Saturday, December 8, 2018

solemnity of the immaculate conception

Genesis, Chapter 31, verse 31
Jacob answered Laban, 'I was afraid, thinking you were going to snatch your daughters from me.

According to Kabalistic sources[1] Laban was a powerful man.  Laban was a magi and the whole world feared him. Jacob feared him too, and that was why he fled from Laban in the middle of the night with his wives Rachel and Leah. Laban had cheated Jacob many times but in spite of Laban’s sly tricks God had ensured that Jacob prospered. Jacob feared Laban but when the Lord said to him, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, I will be with you”, he did so, but in secret. It is natural to fear powerful men or women who can do us grave harm. What does a person do who finds themselves afraid of powerful, selfish and perhaps evil people? Naturally your choices are you can either fight, run, do nothing, come to a compromise or grow by developing a third alternative as described by the late Dr. Steven Covey[2]. That is to come to a solution that is better than Jacob or Laban in this example, could have come up on their own.  In this case God intervened for Jacob by coming to Laban in a dream warning him not to harm Jacob and as a result both Laban and Jacob came up with a solution that was better than they separately had in mind; and parted as friends. Next time you are faced with fear; resist the temptation to react in the classic fight or flight method and try to discover a way for everyone to win. That is not always possible but that should be your goal.

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception[3]

Mary who was conceived without sin on the Feast day of the Immaculate Conception is our example of courage in the presence of God and His angels.  Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.  (Luke 1:30-31)

ON this and the following eight days the Church celebrates, with particular solemnity, the immaculate conception of the ever-blessed Virgin Mary, who, from all eternity, was chosen to be the daughter of the heavenly Father, the spouse of the Holy Ghost, the Mother of the divine Redeemer, and, by consequence, the queen of angels and of men. The consideration of these prerogatives convinced the most enlightened fathers and teachers of the Catholic Church that she was conceived immaculate, that is, without original sin. It is very remarkable that among the shining hosts of saints who have, in every century, adorned the Church no one wrote against this belief, while we find it confirmed by the decisions of the holy fathers from the earliest times. Pope Pius IX., forced, as it were, by the faith and devotion of the faithful throughout the world, finally, on December 8, 1854, sanctioned, as a dogma of faith falling within the infallible rule of Catholic traditions, this admirable prerogative of the Blessed Virgin. It is, therefore, now no longer, as formerly, a pious belief, but an article of the faith, that Mary, like the purest morning light which precedes the rising of the most brilliant sun, was, from the first instant of her conception, free from original sin.

Immaculate Conception Facts[4]

·         God gave Mary a pure soul incapable of sinning when she was received.  It prepared her to be the mother of Jesus Christ, the Messiah.  This teaching does not appear in Scripture.  It was decreed by Pope Pious IX on December 8, 1854.
·         Our Holy Lady Immaculately Conceived is the patroness for the United States - as decreed by Pope Pius IX in 1854.
·         Our Mother Mary is full of beauty because she is full of grace. - Pope Francis via twitter on Dec 30, 2013.
·         The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin. - Catechism of the Catholic Church

Immaculate Conception Top Events and Things to Do

·         Go to Mass.  It is a holy day of obligation for Roman Catholic in the United States.
·         Study the Immaculate Conception in art.  One famous painting, The Virgin of the Immaculate Conception was completed by Spanish artist Bartolome Esteban Murillo in the 17th century.  It hangs in the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.
·         Watch the movie, Mary of Nazareth (2013)

More Things to Do[5]

·         The dogma of the Immaculate Conception lends itself to fruitful meditation and should be taught to children. The doctrine of original sin, the sin of Adam and its effects on the human race, is a good beginning for study. For the best explanation of the teachings of the Church on this, see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, numbers 386-412. Also you might read Pope Piux IX's bull, Ubi Primum (On The Immaculate Conception) proclaiming the Immaculate Conception as a dogma of Faith. Other reading from the Catholic Culture Library:
o    Immaculate Conception Defined by Pius IX by Pope John Paul II;
o    John Duns Scotus: Champion of the Immaculate Conception by Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.;
o    The Message of the Virgin of Lourdes by Bishop Donald Montrose, D.D.;
o    The Immaculate Conception by Abbot Gueranger
·         Mary as the Immaculate Conception is the patroness of the United States. Visit or take a virtual tour of the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, America's patronal church.
·         This day would also be appropriate for parents to plan their approach on family sex education, as it is the privilege and duty of parents to teach their own children in this area.
·         Make a Mary candle for the feast of the Immaculate Conception. See Celebrating for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception for details and other ideas.
·         Prepare an all white meal for dinner and then discuss with your children the dogma of the Immaculate Conception with the visual aids of dinner showing the purity and the stainlessness of Mary's soul. Read Teaching the Immaculate Conception and Advent and the Immaculate Conception for discussion ideas.

Ideas for dinner:

Appetizers: Rice crackers and white cheeses;
Soups: cream soups, such as clam chowder, pototo soup, cream of celery;
Main Course: chicken breasts, pasta with alfredo sauce;
Side Dishes: mashed potatoes, white rice, cauliflower with (or without) white cheese sauce, white bread (with crusts removed), white corn;
Dessert: White cake with white icing, meringue kisses, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, white chocolate.

·         The special treat for this feast is Moravian Spritz, or gingerbread cookies, loaded with fine, aromatic spices. These are mixed on the vigil, December 7. Or make your favorite gingerbread cookie. Perhaps for this solemnity the family could make a gingerbread house or Gingerbread Bowls.
·         Today, plant an Immaculate Conception Rose Bush. During this winter season, it is also a good time to plan a Mary Garden. Flower Theology by John Stokes, the website Mary's Gardens and the book Mary's Flowers, Gardens, Legends and Meditations by Mary's Gardens Associate, Vincenzina Krymow, are good beginnings for planning your garden.
·         No room for a garden? No time to nurture nature? Read Flowers for the Fairest by Daniel Foley to read about flowers appropriate for Our Lady, and purchase a small bouquet or a few flowers...real or silk to display for feasts of Mary.

Darkest Hour[6]

Mary as the new Eve is an essential part of God’s redemptive plan bringing light to a dark world.

The season of Advent is about preparing to celebrate the birth of our redeemer. God in his love has chosen us, predestined us to be his children and then in the fullness of time, redeemed us.

These are our darkest afternoons. But, surprise! For most of us, December 8, will bring the turnaround. It’s a major winter milestone: the day of our earliest sunset. This puzzles people, but in fact it’s a reliable yearly sequence. First comes earliest sunset, this week. Then there’s the solstice half a month later, the day with the fewest minutes of daylight. Finally, another two weeks later, in early January, we get our murkiest morning—the latest sunrise. So we’re now slam bang at the low point of afternoon sunshine. And since far more people are awake and aware of things at 4:30 PM than they are at 6 in the morning, in a very real sense you can forget about the solstice and the “official” shortest day of the year. So far as what most folks actually experience, NOW is the darkest time of the year.

49 Godly Character Traits[7]

As we begin the Advent season let us take up the nature of God by reflecting on these traits that make us a model for our children and our sisters and brothers in Christ. Today reflect on:

Dependability vs. Inconsistency

Fulfilling what I consented to do even if it means unexpected sacrifice (Psalm 15:4)

2827 "If any one is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him." Such is the power of the Church's prayer in the name of her Lord, above all in the Eucharist. Her prayer is also a communion of intercession with the all-holy Mother of God and all the saints who have been pleasing to the Lord because they willed his will alone:

It would not be inconsistent with the truth to understand the words, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," to mean: "in the Church as in our Lord Jesus Christ himself"; or "in the Bride who has been betrothed, just as in the Bridegroom who has accomplished the will of the Father."

As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. (Psalm 42)

The Way[8] Heart

"Read these counsels slowly. Pause to meditate on these thoughts. They are things that I whisper in your ear-confiding them-as a friend, as a brother, as a father. And they are being heard by God. I won't tell you anything new. I will only stir your memory, so that some thought will arise and strike you; and so you will better your life and set out along ways of prayer and of Love. And in the end you will be a more worthy soul."

Put your heart aside. Duty comes first. But, when fulfilling your duty, put your heart into it. It helps.

Daily Devotions

·         Drops of Christ’s Blood
·         Pray with Pope Francis on this Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.
·         On this Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, a holy day of obligation, attend Mass and pray the Hail Mary before meals.

[1] Laitman, Michael.  (2011).  Unlocking the Zohar.  Laitman Kabbalah Publishers.
[2] Convey, Steven.  (2011).  The 3rd Alternative.  Free Press.
[3] Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896


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