Friday, December 8, 2006

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Today is a Holy Day of Obligation, a day that we are to observe, as closely as possible, as a Sunday. We are obligated to attend Mass. Do not panic, most parishes have an evening liturgy, call and go! I must note that today is not a celebration of the Blessed Virgin's conception of our Lord. That feast is Annunciation, which we celebrate 25 March, nine months before Jesus' Nativity. Our Blessed Mother's Immaculate Conception, made known most especially in Her apparitions to St. Benadette Soubrious, was dogmatically defined by Pope Pius IX 8 December 1854 in the Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus. The formal definition begins as follows:

"Wherefore, in humility and fasting, we unceasingly offered our private prayers as well as the public prayers of the Church to God the Father through his Son, that he would deign to direct and strengthen our mind by the power of the Holy Spirit. In like manner did we implore the help of the entire heavenly host as we ardently invoked the Paraclete. Accordingly, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, for the honor of the Holy and undivided Trinity, for the glory and adornment of the Virgin Mother of God, for the exaltation of the Catholic Faith, and for the furtherance of the Catholic religion, by the authority of Jesus Christ our Lord, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own:

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. "

Note the Pope Pius IX's reference to fasting and prayer, the beautiful Trinitarian nature of, lacking a better description, how prayer works. It is lovely as befits anything having to do with Immaculate Mary.

"Immaculate Mary, your praises we sing/
You reign now in splendor with Jesus our King/
Ave, ave, ave Maria/
Ave, ave Maria"

Holy Mary, Mother of God- pray for us
Saint Bernadette- pray for us

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