Thursday, December 8, 2011

December 8th 2011: The Feast Of The Immaculate Conception

Sequentia, Missale Cluniacensis, 1523

Veneremur Virginem
Genitricem gratiae,
Salutis dulcedinem,
Fontem Sapietiae.
Haec est aula regia,
Regina prudentiae
Virgo plena gratia,
Aurora laetitiae.

Let us venerate the Virgin,
the Mother of grace,
the sweetness of salvation,
the fount of Wisdom.
She is the Palace of the King,
the Queen of Prudence,
the Virgin full of Grace,
the aurora of joy.

The Definition

"We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful."

Blessed Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus
Apostolic Constitution issued on December 8, 1854.

This day, known in the East as the Feast of the Conception of the Mother of God in the Womb of St. Anne, is the most solemn one during Advent. In Eastern Catholicism, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception falls one day later on the 9th of December. It is not a full nine months to show that, even though she was the highest of creatures, she did not have the perfection of God, being one day off. Even in the West, before the definition of the Immaculate Conception, the day to celebrate this Feast was fluid. St. Juan Diego, visionary of the Apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe, was on his way to Mass for the Feast of the Conception of Mary on December the 9th in 1531, as it was kept by the Franciscan in that day. That year, it had fallen on a Saturday, before the Gregorian revisions.

The reason that we have the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is for the following. At the very moment that God united the Soul of Mary with the body it was to animate, the ever blessed Soul of Mary did not contract the Stain of Original Sin which defiles every human Soul. In this way, she mirrored the Sanctity of God himself, insofar as it is possible for a creature to do so. We are all born with Original Sin, but are saved unto Eternal Life by the Waters of Baptism. If we walk through a forest, we could fall into a pit that is unseen. We could fall into it and be saved from it by having someone pull us out. Another could be saved from the pit by having someone pull them away from the pit before they fall in. Both are said to have been saved from the pit. With us, the saving comes after we have fallen into the pit. With Mary, it came at the very instance of her Conception, for not a speck could be permitted to stain the womb of Mary, a creature that was to have grow within her the Saviour of the World. God could do no less for the Second Eve than he could for the first Eve. The sentence of Original Sin was universal, but God's own Mother is not subject to this. The second Eve is to be worthy of the second Adam.

No wonder the Angel Gabriel looked on with amazement at the Virgin Mary. If the Ark of the Covenant was to be made of purest Gold to contain the word of God, would not the same be true of the Ark that would contain the Word (Ex 25:11-21)? The Akathist Hymn to Mary says,

"As soon as the angel had received his command, he hastened to Joseph’s house and said to the ever-virgin: “Behold, heaven was brought down to earth when the Word Himself was fully contained in you! Now that I see Him in your womb, taking a servant’s form, I cry out to you in wonder: Hail, O Bride and Maiden ever-pure!” An Archangel was sent from heaven to greet the Mother of God, and as he saw you assuming a body at the sound of his bodiless voice, O Lord, he stood rapt in amazement and cried out to her in these words: Hail, O you, through whom Joy will shine forth!

"The Angel Gabriel greets Mary, knowing that she is his Queen, by saying, "Hail, Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou amongst women. (Lk 1:28-37)" The Angel also tells her that she had found favour with God, and that with God, nothing is impossible. Gabriel called her, "Full of Grace;" an Angel who lives among the magnificence of of God.

Mary did need a Savior, and her Savior was Jesus Christ. Mary’s salvation was accomplished by Jesus through his work on the Cross. Mary's Salvation was different and more glorious than the way it is for the rest of us. Jesus' Cross was Salvific for Mary in that its application to her was from the moment of her Conception. The Crucifixion is an eternal event and that the appropriation of salvation through Christ’s death is not impeded by time or space. That is how the Cross can be applied to Mary. It was applied to the very moment of her conception. Some may point out that some Saints and Doctors of the Church did not affirm the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Saints are Canonized for the totality of their teachings, and leeway is given for their mistakes. Medieval Theologians can be forgiven if they did not understand that the fertilized egg is a separate life and Soul apart from the mother at the moment of conception.

Those who create crafts want to to the best work possible. God was able to create his own Mother, as he created all things (Col 1:16). He created Mary immaculate, and in his Divine Mercy and compassion, kept her that way.

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