Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"I am the Immaculate Conception"

On December 8, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, a Holy Day of Obligation in the United States, by attending Mass to remember in a special way Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception and to honor her as Patroness of the United States.
Masses for this Holy Day of Obligation will be held at Blessed Sacrament at 7PM on December 7 (Vigil Mass) and 6:30AM, 8:30AM, 12NN, 7PM, and 8:30PM (Spanish Mass) on December 8.
From the earliest days of the Church, Our Blessed Mother has been honored and venerated.  At the beginning of the Gospel of Luke, the angel Gabriel greets Mary at the Annunciation with the words “Hail, full of grace!” (Luke 1:28) and St. Elizabeth proclaims, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (Luke 1:42).   Through the centuries, Christians honored our Blessed Mother as a unique and highly favored creation, whose submission to God’s will, humility, and strength were to be emulated.  In 1854, Blessed Pope Pius IX, in Ineffabilis Deus defined as dogma that “The Blessed Virgin Mary in the first instance of her conception was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race.”  At Lourdes (France), Our Lady appeared to St. Bernadette eighteen times in 1858 and proclaimed “I am the Immaculate Conception,” confirming for the world that she had been conceived without the stain of original sin.

As Bishop Fulton Sheen wrote, God granted our Blessed Mother the privilege of redemption “in advance, by way of prevention, in both body and soul, in the first instant of conception….She had this privilege, not for her sake but for HIS sake.  That is why those who do not believe in the Divinity of Christ can see no reason for the special privilege accorded to Mary.  If I did not believe in the Divinity of Our Lord – which God avert – I should see noting but nonsense in any special reverence given to Mary above the other women on earth!  But if she is the Mother of God, Who became Man, then she is unique….” (The World’s First Love)

Tomorrow, as you attend Mass, ponder the great friend and intercessor we have in our Blessed Mother, and how better you might emulate her love and humility this Advent.

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