Monday, December 7, 2020

Immaculate Conception of Mary Explained : Solemnity of the Sinless Conception of the Virgin Mary Celebrated on December 8th - VIDEO

On December 8th the Catholic Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in her mother's womb. The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is found in the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December, 1854, when 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 was subject of this immunity from original sin. It is the person of Mary at the moment of the creation of her soul and its infusion into her body. " 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. " 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 

LISTEN to a Hauntingly Beautiful Ancient Hymn by St. Ambrose for Advent "Come, Redeemer of the Nations" mentioned by St. Augustine

St. Ambrose, bishop of Milan, in 374, found a liturgy in use which tradition associates with St. Barnabas. He composed some of the very first hymns used by the Church. This particular hymn "Veni, redemptor gentium" in Latin was translated to "O come, Redeemer of the Nations." St. Augustine who was baptized by St. Ambrose mentions this hymn. It was later translated to the German, "Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland" which is a Lutheran chorale of 1524 with words written by Martin Luther, based on "Veni redemptor gentium".
Full Lyrics of the Advent hymn for the Office of the Readings for the octave before Christmas.
Veni, redemptor gentium,
ostende partum Virginis;
miretur omne saeculum:
talis decet partus Deum.
O Come, Redeemer of the earth,
and manifest thy virgin-birth.
Let every age in wonder fall:
such birth befits the God of all.
Non ex virili semine,
sed mystico spiramine
Verbum Dei factum est caro
fructusque ventris floruit.
Begotten of no human will
but of the Spirit, Thou art still
the Word of God in flesh arrayed,
the promised fruit to man displayed.
Alvus tumescit Virginis,
claustrum pudoris permanet,
vexilla virtutum micant,
versatur in templo Deus.
The Virgin's womb that burden gained,
its virgin honor still unstained.
The banners there of virtue glow;
God in his temple dwells below.
Procedat e thalamo suo,
pudoris aula regia,
geminae gigas substantiae
alacris ut currat viam.
Proceeding from His chamber free
that royal home of purity
a giant in twofold substance one,
rejoicing now His course to run.
Aequalis aeterno Patri,
carnis tropaeo cingere,
infirma nostri corporis
virtute firmans perpeti.
O equal to the Father, Thou!
gird on Thy fleshly mantle now;
the weakness of our mortal state
with deathless might invigorate.
Praesepe iam fulget tuum
lumenque nox spirat novum,
quod nulla nox interpolet
fideque iugi luceat.
Thy cradle here shall glitter bright,
and darkness breathe a newer light
where endless faith shall shine serene
and twilight never intervene.
Sit, Christe, rex piissime,
tibi Patrique gloria
cum Spiritu Paraclito,
in sempiterna saecula. Amen.
All praise, eternal Son, to Thee,
whose advent sets Thy people free,
whom, with the Father, we adore,
and Holy Ghost, for evermore. Amen.

Latin from the Liturgia Horarum. Translation by J. M. Neale (1818-1866).

Court in Switzerland Allows Religious Gatherings to Resume after Suspension of Worship Ban to Uphold Religious Freedom

Legal challenge filed against Geneva ban on religious services and most religious events
Constitutional Chamber suspends ban and takes first step to uphold religious freedom in “human rights capital”
ADFI Release:
GENEVA (4 December 2020) – Geneva’s total ban on religious services and events has been suspended by the Swiss Constitutional Chamber of the Canton of Geneva. The court has yet to decide whether the ban is a violation of the right to freedom of religion after a group of concerned citizens filed a legal challenge against it. While the suspension does not serve as a final decision, it indicates that the ban is not proportionate and means that religious services and gatherings are now permitted until a final judgment is handed down. The Chamber indicated that the likelihood of the case ultimately succeeding is “high or very high.”  

“The suspension of the ban until the court makes a final decision is a significant step in the right direction. This ban is a serious violation of the fundamental rights Switzerland is committed to protect in a number of international human rights agreements. Religious freedom is a fundamental human right and governments seeking to restrict it carry the burden of proving the restriction is truly necessary and that a less restrictive approach would not work. Favouring commercial establishments over religious services is not only discriminatory but ignores the robust protection that exists in national and international law for religious freedom,” said Jennifer Lea, Legal Counsel for ADF International, a global human rights group with offices in Geneva that supported the case. 

Ban is threat to religious freedom 

Several religious communities have shown their support for the lawsuit challenging Geneva’s total ban on religious services and events. The regulation is part of Geneva’s COVID-19 measures. It bans all religious gatherings except small funerals and weddings. While religious services are banned, other public gatherings are allowed to take place such as demonstrations and professional choir practices. 

The ban is the only and first of its kind in Switzerland and most of Europe. Similar blanket bans on religious services have been overturned in Germany and in France while in other countries governments and religious groups have worked together to find workable approaches. The legal challenge filed in Geneva has won public support from Jewish and Christian communities. 

“Restrictions on fundamental rights must always be proportionate and proven to be truly necessary. Given that other public gatherings are still permitted, we do not see the proportionality of this restriction – it targets religious groups in a discriminatory way. That is why we decided to challenge it in court. We are hopeful that the courts will ultimately recognize this as a violation of fundamental rights and that a solution will be found that protects the rights of all citizens of Switzerland and sets a good benchmark for the rest of Europe,” said Dr. Samuel Sommaruga, on whose behalf the lawsuit was filed. 

Steve Alder, the Geneva-based lawyer who filed the case said, “Switzerland has a good track record in protecting the religious freedom of its citizens. It is a poster child of democracy and human rights. That makes it all the more worrying to see a total ban on all religious gatherings and events in such a drastic form. It is one of the broadest bans of its kind in Switzerland and most of Europe where similar bans have been successfully challenged. Enforcing it is a violation of the right to freedom of religion as protected in the Swiss Constitution and by international human rights standards. It disproportionately targets the activities of religious groups over commercial activities. With multiple religious groups in Geneva voicing their concerns over the disproportionality of the ban, we hope that the authorities will ultimately agree on a solution that protects everyone’s right to practise their religion in line with international law. The suspension of the ban is a welcome step in this direction.”  

Catholic Bishops of Australia Announce Joint Safeguarding Agency to Ensure Protection from Abuse

New national Catholic safeguarding agency established
The Catholic Church has established a new company to oversee all safeguarding, child protection
and professional standards in Australia, creating a more focused and streamlined model.
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) and the Association of
Ministerial PJPs (AMPJP) have today launched Australian Catholic Safeguarding Limited.
“We have discerned what was working well and what needed to change, and we are convinced this
new national agency will make the Church’s work more coordinated, accountable and best prepared
to ensure the safety of people in Catholic settings,” CRA president Br Peter Carroll FMS said.
Australian Catholic Safeguarding Limited will reduce duplication and consolidate work previously
undertaken by Catholic Professional Standards Limited, the Implementation Advisory Group and the
Australian Catholic Centre for Professional Standards.
Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge said multiple reviews and extensive
consultation within and beyond the Church, including with survivors and their supporters, have led
to the establishment of Australian Catholic Safeguarding Limited.
“The work of safeguarding and professional standards is constantly evolving, including through
important and necessary state regulation and oversight. We in the Church knew we had to evolve as
well, which has brought us to this point and to this new agency,” he said.
“Australian Catholic Safeguarding Limited will build on the strong work of the previous bodies,
including in demanding accountability of Catholic entities and in requiring independent audits and
reviews of adherence to the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards.”
Archbishop Coleridge said insights and recommendations from the Royal Commission into
Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse have also shaped the new approach. Some of the
bodies ceasing operation were established before or during the Royal Commission.
Eva Skira, the chair of AMPJP, said the members of the Association – canonical stewards of Church
ministries, including in education, health, aged care, disability and social and community services –
were supportive of the consolidated national approach.
“While Ministerial Public Juridic Persons as an ecclesial structure are relatively new and emerging,
we are deeply committed to child protection and safeguarding in our various contexts,” she said.
“We are very pleased to be collaborators with the Bishops Conference and CRA, which have made
significant progress in recent years.”
Said Br Peter: “AMPJP’s membership of Australian Catholic Safeguarding Limited extends the impact
of the company across an even broader range of Catholic ministries.
“Our focus must always be on the safety of all those who come into contact with the Church.”
More information on Australian Catholic Safeguarding Limited can be found here:

Vatican Announces Historic Visit of Pope Francis to Iraq in March 2021 in His 1st Trip after the Pandemic

The Vatican has announced that Pope Francis will visit Iraq, for his first Apostolic Journey in 15 months.
Pope Francis will make an Apostolic Journey to Iraq on 5-8 March 2021, visiting Baghdad, the plain of Ur, Mosul, and Qaraqosh.
Vatican News. va release: By Devin Watkins
Pope Francis is set to break a 15-month hiatus from international travel with what is sure to be a historic visit to the Middle Eastern nation of Iraq.
The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, announced the news on Monday, adding that the Pope had accepted the invitation of the Republic of Iraq and the local Catholic Church.
It will be an Apostolic Journey covering four days and four Iraqi provinces.
According to the Press Office statement, “He will visit Baghdad, the plain of Ur, linked to the memory of Abraham, the city of Erbil, as well as Mosul and Qaraqosh in the plain of Nineveh.”
The Pope’s itinerary will be released at a later date, and will “take into consideration the evolution of the worldwide health emergency.”
Long-held desire
Pope Francis has long expressed his desire to visit Iraq.
Already on 10 June 2019 he told a meeting of Catholic aid agencies that he planned on traveling there in 2020.
“I think constantly of Iraq – where I want to go next year – in the hope that it can face the future through the peaceful and shared pursuit of the common good on the part of all elements of society, including the religious, and not fall back into hostilities sparked by the simmering conflicts of the regional powers.”

The Pope’s visit will come as the realization of a dream of his predecessor, Pope St. John Paul II. The Polish Pope had planned to travel to Iraq at the end of 1999. That trip never took place because Saddam Hussein decided to postpone it, after months of negotiations.
According to Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Pope Francis will receive an enthusiastic welcome to Iraq.
He told SIR news agency a year ago that “everyone in Iraq, Christians and Muslims, esteem him[Pope Francis] for his simplicity and nearness. His words touch everyone’s hearts because they are those of a shepherd. He is a man who brings peace.”
Preserving Christians presence
Preparations for Pope Francis’ visit seemed to be nearing completion early this year, when he met the President of Iraq, Barham Salih, at an audience in the Vatican on 25 January.
The Holy See Press Office said at the time that the two spoke about “preserving the historical presence of Christians in the country” and “highlighting the need to guarantee their security and a place in the future of Iraq.”
Amid difficult times
Christians’ presence in Iraq, however, has been drastically diminished in the past two decades.
In 2003, before a US-led coalition invaded to depose Saddam Hussein, there were around 1 to 1.4 million Christians in the country.
A drawn-out war and the 2014-2017 occupation of the Plain of Nineveh by the so-called Islamic State reduced their number to between 300 and 400 thousand.
Iraq’s president and prime minister have often invited Christians who have fled the country to return and help rebuild the nation.
Hope springs eternal
Yet, the dream of recovery has been impeded by an economic crisis, corruption, and the plight of 1.7 million internally displaced people.
UNICEF, the UN children’s aid agency, estimates that some 4 million Iraqis require humanitarian assistance, of whom half are children. Add in the Covid-19 pandemic and the situation remains dire in a country of over 38 million people.
In that context, Pope Francis’ visit to Iraq in the Spring will surely bring a breath of fresh hope to this long-suffering nation, as Cardinal Sako himself told Vatican News after Monday's announcement.