Tag Archives: Immaculate Conception

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.

Why is the Immaculate Conception important?

Mary, Immaculate Conception.jpg

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.

Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary


Immaculate Conception woodcut.jpgThe 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

With a look full of hope and compassion Mary says: fear not, God loves you personally

Pope Benedict made the annual visit to Spain’s Square, the Spanish Steps as it’s known, to lay a wreathe at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to offer a prayer of filial devotion and to encourage the faithful in our faith. His address follows:

B16 Dec 8 2010 Spanish Steps.jpg

Also this year
we have made an appointment here, in Piazza di Spagna, to render homage to the
Immaculate Virgin, on the occasion of her solemn feast. To all of you, who have
come in great numbers, as well as all those taking part through radio and
television, I address my cordial greeting. We are gathered around this historic
monument, which today is all surrounded by flowers, sign of the love and
devotion of the Roman people for the Mother of Jesus. And the most beautiful
gift, and most pleasing to her, that we offer is our prayer, the one we bear in
our hearts and which we entrust to her intercession
. They are invocations of
gratitude and supplication: of gratitude for the gift of faith and for all the
good that we receive daily from God; and supplication for our different needs,
for the family, health, work, for every difficulty that life has us encounter.

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Lawrence Lew’s Meditation on the Immaculate Conception

Lawrence Lew.jpeg

Here’s a meditation on today’s feast of the Immaculate Conception by the Rev’d Br. Lawrence Lew, OP, a friar of the English Dominican Province.

Brother Lawrence is one of the animators of the Dominican students’ blog, Godzdogz.
In the coming year Brother Lawrence will be ordained a priest.

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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