Posts Tagged ‘Immaculate Conception’

Immaculate Conception

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2014/12/05 at 12:00 AM

In the Angelus of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Benedict XVI emphasised that Mary is Immaculate “by a gratuitous gift of the Grace of God, which she accepted, however, with perfect willingness and cooperation. In this respect she is ‘blessed’ because she ‘believed’, because of her firm faith in God”.

The Holy Father continued, “Mary represents that ‘remnant of Israel’, the holy root announced by the prophets. The promises of the Old Covenant are welcomed in her. In Mary the Word of God is listened to, and finds acceptance, a response; the Word finds the ‘yes’ that allows it to take on flesh and to dwell among us. In Mary humanity and history are truly open to God and accept his Grace, in readiness to serve his will. Mary is the genuine expression of Grace. She is the new Israel that the Scriptures of the Old Testament describe with the symbol of the bride. … The Fathers of the Church developed this image and so the doctrine of the Immaculate was born, first with reference to the Church as virgin-mother, and then to Mary”.

“The light that emanates from the figure of Mary helps us also to understand the true meaning of original sin. Indeed, in Mary the relationship with God, that may be destroyed by sin, is completely alive and active. There is no opposition within her between God and her being; rather, there is full communion, full understanding. There is a reciprocal ‘yes’, from God to her and from her to God. … She is full of His Grace and His love.

“In conclusion, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary expresses the certainty of faith that the promises of God are realised: that His covenant does not fail, but has produced a holy root, from which has grown the Fruit most blessed of all the universe, Jesus the Saviour. Mary Immaculate demonstrates that Grace is able to bring about a response, that God’s fidelity can generate a true and good faith”.

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Advent Spiritual Journey by Fr. Mark Lawlor

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2011/12/08 at 12:00 AM

Mary, Queen of Heaven:   The season of Advent is a spiritual journey.  Three saints of great prominence during the season of Advent are St. Joseph, St. John the Baptist and Mary, the Blessed Mother.

In this reflection, we look to Mary, the Blessed Mother and the Queen of Heaven.  God choose her from all women of all time to be the mother of the Divine Son of God.  Our Lord was conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit and born of Mary.  She is the Mother of the Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ.  At the time of the Annunciation, Mary’s responded to the angel Gabriel with the words, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word.”  [Luke 1:38]  Mary’s “yes” to God encourages us to say “yes” to God.  We will grow in the spiritual life by meditating on the mysteries of the holy rosary.

During Advent, there are two great Feasts of Mary.  On December 8th, we will celebrate the Solemnity of her Immaculate Conception, which is a Holy Day of Obligation.  The teaching of the Church is that from the first instant of her conception, Mary was kept free from the stain of original sin by a singular grace and the privilege of Almighty God, in view of the foreseen merits of Jesus Christ, our Savior.   In 1846, the bishops of the United States of America proclaimed that Mary under the title of the Immaculate Conception as our national patroness.

Also in Advent we have the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12.  This feast recalls the apparitions of Mary at the hill of Tepeyac, Mexico in 1531 to the native convert, St. Juan Diego.  Pope Pius XII named Our Lady of Guadalupe the “Patroness of the Americas.”

Blessed John Paul II called Mary, “the Star of the New Evangelization.”  Mary under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe is especially invoked as the patroness of the unborn as the miraculous image portrays Mary as being pregnant.  When the Queen of Heaven appeared to Juan Diego, she requested that a shrine be built on the site of the apparitions and to relay her message to the bishop.  When the bishop requested some sign of Mary’s request, our Lady provided roses which Juan Diego carried in his tilma.  When Juan presented the roses to the bishop, the miraculous image was formed.  The original image is still venerated in the basilica after 480 years.  The news of the apparitions and the miraculous image were a catalyst that increased Christian devotion and conversions.  The Feast Our Lady of Guadalupe is thus an important & popular celebration for all those of Mexican heritage and for the Faithful of North and South America.

We may see ourselves as being on a spiritual journey.  Along the way we honor those saints who cooperated with the divine plan and prepared for the coming of the Lord.

St. John the Baptist, St. Joseph, & Mary, Our Blessed Mother & Queen of Heaven.   Please pray for us.

In peace,  Fr. Mark

December 8 Feast of the Immaculate Conception

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2011/12/07 at 12:00 AM

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

•Today is one of the most beautiful feast days of the entire year: it is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, which calls to mind how our Lady was conceived without any trace of original sin in the womb of  St. Ann.

• It is also a very special day for our country, as our Lady, under the title of the Immaculate Conception, is the patroness of the United States.

• In coming to understand this beautiful mystery of our Catholic faith, the Church elucidates four elements that help us to more fully understand what it is that we believe about this dogma.

• First, we believe that God the Father chose Mary to be the Mother of Jesus Christ; in other words, she was predestined to be the Mother of God before the foundation of the world.

• Secondly, we believe that God prepared Mary for this unique and singular task from the first moment of her conception by preserving her free from all stain of sin.

• Thirdly, we know that this is a singular grace granted to no other person in history; Mary is thus the highest and fairest honor of the human race – higher in dignity than all men and all the angels and saints.

• And lastly, we believe that Mary enjoys a special place in the economy of salvation both in relation to the mystery of Jesus and of the Church.

• As we ponder this mystery and meditate on the first reading from Genesis, we are reminded of the devastating consequences of sin. The first reading reminds us that sin is destructive, and that there is always a price to pay for our sins.

• While our first reading tells us of how the serpent was banned from the animals and made to crawl on its belly and eat dirt, the very worst consequences of sin are the internal consequences that we don’t always readily perceive.

• Sin is spiritually corrosive. It eats away at our souls, making us less than who God has destined us to be. It distorts us, alienates us, and takes away our peace.

• Moreover, just as Adam and Eve lost paradise because of their sin, if our sins are mortal and we refuse to repent of them, we can lose the paradise of Heaven for all eternity.

• Yet as we consider the second reading and look upon this great gift our Lord has given to the Blessed Virgin Mary in preserving her from all stain of sin from the first moment of her conception, we see in this mystery of our faith the great love and mercy of God as well.

• In his letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul reminds us today that God the Father desires to adopt us as His very own children! Our Lord has chosen each of us for Heaven!

• For this reason our Lord desires us to be holy and without blemish before Him. And Mary, as our spiritual mother, is our pattern of holiness and our advocate in Heaven.

• By her sinless life, Mary is not only the worthy mother of God, but she is also the sign of God’s favor to the Church and the promise of its perfection as the bride of Christ.

• And at Nazareth Mary shows us the path to holiness in her exchange with the Archangel Gabriel by her whole-hearted willingness to fulfill God’s will. Full of grace, Mary does not hesitate to say yes to our Lord’s invitation.

• And the same must be true for us.

• If we wish to be holy as God desires us to be, then we must be willing always to say yes to our Lord’s divine will, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable His will may seem for us.

• My friends, on this special day in which we honor our Immaculate Mother, let us pray that through her intercession each of us may grow in docility and humble obedience so that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

• And let us give thanks to our Lady for being not only God’s worthy mother, but our worthy mother as well.

Copyright 2009 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC

Mary, Our Mother

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2011/10/06 at 1:00 AM

The months of October and May are special Marian Months, although we honor our Blessed Mother throughout the year with devotions, memorials and feasts.  The celebration of Mother’s Day actually follows an ancient tradition of honoring the lives of Mary and her mother, St. Anne.

On May 13 we celebrate the Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima which recalls the first apparition of the Blessed Mother, in Fatima, Portugal to three shepherd children in 1917.    After a series of apparitions in 1917, many witnessed the “miracle of the sun” on October 13.  The core message of the apparitions of Fatima is that there is a need for: the practice of penance, the frequent recitation of the rosary, the practice of prayer and mortification for the conversion of sinners, prayers for priests, increased devotion of the Faithful of the world to the immaculate Heart of Mary, and the offering of Holy Communion of reparation on the first Saturday of each month.  The fruits of these spiritual efforts will be the salvation of souls and and advances in peace.  Ninety-four years after the apparitions, Fatima remains a place of pilgrimage and spirituality.

On May 31, we celebrate the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to her cousin Elizabeth, which we recognize as the second Joyful Mystery of the Holy Rosary.  As the bearer of the Savior and Redeemer, Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth in her time of need.

Mary’s title “Mother of God” was defined by the Council of Ephesus in the year 431.  While defending Mary’s divine maternity, the bishops of the Church sought to clarify the teaching of Christ’s divine nature.  Jesus is truly divine and yet like us in all ways except for sin.  The Divine Son was born in time of an earthly mother.  Mary has a Mother’s Love for her Son and Savior.  We trust in her gentle intercession.  She is our spiritual mother.  Mary under the title, Mother of God, is the principal patroness of the Diocese of Charlotte.  The Lord entrusted His mother to the beloved disciple from the cross.  Jn 19:25-27.  As we are called to be the disciples of today, we may see in this act that Mary is the mother of the Church, which is the Body of Christ.

On December 8th, the universal Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. The teaching of the Church is that from the first instant of her conception, Mary was kept free from the stain of original sin by a singular grace and the privilege of Almighty God, in view of the foreseen merits of Jesus Christ, our eternal Savior.  In 1846, the bishops of the United States of America proclaimed that Mary under the title of the Immaculate Conception is our national patroness.

All of the Faithful are encouraged to pray the rosary.  It is especially important during the months of May and October and on the Feasts of the Blessed Mother.  I recommend that petitions be expressed prior to each decade of the rosary. One may pray for peace in the world, for vocations, for sanctity and spiritual renewal for those in religious vocations and for greater respect for God’s gift of life.  Scripture has it that we should pray for those who govern and have offices of civil authority.  (At times, we may pray for their enlightenment and conversion.)

Blessed John Paul II encouraged a “daily rosary.” He wrote in his apostolic letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae of 2002: “the Rosary is by its nature a prayer for peace, since it consists in the contemplation of Christ, the Prince of peace, the one who is “our peace” Eph. 2:14.  Anyone who assimilates the mystery of Christ – and this is clearly the goal of the Rosary – learns the secret of peace and makes it his life’s project.  Moreover, by virtue of its meditative character, with the tranquil succession of Hail Marys, the rosary has a peaceful effect on those who pray it, disposing them to receive and experience in their innermost depths, and to spread around them, that true peace which is the special gift of the Risen Lord. Jn 14: 27, 20-21.

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God and Queen of Peace that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ.  Fr. Lawlor

Fr. Mark Lawlor is the Pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Blessed Virgin Mary in the Koran

In 14 Book Corner on 2011/06/07 at 7:59 AM

Mary and the Moslems” is the title of a chapter in Fulton Sheen’s THE WORLD’S FIRST LOVE written in 1952, reprinted by Ignatius Press in 1996.  Here are various prophetic, and now timely, excerpts;

“The Christian West barely escaped destruction at the hands of the Muslims . . . at the present hour, the Muslims are beginning to rise again . . . the hatred of the Muslim countries against the West is becoming a hatred against Christianity itself.” p. 200

“There is still great danger that the  temporal power of Islam may return, and with it, the menace that it may shake off a West which has ceased to be Christian, and affirm itself as a great anti-Christian world power. . . . I belive that that Muslimism will eventually be converted to Christianity… through a summoning of the Muslims to a veneration of the Mother of God.” p.201

“The Qu’ran, which is the Bible for the Muslims, has many passages concerning the Blessed Virgin. First of all, the Qu’ran believes in her Immaculate Conception, and also in her Virgin Birth. The third chapter of the Qu’ran places the history of Mary’s family in a genealogy which goes back through Abraham, Noah, and Adam. . . . Both books describe the old age and the definite sterility of the mother of Mary. When, however, she conceives, the mother of Mary is made to say in the Qu’ran: “O Lord, I vow and I consecrate to you what is already within me.   Accept it from me.” When Mary is born, the mother says: “And I consecrate her with all of her posterity under thy protection, O Lord, against Satan!” p. 202

“…Moslem tradition  know the name of Joseph and has some familiarity with him. In this tradition, Joseph is made to speak to Mary, who is a virgin. As he inquired how she conceived Jesus without a father, Mary answered:  “Do you not know that God, when he created the wheat had no need of seed, and that God by his power made the trees grow without the help of rain? All that God had to do was to say, ‘So be it, and it was done’.”  p. 202

“The Qu’ran has also verses on the Annunciation, Visitation, and Nativity; 41 in chapter 19.” p. 202

“I believe that the Blessed Virgin chose to be known as ‘Our Lady of Fatima’ as a pledge and a sign of hope to the Muslim people, and as an assurance that they, who show her so much respect, will one day accept her divine Son too. . . . The very place where Our Lady appeared in 1917 bears a historical connection to Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed.”  p. 203

“Mary is the advent of Christ, bringing Christ to the people before Christ himself is born. . . . Because the Muslims have a devotion to Mary . . . Our Blessed Lady will carry the Muslims the rest of the way to her divine Son.”  p.204

Sheen, Fulton  THE WORLD’S FIRST LOVE. Ignatius Press.