Skip to comments.History of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception - December 8 [Catholic Caucus]
Posted on 12/08/2009 6:09:56 PM PST by NYer
For some time, there have been many ambiguities surrounding the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Some have confused this doctrine wit that of the virginal conception, the conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. However, today's feast commemorates the conception of Mary in the womb of Ann. Mary was given the exclusive privilege of being conceived in a state of perfect holiness. In preserving Mary immaculate, the Word of God prepared a dwelling place for himself. Jesus could not permit the forces of evil to have had even for one instant a grip on his mother; therefore, in Mary, there is no stain of sin.
This truth of the Immaculate Conception is intimately connected with the fall of Adam. Because of Adam, all of humanity was tainted (romans 12:18 and Ephesians 2:3). Mary was conceived in a state of holiness that belonged to Adam and Eve before their disobedience. In anticipation of the salvation which Christ was to give to humanity, Mary was exempted from the contamination brought in the world by Adam. Thus, she was the first of the redeemed.
from the fourth century, the Aramaic Fathers, such as Ephrem, clearly described the Immaculate Conception. Ephrem in his Carmina Nisibine proclaims
"There is in you, Lord, no stain, nor any spot in your mother. You Jesus and your mother are the only ones who are beautiful in all aspects. Because in you, O Lord, there is no deformation, and in your mother, there is no stain."
After the Council of Ephesus (431) where Mary was declared the Mother of God, Saint Proclus (466), the Patriarch of Constantinople, wrote that God made Mary without stain for himself.
From the eighth century in the East and the ninth century in the West, the Feast of the Conception of Mary was established and celebrated. Theologians then began to question why the feast was established and the meaning behind the celebration. They slowly came to the conclusion that the reason behind the feast is the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
Some great men, such as Bernard of Clairvaux and Thomas Aquinas, have asserted that Mary was conceived with original sin like any other human being, but was later sanctified in the womb of her mother. They were opposed, however, by the Franciscan, Duns Scotus.
During the twelfth century in the West - and even earlier in the East - the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception began to be asserted. The Dominicans declared themselves against the notion of the Immaculate Conception. The Franciscans subsequent to Duns Scotus defended that notion. They were later followed by the Carmelites, Augustinians and the University of Paris.
In 1476, Pope Sixtus IV encouraged the celebration of the feast and forbade the censure of anyone who declared Mary immaculate. The Council of Trent, while treating the universality of original sin, declared expressly that it did not intend to include the Mother of God in this assertion. The Council Fathers were thus implying that Mary was the only exception to this universal law, the only one conceived without original sin.
Pius V condemned Baius, who denied this privilege of Mary and defended the notion by instituting the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in 1568. In 1661, Alexander VII described Mary's exemption from sin in a way that prepared for the declaration of Pius IX in 1854.
Pius IX, in Ineffabilis Deus, on December 8, 1854, made the following dogmatic statement: "In the first instant of her conception by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God in consideration of the merits of Jesus Christ, savior of the human race, the Blessed Virgin Mary was preserved from all stain of original sin. This doctrine has been revealed by God and must therefore be believed by all the faithful."
The basis of the dogma is to be found in Sacred Scripture and the tradition described above.
Just as Jesus is described as the New Adam, Mary is the New Eve. Ephrem wrote:
"The two women were pure and simple, Mary and Eve. One of them, however, became the cause of our death and the other, the cause of our life. Eve, by hearing the word of the serpent conceived evil and brought death. Mary, by hearing the Word of God, conceived Jesus and brought life."
This dogma is prefigured in the Old Testament by the Ark of Noah floating above the waters which brought death and carrying life and the Word for mankind.
Both Jesus and Mary were promised at the fall, that they would triumph over evil and open a new paradise for mankind. "Then the Lord God said to the serpent ' ... I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike your head, while you strike at his heel.' " (Genesis 3:14-15)In the gospel accounts, Mary is greeted as "highly favored," "The Lord is with you," "blessed among women." (Luke 1:28) "You have found favor with God." (Luke 1:30) These texts demonstrate that while the truth of the dogma existed in this scripture itself, a certain evolution and unveiling of the dogma took place. Through the centuries the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, seen by many Fathers of the Church as a ray of sunlight through the clouds, was not clearly perceived by many because of our solidarity with Adam.
The Immaculate Conception is a sign of glory for Mary, the Mother of God. She calls us to struggle against the consequence of original sin and she is most compassionate towards us.
God, who was able to choose and fashion his mother according to his will, did not exempt her from poverty, humiliation, fatigue, suffering or even death. Therefore, in the eyes of God, the only tue evil is sin. God considers grace to be more important than riches, honor, and any other ambitious desires of the human heart. He does not give these "false goods" to his mother, but the state of grace. God finds this state of grace to be so attractive that he comes to abide in the womb of Mary as in his sanctuary and Paradise itself. We must reflect upon the importance of grace in our life and the true evil of sin which threatens us. We must always seek the grace of God in our lives and preserve it.
We know that Mary was an ocean of grace and beauty and that the ocean continually increased because of her love for God the Father, God her Son, and God her Spouse, the Holy Spirit. It is through this ocean that the salvific waters continue to be poured out upon us. Let he who is thirsty go and drink. The honor of the children comes from the nobility and dignity of the parents - what a privilege for us to have such a Mother!
Bernadette Soubirous was born in 1844, the first child of an extremely poor miller in the town of Lourdes in southern France. The family was living in the basement of a dilapidated building when on February 11,1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette in a cave above the banks of the Gave River near Lourdes. Bernadette, 14 years old, was known as a virtuous girl though a dull student who had not even made her first Holy Communion. In poor health, she had suffered from asthma from an early age.
There were 18 appearances in all, the final one occurring on the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, July 16. Although Bernadette's initial reports provoked skepticism, her daily visions of "the Lady" brought great crowds of the curious. The Lady, Bernadette explained, had instructed her to have a chapel built on the spot of the visions. There the people were to come to wash in and drink of the water of the spring that had welled up from the very spot where Bernadette had been instructed to dig.
According to Bernadette, the Lady of her visions was a girl of 16 or 17 who wore a white robe with a blue sash. Yellow roses covered her feet, a large rosary was on her right arm. In the vision on March 25 she told Bernadette, "I am the Immaculate Conception." It was only when the words were explained to her that Bernadette came to realize who the Lady was.
Few visions have ever undergone the scrutiny that these appearances of the Immaculate Virgin were subject to. Lourdes became one of the most popular Marian shrines in the world, attracting millions of visitors. Miracles were reported at the shrine and in the waters of the spring. After thorough investigation Church authorities confirmed the authenticity of the apparitions in 1862.
During her life Bernadette suffered much. She was hounded by the public as well as by civic officials until at last she was protected in a convent of nuns. Five years later she petitioned to enter the sisters of Notre Dame. After a period of illness she was able to make the journey from Lourdes and enter the novitiate. But within four months of her arrival she was given the last rites of the Church and allowed to profess her vows. She recovered enough to become infirmarian and then sacristan, but chronic health problems persisted. She died on April 16, 1879, at the age of 35.
She was canonized in 1933.
Informative post for the uninitiated. Thanks
The Koran states there are two People born without Original sin. Jesus christ and His mother Mary! Mary is well respected in the Middle East it is Common for muslims to enter Catholic mass go the the Statue of Mary and Kiss her feet and then leave. Mother Mary is mentioned like 56 times in the Koran and less than 10 times in the Bible.
Louis de Montfort is the best to appreciate Mary
Interesting ... I was not aware of the number of references to Mary in Qu’uran. As for St. Louis de Montfort, you are absolutely right. Awesome material for reflection.
Baptists don’t believe in this. How is their interpretation different? Just curious.
To gain an understanding of this doctrine, one must begin with Scripture - that is something Baptists and Catholics both agree upon. When he angel Gabriel greeted Mary, he said, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you" (Luke 1:28). The phrase "full of grace" is a translation of the Greek word kecharitomene. It therefore expresses a characteristic quality of Mary.
The traditional translation, "full of grace," is better than the one found in many recent versions of the New Testament, which give something along the lines of "highly favored daughter." Mary was indeed a highly favored daughter of God, but the Greek implies more than that (and it never mentions the word for "daughter"). The grace given to Mary is at once permanent and of a unique kind. Kecharitomene is a perfect passive participle of charitoo, meaning "to fill or endow with grace." Since this term is in the perfect tense, it indicates that Mary was graced in the past but with continuing effects in the present. So, the grace Mary enjoyed was not a result of the angels visit. In fact, Catholics hold, it extended over the whole of her life, from conception onward. She was in a state of sanctifying grace from the first moment of her existence.
Thanks for the ping and question. Hope this response clarifies things a little bit for you.
It is not only Baptists who do not believe this. I am a Lutheran pastor and do not believe this. The teaching as it shows in the article has evolved. “...all men, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin.” Rom. 3:9 Mary herself acknowledged this in her ‘low estate’ and completely points to the holiness of God her Savior and not to any holiness in her.Lk. 146-56
The universal feast of the Immaculate Conception was celebrated by the Church since at least the 16th century and the dogma was declared by Pope Pius IX in Ineffabilis Deus on Dec. 8th 1854. This was several years before the apparitions of the Immaculate Conception to St. Bernadette at Lourdes (1858).
Most interesting is that the east has a version of the Dogma that predates the west's acceptance of the revelation.
I haven’t read this yet, but it looks wonderful. Thanks.
Once I learned that Islam honors the Blessed Mother (even if not by that name) I believed that her intercession is key to their conversion; eventually I came to believe that their conversion is the only solution to the assault on mankind of radical islam; that fact that such conversion is the occasion of much tribulation for the one converting makes me believe it even more.
Ave Maria. I am so grateful to you for all you have done and do for our salvation.
That is not surprising; both denominations are post Reformation. Had the Reformation been fruitful, there would be one Church. Instead, we have tens of thousands of churches that claim to be christian. Christ wanted us to be one (John 17:22-23). We are all as a Church to be of one mind and to think the same (Philippians 2:2; Romans 15:5). There is only to be one "faith" (Ephesians 4:3-6), not many. For the Church is Christ's Body and Christ only had one Body, not many. Also, since the Church is Christ's Bride (Ephesians 5:29), can Christ be married to more than one wife (essentially a spiritual form of the the sin of polygamy)? No, Christ can only have one wife (i.e., one Church, not many).
Hi philly-d-kidder,Nice to see you:)
Litany of the Saints
That number keeps deflating, I see - and we're back to "churches" again! "Had the Reformation been fruitful"...and in a Catholic Caucus post, no less.
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