We discuss with Fr. Mark Cyza the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary!
For more on the Immaculate Conception from St. John Paul II:
HOLY MASS ON THE OCCASION OF THE 150th ANNIVERSARY
OF THE DOGMA OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
HOMILY OF JOHN PAUL II
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Wednesday, 8 December 2004
- “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” (Lk 1: 28).
We address the Virgin Mary several times a day with these words of the Archangel Gabriel. Let us repeat them with fervent joy today, on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, remembering 8 December 1854 when Blessed Pius IX proclaimed this wonderful Dogma of the Catholic faith in this very same Vatican Basilica.
I cordially greet those who are gathered here today, especially the representatives of the National Mariological Societies who have taken part in the International Mariological Congress, organized by the Pontifical Marian Academy.
I then greet all of you present here, dear brothers and sisters, who have come to pay filial homage to the Immaculate Virgin. I offer a special greeting to Cardinal Camillo Ruini. I renew to him my warmest wishes for the jubilee of his ordination to the priesthood and express to him my deep gratitude for the service that with generous dedication he has and continues to render to the Church as my Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome and President of the Italian Bishops’ Conference.
- How great is the mystery of the Immaculate Conception that the Liturgy presents to us today! A mystery that never ceases to invite the contemplation of believers and inspires the reflection of theologians. The theme of the Congress that has just been mentioned: “Mary of Nazareth welcomes the Son of God into history”, has fostered a deep examination of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary as a presupposition for receiving in her virginal womb the Word of God Incarnate, the Saviour of the human race.
“Full of grace”, “κεχαριτωµευη”: in the original Greek of Luke’s Gospel, the Angel greets Mary with this title. It is the name that God, through his messenger, chose to use to describe the Virgin. This is how he had always seen and thought of her, ab aeterno (from all eternity).
- In the hymn of the Letter to the Ephesians just now proclaimed, the Apostle praises God the Father “who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (1: 3). What a special blessing God addressed to Mary from the beginning of time! Mary was truly blessed among women (cf. Lk 1: 42)!
The Father chose her in Christ before the creation of the world, so that she might be holy and immaculate before him in love, preordaining her as the first fruits of filial adoption through the work of Jesus Christ (cf. Eph 1: 4-5).
- The predestination of Mary, like that of each one of us, is linked to the predestination of the Son. Christ is that “seed” that was “to bruise the head” of the ancient serpent, according to the Book of Genesis (cf. Gn 3: 15); he is the Lamb “without blemish” (cf. Ex 12: 5; I Pt 1: 19), immolated to redeem humanity from sin.
With a view to the saving death of the Son, Mary, his Mother, was preserved free from original sin and from every other sin. The victory of the new Adam also includes that of the new Eve, Mother of the redeemed. The Immaculate Virgin is thus a sign of hope for all the living who have triumphed over Satan by the blood of the Lamb (cf. Rv 12: 11).
- Today let us contemplate the humble young girl of Nazareth, holy and blameless before God in love (cf. Eph 1: 4), in that “love” whose original source is God himself, one and triune.
How sublime an act of the Most Holy Trinity is the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of the Redeemer! Pius IX, in the Bull Ineffabilis Deus, recalls that the Almighty “by one and the same decree had established the origin of Mary and the Incarnation of divine Wisdom” (Pii IX Pontificis Maximi Acta, Pars prima, p. 559).
The Virgin’s “yes” to the announcement of the Angel fits into the reality of our earthly condition, with humble respect for the divine will to save humanity not from history but in history. Indeed, ever preserved free from all taint of original sin, the “new Eve” benefited uniquely from the work of Christ as the most perfect Mediator and Redeemer. The first to be redeemed by her Son, she shares to the full in his holiness; she is already what the entire Church desires and hopes to be. She is the eschatological icon of the Church.
- Consequently the Immaculate Virgin, who marks “the very beginning of the Church, Bride of Christ, without spot or wrinkle, shining with beauty” (Preface), always precedes the People of God in the pilgrimage of faith, bound for the Kingdom of Heaven (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 58; Redemptoris Mater, n. 2).
In Mary’s Immaculate Conception the Church sees projected and anticipated in her most noble member, the saving grace of Easter.
In the event of the Incarnation the Church encounters Christ and Mary indissolubly united: “he who is the Church’s Lord and Head and she who, uttering the first fiat of the New Covenant, prefigures the Church’s condition as spouse and mother” (Redemptoris Mater, n. 1).
- To you, Virgin Immaculate, predestined by God above every other creature to be the advocate of grace and model of holiness for his people, today in a special way I renew the entrustment of the whole Church.
May you guide your children on their pilgrimage of faith, making them ever more obedient and faithful to the Word of God.
May you accompany every Christian on the path of conversion and holiness, in the fight against sin and in the search for true beauty that is always an impression and a reflection of divine Beauty.
May you obtain peace and salvation for all the peoples. May the eternal Father, who desired you to be the immaculate Mother of the Redeemer, also renew in our time through you, the miracles of his merciful love. Amen!
Ninth Day – Holiness is Jesus Living and Acting in Me
Thought for the day:
“Charity for each other is the surest way to great holiness.”
Ask for the grace to become a saint.
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, you allowed the thirsting love of Jesus on the Cross to become a living flame within you, and so became the light of His love to all.
Obtain from the Heart of Jesus (here make your request).
Teach me to allow Jesus to penetrate and possess my whole being so completely that my life, too, may radiate His light and love to others. Amen.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, Cause of Our Joy, pray for me.
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, pray for me.
text © Missionaries of Charity
1. Discoveries about the tilma of the Virgin of Guadalupe Empress of America Andre Fernando Garcia click anywhere on page to continue
2. Would you like to read something that will not only surprise you, but change your way of thinking forever? Then, read what science has discovered about the tilma of the Virgin of Guadalupe:
3. 1. Ophthalmalgic studies made on the eyes of Mary detected that when the eye is exposed to light, the retina contracts, and when the light is withdrawn, it returns to a dilated state, just as happens with a living eye.
4. 2. The temperature of Juan Diego’s tilma, made of a material that comes from fibers of the maguey cactus, maintains a constant temperature of 98.6 degrees, the same as that of a living human body.
5. 3. One of the doctors who analyzed the tilma placed his stethoscope below the black band at Mary’s waist, and heard rhythmic beats at 115 pulses per minute, the same as that of a baby in the maternal womb.
6. 4. No sign of paint has been discovered on the tilma. From a distance of 3-4 inches from the image, one can see only the maguey cactus fibers of the material: the colors disappear. Scientific studies have not been able to discover the origin of the coloration, nor the way the image was painted. They cannot detect vestiges of brush strokes or any other known painting technique. NASA scientists confirm that the paint material does not belong to any known element on earth.
7. 5. When the material was examined under a laser ray, it was shown that there is no coloration on the front or the back of the cloth, and that the colors hover at a distance of 3/10 th of a millimeter (1/100 th of an inch) over the cloth, without touching it. The colors actually float above the surface of the tilma. Isn’t that amazing?
8. 6. The rough material of the tilma has a lifespan of no more than 20-30 years. Several centuries ago, a replica of the image was painted on an identical piece of maguey cloth, and it disintegrated after several decades. Nonetheless, during the almost 500 years of the miracle, the cloth with the image of Mary remains as strong as it was on the first day. Science cannot explain why the material has not disintegrated.
9. 7. In the year 1791, muriatic acid accidentally spilled on the upper right side of the tilma. During the period of 30 days, without any special treatment, the affected fabric re-constituted itself miraculously.
10. 8. The stars that appear on the Mantle of Mary reflect the exact configuration and positions that could be seen in the sky of Mexico on the day the miracle happened.
11. On the right side of the Virgin’s mantle, the southern constellations are indicated: At the top are four stars that form part of the Orphiuchus constellation. Below it to the left, one finds Libra , and to its right, at what seems an arrow point, is the beginning of Scorpio. In the middle are the constellations of Lupus and to its left, an end point of Hydra . Further down, one can clearly see the Southern Cross ; above it appears the slightly inclined square of the Centaurus constellation.
12. On the left side of the Virgin’s mantle one sees the northern constellations: At her shoulder, a fragment of the stars of the Herdsman constellation; below it and to the left is the Great Bear . To its right is Berenice’s Hair ; below it, Hunting Dogs , and to its left, the Thuban , which is the brightest star of the Draco constellation. Below the two parallel stars (which still form part of the Big Bear), one finds stars from another pair of constellations: the Auriga and at the bottom, three stars of Taurus . Thus, in their totality and proper places, the 46 most brilliant stars that can be seen on the horizon of the Valley of Mexico are identified.
13. 9. In the year 1921, a man concealed a high power bomb in a flower arrangement, and placed it at the feet of the tilma. The explosion destroyed everything around it, except for the tilma, which remained intact.
14. 10. Scientists discovered that the eyes of Mary have the three refractive characteristics of a human eye.
15. 11. In the eyes of Mary (only about 1/3 rd inch in size), miniscule human figures were discovered that no artist could have painted. The same scene is repeated in each eye. Using digital technology, the images in the eyes were enlarged many times, revealing that each eye reflected the figure of the Indian Juan Diego opening his tilma in front of Bishop Zumarraga. Do you know the size of this scene? One fourth of a millimeter (1/100 th of an inch).
16. It is evident that all these unexplainable things were given to us for a reason: To catch our attention. Have they caught yours?
17. To close, let us look at three surprising facts: 1. In the Indian language, “Guadalupe” means to “crush the head of the serpent.” It properly refers to Genesis 3:15: Mary, the conqueror of evil. 2. The image also depicts a detail from Apocalypse 12: “And a great sign appeared in Heaven: A woman clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet.” 3. The Virgin wears a black band at her waist, which symbolizes pregnancy, to indicate that God wanted Jesus to be born in the three Americas, in the heart of each American. “ While I live I will praise the Lord: I will sing praise unto my God while I have any being” (Ps 146:2).
18. This presentation has the single purpose of demonstrating to you that the Virgin will be with you always, whenever you need her, that she will never abandon you, and that you will always be her special son or daughter. Never forget the words she spoke to Juan Diego : My little child, the smallest of all, let nothing afflict you. Do you not know that you are in my lap? Am I not here, I, who am your mother?
“Life and Loss in the Shadow of the Holocaust: A Jewish Family’s Untold Story” is an eloquent telling of a family scattered over three continents by Nazi persecution. A heroic effort is undertaken by the authors, Rebecca Boehling and Uta Larkey on behalf the children of the generation subjected to the trauma presented in the book, to piece together the collective memory left by the Kaufmann-Steinberg family. Intriguing, as well as disturbing, this is a book that will stay with you for a long time. I came away from the read reminded once again never to take even the most ordinary moments in life for granted.
You can find the book here