaculate Conception was given to us by Pope Pius IX and proclaimed in the document, Ineffabilis Deus (1854), solemnly defining a clear and consistent teaching of the Church since 33 AD.
If you ask the question: What can you tell me about Mary as Patroness of America? Boston’s Archbishop (later Cardinal) Richard Cushing wrote an answer.
Famously, the 23 US bishops in 1846 (note: nearly a decade before the dogma’s definition) wrote to the Pope asking for Mary under the title of the Immaculate Conception to be bestowed on the country’s young Church. The bishops wrote:
We take this occasion, brethren, to communicate to you the determination, unanimously adopted by us, to place ourselves and all entrusted to our charge throughout the United States, under the special patronage of the holy Mother of God, whose Immaculate Conception is venerated by the piety of the faithful throughout the Catholic Church.
By the aid of her prayers, we entertain the confident hope that we will be strengthened to perform the arduous duties of our ministry, and that you will be enabled to practice the sublime virtues, of which her life presents the most perfect example.
Pastoral Letter of the Bishops of the United States
Sixth Provincial Council, Baltimore, 5 May 1846
Today we celebrate the Feast Day of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. On this day, November 27th, in 1830, the Immaculate Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Catherine Laboure in the chapel of the motherhouse of the Daughters of Charity in Paris.
At one point during the apparition Catherine saw Our Lady standing on a globe, with dazzling rays of light streaming from her outstretched hands. Framing the figure was an inscription: O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.
Mary spoke to Catherine: “Have a medal struck upon this model. Those who wear it will receive great graces.” The Medal of the Blessed Virgin Mary, popularly known as the Miraculous Medal, was approved by Pope Leo XIII on July 23, 1894.
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