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The following article, written by Fr. Donald Calloway, a member of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, “seeks to present the Immaculate Conception in the thought of one of the most understudied mystics and Marian figures of the twentieth century, Adrienne von Speyr.” Fr. Calloway, MIC, is the author of several Mariological articles and editor of The Virgin Mary and Theology of the Body, Marian Press, 2005.

On December 8, 1955, Pope Pius XII made the following statement in an allocution to the Catholic Relief Services: “In honoring Mary, in every thought of her, We do homage to the superabundant mercy and love of the Redeemer of men, all of whom He wishes to draw into union with Himself through grace and His Holy Spirit.” (1) Pius XII could not have chosen a better day than the Solemnity of The Immaculate Conception to mention the superabundant mercy and love of God; the Immaculate Conception is, indeed, the masterpiece of God’s superabundant mercy and love.

Yet, as we celebrate the anniversary of that blessed day, December 8, 1854, when Blessed Pope Pius IX, overcome with such emotion that he burst into tears, (2) dogmatically declared that the Holy Mother of God had been conceived without original sin—thus declaring her to be The Immaculate Conception (Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus)—we still have to ask ourselves whether or not we have taken full advantage of all the insights given to the Church over these last one hundred and fifty years concerning this unique mystery of God’s superabundant mercy and love, The Immaculate Conception.

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Mother of all Peoples Magazine is pleased to present the continuation from last week of Fr. Calloway’s study of the Theology of the Body in relation to the four existing Marian dogmas. – Ed.

Mariology is the study of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As a field of study it seeks to understand her role in salvation history through examining her privileges and titles. Yet, that is not all it is. From the very beginning of reflections on the Virgin Mary, especially in the Fathers of the Church, there has been an understanding, a theological tool, called the Mary-Church analogy. What this theological tool seeks to emphasize is the notion that whatever statements we make concerning the Virgin Mary have some bearing and significance for the Church, the Church understood as both a collective whole and the individual Christian. In short, as Adrienne von Speyr noted: “Whatever the Lord did to his Mother he did with his Church in mind.” (28) Thus, the study of Mariology has always taught something about man and his relationship with God through faith, as Lumen Gentium states: “Having entered deeply into the history of salvation, Mary, in a way, unites in her person and re-echoes the most important doctrines of the faith.” (29)

In a rather lengthy quote, Fr. Donald Keefe gets to the core of why Mariology needs to be an essential dimension in all theological fields of study: […]

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The theology of the body as taught by Pope John Paul II during the Wednesday audiences from September 5, 1979 to November 28, 1984 is becoming more and more acclaimed as a revolutionary approach to understanding the embodiedness of human persons. (1) In offering to the Church and the world a catechesis of the body, a theology of the body, John Paul II proved himself a true shepherd by responding to the twentieth century scandalum carnis. There can be no doubt that the body was perceived as an enigma by much of twentieth century thought. For example, Caryll Houselander, fully aware of the twentieth century infatuation with the body, wrote in 1944: “There has surely never been an age in which so many people were so particularly preoccupied with their bodies as this age, and yet to so little profit.” (2) For this reason, the theology of the body as taught by John Paul II is a theological response, in the form of a theological anthropology based in Divine Revelation, to the modern quest to understand the origin, meaning and destiny of the human body. (3)

Part of the reason for why this aspect of revelation—God’s knowledge shared with us concerning the human body—lay dormant for so many centuries is because the twentieth century, perhaps unlike any century in human history, with all of its technological advances, came to view the human body as a mere instrument to be used in the never ending quest for self-gratification and pleasure. For example, one has only to think of the various types of sins—all bodily sins—that became commonplace, many even becoming legal, during the twentieth century: abortion, euthanasia, pornography, prostitution, drugs, wars, suicide, terrorism, homosexual acts, adultery, contraception, concentration camps, genocide, sex changes, cloning, and the list goes on and on. Some philosophers have even ventured to label the current era in history the “post-human” era. Thus, a theology of the body could not have come at a more apropos epoch in history. God has saved a great treasure for our times. […]

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Whenever I tell my story I get pumped. As I tell it I relive it, and I become so much more grateful for the graces I’ve been given. I have been like the recipient of Divine Mercy. It’s no mistake that I was the Assistant Shrine Rector. Where? At the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy. God knows what He’s doing.

Okay, so let’s get right back into the story. When my mother told me to run, I did. I put down the book and bolted out the front door, practically going through the screen door. I’ve still got my long hair, my funky clothes and all that. Now I’m moving across this military base and there are marines doing their morning march but I don’t care. I’m running and I’m not in good shape so when I get there I’m exhausted. I didn’t know what to do but I saw a sign over this archway. It amazes me to this day what it said: “Our Lady of Victory.” Wow, I thought, you ain’t kidding. But I didn’t want to go into a church. For me to cross the doorway of a church was radical stuff. So I went into another building. Now I want to be healed. Whatever has to happen, just do it to me. So I go into this building where all these people are sipping their morning coffee and I literally yell out, “Catholic priest!” They look at me like … whoa! I hated the looks they gave me. It was a look I’d known since I was age eleven. One of those “don’t steal from us” looks. […]

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The following transcription is Part I of an oral testimony given by Fr. Donald Calloway of his extraordinary conversion which he experienced through the Marian apparitions at Medjugorje.

The May 26, 1998 statement by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as authored by the former secretary to Cardinal Ratzinger, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, clearly presents the Holy See’s position which allows for private pilgrimages to Medjugorje while the process of examination continues. – Ed.

Many people don’t really believe what I say happened to me so I show them my picture and then they believe. Can you see that? That’s not a girl; that’s me! That creature has been transformed. Through whom? Through her (pointing to Our Lady’s statue). Actually, I’m amazed I’m a Roman Catholic priest. I still am in awe. I haven’t even been a priest for a year yet. My first anniversary will be on May 31st, the feast of Our Lady, Mediatrix of All Graces.

The young man you see in front of you, a newly ordained priest, is not the man I always was. A lot of people look at me and think to themselves, “Oh, it’s so good to see a nice, young Catholic priest. He probably was home-schooled, has twelve brothers and sisters, his parents were like St. Joseph and Mary, he had a perfect life.” No. Not at all. […]

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Have you ever done something extra to show your love for the Blessed Virgin Mary? Maybe something like making an effort to pray the Rosary every day, or wearing the Miraculous Medal or a scapular?

Perhaps you were also seeking Mary’s help in some area of your spiritual life?

Saint Faustina—who had a special devotion to Mary’s Immaculate Conception and sought Mary Immaculate’s help to grow in purity of heart—would make an extra effort to prepare well for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th.

Showing Extraordinary Devotion

For the Solemnity of the Immacualte Conception in 1937, when she was a religious, she wrote in her Diary: “I prepared not only by means of the novena said in common by the whole community, but I also made a personal effort to salute (Mary) a thousand times each day, saying a thousand ‘Hail Marys’ for nine days in her praise” (Diary, 1413). […]

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