Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Saint December 8 : Immaculate Conception of Mary : Solemnity


The doctrine
In the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December, 1854, Pius IX pronounced and defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary "in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin."
"The Blessed Virgin Mary..."
The subject of this immunity from original sin is the person of Mary at the moment of the creation of her soul and its infusion into her body. "...in the first instance of her conception..."
The term conception does not mean the active or generative conception by her parents. Her body was formed in the womb of the mother, and the father had the usual share in its formation. The question does not concern the immaculateness of the generative activity of her parents. Neither does it concern the passive conception absolutely and simply (conceptio seminis carnis, inchoata), which, according to the order of nature, precedes the infusion of the rational soul. The person is truly conceived when the soul is created and infused into the body. Mary was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin at the first moment of her animation, and sanctifying grace was given to her before sin could have taken effect in her soul.
"...was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin..."
The formal active essence of original sin was not removed from her soul, as it is removed from others by baptism; it was excluded, it never was in her soul. Simultaneously with the exclusion of sin. The state of original sanctity, innocence, and justice, as opposed to original sin, was conferred upon her, by which gift every stain and fault, all depraved emotions, passions, and debilities, essentially pertaining to original sin, were excluded. But she was not made exempt from the temporal penalties of Adam — from sorrow, bodily infirmities, and death. "...by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race."
The immunity from original sin was given to Mary by a singular exemption from a universal law through the same merits of Christ, by which other men are cleansed from sin by baptism. Mary needed the redeeming Saviour to obtain this exemption, and to be delivered from the universal necessity and debt (debitum) of being subject to original sin. The person of Mary, in consequence of her origin from Adam, should have been subject to sin, but, being the new Eve who was to be the mother of the new Adam, she was, by the eternal counsel of God and by the merits of Christ, withdrawn from the general law of original sin. Her redemption was the very masterpiece of Christ's redeeming wisdom. He is a greater redeemer who pays the debt that it may not be incurred than he who pays after it has fallen on the debtor. Such is the meaning of the term "Immaculate Conception."
Proof from Scripture
Genesis 3:15
No direct or categorical and stringent proof of the dogma can be brought forward from Scripture. But the first scriptural passage which contains the promise of the redemption, mentions also the Mother of the Redeemer. The sentence against the first parents was accompanied by the Earliest Gospel (Proto-evangelium), which put enmity between the serpent and the woman: "and I will put enmity between thee and the woman and her seed; she (he) shall crush thy head and thou shalt lie in wait for her (his) heel" (Genesis 3:15). The translation "she" of the Vulgate is interpretative; it originated after the fourth century, and cannot be defended critically. The conqueror from the seed of the woman, who should crush the serpent's head, is Christ; the woman at enmity with the serpent is Mary. God puts enmity between her and Satan in the same manner and measure, as there is enmity between Christ and the seed of the serpent. Mary was ever to be in that exalted state of soul which the serpent had destroyed in man, i.e. in sanctifying grace. Only the continual union of Mary with grace explains sufficiently the enmity between her and Satan. The Proto-evangelium, therefore, in the original text contains a direct promise of the Redeemer, and in conjunction therewith the manifestation of the masterpiece of His Redemption, the perfect preservation of His virginal Mother from original sin.
Luke 1:28
The salutation of the angel Gabriel — chaire kecharitomene, Hail, full of grace (Luke 1:28) indicates a unique abundance of grace, a supernatural, godlike state of soul, which finds its explanation only in the Immaculate Conception of Mary. But the term kecharitomene (full of grace) serves only as an illustration, not as a proof of the dogma.
Other texts
From the texts Proverbs 8 and Ecclesiasticus 24 (which exalt the Wisdom of God and which in the liturgy are applied to Mary, the most beautiful work of God's Wisdom), or from the Canticle of Canticles (4:7, "Thou art all fair, O my love, and there is not a spot in thee"), no theological conclusion can be drawn. These passages, applied to the Mother of God, may be readily understood by those who know the privilege of Mary, but do not avail to prove the doctrine dogmatically, and are therefore omitted from the Constitution "Ineffabilis Deus". For the theologian it is a matter of conscience not to take an extreme position by applying to a creature texts which might imply the prerogatives of God. Proof from Tradition
In regard to the sinlessness of Mary the older Fathers are very cautious: some of them even seem to have been in error on this matter.
Origen, although he ascribed to Mary high spiritual prerogatives, thought that, at the time of Christ's passion, the sword of disbelief pierced Mary's soul; that she was struck by the poniard of doubt; and that for her sins also Christ died (Origen, "In Luc. hom. xvii"). In the same manner St. Basil writes in the fourth century: he sees in the sword, of which Simeon speaks, the doubt which pierced Mary's soul (Epistle 260).
St. Chrysostom accuses her of ambition, and of putting herself forward unduly when she sought to speak to Jesus at Capharnaum (Matthew 12:46; Chrysostom, Homily 44 on Matthew). But these stray private opinions merely serve to show that theology is a progressive science. If we were to attempt to set forth the full doctrine of the Fathers on the sanctity of the Blessed Virgin, which includes particularly the implicit belief in the immaculateness of her conception, we should be forced to transcribe a multitude of passages. In the testimony of the Fathers two points are insisted upon: her absolute purity and her position as the second Eve (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:22).
Mary as the second Eve
This celebrated comparison between Eve, while yet immaculate and incorrupt — that is to say, not subject to original sin — and the Blessed Virgin is developed by:
Justin (Dialogue with Trypho 100),
Irenaeus (Against Heresies III.22.4), Tertullian (On the Flesh of Christ 17), Julius Firmicus Maternus (De errore profan. relig xxvi), Cyril of Jerusalem (Catecheses 12.29), Epiphanius (Hæres., lxxviii, 18), Theodotus of Ancyra (Or. in S. Deip n. 11), and Sedulius (Carmen paschale, II, 28).
Shared from the Catholic Encyclopedia

#PopeFrancis "Hope alone gives a smile : it is the smile fo the hope of finding God" #Audience FULL TEXT - Video


Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Today we begin a new series of catecheses, on the theme of Christian hope. It is very important, because hope does not disappoint. Optimism disappoints, but not hope! We are in such need of it, in these times that seem dark, in which sometimes we feel lost in face of the evil and violence that surround us, in face of the pain of so many of our brothers. We need hope! We feel lost and also somewhat discouraged, because we feel impotent and it seems that this darkness will never end.
However, we must not let hope abandon us, because God walks with us with His love. “I hope because God is by my side: all of us can say this. Each one of us can say: “I hope, I have hope, because God walks with me.” He walks and leads me by the hand. God does not leave us alone. The Lord Jesus has overcome evil and opened to us the way of life.
And then, particularly in this Season of Advent, which is the time of expectation, in which we prepare ourselves to receive once again the consoling mystery of the Incarnation and the light of Christmas, it is important to reflect on hope. Let us allow ourselves to be taught by the Lord what it means to hope. Therefore, we listen to the words of Sacred Scripture, beginning with the prophet Isaiah, the great prophet of Advent, the great messenger of hope.
In the second part of his Book, Isaiah addresses the people with a proclamation of consolation: “Comfort, give comfort to my people,
says your God. Speak to the heart of Jerusalem, and proclaim to her
that her service has ended, that her guilt is expiated, That she has received from the hand of the LORD double for all her sins. A voice proclaims: In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Every valley shall be lifted up, every mountain and hill made low; The rugged land shall be a plain, the rough country, a broad valley.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together;
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
God the Father consoles by arousing consolers, to whom He asks to hearten the people, His children, proclaiming that the warfare is ended, sorrow is ended, and sin is pardoned. This is what heals the afflicted and fearful heart. Therefore, the prophet asks to prepare the way of the Lord, opening oneself to His gifts of salvation.
For the people, consolation begins with the possibility to walk on the way of God, a new way, straightened and passable, a way to prepare in the desert, so that one can go across it and return to the homeland. Because the people the prophet was addressing was living the tragedy of the exile in Babylon, and now, instead, it hears it said that it will be able to return to its land, through a way made easy and wide, without valleys and mountains that make the way exhausting, a way leveled in the desert. Therefore, to prepare that way means to prepare a way of salvation and of liberation from every obstacle and hindrance.
The exile was a dramatic moment in the history of Israel, when the people had lost everything. The people had lost their homeland, freedom, dignity and even their trust in God. They felt abandoned and without hope. Instead, see the prophet’s appeal, which reopens their heart to faith. The desert is a place in which it is difficult to live, but precisely there is where they will be able to walk to return, not only to their homeland but also to God, and to hope and to smile again. When we are in darkness, in difficulties, we cannot smile and it is, in fact, hope that teaches us to smile to find that way that leads to God. One of the first things that happen to persons who are tired of God is that they are persons without a smile. Perhaps they are able to have a great laugh, they do so one after another, a beat, a laugh … but a smile is lacking! Hope alone gives a smile: it is the smile of the hope of finding God. 
Life is often a desert, it is difficult to walk in it, but if we entrust ourselves to God it can become beautiful and wide as a highway. Suffice it never to lose hope, suffice it to continue to believe, always, despite all. When we find ourselves before a child, perhaps we might have many problems and many difficulties, but a smile comes to us from within, because we find ourselves before hope: a child is a hope! And so we must be able to see in life the way of hope, which leads us to find God, God who became a Child for us — and it will make us smile, it will give us all!
In fact, these words of Isaiah are later used by John the Baptist in his preaching, which invites to conversion. He said thus: “The voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare the way of the Lord” (Matthew 3:3). It is a voice that cries where it seems that no one is able to hear — but who can hear in the desert? — that cries in the loss due to the crisis of faith. We cannot deny that today’s world is in a crisis of faith. One says ”I believe in God, I am Christian” – “I am of that religion …” But your life is very far from being Christian; it is very far from God! Religion, faith has fallen in an expression: “Do I believe?” – “Yes!” However, here it is about turning to God, converting the heart to God and of going on this way to find Him. He awaits us. This is John the Baptist’s preaching: to prepare. To prepare the encounter with this Child who will give us back a smile. When the Baptist proclaims the coming of Jesus, for the Israelites it was as if they were still in exile, because they were under Roman domination, making them strangers in their own homeland, governed by powerful occupants who decided their life. However, the true history is not that made up of the powerful but rather that made by God together with His little ones. The true history – that which will remain in eternity – is that which God writes with His little ones: God with Mary, God with Jesus, God with Joseph, God with the little ones. Those little and simple ones that we find around Jesus about to be born: Zechariah and Elizabeth, elderly marked by sterility; Mary, young virgin girl betrothed bride of Joseph, the shepherds held in contempt, accounted as nothing. It is the little ones, made great by their faith, the little ones who are able to continue to hope. And hope is the virtue of little ones. The great, the satisfied do not know hope’ thy do not know what it is.
It is the little ones with God, with Jesus that transform the desert of exile, of desperate loneliness, of suffering into a level way on which to walk to go to encounter the glory of the Lord. And we come, therefore, to allowing ourselves to be taught hope. Let us wait confidently for the coming of the Lord and no matter what the desert is of our lives – each one knows in what desert he walks — it will become a flowering garden. Hope does not disappoint!
[Original text: Italian] [Working Translation by ZENIT]
In Italian  
I give a warm welcome to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. I greet the Missionaries of Charity; the Love and Freedom Community; the Aphasic Community of Puglia and the artists of the 24th edition of the Christmas Concert promoted by the “Don Bosco in the World” Foundation. Dear brothers and sisters, I exhort you to cultivate in every circumstance of life the theological virtue of hope, gift of God, who with His tenderness does not cease to console His people.
A special greeting goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. The Liturgical Season of Advent is an occasion of special grace to reflect on our journey to encounter the Lord. May the Virgin Mary, whose Immaculate Conception we will celebrate tomorrow, be the model for interior preparation for Christmas, so that each one’s heart becomes a cradle to receive the Son of God, face of the Father’s mercy, with the listening of His word, with works of fraternal charity and with prayer.
[Original text: Italian] [Working Translation by ZENIT]
The Holy Father’s Appeal
In the forthcoming days, two important Days will be observed, promoted by the United Nations: that against corruption — December 9 — and that for human rights — December 10 –. They are two closely linked realities: corruption is the negative aspect to combat, beginning from one’s personal conscience and watching over realms of civil life, especially those that are most at risk; human rights are the positive aspect, to be promoted with ever renewed determination, so that no one is excluded from effective recognition of the fundamental rights of the human person. May the Lord support you in this twofold commitment.
[Original text: Italian] [Working Translation by ZENIT

Today's Mass Readings and Video : Wed. December 7, 2016


Memorial of Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 183


Reading 1IS 40:25-31

To whom can you liken me as an equal?
says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high
and see who has created these things:
He leads out their army and numbers them,
calling them all by name.
By his great might and the strength of his power
not one of them is missing!
Why, O Jacob, do you say,
and declare, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD,
and my right is disregarded by my God”?

Do you not know
or have you not heard?
The LORD is the eternal God,
creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint nor grow weary,
and his knowledge is beyond scrutiny.
He gives strength to the fainting;
for the weak he makes vigor abound.
Though young men faint and grow weary,
and youths stagger and fall,
They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength,
they will soar as with eagles’ wings;
They will run and not grow weary,
walk and not grow faint.

Responsorial PsalmPS 103:1-2, 3-4, 8 AND 10

R. (1) O bless the Lord, my soul!
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. O bless the Lord, my soul!
He pardons all your iniquities,
he heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
he crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. O bless the Lord, my soul!
Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
slow to anger and abounding in kindness.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.
R. O bless the Lord, my soul!

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Behold, the Lord comes to save his people;
blessed are those prepared to meet him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelMT 11:28-30

Jesus said to the crowds:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”