7 Dec 2016

Dec 8th - Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Glenstal Abbey
Hail Mary, full of grace: the Lord is with you. You are the most blessed of all women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Alleluia.

December 8th is the feast day of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary which is observed as a Solemnity and a holy day of obligation in Ireland. 

The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is the doctrine that the Virgin Mary was conceived without original sin, that twist in our nature that makes our will tend not to follow what it knows to be right. It was this grace that enabled Mary to give a true and considered “Yes” to the request, conveyed by the Angel Gabriel, that she should consent to be the mother of the incarnate God.

The doctrine was almost universally believed over the centuries but was only formally defined as a doctrine of the Church by Pope Pius IX in 1854. Because it is so old, it is one of the Marian doctrines that Islam shares with the Catholic Church, though of course the theological details are very different.

The core of the definition was solemnly set out in 1854 and was expressed in this way in the papal Constitution Inneffabilis Deus:
“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 Saviour 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.”
When Our Lady appeared at Lourdes to Bernadette Soubirous four years later and Bernadette asked her, "Would you kindly tell me who you are?", she replied: "I am the Immaculate Conception".






"O Mary, Conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee"

Father,
You prepared the Virgin Mary to be the worthy mother of your son.
You let her share beforehand in the salvation Christ would bring by his death,
and kept her sinless from the first moment of her conception.
Help us by her prayers to live in your presence without sin.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

(Collect for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception)


You are the glory of Jerusalem! You are the joy of Israel! 
You are the highest honour of our race!
A sermon by St Anselm - O Virgin, by whose blessing all nature is blessed!

Blessed Lady, sky and stars, earth and rivers, day and night – everything that is subject to the power or use of man – rejoice that through you they are in some sense restored to their lost beauty and are endowed with inexpressible new grace. All creatures were dead, as it were, useless for men or for the praise of God, who made them. The world, contrary to its true destiny, was corrupted and tainted by the acts of men who served idols. Now all creation has been restored to life and rejoices that it is controlled and given splendour by men who believe in God.

The universe rejoices with new and indefinable loveliness. Not only does it feel the unseen presence of God himself, its Creator, it sees him openly, working and making it holy. These great blessings spring from the blessed fruit of Mary’s womb.

Through the fullness of the grace that was given you, dead things rejoice in their freedom, and those in heaven are glad to be made new. Through the Son who was the glorious fruit of your virgin womb, just souls who died before his life-giving death rejoice as they are freed from captivity, and the angels are glad at the restoration of their shattered domain.

Lady, full and overflowing with grace, all creation receives new life from your abundance. Virgin, blessed above all creatures, through your blessing all creation is blessed, not only creation from its Creator, but the Creator himself has been blessed by creation.

To Mary God gave his only-begotten Son, whom he loved as himself. Through Mary God made himself a Son, not different but the same, by nature Son of God and Son of Mary. The whole universe was created by God, and God was born of Mary. God created all things, and Mary gave birth to God. The God who made all things gave himself form through Mary, and thus he made his own creation. He who could create all things from nothing would not remake his ruined creation without Mary.

God, then, is the Father of the created world and Mary the mother of the re-created world. God is the Father by whom all things were given life, and Mary the mother through whom all things were given new life. For God begot the Son, through whom all things were made, and Mary gave birth to him as the Saviour of the world. Without God’s Son, nothing could exist; without Mary’s Son, nothing could be redeemed.

Truly the Lord is with you, to whom the Lord granted that all nature should owe as much to you as to himself.

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