Category Archives: Immaculate Conception
The above video is the most amazing, amazing, amazing, amazing, amazing recitation by the Venerable Archbishop Fulton J Sheen.
Lovely lady, dressed in blue,
Teach me how to pray
Cause God was just your little boy,
And you know the way
Did you lift him up sometimes,
Gently on your knee
Did you tell him stories of the world,
Like Mother did to me
And when he fell, did you lift him up,
And make everything alright
And did you tell him his prayers at night
I want to know my lovely lady, lovely lady,
Dressed, dressed in blue
Oh, God was just your little boy,
Your little boy and you know the truth
And did you whisper in his ear sweet lullabyes,
I want to know, I want to know,
I want to know, did he cry
Lovely lady, dressed in blue,
Oh won’t you please teach me how to pray
Cause God was just your little boy, and
I want to know, I want to know,
I want to know, so teach me how to pray
Teach me how to pray
Monstra te esse matrem!
Rhododendron calendulaceum or Flaming Azalea is native to these mountains in WNC. This one is next to the Samuel the Angry Donkey pasture some miles down the mountain from the hermitage. A “snitty” florest on the internet calls it “Satan,” as if Satan has rights over anything to do with flames. No.
God is love, and God’s love which we witness with Jesus is ardent. We poetically speak of the ardent flames of love. The Scriptures speak of the flames issuing from the majestic throne of God. Those flames are symbolic of God’s love. God’s love does not itself change for the recipient. It is the receiver whose changing capacity to take in God’s love which put’s a limit or less so on God’s love.
- In heaven all receive fully of God’s love and rejoice in those ardent flames of love.
- In purgatory those very same flames of love, so to speak, instruct those preparing for heaven, purging them of their lack of thanksgiving, and in this they also rejoice as they know they are on their way and are progressively more capable of thanking the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception. They are learning, but, mind you, they are also holy, as they are in the state, as we say, of sanctifying grace.
- In hell all are also provided with the ardent love of God, but they, fallen angels and damned souls, have chosen to have no capacity to take in that ardent love. They perceive that love as punishing flames, writhing in spiritual and intellectual frustration even while choosing to be that way.
How to say it? God’s love is God’s love.
But what about Mary, the Immaculate Conception? She was free of any need for purging so she knows nothing of our weakness and anguish and struggles, right? So, she can’t actually be a good mother to us, right? Wrong.
It’s because of her purity of heart and agility of soul and clarity of spiritual vision that she saw exactly our need in all it’s horror, much more than we could even begin to know, and at the same time she was in solidarity with her Divine Son in His mission to redeem us, and, if we so choose to cooperate with His grace, to save us. Mary knew all about the ardent flames of God’s love from the perspective of those on earth, those in purgatory, and, analogously, as one fully in grace that is to turn to glory, as Saint Paul says.
So, whatever it’s called, a fiery flower for you, Mary, Jesus’ good mom.
While preaching this Palm-Sunday on what would be an appropriate meditation for this Holy Week for my parishioners – the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane and then the 4th and 13th Stations of the Cross: Jesus meeting his mother after getting smashed down by the cross for the first time and then Jesus being lowered from the cross into her arms, ever so dead – in preaching on all that… well… I mean… I suppose I could put the audio of the homily up… It’s just that it’s embarrassing as I got entirely choked up a number of times, entirely unable to speak for at least what seemed like ten seconds… thirty seconds…
Here’s the deal: Not that it at all came out in what I said necessarily, but it was in preaching on Jesus and His good mom that I “understood” – beheld quite directly, if you will – the dynamic, if you will – by which it is entirely necessary that Mary be Co-Redemptrix. To me this wasn’t just an “insight”, but rather an invitation to behold what’s really going on with our Redemption, ever so personal for Jesus about Mary, the good Son of a good mom. It was like seeing Mary as Mother from the eyes of her good Son.
I asked a specialist in psychology and priests about this fault of mine, getting choked up, which the Brits would call weakness, and even worse. He knows me well, and is my spiritual director. He straight up laughed at me for stupidly even asking the question, saying that Freud would say that it all has to do with an unresolved conflict with my own mom. But, then he said that Freud has been discredited on saying everything like this must be a “conflict,” adding that surely this was, in fact, for me, a valid religious experience. And then he went on to mention some of his own like experiences.
I say all that just to rid some of such unnecessary distraction so that they might pay attention to what is important. Here are some points spelling out a bit what I didn’t entirely spell out in the homily because of my getting choked up:
- Only Adam was responsible for the “breath of the living ones” which was only given to him with its intention that he and his offspring be alive and then reaffirm this life should he eat from the tree of the living ones, that is, living with good choices, instead of eating, as it were, from the tree of knowing good mixed with evil, a kind of epistemology of dumbed-downness by which the power of his agent-intellect was corrupted not only for himself, but for us. Adam changed the intention of the breath from life to death. We no longer have the wherewithal to keep matter and spirit, body and soul together. We start to drop into the grave the moment we are conceived.
- Any offspring have a share in the breath of the dying ones, and are dumbed-down, weakened, unable to love that which, the One – God – whom they don’t know, as they otherwise should, and so are immediately in sin, what we call original sin.
- God creates the soul which is concomitant with that life, that dying life at the choice of Adam, not of God. God is just respecting Adam’s choice for himself, for us. We are created good up to the point Adam chose. And that’s the point: up to the point that Adam chose. Adam chose to descend to the level of where his wife bid him to go, not more nor less.
- In justice, in our Redemption, Jesus should redeem us, recreate us only inasmuch as, only to the point that one of us would ask for this, Mary’s intercession for us.
- Mary, free from original sin, and therefore with purity of heart and agility of soul and clarity of (spiritual) vision so that she could see exactly what we needed as she looked upon what sin has ravaged on her Son. She was in perfect solidarity with Son, her Immaculate Heart, His Sacred Heart.
- Jesus followed up on her intercession for us, and only up to the point she desired this for us, which, of course, was perfectly. She’s the perfect mother. Our mother.
- That maternal intercession of hers was necessarily for Him. It is this to which He looked. And only this. Jesus had a human nature. In justice, He should use this human nature. It is in His human nature that He received the intercession of His mother for us. He was going to do exactly what she wanted for us (which is, of course, exactly what He wanted for us precisely as her children, with Him).
Just to say it:
Our Redemption by Jesus is equal, not more, not less, to the maternal intercession of Jesus’ good mom for us. He looked to her, the Son to the Mother. Just as Adam looked to his wife as to just how far he should fall, so did the new Adam look to The Woman to see just how far He should lift us back up. Being Immaculate, she saw our need perfectly, and, in perfect solidarity with her Son, interceded for us perfectly. Having said all that, it is she who set us before our Redemption. Jesus would not have done it without her indicating that Redemption. Mary is entirely necessary as Co-Redemptrix for our Redemption.
Academically, the point is entirely valid with all my years of doctoral studies on Genesis 2:4–3:24 (including 3:15). I have much to say on all this, drawing out all the implications, drawing out the incisive ironies. I am overwhelmed with the entirely and very personal dynamic, if you will, of what is happening with our redemption, Jesus looking to His good mom: “Woman! Behold! I make all things new!”
Finally, this provides me the engine – how to say it? – to draw out a popular version of the thesis. I pray that I’m able to accomplish this. I pray that this works toward what has been called the fifth Marian dogma.
Now it’s more personal than it ever was. It’s like a project with Jesus.
I entirely realize that making it personal makes me look to be the fool. Delusional. An idiot. Fine. Whatever. I know what I know. It’s all come together. Whatever authority by which I write anything has nothing do with me. It’s to be judged on consistency with the Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, the Magisterial interventions of the Church. It’s to be judged on the reasoning. Yes.
All I can say is that, right now, at the start of Holy Week, I’ve been shaken to the core of my being before God that Mary, our good mom, is necessarily Co-Redemptrix. It has to be that our Redemption in entirely involved with Jesus looking to His good mom. And, yes, she was singled out in Genesis: “I will put enmity between you [Satan] and The Woman [in context, the future Mother of the Redeemer].
In saying that, what is left to say? Just this:
Jesus, Immaculate Mary’s Divine Son, has done all things well.
- You knew, of course, that the grotto was the pig sty of the town, right?
- You knew, of course, that in Sacred Scripture, pigs are symbolic of demons, right?
- You knew, of course, that the universe was made into a pig sty by Adam’s sin, right?
God: “I shall put enmity between you [Satan] and the Woman [the Mother of the Redeemer], and between your seed [Satan’s followers] and the Seed of the Woman [Jesus and those who belong to Him as members of a body to the head of the body].
Today’s 8 December – Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception – and… and… it’s set to snow today, perhaps a lot. A good re-post.
Back in the day, when I was a permanent chaplain in Lourdes, France, I took this picture with my el-cheapo digital camera. It was February, the first day following weeks of 24/7 sub-freezing temps with ice and snow precipitating down on the pilgrims daily. As you can see, the ice and snow are no match for the gentlest of petals when it is time to give due honor to the Immaculate Conception at the grotto. Here’s a view from above the grotto, and, yes, this is also a color picture. It was just that dark and dreary and ferociously cold for weeks:
Meanwhile, in the brutally hot August of Rome it snowed exactly where the Basilica in honor of Jesus’ good mom was to be built, and only there, you know, when tender snowflakes had something to do with water and temperature.
Today I am thinking about Saint John Paul II, how he used the phrase “co-redemptrix” dozens of times, I think 29 times. This title for our Lady refers simply to how appropriate it was in justice that one of us who is not divine should ask for such graces perfectly, graces coming directly from her Divine Son. Thank you, Blessed Mother, for being a good mother to us. Continue to show yourself a mother to us!
Monstra te esse matrem!
Perhaps this theme of co-redemptrix is the key to my making a popular version of the thesis, finally. My hope is that this would bring some light to the darkness, including my own dark little life. The glory of the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception entering this world to grab us and bring us to heaven fires me up, enough, methinks, to melt the ice and snow, enough, methinks, to finally start writing. [I know, I know, I just have to do it. Time goes on. Life is short. Yikes!]
“Frost and chill, bless the Lord!”
Aussie Mum made a good catch about another “Flower for the Immaculate Conception.” (HERE). She said:
“I can imagine Our Lady reciting or singing parts of Azariah’s prayer – the praises for example that he and his companions prayed (Daniel 3:51-56 and 58-90) – but parts of the prayer that he prayed alone, such as “ Sinners we were, that had wronged and forsaken thee, all was amiss with us …” (verses 29-30) seem most unsuitable to be voiced by the Immaculate Conception since she was totally sinless. Maybe I have the wrong prayer or have not properly understood. The praises are certainly beautiful and verse 70 does indeed go well with the photo above [“Snow and ice, bless the Lord!”]. Thank you Father. Your posts get me thinking on things that are good to be thinking about.”
Good catch, Aussie Mum.
It is true, of course, that Mary was never touched by original sin, that she is, therefore, the Immaculate Conception. It is true, of course, that Mary never personally sinned.
But there is something else to consider here so as to give credit to our Lady where credit is due. She also had to be redeemed, which is the way she was able to be saved from original sin at the first instant of her conception so that it never touched her. In other words – time not being a difficulty with God – what her Son did on the Cross was also done for her.
Take note, then, that this provided her with such purity of heart and agility of soul and clarity of vision that the fact of the Redemption to come also being needed for her was obvious, providing her with opportunity to be thankful, and not only for herself, but for all for whom her Divine Son would lay down His life, and for whom she would become a mother with such a spirit of solidarity:
“ Sinners we were, that had wronged and forsaken thee, all was amiss with us …”
She interceded for us in utter solidarity with what her Son on the Cross was doing for us all, but not forgetting for an instant that she had to be thankful as well. She had never been a sinner – true! – but she was aware of that sin more than all of us put together. The “we” and “us” are, for her, truths of solidarity, not of personal fact.
I hope the one-day-to-be-canonized Archbishop Fulton J Sheen once said that only the sinless know sin. Sinners are so immersed in darkness that they cannot see the Standard of Goodness, Jesus, but only their darkness. They cannot see the contrast. They cannot see why sin is called sin and bad and evil. Only the sinless, who have purity of heart and agility of soul and clarity of vision can see Jesus for who He is, also on the Cross, though tortured to death like the worst of criminals. And in seeing that sin, seeing what we need perfectly, she can then, with such a maternal heart, intercede for us perfectly, uniting herself to us, standing in our place with all the “we” and “us”, innocent as she is, you know, just like her Son, who stands in our place, the innocent for the guilty, so that He might have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us.
You know the old saying:
Like Son, like mother.
Silly me. When I was living for a little while above the cave of Elijah on Mount Carmel, I went outside and asked my guardian angel to show me a cloud in the shape of a foot (crushing the serpent, as in Genesis) arising out of the sea from which a rain storm would come (as with Elijah). My guardian angel has fun with me.
Did you know that Mary has two names? Well, three, at least.
- “The Woman” as in Genesis 3:15, Gospel of John, etc
- Mary – Miryam – Bitter Sea
- The one who perfectly continues to stand perfectly transformed in grace from the time when – in context of Luke 1 – she was called to the be Virgin Mother of God, from all eternity, and that coming home at the first moment of her conception.
I realize I haven’t put up any homilies for a while, but I figure that if Pope Francis can give homilies over in Santa Marta the way he does, then I can give homilies over here in the beyonds of the peripheries.
Yesterday, during Communion Calls after the last Sunday Mass, after the very first call nearby, these beauties were to be seen in their thousands. Perfect for the Immaculate Conception. They are in direct line of sight of the statue of Mary on the front steps of the rectory. Today was unseasonably warm after a couple of months of unseasonably cold temps. This is perfect for yesterday, as it was February 11, Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.
You’ll remember that the parish priest, a bit skeptical of what little Bernadette was telling him, told her to bring some flowers from the grotto, in February, when no flowers bloom there. She came back with a heap of flowers. Hah.
I took this picture at that very grotto after weeks of below freezing temps in Lourdes, really cold, snow but mostly ice everywhere. These tender flowers decided to punch through the ice and snow in honor of Mary. :-)
Mary is the Immaculate Conception:
I’ve been called a heretic because:
- Aquinas didn’t have a complete understanding of the Immaculate Conception.[!]
- I put in a correction to Pope Benedict of his understanding of the Immaculate Conception and otherwise on original sin, and we then agreed together with the long standing Tradition and teaching of the Church. [!]
Happy Feast Day! The angels rejoice! The weight of the glory of God shines upon us: can you feel the weight of the glory of God upon you?
Many posts are planned for the blog today on the Immaculate Conception. But right now, it is off to many Masses and other appointments for the feast. I’m one very happy priest on this feast of feasts. It’s Jesus’ good mom’s feast day!
Flores for the Immaculate Conception (ragamuffin waif guttersnipe orphan street urchin adopted kid edition)
Holy Mother Church has long presented the most glorious aspects of the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God assumed soul and body into heaven, sometimes doing this also in reaction to attacks on her Divine Son. While none of these interventions which provide magisterial teaching on Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition make Mary out to be unapproachable even though she is that woman clothed with the sun, with the stars about her and the moon under her feet, it is easy to get that unapproachable impression if we don’t collectively start also to note how these very things make her approachable, that is, even while paying attention to those things people have found somewhat uncomfortable to notice. Thus:
Let’s call to mind the whole “Mary is only the mother of Jesus and she had no other kids” drama, you know, with all the arguments that “the brothers and sisters of Jesus” are really just “cousins” because the language at the time had no word for “cousins” and simply used “brothers and sisters” blah blah blah. That’s all correct, but, I think, misguided. Yes, Mary was the birth mother of Jesus alone, and there are those who are verifiably the cousins of Jesus mentioned in the Scriptures. But remember the time Jesus was rejected in His own native place, and especially that time “the brothers and sisters of Jesus” dragged Mary to where He was so that they could prove to her that He was demon possessed because He didn’t have time even to eat in that He was so good and kind?
Cousins don’t act like that. Only those who are insecure and think they have to prove something to gain their feeling of security do that kind of thing. What I think is going on here is that when the Holy Family returned from Egypt, now speaking Arabic and most likely marginalized with their house having been stolen while they were gone, have their plight noticed by the street kids who were for whatever reason also marginalized. Those kids instantaneously gravitated to and were adopted into the Holy Family en masse when they saw just one brought in, fed and cared for. Jesus wasn’t a brat. Jesus was the only child. They were envious of Him. They had to prove something, they thought, to Mary to protect their own position in the household.
In all of this, did Mary throw them out? No. Was she always available for all waifs who were dying of neglect on the streets? Yes. For her, were they like bright flowers given to her by her Son? Yes. Did they realize how much she loved them? No. Did that stop her from loving them? No. We are so very secure in the Holy Family and we don’t even know it. Typical us. Heaven will be different. Good thing our fallen human feelings don’t dictate actual reality. Our perceptions aren’t always correct. We are loved even if we don’t feel like it. Heaven will be different.
Happy Divine Mercy Sunday. More on mercy later.
My spirit is as light as a fluffy dandelion being given to Jesus for the Immaculate Conception. Our Lady has granted me this very day a great favor, two, in fact. I feel like a little kid before her, my spirit rejoicing. I’m bursting with joy, smiling from ear to ear.
Mentioned in the conversation with the Bishop, who called me up, and with the Bishop bringing up the topic, was my thesis on the Immaculate Conception and my need to make a popular version of it. This is a sign, I believe from our Lady, that NOW’s the time! This will be the little flower I give to her through Jesus, if this is made possible by the providence of her Divine Son. I again dance with joy. Do I ever stop?
But that was just one thing. The other is… well… what a gift! I’ll write about that as time goes on. I’m speechless. I too, must be loved by the Immaculate Conception, and by her Divine Son. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Mary.
Dance dance dance dance dance…
The dogwoods are out in bloom. Such blood on their leathery petals.
It must be Lady Day!
This solemnity is named after what the angel did: “The Annunciation.” That’s not right. It shouldn’t be. It’s enough to make an angel upset. And you DO NOT want any angel upset with you.
“Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum!”
Those words surely recall for you the great joy to be had in the family of faith when the Cardinal Proto-Deacon announces that an election has been made by the voting cardinals of a successor of Saint Peter, the bishop of the See of Rome, who is therefore and because of that the Supreme Pontiff, il Papa, the Holy Father, the Vicar of Christ, a sign of unity, the one who is to confirm his brother successors to the apostles in the faith.
The proclamation avoids the pretension of using the same word chosen by Saint Jerome for his Latin translation of the Greek regarding the angel who is speaking of the birth of Christ to the shepherds who were watching their flocks by night: εὐαγγελίζομαι -euangelizo – I proclaim the Good News of a great joy [to you…]. Some of the Vetus Latina manuscripts simply, and not so accurately used the word to announce: annuntio vobis…
You’ll note that in two proclamations above, one to the family of faith about the earthly father of the family of faith and the other to the shepherds about the Good Shepherd, that the messengers keep their distance by emphasizing themselves: I am announcing to you a great joy… I am proclaiming the Good News to you, a great joy… Both announcements involve important events, but neither the newly elected Pontiff nor Jesus are immediately present, so that the messengers still have full authority and they need to mention this.
Instead, with announcement to Mary by the angel that she is to be the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God, the angel takes himself out of the picture, and he tells her why:
“Χαῖρε, κεχαριτωμένη, ὁ κύριος μετὰ σοῦ. Rejoice, you who perfectly continue to stand perfectly transformed in grace [and, in context, since the time of the first moment in which you received your vocation to be the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God, since your conception]; the Lord is with you!”
The angel could hardly point to his own authority for making this announcement of a great joy, this proclamation of the Good News, because Mary had more authority in the angel, for, as he said, it is the Lord Himself who is with her. The angel is simply there for her instruction at her discretion. The emphasis is on God and her being the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God.
Yes, besides Genesis 3:15, this passage in Luke 1:28 points to the Immaculate Conception. I beg Jesus daily that I have the time to write about all this. But that’s another post. Meanwhile:
Thank you, Jesus, for deigning to come among us through dearest Mary. Thank you, Mary, for offering your response from which so very much would follow:
Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum