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    TODAY'S CATECHISM . WE BEGIN OUR CATECHISM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, AMEN TOPIC: PRAYER => INTRODUCTION/DEFINITIONS => PRAYER => METHODS OF PRAYER => TYPES OF PRAYERS => FACTS ABOUT PRAYER => CONCLUSION => REFERENCE INTRODUCTION/DEFINITIONS According to catholic catechism Prayer is the raising up of the mind and heart to God. love Prayer is also the response of faith to the free promise of salvation and also a response of to the thirst of the only Son of God. prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy. when we pray, do we speak from the height of our pride and will, or out of the depths of a humble and contrite heart? He who humbles himself will be exalted; humility is the foundation of prayer, Only when we humbly acknowledge that we do not know how to pray as we ought, then we are ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. PRAYER Since prayer is the raising up of our mind and heart to God so we raise up our mind and heart to God by thinking of God; by adoring, praising, and thanking him; and by begging of him all blessings for soul and body. Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God's thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him. CCC 143 Do those pray well who, at their prayers, think neither of God nor of what they say? Those who, at their prayers, think neither of God nor of what they say, do not pray well; but they offend God, if their distractions are willful. CCC 144 Which is the best of all prayers? The best of all prayers is the 'Our Father', or the Lord's Prayer. Jesus Christ himself made the Lord’s prayer. This is how to say the Lord’s prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven; give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. Amen. METHODS OF PRAYER Prayer can be say or done through meditative, vocal and contemplative. Meditative prayer, is meditation in which we spend the time thinking of God or of one or more of the truths He has revealed, that by these thoughts we may be persuaded to lead holier lives. Vocal prayer, in which we express these pious thoughts in words. Contemplative prayer is a type of prayer made in silence in which we are in one with Christ. It is a communion of love and gaze of faith. Meditative prayer is most useful to us because it compels us, while we are engaged in it, to keep our attention fixed on God and His holy laws and to keep our hearts and minds lifted up to Him. We can make a meditation by remembering that we are in the presence of God; By asking the Holy Ghost to give us grace to benefit by the meditation; By reflecting seriously on some sacred truth regarding our salvation; By drawing some good resolution from the thoughts we have had; and By thanking God for the knowledge and grace bestowed on us through the meditation. TYPES OF PRAYERS I. Adoration II. Petition III. Contrition IV. Intercession V. Thanksgiving I. BLESSING/ADORATION The prayer of blessing is man's response to God's gifts: because God blesses, the human heart can in return bless the One who is the source of every blessing. Adoration is homage of the spirit to the "King of Glory," 100 respectful silence in the presence of the "ever greater" God. II. PRAYER OF PETITION by prayer of petition we express awareness of our relationship with God. We are creatures who are not our own beginning, not the masters of adversity, not our own last end. III. PRAYER OF INTERCESSION Intercession is a prayer is the prayer we make for others which leads us to pray as Jesus did. He is the one intercessor with the Father on behalf of all men, especially sinners. he who prays looks "not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others," even to the point of praying for those who do him harm. IV. PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING This is the prayer of giving thanks to God for what he has done, doing and yet to do for us. It characterizes the prayer of the Church which, in celebrating the Eucharist. "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you"; "Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving." V. PRAYER OF PRAISE Praise is the form of prayer which recognizes most immediately that God is God. It lauds God for his own sake and gives him glory, quite beyond what he does, but simply because HE IS FACTS ABOUT PRAYER 1. A prayer life is essential to the Christian life. Prayer is “a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God.” (Catechism, 2558) Prayer the lifeblood of your faith. Without prayer, your faith will die. (Catechism, 2744) 2. Prayer is compatible with everyday life. You do need a small amount of quiet time each day to learn how to pray. But it’s not difficult — just 5 or 10 minutes to start is fine. “It is possible to offer fervent prayer even while walking in public or strolling alone, or seated in your shop, … while buying or selling, … or even while cooking.” — St. John Chrysostom 3. Even the smallest faith will blossom through prayer St. Paul tells us, “The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” (Rom 8:26) 4. Learning how to pray is simple. Throughout the ages, all kinds of people have learned how to pray. For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy. — St. Therese of Lisieuxus. CONCLUSION The Holy Spirit who teaches the Church and recalls to her all that Jesus said also instructs her in the life of prayer, inspiring new expressions of the same basic forms of prayer: blessing, petition, intercession, thanksgiving, and praise. So therefore; let us learn how to pray, praying for ourselves and others. REFERENCE => The Holy Bible => Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) => => => We have come to a conclusion on the topic PRAYER. Thanks for your participation, support and contributions. May the God in his infinite mercy continue to be bless and grant you more understanding of his words; in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen PLEASE WE ARE ENCOURAGE TO CONTRIBUTE AND ASK QUESTIONS IN REGARDS TO THIS GREAT TOPIC.

  • Saint of the Day - Saint Juan Diego

    You may recognize Saint Juan Diego as the seer of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and he was. But he was so much more. Read on ... Juan Diego was a natural-born Mexican, meaning he was born in what we call Mexico today. At birth, his name was Cuauhtlatoatzin. He was born in 1474. Juan was very young when his fatherr died and, like so many other saints, was sent to live with an uncle after the death of his father. With his uncle, Juan was given the classical upbringing in the Aztec pagan religion of the region. Even as a young child, Juan showed some signs of being a mystic. In 1524, a group of 12 Franciscans arrived in the area. Juan was among the first to convert to the Catholic Faith and be baptized in the region. He was well known for his love of the Blessed Virgin Mary and respect to his local ordinary, Bishop Juan de Zumarraga. Juan was also known to travel long distances in order to receive religious instruction in his deeply-held Catholic Faith. Juan's life was about to change radically when, on December 9, 1531, Juan was on his way to church to participate in Mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. He was running late, so he was in a hurry. On his way, he was stopped by a beautiful and radiant woman who introdced herself to Juan in his native tongue, saying that she was "ever-perfect holy Mary, who has the honor to be the mother of the true God." Our Lady told Juan that she wanted a chapel built in her honor on Tepeyac Hill, the site of a former pagan shrine. Juan was to tell his Bishop about this. When he approached Bishop de Zumarraga, he was told to give him time to reflect on all of this, which was clearly very shocking. On the same day, Juan again encountered the beautiful and radiant lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary. He told her of his failure of the assigned mission and told her that he was not an important man and that someone else would have to do it. She insisted that he was the man for the job. On the next day, Juan again went to Bishop de Zumarraga and repeated his request from the previous day. This time, the bishop asked for proof that the lady was the Blessed Virgin Mary. After leaving the bishop, Juan went straight to see the lady on Tepeyac Hill asnd told her what the bishop had said. She told him that she would provide the proof the next day. She instructed Juan to return then for the proof to take to the bishop. However, on the next day, Juan's uncle was sick. Juan was very devoted to his uncle who had raised him. Juan loved him as a son loves a father. Juan stayed home to take care of his uncle. This was December 11, 1531. The next day, Juan took a different route to town to find a priest for his uncle because he did not want to encounter the Blessed Virgin Mary. He was embarassed for having failed to come to her the day before. However, even on this different route, Juan encountered the beautiful and radiant lady. She asked him what was wrong, and he explained that his uncle was sick and he needed to get a priest for his uncle. He promised to return after he found a priest. Then Our Lady said, "No estoy yo aqui que soy tu madre?" (Am I not here, I who am your mother?). At this point, she told Juan that his uncle would recover (and he did). Then Our Lady asked Juan to walk up the hill and collect the flowers at the top of the hill and put them in his tilma (similar to a cloak) and returned to Mary. Despite the arid and near desert conditions there, flowers were growing atop of the hill on rocky land. These roses happened to be Castillian roses which grow only in Spain and were the favorite flower of Bishop de Zumarraga. Juan returned to Our Lady, and she arranged them and sent Juan to Bishop de Zumarraga with the proof of who she was. Juan returned to tjhe bishop and opened his tilma, where the roses fell out. Bishop de Zumarraga was faced with an image of Ourt Lady on the tilma of Juan Diego. Image from When Juan returned home, he found his uncle cured and discovered that he, too, had had a vision of Our Lady and she told him that she wanted the name Guadalupe to be part of her name. For a time, Bishop de Zumarraga kept the tilma in a private chapel. However, when the church on Tepeyac Hill opened the next yerar, he put it on permanernt display. Juan moved to a small hermitage on Tepeyac Hill and lived out his life of work and prayer there. He died on December 9, 1548, which was seventeen years to the day after the first apparitiion. He was beatified on May 6, 1990 by Pope Saint John Paul II and canonized on July 31, 2002 also by Pope Saint John Paul II. The Saint Andrew Christmas Novena: Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, O my God, to hear our prayers and grant our desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen. (Prayer copied from EWTN). Join me at 3:30 p.m. Eastern fore the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, to learn about San Juan Diego and to pray the St. Andrew Christmas Novena at: If you want to listen top some great interviews, John Benko and I interviewed the original modern-day Catholic Defender, Steve Ray and we interviewed acclaimed Catholic musical artist Donna Cori Gibson. You can find those interviews at:

  • The sad double standard of religious tolerance

    I work at a hospital in the Washington DC Tri-state area. The name and specific location of the hospital is not important. I will tell you this. It is a hospital that designates itself as being of Christian affiliation. I will be working- for the first time in my life- on Christmas day. I worked for a Catholic hospital in New Jersey some years back and there was no mistaking. The hospital was resplendant with crosses and statues and iconography especially during holy seasons like Advent and Christmas. In the hospital where I work now, there is nothing that says Christmas in the Christmas decorations. There are no manger scenes, no paintings of baby Jesus, no angels. In fact, even the color scheme of blue and white speaks more of Judaism than Christmas (Green and Red are the traditional Christmas colors). The stated reason for this is that there are many faith traditions in the area and that the desire is....well you know...inclusive...tolerant....respectful. Thus, you allow the secularists to force you to participate in their sterilized Christmas. Am I being to harsh? Hardly. Granted. Many professing Christian demoninations and sects (as the one I am employed with) are not big on icons, statues and such. That's fair. How about a big banner with a relevant scripture passage? For unto us a child is born ~Isaiah 9 Instead, all the decorations, save 1, are distinctly non religious. Winter decorations rather than Christmas. The one, however, is a glaring contradiction. Make no mistake, the Menorah is a religious symbol. It commemorates the religious aspect of Hannukah, the celebration of the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem. John 10:

  • Immaculate Conception Video from the Katholic Ken Apologetic Show

    Here is a YouTube link to my Friday morning show on the Immaculate Conception You can also find it on my FaceBook page here.

  • Katholic Ken Appears on Catholic Answers Game Show.

    I was invited to participate in the Catholic Answers Game Show. It was a great honor and a lot of fun. Here is a link to the show that is available later in the day on December 8th.

  • The Immaculate Conception of Mary by Ken Litchfield

    Everything that the Catholic Church teaches about Mary is based on what it teaches about Jesus. The Immaculate Conception is the teaching that Mary was conceived without original sin. It is not about Jesus being conceived without sin. Modern Protestants will point to Romans 3:21-26 Righteousness through Faith 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; 23 since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; 26 it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus. 27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On the principle of works? No, but on the principle of faith. 28 For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one; and he will justify the circumcised on the ground of their faith and the uncircumcised through their faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. To understand this, you need to know that Paul was writing to a Jewish and Gentile Christian Church in Rome. The Jewish Christians were always trying to hold themselves above the Gentile Christians and push the Jewish works of the law on them. Paul is telling this Christians community, that both groups have sinned, not just the Gentiles. This is the “all” that Paul is referring to. All of those Christians. Both Protestants and Catholics agree that those without reason, like babies and people who are mentally Impaired can’t commit personal sin. Protestants also point to Luke 1:46-49 Mary’s Song of Praise 46“My soul magnifies the Lord,47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. Protestants claim that since Mary rejoices in her Savior, that she needed saving. Therefore, she was not sinless. Catholics agree that Mary needed Jesus as her Savior. Since God is outside of time and space, Jesus used the Grace that He merited, through His sacrifice on the cross, to save Mary before He came into this world Through Mary. The analogy often used is that if you save a person from falling into a mud puddle you saved them from getting muddy Before they got muddy. You can think of it as Mary being Preemptively Saved by Jesus before He entered this world to save the rest of us. Jesus saved Mary so that she could be the Holy Vessel or New Ark of the Covenant for the Word made Flesh to be contained in. John 1:1 tells us in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The original Ark of the Covenant was made with acacia wood which didn’t rot. The wood was overlaid with gold so it would always shine. The Ark was covered with a blue cloth as it was being carried around as shown in Numbers ch4 4 This is the service of the sons of Kohath in the tent of meeting: the most holy things. 5 When the camp is to set out, Aaron and his sons shall go in and take down the veil of the screen, and cover the ark of the testimony with it; 6 then they shall put on it a covering of goatskin, and spread over that a cloth all of blue, and shall put in its poles. The Ark had God’s Word in the 10 Commandments and Aaron’s staff that budded to show his authority and some of the miraculous mana from the desert. The Ark was so Holy that no one could touch it. Uzzah was struck dead for touching the Ark in 2 Samuel 6:7 In the Book of Revelation at the end of chapter 11, John is looking into Heaven and he writes, “God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within His Temple was seen the Ark of His covenant...a woman clothed with the sun". Compare these parallels between 2 Sam 6:5-11 about David with the Ark and Luke 1:43,44 & 56 about Elizabeth with Mary. 1. David dances for joy in 2 Sam 6:5 and John leaps for joy in Elizabeth’s womb in Luke 1:44. 2. David calls out, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” in 2 Sam 6:9 and Elizabeth calls out, “why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” in Luke 1:43. 3. The Ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite a few miles outside Jerusalem for three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and his whole house in 2 Sam 6:11. Mary remained about three months with Elizabeth in Luke 1:56 a few miles outside Jerusalem. The roots of Mary being sinless go all the way back to the Book of Genesis, through Luke to the Book of Revelation. In Genesis 3.15, we see a foreshadowing of Mary as the New Eve who was born without sin like the original Eve. "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed: he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." God tells the serpent that He will put enmity between the woman’s seed and the Satan’s seed. At this time in history, it was understood that the “seed” was in the man’s semen which grew inside the fertile “soil” of a woman’s womb. The mention of a Woman’s Seed was quite extraordinary. In the New Testament Jesus calls Mary Woman in John ch2 at the Wedding at Cana. Jesus also calls Mary woman when He gives her to John in ch19. Jesus calls Mary “Woman” to connect her back to the Eve who is called Woman n Genesis 2:22. The title is both respectful and theologically important in revealing Mary’s role in salvation history. In Revelation ch12, we find a Woman in Heaven who gives birth to the Man child that rules with a rod of iron. The Man child that rules with a rod of iron is Jesus. Only One Woman gave birth to Jesus. That Woman is Mary. Eve is an earlier type of the Woman Mary, and the nation of Israel also gave birth to Mary through its continued existence, but these are both secondary concepts. In Luke ch1 we find The Birth of Jesus Foretold 26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace,[e] the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 And Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no husband?” 35 And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be bornwill be called holy, the Son of God. 36 And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. The Greek word in the Gospel is kecharitomene. It is a perfect passive participle of the verb charitoo. A perfect passive participle is very strong. In addition, charitoo belongs to a group of verbs ending in omicron omega. They have in common that they mean to put a person or thing into the state indicated by the root. Therfeore, leukos means white, so leukoo means to make white. Then charitoo should mean to put into charis. That word charis can mean either favor or grace. But if we translate by favor, we must keep firmly in mind that favor must not mean merely that God, as it were, sits there and smiles at someone, without giving anything. That would be Pelagian: salvation possible without grace. So, for certain, God does give something, and that something is grace, are share in His own life. So charitoo means to put into grace. But then too, kecharitomene is used in place of the name "Mary". This is like our English usage in which we say, for example, someone is Mr. Tennis. That means he is the ultimate in tennis. So then kecharitomene should mean "Miss Grace", the ultimate in grace. Therefore, we could reason that fullness of grace implies an Immaculate Conception. The Immaculate Conception refers to the dogma that the Blessed Virgin Mary was conceived without any stain of Original Sin in preparation for becoming the Mother of God, the Son Jesus Christ. Before the creation of the world, God the Father chose the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the Mother of his Son, Jesus Christ. The Archangel Gabriel announced to her that she was "full of grace" (Luke 1:29)—or God's "favored one," as in some Scripture translations—indicating her unique worthiness to conceive the Son of God; she "was enriched by God with the gifts which befit such a role" (LG 56). From the very beginning the Church has believed not only that the Blessed Virgin Mary was a virgin but also that she was not conceived with any stain of Original Sin into which everyone is conceived after the sin of Adam and Eve. This unique privilege enabled her to fulfill perfectly her unique mission as the Mother of God. God the Father blessed the Mother of his Son more than any other created person "in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places [and chose her] in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love" (Bl. Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus [1854]: DS 2803). (Cf. CCC 966) The Church has celebrated the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary with a feast since perhaps as early as the fifth century, and it was made a Holy Day of Obligation in 1708. December 8th marks the feast of the Immaculate Conception. It celebrates an important point of Catholic teaching, and it is a holy day of obligation. The history of this doctrine: Initially, the Christian church taught a belief that is close to modern conservative Protestantism: simply that Mary was a virgin at the time of the conception of Jesus. Eadmer (1066-1124), a monk at Christ Church, Canterbury. England was one of the first proponents of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. He discussed it in his book "De Conceptione sanctae Mariae." St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) and St. Bonaventure (1221-1274) "... believed that Mary was completely free from sin, but that she was not given this grace at the instant of her conception." Their beliefs were supported by the Dominicans. In 1476, Pope Sixtus IV established the feast of the Immaculate Conception to be observed annually on DEC-08 -- nine months before the Church celebrates the anniversary of Mary's birth. But the Roman Catholic laity and clergy was permitted to accept or reject the concept. This freedom was confirmed at the Council of Trent in the mid-16th century. However, Oxford Franciscans William of Ware and Blessed John Duns Scotus supported the full doctrine. By having Mary free of original sin resulted in both Mary's and Jesus' conceptions being miraculous. The concept of the immaculate conception -- that Mary was conceived without sin while a pre-embryo around 20 BC --- gained support in the church. It was only in modern times that scientists determined that both the woman and man contributed genetic information to the production of offspring. In ancient times, the man was regarded as being totally responsible for the start of pregnancy. The only role of the woman was to nurture the growing embryo, and later the fetus. A good analogy is the act of planting a seed in earth. The woman's role was similar to that of the earth. The soil has no role other than furnishing nutrients to the seed and later to the plant. When the woman's role in conception was discovered by medical scientists, the Roman Catholic Church faced a problem. For the first time, Mary was seen to play a direct role in Jesus' conception. Her contribution would have been expected to pass original sin onto Jesus -- an intolerable arrangement because the Church has taught that Jesus was without sin at his birth and during his life on earth. The Church had two choices: ~ To declare that Mary did not pass original sin onto Jesus at the time of his conception, or ~ To declare that Mary herself was free of sin when she was conceived. They selected the latter route. It is now a required belief for Roman Catholics. In 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed in his Bull Ineffabilis that: "...We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which asserts that the Blessed Virgin Mary, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God, and in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, was preserved free from every stain of original sin is a doctrine revealed by God and, for this reason, must be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful." 2 Here are 8 things you need to know about the teaching and the way we celebrate it. 1. Who does the Immaculate Conception refer to? There's a popular idea that it refers to Jesus' conception by the Virgin Mary. It doesn't. Instead, it refers to the special way in which the Virgin Mary herself was conceived. This conception was not virginal. (That is, she had a human father as well as a human mother.) But it was special and unique in another way. . . 2. What is the Immaculate Conception? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains it this way: 490 To become the mother of the Savior, Mary “was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role.” The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as “full of grace”. In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God's grace. 491 Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854: 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. 3. Does this mean Mary never sinned? Yes. Because of the way redemption was applied to Mary at the moment of her conception, she not only was protected from contracting original sin but also personal sin. The Catechism explains: 493 The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God “the All-Holy” (Panagia), and celebrate her as “free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature”. By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long. “Let it be done to me according to your word. . .” 4. Does this mean Mary didn't need Jesus to die on the Cross for her? No. What we've already quoted states that Mary was immaculately conceived as part of her being “full of grace” and thus "redeemed from the 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." The Catechism goes on to state: 492 The “splendor of an entirely unique holiness” by which Mary is “enriched from the first instant of her conception” comes wholly from Christ: she is “redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son”. The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” and chose her “in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be Holy and blameless before Him in love”. 508 From among the descendants of Eve, God chose the Virgin Mary to be the mother of His Son. “Full of grace,” Mary is “the most excellent fruit of redemption” (SC 103): from the first instant of her conception, she was totally preserved from the stain of original sin and she remained pure from all personal sin throughout her life. 5. How does this make Mary a parallel of Eve? Adam and Eve were both created immaculate, without original sin or its stain. They fell from grace, and through them mankind was bound to sin. Christ and Mary were also conceived immaculate. They remained faithful, and through them mankind was redeemed from sin. Christ is thus the New Adam, and Mary the New Eve. The Catechism notes: 494 . . . As St. Irenaeus says, “Being obedient she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race.” Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert. . .: “The knot of Eve's disobedience was untied by Mary's obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief; Mary loosened by her faith.” Comparing her with Eve, they call Mary “the Mother of the living” and frequently claim: “Death through Eve, life through Mary.” 6. How does this make Mary an icon of our own destiny? Those who die in God's friendship and thus go to heaven will be freed from all sin and stain of sin. We will thus all be rendered "immaculate" (Latin, immaculatus = "stainless") if we remain faithful to God. Even in this life, God purifies us and trains us in holiness and, if we die in his friendship but imperfectly purified, he will purify us in purgatory and render us immaculate. By giving Mary this grace from the first moment of her conception, God showed us an image of our own destiny. He shows us that this is possible for humans by his grace. John Paul II noted: In contemplating this mystery in a Marian perspective, we can say that "Mary, at the side of her Son, is the most perfect image of freedom and of the liberation of humanity and of the universe. It is to her as Mother and Model that the Church must look in order to understand in its completeness the meaning of her own mission" (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Libertatis conscientia, 22 March, 1986, n. 97; cf. Redemptoris Mater, n. 37). Let us fix our gaze, then, on Mary, the icon of the pilgrim Church in the wilderness of history but on her way to the glorious destination of the heavenly Jerusalem, where she [the Church] will shine as the Bride of the Lamb, Christ the Lord [General Audience, March 14, 2001]. 7. Was it necessary for God to make Mary immaculate at her conception so that she could be Jesus' mother? No. The Church only speaks of the Immaculate Conception as something that was "fitting," something that made Mary a "fit habitation" (i.e., suitable dwelling) for the Son of God, not something that was necessary. Thus in preparing to define the dogma, Pope Pius IX stated: And hence they [the Church Fathers] affirmed that the Blessed Virgin was, through grace, entirely free from every stain of sin, and from all corruption of body, soul and mind; that she was always united with God and joined to him by an eternal covenant; that she was never in darkness but always in light; and that, therefore, she was entirely a fit habitation for Christ, not because of the state of her body, but because of her original grace. For it was certainly not fitting that this vessel of election should be wounded by the common injuries, since she, differing so much from the others, had only nature in common with them, not sin. In fact, it was quite fitting that, as the Only-Begotten has a Father in heaven, whom the Seraphim extol as thrice holy, so he should have a Mother on earth who would never be without the splendor of holiness [Ineffabilis Deus]. 8. How do we celebrate the Immaculate Conception today? In the Latin rite of the Catholic Church, December 8th is the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. In the United States and in a number of other countries, it is a holy day of obligation. The constant faith (tradition: paradosis) of the Church attests to the belief in the special preparation of the holiness of the person of Mary to bear in her body the most holy person of the Son of God. Church Fathers: implicitly found in the Fathers of the Church in the parallelism between Eve and Mary (Irenaeus, Lyons, 140? - 202?); Found in the more general terms about Mary: 'holy', 'innocent', 'most pure', 'intact', 'immaculate' (Irenaeus, Lyons, 140?-202?; Ephraem, Syria, 306-373; Ambrose, Milan, 373-397); Explicit language: Mary - free from original sin (Augustine, Hippo, 395-430 to Anselm, Normandy, 1033-1109); Eastern Church: celebrated a Feast of the Conception of Mary in the 8th to the 9th Century; Western Church: celebrated a Feast of the Conception of Mary in the 12th Century; A record of the feast in the 11th Century in Great Britain; in the 12th Century in Normandy; Record in many churches of a Feast of the Conception of Mary in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain in the 12th Century (Bernard, Clairvaux, 1090-1153); 14th Century: was noted for the opposition to the Immaculate Conception from some of the great doctors of scholasticism. The celebration of the feast was not denied though. The difficulty arose from the meaning of the universal redemption through Christ. 15th Century: Franciscan theologians solved the difficulty--Christ, the most perfect mediator, preserved Mary from original sin by an equally perfect act of healing. Duns Scotus (Scotland, 1266-1308) explained that the Immaculate Conception came through God's application of the grace of Christ beforehand. From 15th Century: the Feast was universally celebrated; and Christian piety introduced an oath to defend the belief in the Immaculate Conception to be taken not only by Religious, but also by non-Religious and at the Universities (e.g., Paris, 1497; Cologne, 1499; Vienna, 1501, etc.) 1854, Pope Pius IX, infallibly defined, ex cathedra: 'The Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, and in view of the foreseen merits of Jesus Christ, the savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin.'

  • Ineffabilis Deus - December 8, 1854

    Ineffabilis Deus The Immaculate Conception Pope BI. Pius IX - 1854 God Ineffable — whose ways are mercy and truth, whose will is omnipotence itself, and whose wisdom “reaches from end to end mightily, and orders all things sweetly” — having foreseen from all eternity the lamentable wretchedness of the entire human race which would result from the sin of Adam, decreed, by a plan hidden from the centuries, to complete the first work of his goodness by a mystery yet more wondrously sublime through the Incarnation of the Word. This he decreed in order that man who, contrary to the plan of Divine Mercy had been led into sin by the cunning malice of Satan, should not perish; and in order that what had been lost in the first Adam would be gloriously restored in the Second Adam. From the very beginning, and before time began, the eternal Father chose and prepared for his only-begotten Son a Mother in whom the Son of God would become incarnate and from whom, in the blessed fullness of time, he would be born into this world. Above all creatures did God so loved her that truly in her was the Father well pleased with singular delight. Therefore, far above all the angels and all the saints so wondrously did God endow her with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured from the treasury of his divinity that this mother, ever absolutely free of all stain of sin, all fair and perfect, would possess that fullness of holy innocence and sanctity than which, under God, one cannot even imagine anything greater, and which, outside of God, no mind can succeed in comprehending fully. Supreme Reason for the Privilege: The Divine Maternity And indeed it was wholly fitting that so wonderful a mother should be ever resplendent with the glory of most sublime holiness and so completely free from all taint of original sin that she would triumph utterly over the ancient serpent. To her did the Father will to give his only-begotten Son — the Son whom, equal to the Father and begotten by him, the Father loves from his heart — and to give this Son in such a way thhat he would be the one and the same common Son of God the Father and of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was she whom the Son himself chose to make his Mother and it was from her that the Holy Spirit willed and brought it about that he should be conceived and born from whom he himself proceeds.[1] Liturgical Argument The Catholic Church, directed by the Holy Spirit of God, is the pillar and base of truth and has ever held as divinely revealed and as contained in the deposit of heavenly revelation this doctrine concerning the original innocence of the august Virgin — a doctrine which is so perfectly in harmony with her wonderful sanctity and preeminent dignity as Mother of God — and thus has never ceased to explain, to teach and to foster this doctrine age after age in many ways and by solemn acts. From this very doctrine, flourishing and wondrously propagated in the Catholic world through the efforts and zeal of the bishops, was made very clear by the Church when she did not hesitate to present for the public devotion and veneration of the faithful the Feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin.[2] By this most significant fact, the Church made it clear indeed that the conception of Mary is to be venerated as something extraordinary, wonderful, eminently holy, and different from the conception of all other human beings — for the Church celebrates only the feast days of the saints. And hence the very words with which the Sacred Scriptures speak of Uncreated Wisdom and set forth his eternal origin, the Church, both in its ecclesiastical offices and in its liturgy, has been wont to apply likewise to the origin of the Blessed Virgin, inasmuch as God, by one and the same decree, had established the origin of Mary and the Incarnation of Divine Wisdom. Ordinary Teaching of the Roman Church These truths, so generally accepted and put into practice by the faithful, indicate how zealously the Roman Church, mother and teacher of all Churches, has continued to teach this doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin. Yet the more important actions of the Church deserve to be mentioned in detail. For such dignity and authority belong to the Church that she alone is the center of truth and of Catholic unity. It is the Church in which alone religion has been inviolably preserved and from which all other Churches must receive the tradition of the Faith.[3] The same Roman Church, therefore, desired nothing more than by the most persuasive means to state, to protect, to promote and to defend the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. This fact is most clearly shown to the whole world by numerous and significant acts of the Roman Pontiffs, our predecessors. To them, in the person of the Prince of the Apostles, were divinely entrusted by Christ our Lord, the charge and supreme care and the power of feeding the lambs and sheep; in particular, of confirming their brethren, and of ruling and governing the universal Church. Veneration of the Immaculate Our predecessors, indeed, by virtue of their apostolic authority, gloried in instituting the Feast of the Conception in the Roman Church. They did so to enhance its importance and dignity by a suitable Office and Mass, whereby the prerogative of the Virgin, her exception from the hereditary taint, was most distinctly affirmed. As to the homage already instituted, they spared no effort to promote and to extend it either by the granting of indulgences, or by allowing cities, provinces and kingdoms to choose as their patroness God’s own Mother, under the title of “The Immaculate Conception.” Again, our predecessors approved confraternities, congregations and religious communities founded in honor of the Immaculate Conception, monasteries, hospitals, altars, or churches; they praised persons who vowed to uphold with all their ability the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God. Besides, it afforded the greatest joy to our predecessors to ordain that the Feast of the Conception should be celebrated in every church with the very same honor as the Feast of the Nativity; that it should be celebrated with an octave by the whole Church; that it should be reverently and generally observed as a holy day of obligation; and that a pontifical Capella should be held in our Liberian pontifical basilica on the day dedicated to the conception of the Virgin. Finally, in their desire to impress this doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God upon the hearts of the faithful, and to intensify the people’s piety and enthusiasm for the homage and the veneration of the Virgin conceived without the stain of original sin, they delighted to grant, with the greatest pleasure, permission to proclaim the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin in the Litany of Loreto, and in the Preface of the Mass, so that the rule of prayer might thus serve to illustrate the rule of belief. Therefore, we ourselves, following the procedure of our predecessors, have not only approved and accepted what had already been established, but bearing in mind, moreover, the decree of Sixtus IV, [4] have confirmed by our authority a proper Office in honor of the Immaculate Conception, and have with exceeding joy extended its use to the universal Church.[5] The Roman Doctrine Now inasmuch as whatever pertains to sacred worship is intimately connected with its object and cannot have either consistency or durability if this object is vague or uncertain, our predecessors, the Roman Pontiffs, therefore, while directing all their efforts toward an increase of the devotion to the conception, made it their aim not only to emphasize the object with the utmost zeal, but also to enunciate the exact doctrine.[6] Definitely and clearly they taught that the feast was held in honor of the conception of the Virgin. They denounced as false and absolutely foreign to the mind of the Church the opinion of those who held and affirmed that it was not the conception of the Virgin but her sanctification that was honored by the Church. They never thought that greater leniency should be extended toward those who, attempting to disprove the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, devised a distinction between the first and second instance of conception and inferred that the conception which the Church celebrates was not that of the first instance of conception but the second. In fact, they held it was their duty not only to uphold and defend with all their power the Feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin but also to assert that the true object of this veneration was her conception considered in its first instant. Hence the words of one of our predecessors, Alexander VII, who authoritatively and decisively declared the mind of the Church: “Concerning the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, ancient indeed is that devotion of the faithful based on the belief that her soul, in the first instant of its creation and in the first instant of the soul’s infusion into the body, was, by a special grace and privilege of God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, her Son and the Redeemer of the human race, preserved free from all stain of original sin. And in this sense have the faithful ever solemnized and celebrated the Feast of the Conception.”[7] Moreover, our predecessors considered it their special solemn duty with all diligence, zeal, and effort to preserve intact the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God. For, not only have they in no way ever allowed this doctrine to be censured or changed, but they have gone much further and by clear statements repeatedly asserted that the doctrine by which we profess the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin is on its own merits entirely in harmony with the ecclesiastical veneration; that it is ancient and widespread, and of the same nature as that which the Roman Church has undertaken to promote and to protect, and that it is entirely worthy to be used in the Sacred Liturgy and solemn prayers. Not content with this they most strictly prohibited any opinion contrary to this doctrine to be defended in public or private in order that the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin might remain inviolate. By repeated blows they wished to put an end to such an opinion. And lest these oft-repeated and clearest statements seem useless, they added a sanction to them. Papal Sanctions All these things our illustrious predecessor, Alexander VII, summed up in these words: “We have in mind the fact that the Holy Roman Church solemnly celebrated the Feast of the Conception of the undefiled and ever-Virgin Mary, and has long ago appointed for this a special and proper Office according to the pious, devout, and laudable instruction which was given by our predecessor, Sixtus IV. Likewise, we were desirous, after the example of our predecessors, to favor this praiseworthy piety, devotion, feast and veneration — a veneration which is in keeping with the piety unchanged in the Roman Church from the day it was instituted. We also desired to protect this piety and devotion of venerating and extolling the most Blessed Virgin preserved from original sin by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, we were anxious to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace in the flock of Christ by putting down arguments and controversies and by removing scandals. So at the instance and request of the bishops mentioned above, with the chapters of the churches, and of King Philip and his kingdoms, we renew the Constitutions and Decrees issued by the Roman Pontiffs, our predecessors, especially Sixtus IV,[8] Paul V,[9] and Gregory XV,[10] in favor of the doctrine asserting that the soul of the Blessed Virgin, in its creation and infusion into the body, was endowed with the grace of the Holy Spirit and preserved from original sin; and also in favor of the feast and veneration of the conception of the Virgin Mother of God, which, as is manifest, was instituted in keeping with that pious belief. So we command this feast to be observed under the censures and penalties contained in the same Constitutions. “And therefore, against all and everyone of those who shall continue to construe the said Constitutions and Decrees in a manner apt to frustrate the favor which is thereby given to the said doctrine, and to the feast and relative veneration, or who shall dare to call into question the said sentence, feast and worship, or in any way whatever, directly or indirectly, shall declare themselves opposed to it under any pretext whatsoever, were it but only to the extent of examining the possibilities of effecting the definition, or who shall comment upon and interpret the Sacred Scripture, or the Fathers or Doctors in connection therewith, or finally, for any reason, or on any occasion, shall dare, either in writing or verbally, to speak, preach, treat, dispute or determine upon, or assert whatsoever against the foregoing matters, or who shall adduce any arguments against them, while leaving them unresolved, or who shall disagree therewith in any other conceivable manner, we hereby declare that in addition to the penalties and censures contained in the Constitutions issued by Sixtus IV to which we want them to be subjected and to which we subject them by the present Constitution, we hereby decree that they be deprived of the authority of preaching, reading in public, that is to say teaching and interpreting; and that they be also deprived ipso facto of the power of voting, either actively or passively, in all elections, without the need for any further declaration; and that also, ipso facto, without any further declaration, they shall incur the penalty of perpetual disability from preaching, reading in public, teaching and interpreting, and that it shall not be possible to absolve them from such penalty, or remove it, save through ourselves, or the Roman Pontiffs who shall succeed us. “We also require that the same shall remain subject to any other penalties which by us, of our own free will — or by the Roman Pontiffs, our successors (according as they may decree) — shall be deemed advisable to establish, and by the present Constitution we declare them subject thereto, and hereby renew the above Decrees and Constitutions of Paul V and Gregory XV. “Moreover, as regards those books in which the said sentence, feast and relative veneration are called into question or are contradicted in any way whatsoever, according to what has already been stated, either in writing or verbally, in discourses, sermons, lectures, treatises and debates — that may have been printed after the above-praised Decree of Paul V, or may be printed hereafter we hereby prohibit them, subject to the penalties and censures established by the Index of prohibited books, and ipso facto, without any further declaration, we desire and command that they be held as expressly prohibited.”[11] Testimonies of the Catholic World All are aware with how much diligence this doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God has been handed down, proposed and defended by the most outstanding religious orders, by the more celebrated theological academies, and by very eminent doctors in the sciences of theology. All know, likewise, how eager the bishops have been to profess openly and publicly, even in ecclesiastical assemblies, that Mary, the most holy Mother of God, by virtue of the foreseen merits of Christ, our Lord and Redeemer, was never subject to original sin, but was completely preserved from the original taint, and hence she was redeemed in a manner more sublime. The Council of Trent Besides, we must note a fact of the greatest importance indeed. Even the Council of Trent itself, when it promulgated the dogmatic decree concerning original sin, following the testimonies of the Sacred Scriptures, of the Holy Fathers and of the renowned Council, decreed and defined that all men are born infected by original sin; nevertheless, it solemnly declared that it had no intention of including the blessed and immaculate Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, in this decree and in the general extension of its definition. Indeed, considering the times and circumstances, the Fathers of Trent sufficiently intimated by this declaration that the Blessed Virgin Mary was free from the original stain; and thus they clearly signified that nothing could be reasonably cited from the Sacred Scriptures, from Tradition, or from the authority of the Fathers, which would in any way be opposed to so great a prerogative of the Blessed Virgin.[12] Testimonies of Tradition And indeed, illustrious documents of venerable antiquity, of both the Eastern and the Western Church, very forcibly testify that this doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the most Blessed Virgin, which was daily more and more splendidly explained, stated and confirmed by the highest authority, teaching, zeal, knowledge, and wisdom of the Church, and which was disseminated among all peoples and nations of the Catholic world in a marvelous manner — this doctrine always existed in the Church as a doctrine that has been received from our ancestors, and that has been stamped with the character of revealed doctrine. For the Church of Christ, watchful guardian that she is, and defender of the dogmas deposited with her, never changes anything, never diminishes anything, never adds anything to them; but with all diligence she treats the ancient documents faithfully and wisely; if they really are of ancient origin and if the faith of the Fathers has transmitted them, she strives to investigate and explain them in such a way that the ancient dogmas of heavenly doctrine will be made evident and clear, but will retain their full, integral, and proper nature, and will grown only within their own genus — that is, within the same dogma, in the same sense and the same meaning. Interpreters of the Sacred Scripture The Fathers and writers of the Church, well versed in the heavenly Scriptures, had nothing more at heart than to vie with one another in preaching and teaching in many wonderful ways the Virgin’s supreme sanctity, dignity, and immunity from all stain of sin, and her renowned victory over the most foul enemy of the human race. This they did in the books they wrote to explain the Scriptures, to vindicate the dogmas, and to instruct the faithful. These ecclesiastical writers in quoting the words by which at the beginning of the world God announced his merciful remedies prepared for the regeneration of mankind — words by which he crushed the audacity of the deceitful serpent and wondrously raised up the hope of our race, saying, “I will put enmities between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed”[13] — taught that by this divine prophecy the merciful Redeemer of mankind, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, was clearly foretold: That his most Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, was prophetically indicated; and, at the same time, the very enmity of both against the evil one was significantly expressed. Hence, just as Christ, the Mediator between God and man, assumed human nature, blotted the handwriting of the decree that stood against us, and fastened it triumphantly to the cross, so the most holy Virgin, united with him by a most intimate and indissoluble bond, was, with him and through him, eternally at enmity with the evil serpent, and most completely triumphed over him, and thus crushed his head with her immaculate foot.[14] This sublime and singular privilege of the Blessed Virgin, together with her most excellent innocence, purity, holiness and freedom from every stain of sin, as well as the unspeakable abundance and greatness of all heavenly graces, virtues and privileges — these the Fathers beheld in that ark of Noah, which was built by divine command and escaped entirely safe and sound from the common shipwreck of the whole world;[15] in the ladder which Jacob saw reaching from the earth to heaven, by whose rungs the angels of God ascended and descended, and on whose top the Lord himself leaned’[16] in that bush which Moses saw in the holy place burning on all sides, which was not consumed or injured in any way but grew green and blossomed beautifully;[17] in that impregnable tower before the enemy, from which hung a thousand bucklers and all the armor of the strong;[18] in that garden enclosed on all sides, which cannot be violated or corrupted by any deceitful plots;[19] as in that resplendent city of God, which has its foundations on the holy mountains;[20] in that most august temple of God, which, radiant with divine splendors, is full of the glory of God;[21] and in very many other biblical types of this kind. In such allusions the Fathers taught that the exalted dignity of the Mother of God, her spotless innocence and her sanctity unstained by any fault, had been prophesied in a wonderful manner. In like manner did they use the words of the prophets to describe this wondrous abundance of divine gifts and the original innocence of the Virgin of whom Jesus was born. They celebrated the august Virgin as the spotless dove, as the holy Jerusalem, as the exalted throne of God, as the ark and house of holiness which Eternal Wisdom built, and as that Queen who, abounding in delights and leaning on her Beloved, came forth from the mouth of the Most High, entirely perfect, beautiful, most dear to God and never stained with the least blemish. The Annunciation When the Fathers and writers of the Church meditated on the fact that the most Blessed Virgin was, in the name and by order of God himself, proclaimed full of grace[22] by the Angel Gabriel when he announced her most sublime dignity of Mother of God, they thought that this singular and solemn salutation, never heard before, showed that the Mother of God is the seat of all divine graces and is adorned with all gifts of the Holy Spirit. To them Mary is an almost infinite treasury, an inexhaustible abyss of these gifts, to such an extent that she was never subject to the curse and was, together with her Son, the only partaker of perpetual benediction. Hence she was worthy to hear Elizabeth, inspired by the Holy Spirit, exclaim: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”[23] Mary Compared with Eve Hence, it is the clear and unanimous opinion of the Fathers that the most glorious Virgin, for whom “he who is mighty has done great things,” was resplendent with such an abundance of heavenly gifts, with such a fullness of grace and with such innocence, that she is an unspeakable miracle of God — indeed, the crown of all miracles and truly the Mother of God; that she approaches as near to God himself as is possible for a created being; and that she is above all men and angels in glory. Hence, to demonstrate the original innocence and sanctity of the Mother of God, not only did they frequently compare her to Eve while yet a virgin, while yet innocence, while yet incorrupt, while not yet deceived by the deadly snares of the most treacherous serpent; but they have also exalted her above Eve with a wonderful variety of expressions. Eve listened to the serpent with lamentable consequences; she fell from original innocence and became his slave. The most Blessed Virgin, on the contrary, ever increased her original gift, and not only never lent an ear to the serpent, but by divinely given power she utterly destroyed the force and dominion of the evil one. Biblical Figures Accordingly, the Fathers have never ceased to call the Mother of God the lily among thorns, the land entirely intact, the Virgin undefiled, immaculate, ever blessed, and free from all contagion of sin, she from whom was formed the new Adam, the flawless, brightest, and most beautiful paradise of innocence, immortality and delights planted by God himself and protected against all the snares of the poisonous serpent, the incorruptible wood that the worm of sin had never corrupted, the fountain ever clear and sealed with the power of the Holy Spirit, the most holy temple, the treasure of immortality, the one and only daughter of life — not of death — the plant not of anger but of grace, through the singular providence of God growing ever green contrary to the common law, coming as it does from a corrupted and tainted root. Explicit Affirmation . . . As if these splendid eulogies and tributes were not sufficient, the Fathers proclaimed with particular and definite statements that when one treats of sin, the holy Virgin Mary is not even to be mentioned; for to her more grace was given than was necessary to conquer sin completely.[24] They also declared that the most glorious Virgin was Reparatrix of the first parents, the giver of life to posterity; that she was chosen before the ages, prepared for himself by the Most High, foretold by God when he said to the serpent, “I will put enmities between you and the woman.”[25]-Unmistakable evidence that she crushed the poisonous head of the serpent. And hence they affirmed that the Blessed Virgin was, through grace, entirely free from every stain of sin, and from all corruption of body, soul and mind; that she was always united with God and joined to him by an eternal covenant; that she was never in darkness but always in light; and that, therefore, she was entirely a fit habitation for Christ, not because of the state of her body, but because of her original grace. . . . Of a Super Eminent Sanctity To these praises they have added very noble words. Speaking of the conception of the Virgin, they testified that nature yielded to grace and, unable to go on, stood trembling. The Virgin Mother of God would not be conceived by Anna before grace would bear its fruits; it was proper that she be conceived as the first-born, by whom “the first-born of every creature” would be conceived. They testified, too, that the flesh of the Virgin, although derived from Adam, did not contract the stains of Adam, and that on this account the most Blessed Virgin was the tabernacle created by God himself and formed by the Holy Spirit, truly a work in royal purple, adorned and woven with gold, which that new Beseleel[26] made. They affirmed that the same Virgin is, and is deservedly, the first and especial work of God, escaping the fiery arrows of the evil one; that she is beautiful by nature and entirely free from all stain; that at her Immaculate Conception she came into the world all radiant like the dawn. For it was certainly not fitting that this vessel of election should be wounded by the common injuries, since she, differing so much from the others, had only nature in common with them, not sin. In fact, it was quite fitting that, as the Only-Begotten has a Father in heaven, whom the Seraphim extol as thrice holy, so he should have a Mother on earth who would never be without the splendor of holiness. This doctrine so filled the minds and souls of our ancestors in the faith that a singular and truly marvelous style of speech came into vogue among them. They have frequently addressed the Mother of God as immaculate, as immaculate in every respect; innocent, and verily most innocent; spotless, and entirely spotless; holy and removed from every stain of sin; all pure, all stainless, the very model of purity and innocence; more beautiful than beauty, more lovely than loveliness; more holy than holiness, singularly holy and most pure in soul and body; the one who surpassed all integrity and virginity; the only one who has become the dwelling place of all the graces of the most Holy Spirit. God alone excepted, Mary is more excellent than all, and by nature fair and beautiful, and more holy than the Cherubim and Seraphim. To praise her all the tongues of heaven and earth do not suffice. Everyone is cognizant that this style of speech has passed almost spontaneously into the books of the most holy liturgy and the Offices of the Church, in which they occur so often and abundantly. In them, the Mother of God is invoked and praised as the one spotless and most beautiful dove, as a rose ever blooming, as perfectly pure, ever immaculate, and ever blessed. She is celebrated as innocence never sullied and as the second Eve who brought forth the Emmanuel. Preparation for the Definition No wonder, then, that the Pastors of the Church and the faithful gloried daily more and more in professing with so much piety, religion, and love this doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mother of God, which, as the Fathers discerned, was recorded in the Divine Scriptures; which was handed down in so many of their most important writings; which was expressed and celebrated in so many illustrious monuments of venerable antiquity; which was proposed and confirmed by the official and authoritative teaching of the Church. Hence, nothing was dearer, nothing more pleasing to these pastors than to venerate, invoke, and proclaim with most ardent affection the Virgin Mother of God conceived without original stain. Accordingly, from ancient times the bishops of the Church, ecclesiastics, religious orders, and even emperors and kings, have earnestly petitioned this Apostolic See to define a dogma of the Catholic Faith the Immaculate Conception of the most holy Mother of God. These petitions were renewed in these our own times; they were especially brought to the attention of Gregory XVI, our predecessor of happy memory, and to ourselves, not only by bishops, but by the secular clergy and religious orders, by sovereign rulers and by the faithful. Mindful, indeed, of all these things and considering them most attentively with particular joy in our heart, as soon as we, by the inscrutable design of Providence, had been raised to the sublime Chair of St. Peter — in spite of our unworthiness — and had begun to govern the universal Church, nothing have we had more at heart — a heart which from our tenderest years has overflowed with devoted veneration and love for the most Blessed Virgin — than to show forth her prerogatives in resplendent light. That we might proceed with great prudence, we established a special congregation of our venerable brethren, the cardinals of the holy Roman Church, illustrious for their piety, wisdom, and knowledge of the sacred scriptures. We also selected priests, both secular and regular, well trained in the theological sciences, that they should most carefully consider all matters pertaining to the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin and make known to us their opinion. The Mind of the Bishops Although we knew the mind of the bishops from the petitions which we had received from them, namely, that the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin be finally defined, nevertheless, on February 2, 1849,[27] we sent an Encyclical Letter from Gaeta to all our venerable brethren, the bishops of the Catholic world, that they should offer prayers to God and then tell us in writing what the piety an devotion of their faithful was in regard to the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God. We likewise inquired what the bishops themselves thought about defining this doctrine and what their wishes were in regard to making known with all possible solemnity our supreme judgment. We were certainly filled with the greatest consolation when the replies of our venerable brethren came to us. For, replying to us with a most enthusiastic joy, exultation and zeal, they not only again confirmed their own singular piety toward the Immaculate Conception of the most Blessed Virgin, and that of the secular and religious clergy and of the faithful, but with one voice they even entreated us to define our supreme judgment and authority the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin. In the meantime we were indeed filled with no less joy when, after a diligent examination, our venerable brethren, the cardinals of the special congregation and the theologians chosen by us as counselors (whom we mentioned above), asked with the same enthusiasm and fervor for the definition of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God. Consequently, following the examples of our predecessors, and desiring to proceed in the traditional manner, we announced and held a consistory, in which we addressed our brethren, the cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. It was the greatest spiritual joy for us when we heard them ask us to promulgate the dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mother of God.[28] Therefore, having full trust in the Lord that the opportune time had come for defining the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, which Holy Scripture, venerable Tradition, the constant mind of the Church, the desire of Catholic bishops and the faithful, and the memorable Acts and Constitutions of our predecessors, wonderfully illustrate and proclaim, and having most diligently considered all things, as we poured forth to God ceaseless and fervent prayers, we concluded that we should no longer delay in decreeing and defining by our supreme authority the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin. And thus, we can satisfy the most holy desire of the Catholic world as well as our own devotion toward the most holy Virgin, and at the same time honor more and more the only begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord through his holy Mother — since whatever honor and praise are bestowed on the Mother redound to the Son. The Definition Wherefore, in humility and fasting, we unceasingly offered our private prayers as well as the public prayers of the Church to God the Father through his Son, that he would deign to direct and strengthen our mind by the power of the Holy Spirit. In like manner did we implore the help of the entire heavenly host as we ardently invoked the Paraclete. Accordingly, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, for the honor of the Holy and undivided Trinity, for the glory and adornment of the Virgin Mother of God, for the exaltation of the Catholic Faith, and for the furtherance of the Catholic religion, by the authority of Jesus Christ our Lord, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own: “We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.”[29] Hence, if anyone shall dare — which God forbid! — to think otherwise than as has been defined by us, let him know and understand that he is condemned by his own judgment; that he has suffered shipwreck in the faith; that he has separated from the unity of the Church; and that, furthermore, by his own action he incurs the penalties established by law if he should dare to express in words or writing or by any other outward means the errors he thinks in his heart. Hoped-For Results Our soul overflows with joy and our tongue with exultation. We give, and we shall continue to give, the humblest and deepest thanks to Jesus Christ, our Lord, because through his singular grace he has granted to us, unworthy though we be, to decree and offer this honor and glory and praise to his most holy Mother. All our hope do we repose in the most Blessed Virgin — in the all fair and immaculate one who has crushed the poisonous head of the most cruel serpent and brought salvation to the world: in her who is the glory of the prophets and apostles, the honor of the martyrs, the crown and joy of all the saints; in her who is the safest refuge and the most trustworthy helper of all who are in danger; in her who, with her only-begotten Son, is the most powerful Mediatrix and Conciliatrix in the whole world; in her who is the most excellent glory, ornament, and impregnable stronghold of the holy Church; in her who has destroyed all heresies and snatched the faithful people and nations from all kinds of direst calamities; in her do we hope who has delivered us from so many threatening dangers. We have, therefore, a very certain hope and complete confidence that the most Blessed Virgin will ensure by her most powerful patronage that all difficulties be removed and all errors dissipated, so that our Holy Mother the Catholic Church may flourish daily more and more throughout all the nations and countries, and may reign “from sea to sea and from the river to the ends of the earth,” and may enjoy genuine peace, tranquility and liberty. We are firm in our confidence that she will obtain pardon for the sinner, health for the sick, strength of heart for the weak, consolation for the afflicted, help for those in danger; that she will remove spiritual blindness from all who are in error, so that they may return to the path of truth and justice, and that here may be one flock and one shepherd. Let all the children of the Catholic Church, who are so very dear to us, hear these words of ours. With a still more ardent zeal for piety, religion and love, let them continue to venerate, invoke and pray to the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, conceived without original sin. Let them fly with utter confidence to this most sweet Mother of mercy and grace in all dangers, difficulties, needs, doubts and fears. Under her guidance, under her patronage, under her kindness and protection, nothing is to be feared; nothing is hopeless. Because, while bearing toward us a truly motherly affection and having in her care the work of our salvation, she is solicitous about the whole human race. And since she has been appointed by God to be the Queen of heaven and earth, and is exalted above all the choirs of angels and saints, and even stands at the right hand of her only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, she presents our petitions in a most efficacious manner. What she asks, she obtains. Her pleas can never be unheard. Given at St. Peter’s in Rome, the eighth day of December, 1854, in the eighth year of our pontificate. Pius IX FOOTNOTES 1. Et quidem decebat omnino, ut perfectissimae sanctitatis splendoribus semper ornata fulgeret, ac vel ab ipsa originalis culpae labe plane immunis amplissimum de antiquo sepente triumphum referret tam venerabilis mater, cui Deus Pater unicum Filius suum, quem de corde suo aequalem sibi genitum tamquam seipsum diligit, ita dare disposuit, ut naturaliter esset unus idemque communis Dei Patris et Virginis Filius, et quam ipse Filius, Filius substantialiter facere sibi matrem elegit, et de qua Siritus Sanctus voluit et operatus est, ut conciperetur et nasceretur ille, de quo ipse procedit. 2. Cf. Ibid., n. 16. 3. Cf. St. Irenaeus, Adv. Haereses, book III, c. III, n. 2. 4. C.A. Cum Praeexcelsa, February 28, 1476; Denz., n. 734. 5. Decree of the Sared Cong. of Rites; September 30, 1847. 6. This has been the constant care of the Popes, as is shown by the condemnation of one of the propositions of Anthony de Rosmini-Serbati (cf. Denzinger, nn. 1891-1930). This is how the 34th proposition runs (Denzinger, n. 1924): “Ad praeservandam B. V. Mariam a labe originis, satis erat, ut incorruptum maneret minimum sesmen in homine, neglectum forte ab ipso demone, e quo incorrupto semine de generatione in generationem transfuso, suo tempore oriretur Virgo Maria.” Decree of the Holy Office, December 14, 1887 (AAS 20, 393). Denz. n. 1924. 7. Apost. Const. Sollicitudo Omnium Ecclesiarum, December 8, 1661. 8. Apost. Const. Cum Praeexcelsa, February 28, 1476; Grave Nemis, September 4, 1483; Denz., nn. 734, 735. 9. Apost. Const. Sanctissimus, September 12, 1617. 10. Apost. Const. Sanctissimus, June 4, 1622. 11. Alexander VII, Apost. Const. Sollicitudo Omnium Ecclesiarum, December 8, 1661. 12. Sess. V, Can. 6; Denz. n. 792. Declarat tamen haec ipsa sancta Synodus, non esse suae intentionis, comprehendere in hoc decreto, ubi de peccato originali agitur, beatam et immaculatam Virginem Mariam Dei genitricem, sed observandas esse constitutiones felicis recordationis Sixti Papae IV, sub poenis in eis constitutionibus contentis, quas innovat. 13. Gn 3:15. 14. Quo circa sicut Christus Dei hominumque mediator, humana assumpta natura, delens quod adversus nos erat chirographum decretia, illud cruci triumphator affixit; sic Sanctissima Virgo, Arctissimo et indissolubili vinculo cum eo conjuncta, una cum illo et per illum, sempiternas contra venenosum serpentem inimicitias exercens, ac de ipso plenissime triumphans, illus caput immaculato pede contrivit. 15. Cf. Gn. 6:9. 16. Cf. Gn 28:12. 17. Cf. Ex 3:2. 18. Cf. Sg 4:4. 19. Cf. Sg 4:12. 20. Cf. Ps 87:1. 21. Cf. Is 6:1-4. 22. Cf. Lk 1:28. 23. Ibid., 42. 24. Cf. St. Augustine: De Natura et Gratia, c. 36. 25. Gn 3:15. 26. Cf. Ex 31:2. 27. Cf. Ibid., n. 19ff. 28. Cf. Ibid., n. 27ff. 29. Declaramus, pronuntiamus et definimus doctrinam quae tenet beatissimam Virginem Mariam in primo instanti suae conceptionis fuisse singulari Omnipotentis Dei gratia et privilegio, intuitu meritorum Christi Jesu Salvatoris humani generis, ab omni originalis culpae labe praeservatam immunem, esse a Deo revelatam, atque idcirco ab omnibus fidelibus firmiter constanterque credendam. Cf. Denz., n. 1641.

  • Saint of the Day - Saint Ambrose

    On December 7, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church. Along with Saint Gregory the Great, St. Jerome and Saint Augustine of Hippo, Ambrose is one of the "Four Great Latin Fathers". Image of St. Ambrose found at St. Ambrose was born around the year 340 to a Roman Christian family (remember, we were not called "Catholic" back then). He had two sibling, Satyrus and Marcellina. They were raised in present-day Germany. There is a legend that, as a baby, Ambrose was landed upon by a swarm of bees. They left behind a drop of honey. This led his father to believe that Ambrose would be something extra-special and have a great future. After the death of his father, Ambrose was educated at Rome in the fields of law, literature and rhetoric (I didn't realize that rhetoric is or was a field of study). Around the year 372, Ambrose was appointed to serve as Governor of Liguria and Emilia, with a seat in Milan, which was like a second capital of Italy at the time. He remained in the post until 374 when he was elected Bishop of Milan, a post that he neither wanted nor sought. While he tried to run away, he was given up and was baptized, ordained and consecrated as a bishop all on the same day - December 7, 374. In his post as Bishop of Milan, Ambrose gave away all of his property and wealth to the poor, believing that resources should be doled out equally among the various people. As he studied theology under Simplician, his knowledge of the Greek language was very helpful to him in devouring the Old Testament. Simplician was a presbyter of Rome, meaning that he was like what we would think of as a monsignor today. Ambrose used his knowledge of the Greek tongue and literature in his teachings. The teachings of Ambrose impressed a young man who was notoriously wild and out of control. We know this young man today as Saint Augustine of Hippo, the son of Saint Monica. Ambrose had a great influence on Augustine, whom he baptized in the year 387. Saint Monica was thrilled with this development. That's a story for a different day (I think in August). Arians demanded that some of the churches in Milan be turned over to them. Ambroise steadfastly refused even when ordered to do so. He and his followers went so far as to barricade themselves in a church to avoid turning it over to the Arians. Ambrose died peacefully on April 4, 397 at Bologna, where he had essentially retired. He was succeeded as Bishop of Milan by Simplician. Ambrose wrote many important early church documents and hymns, such as "Te Deum" (To God). This is why he was made a Doctor of the Church in the year 1298. Saint Ambrose, pray for us! The Saint Andrew Christmas Novena: Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, O my God, to hear our prayers and grant our desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen. (Prayer copied from EWTN). Join me at 3:30 p.m. Eastern fore the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, to learn about Saint Saba's and to pray the St. Andrew Christmas Novena at: If you want to listen top some great interviews, John Benko and I interviewed the Original modern-day Catholic Defender, Steve Ray and we interviewed acclaimed Catholic musical Artis Donna Cori Gibson. You can find those interviews at:

  • Saint of the Day - Saint Nicholas

    Saint Nicolas or Nikolas of Myra, as he is sometimes called, was a fourth century saint t and the Bishop of Myra in Greece. Image courtesy of According t6o legend, which is really all we have on him except that he was Bishop of Myra and attended the Council of Nicaea in 325, he would take nourishment only once a day on Wednesdays and Fridays and always in the evenings. He was raised by well-to-do and pious parents. He was an only child. When his parents died, he received a large inheritance. He heard of a citizen of Patara who had lost everything and was unable to support his three daughters, let alone provide a dowry for them. The man was about to give his daughters to prostitution because they could not find husbands without a dowry. This did not sit well with the holy Nicholas. One evening, possibly near Christmas, Nicholas threw a bag of money through an open window that happened to land in a stocking that was hanging to dry for wearing the next day. Nicholas would do this two more times. The third time, the father stood watch each night and recognized Nicholas. He overwhelmed Nicholas with his gratitude. St. Nicholas came to Myra and was elected Bishop of Myra. This was back when the position of Bishop was an elected position, much different from today. From all accounts, he was a great and holy bishop, giving of his wrath to the poor. Nicholas was taken prisoner and beaten and whipped until Constantine became the emperor of Rome. He immediately ordered that all of the Christian prisoners be released. Saint Nicholas is where the name Santa Claus is derived from. Giving gifts, like the three dowries, is where the giving of gifts covers from. I'm not going to bore you with details about his life that are simply legends and may or may not be true. It is a Catholic tradition that, on the night of December 5, you place your shoe outside of your door. If you get candy or something nice, you are on track to get good Christmas presents. On the other hand, if you get ashes and switches, you have 19 days to turn your act around. I got Tootsie rolls in my shoe this morning and I am really not sure how they got there because I live alone and I didn't do it. Nicholas was declared a saint after his death and did not go through the /congregation for the Causes of the Saints. He is the patron saint of bakers and pawnbrokers. The Saint Andrew Christmas Novena: Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, O my God, to hear our prayers and grant our desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen. (Prayer copied from EWTN). Join me at 3:30 p.m. Eastern fore the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, to learn about Saint Saba's and to pray the St. Andrew Christmas Novena at: If you want to listen top some great interviews, John Benko and I interviewed the Original modern-day Catholic Defender, Steve Ray and we interviewed acclaimed Catholic musical Artis Donna Cori Gibson. You can find those interviews at:

  • Cherry Maestro Mallorca interview with Tony Rock.

    From the Shepherd's field area in Bethlehem.

  • Saint of the Day - Saint Sabas

    St. Sabas was born last Mutalaska, Cappadocia, which is near Caesarea, in or around the year 439. His father was an army officer at Mutalaska, Cappadocia. When his father was assigned to Alexandria, he left young Saba's with an uncle. Saba's was mistreated there and ran away too the home of another uncle. He was eight years old at the time that he ran away. When the uncles got embroiled in litigation over the estate of Sabas, he ran to a nearby monastery at Mulataska. Image of Saint Sabas from used under Fair Use. The uncles of Saba's did reconcile. At this point, they both wanted Saba's to marry, but he chose to stay in the monastery. Around 456, Saba's went to a monastery near Jerusalem under the tutelage of St. Theoctistus. Around the age of thirty (the year 469), Saba's became a hermit.through the guidance of St. Euthymius until his death, after which he spent four years alone in there desert near the town of Jericho. Saba's attracted disciples despite his desire to be alone. He organized these 150 monks into a hermitage of sorts, or a Laura, which was a church surrounded by several hermitages. The monks lived alone from Monday through Friday, but were required to come to the church on Saturday to participate in Sunday Mass (proving that Sunday Mass attendance is a SATURDAY decision) around the year 483. Saba's was opposed to monks being ordained as priests, but was left without an option when the monks demanded a priest around 483. Saba's attracted disciples from as far away as Armenia and Egypt (remember that there were no cars or jet airplanes in those days so 150 miles might take weeks or even months top travel in the hot desert. Compasses were likely scarce (although they were invented in China around 200 BC), so the traveller often had to travel during the day to get fixes on the sun. He allowed the foreign monks to have liturgies celebrated in their native tongue. Saba's and his monks also built several hospitals near Jericho, as well as another monastery in the vicinity. Sabas was eventually appointed superior over all hermits in Palestine who lived in separate cells. Saba's had this habit of going off on his own during Lent. This caused problems among the other hermits. Because of this, sixty monks left the monastery at Jericho to reopen and rebuild an older monastery near Thecuna. Saba's bore them no ill will and actually sent them supplies and food and water to assist them. Sabas was one of a delegation of Abbotts too pay a call on Emperor Anastasius I regarding his support of Eutychianism to plead with him to cease his persecution of orthodox religious (including priests, bishops and monks - of course, today, all bishops were priests, but back in the day, not all bishops were priests). Their mission failed. Saba's died on December 5, 532 at the ripe old age of 93. His feast day or today, December 5. Thank you to and for providing the information used to describe St. Saba's today. Saint Sabas, pray for us. The Saint Andrew Christmas Novena: Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, O my God, to hear our prayers and grant our desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen. (Prayer copied from EWTN). Join me at 3:30 p.m. Eastern fore the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, to learn about Saint Saba's and to pray the St. Andrew Christmas Novena at:


    WE BEGIN OUR CATECHISM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, AMEN TOPIC: ADVENT => INTRODUCTION/DEFINITIONS => BRIEF HISTORY => ADVENT => SYMBOLISM OF ADVENT => TEN (10) THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ADVENT => CONCLUSION => REFERENCE INTRODUCTION/DEFINITIONS For many Christians unfamiliar with the liturgical year, there may be some confusion surrounding the meaning of the Advent season. Some people may know that the Advent season focuses on expectation and think that it serves as an anticipation of Christ’s birth in the season leading up to Christmas. This is part of the story, but there’s more to Advent. Advent comes from the Latin word meaning "coming." Jesus is coming, and Advent is intended to be a season of preparation for His arrival. While we typically regard Advent as a joyous season, it is also intended to be a period of preparation, much like Lent. Prayer, penance and fasting are appropriate during this season. BRIEF HISTORY Scholars believe that during the 4th and 5th centuries in Spain and Gaul, Advent was a season of preparation for the baptism of new Christians at the January feast of Epiphany, the celebration of God’s incarnation represented by the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:1), his baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist (John 1:29), and his first miracle at Cana (John 2:1). During this season of preparation, Christians would spend 40 days in penance, prayer, and fasting to prepare for this celebration; originally, there was little connection between Advent and Christmas. By the 6th century, however, Roman Christians had tied Advent to the coming of Christ. But the “coming” they had in mind was not Christ’s first coming in the manger in Bethlehem, but his second coming in the clouds as the judge of the world. It was not until the Middle Ages that the Advent season was explicitly linked to Christ’s first coming at Christmas. ADVENT Advent is not as strict as Lent, and there are no rules for fasting, but it is meant to be a period of self-preparation. The purple color associated with Advent is also the color of penance. The faithful should fast during the first two weeks in particular and receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The color of the Third Sunday of Advent is rose. This color symbolizes joy and represents the happiness we will experience when Jesus comes again. The Third Sunday is a day of anticipatory celebration. It is formerly called "Gaudete" Sunday; gaudete means "rejoice" in Latin. The season of Advent lasts for four Sundays leading up to Christmas. At that time, the new Christian year begins with the twelve-day celebration of Christmastide, which lasts from Christmas Eve until Epiphany on January 6. Advent begins on Sunday that falls between November 27th and December 3rd each year) SYMBOLISM OF ADVENT Advent symbolizes the present situation of the church in these “last days” (Acts 2:17, Hebrews 1:2), as God’s people wait for the return of Christ in glory to consummate his eternal kingdom. The church is in a similar situation to Israel at the end of the Old Testament: in exile, waiting and hoping in prayerful expectation for the coming of the Messiah. Israel looked back to God’s past gracious actions on their behalf in leading them out of Egypt in the Exodus, and on this basis, they called for God once again to act for them. In the same way, the church, during Advent, looks back upon Christ’s coming in celebration while at the same time looking forward in eager anticipation to the coming of Christ’s kingdom when he returns for his people. In this light, the Advent hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” perfectly represents the church’s cry during the Advent season: "O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here Until the Son of God appears. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel." While Israel would have sung the song in expectation of Christ’s first coming, the church now sings the song in commemoration of that first coming and in expectation of the second coming in the future. * TEN (10) THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ADVENT 1. What Is the Purpose of Advent? Advent is a season on the Church's liturgical calendar--specifically, it is as season on the calendar of the Latin Church, which is the largest Church in communion with the pope. Other Catholic Churches--as well as many non-Catholic churches--have their own celebration of Advent. According to the General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar: Advent has a twofold character: as a season to prepare for Christmas when Christ's first coming to us is remembered; as a season when that remembrance directs the mind and heart to await Christ's Second Coming at the end of time. Advent is thus a period for devout and joyful expectation [Norms 39]. We tend to think of Advent only as the season in which we prepare for Christmas, or the First Coming of Christ, but as the General Norms point out, it is important that we also remember it as a celebration in which we look forward to the Second Coming of Christ. Properly speaking, Advent is a season that brings to mind the Two Comings of Christ. 2. What Liturgical Colors Are Used in Advent? Particular days and certain types of celebrations can have their own colors (e.g., red for martyrs, black or white at funerals), but the normal color for Advent is violet. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal provides: The color violet or purple is used in Advent and Lent. It may also be worn in Offices and Masses for the Dead [346d]. In many places, there is a notable exception for the Third Sunday of Advent, known as Gaudete Sunday: The color rose may be used, where it is the practice, on Gaudete Sunday (Third Sunday of Advent) and on Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent) [GIRM 346f]. 3. Is Advent a Penitential Season? We often think of Advent as a penitential season because the liturgical color for Advent is violet, like the color of Lent, which is a penitential season. However, in reality, Advent is not a penitential season. Surprise! According to the Code of Canon Law: Can. 1250 The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent. Although local authorities can establish additional penitential days, this is a complete listing of the penitential days and times of the Latin Church as a whole, and Advent is not one of them. 4. When Does Advent Begin and End? According to the General Norms: Advent begins with evening prayer I of the Sunday falling on or closest to 30 November and ends before evening prayer I of Christmas [Norms 40]. This means that Advent begins on the evening of a Saturday falling between November 26 and December 2 (inclusive), and it ends on the evening of December 24th, which holds Evening Prayer I of Christmas (December 25th). 5. What Is the Role of Sundays in Advent? There are four Sundays of Advent. The General Norms state: The Sundays of this season are named the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Sundays of Advent [Norms 41]. We have already mentioned that the Third Sunday of Advent has a special name-- Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is the Latin word for "Rejoice," which is the first word of the introit of the Mass for this day. The Church ascribes particular importance to these Sundays, and they take precedence over other liturgical celebrations. 6. What Happens on Weekdays in Advent? It is especially recommended that homilies be given on the weekdays of Advent. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) states: On Sundays and Holydays of Obligation there is to be a Homily at every Mass that is celebrated with the people attending and it may not be omitted without a grave reason. On other days it is recommended, especially on the weekdays of Advent , Lent and Easter Time, as well as on other festive days and occasions when the people come to church in greater numbers [GIRM 66]. The General Norms also point out a special role for the weekdays of the week preceding Christmas: The weekdays from 17 December to 24 December inclusive serve to prepare more directly for the Lord's birth [Norms 41]. This special role is illustrated, for example, by the Scripture readings used in the liturgy on these days. 7. How Are Churches Decorated During Advent? The General Instruction of the Roman Missal notes: During Advent the floral decoration of the altar should be marked by a moderation suited to the character of this time of year, without expressing in anticipation the full joy of the Nativity of the Lord. During Lent it is forbidden for the altar to be decorated with flowers. Exceptions, however, are Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent), Solemnities, and Feasts [GIRM 305]. 8. How Is Music Performed During Advent? The General Instruction of the Roman Missal notes: In Advent the use of the organ and other musical instruments should be marked by a moderation suited to the character of this time of year, without expressing in anticipation the full joy of the Nativity of the Lord. In Lent the playing of the organ and musical instruments is allowed only in order to support the singing. Exceptions, however, are Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent), Solemnities, and Feasts [GIRM 313]. 9. Is the Gloria Said or Sung During Advent? Neither. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal provides: [The Gloria or "Glory to God in the highest"] is sung or said on Sundays outside Advent and Lent, and also on Solemnities and Feasts, and at particular celebrations of a more solemn character [GIRM 53]. 10. What Private Devotions Can We Use to Grow Closer to God During Advent? There are a variety of private devotions that the Church has recognized for use during Advent. The most famous is the Advent Wreath. CONCLUSION Christian theology also contains a belief that at the end of days, Jesus will return to set things right in the world, erasing death and suffering — a concept usually called the Second Coming. So in addition to being about the anticipation of Jesus’s birth (the first coming), Advent is also set aside as a time of quietness and austerity, meant to keep Christians from glossing over the brokenness of the world and to encourage the second coming. REFERENCE => The Holy Bible => Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) => => => We have come to a conclusion on the topic ADVENT. Thanks for your participation, support and contributions. May the God in his infinite mercy continue to be bless and grant you more understanding of his words; in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen PLEASE WE ARE ENCOURAGE TO CONTRIBUTE AND ASK QUESTIONS IN REGARDS TO THIS GREAT TOPIC. WE ARE CATHOLIC

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