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Is there a link between Guadalupe and the Immaculate Conception? From the time of the apparition and first glimpse of the Miraculous Image on the tilma of Bl. Juan Diego, Catholics, Spaniards and Indian, American and European, have always believed there is a relation between Mary Immaculate and Guadalupe.

But toward the end of the “age of enlightenment,” the eighteenth century, voices increasingly more strident have denied any such connection. Clearly, these “voices” are often identical with those who doubt or deny the historicity and/or supernatural nature of the apparitions. The arguments they use and the conclusions they reach exactly parallel those of modernists who claim one can deny the historicity of the infancy narratives, but still believe as a Catholic in the “symbolic” value of Marian dogmas such as the divine motherhood and perpetual virginity.

As so frequently happens, those attacking the truths of Faith unwittingly draw the attention of believers to the importance of facts easily discovered, yet commonly overlooked, which justify the traditional belief. In this case it is the role played by the Franciscans who assured that the link, intended by Our Lady, would be seen. That link has been explained over the centuries to rest upon the Franciscan influence in Spain and the New World.

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The following is the first section of an outstanding theological treatment of the Immaculate Conception by the renowned mariologist, Fr. Peter Damien Fehlner, F. I. The full article can be found in the mariological anthology entitle, Mariology: For Priests, Deacons, Religious, and Seminarians, published by Queenship Publications. -Ed

Introduction

 

The two closely related mysteries treated in this chapter are extraordinarily important, indeed, according to the Scotistic-Franciscan view of Mariology, crucially important, for a correct appreciation of Catholic theology on Mary and the Marian character of “our theology,” viz., the saving knowledge of God possible to us in a time of pilgrimage (1).

Since the close of Vatican II, and despite that Council’s very firm reaffirmation of both mysteries in the traditional sense (2), treatment of the predestination of Mary has disappeared from Mariological study. Some expositions of the Immaculate Conception have either 1) minimized its binding dogmatic character with calls for its “dedogmatization,” viz., its reduction to the status of a thesis pertaining to an unimportant and perhaps out-dated theological system no longer binding in faith on all Catholics; 2) downplayed or even denied its character as a unique privilege of Mary alone, and so reducing the Mother of God to the status of just another woman; or 3) totally naturalized the privilege (along the lines of the ancient heretic Pelagius) by eliminating any reference in its definition to original sin (3).

 

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The following article is a homily delivered on August 5, 2006 by Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner, of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, on the Feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major. It was delivered at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama. – Ed.

Our Lady of America. This is the title by which the Virgin Mother, in a series of private revelations and apparitions to Sr. Mary Ephrem Neuzil (1916-2000) of the Congregation of Sisters of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus, indicated how she wished to be known and honored in the United States, first of all in the Basilica-sanctuary of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., national Shrine of Mary for the United States, and then in the entire American nation, as it were the connatural extension of this Marian sanctuary under this title.

These revelations, locutions and apparitions began about 1938 and ended in 1984. The central ones, however, which concern the title Our Lady of America and the request that the Virgin Coredemptrix made of the Catholic bishops and of the entire nation, occurred over a six year period about a half-century ago, from 1954 through 1959.

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This exceptional presentation by Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner, of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, on the solution to the great crises facing the Church and the world today: the need to re-Marianize the Church by recognizing the Blessed Mother’s universal mediation through the solemn definition of her roles as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces and Advocate, was given at the Mary, “Unique Cooperator in the Redemption” Symposium held at Fatima on May 3-7, 2005. – Ed.

I have chosen to entitle this final, concluding conference of our symposium, the “Cause of Mary, Advocate.” Etymologically, cause is a legal term. If its use to summarize our discussion of the mystery of Mary Immaculate and of her unique place in the divine counsels governing the economy of salvation retains a legal scent, that is quite intentional. For the cause of Mary in the economy of salvation, the place she occupies from eternity in the divine counsels of salvation and the crucial role she fulfils so perfectly in bringing these counsels to pass at the Incarnation, on Calvary and in the Church, as well as the recognition of the part she plays by the Church and by every soul redeemed and delivered from sin by her Savior-Son, namely, by those whose salvation in fact hinges upon the successful prosecution of that cause, are very much today a matter of intense dispute. Those who would promote her cause and those who, either violently oppose it or who just as adamantly want to hear nothing of it, are locked in battle.
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The following is excerpted from Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner’s St. Maximilian M. Kolbe, Martyr of Charity: Pneumatologist, His Theology of the Holy Spirit (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 2004).
–Asst. Ed.

 

Transubstantiation into the Immaculate

 

This usage, to many curious, of a term from Eucharistic dogma and doctrine by St. Maximilian, once in a letter and once in a conference, far from being the dangerous formula some see in it, is an original, yet deeply traditional insight of St. Maximilian. It describes very exactly the Marian mode of Eucharistic communion, or better the Eucharistic dimension of Marian mediation in the soul, precisely because it is the mediation of the Immaculate.

The first known instance of the saint’s use of this phrase occurs in a letter to Fr. Vivoda (1) where he is discussing total consecration to the Immaculate in a context clearly Trinitarian, where total consecration makes us property of the Immaculate, just as being Immaculate, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, makes her property of the Father (viz., Daughter and Handmaid) and Mother of the Father’s Son. In some ineffable way by becoming her property we share in the Trinitarian life and in the missions of the Son and Holy Spirit. Being her property he defines as our being annihilated in Her, changed into Her, transubstantiated into Her, so as it were to be Her. We are her possessions as She is God s and as She comes to give birth to the Son of God, so transubstantiated into Her we come to give birth to the same Son in the hearts of belong to or will belong to the Immaculate. Divinizatio hominis usque ad Deum-hominem per Dei-hominis Matrem. A few years later in a radio address on the twentieth anniversary of the M.I. he summarized the same notion of total consecration as “transubstantiation” into the Immaculate thus: The Militia of the Immaculate is a global vision of Catholic life under a new form, consisting of our bond with the Immaculate, our universal Mediatrix with Jesus (2).

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Many years ago, during a casual conversation, Fr. Juniper Carol, founder of this Society (the Mariological Society of America), mentioned to me the three crusades, during the half century between 1927 and 1977, of Fr. Charles Balic, the indefatigable promoter of Mary Immaculate and of the subtle Marian Doctor, Bl. John Duns Scotus. These crusades were 1) the anti-debitist, linked to the promotion of the Immaculate Conception in the speculative realm, 2) the coredemptive and 3) the assumptionist (1).

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The following is a response by Fr. Peter M. Fehlner to Dutch layman Hendro Munsterman’s Marie corédemptrice? Débat sur un titre marial controversé (Paris, Les Editions du Cerf, 2006) pp. 104. Euro 18.40.
—Asst. Ed
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The back-cover blurb promoting this book makes the following claim: "The essay of Hendro Munsterman is documented and solid. And clear as well: a first class contribution to contemporary Marian theology."

The author and publishers of this book evidently think very highly of it and make great claims for it. Reality in this case is something considerably different from promise. The thesis of the essay is indeed very clearly stated, and it is very clearly wrong. It is neither documented nor solid and it is certainly not a first class contribution to contemporary Mariological discussion. One can hardly say its author has set forth "the whole truth and nothing but the truth."

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The following article is the continuation of an excerpt from a chapter in the soon-to-be-published Marian anthology, Mariology: A Guide for Priests, Deacons, Seminarians, and Consecrated Persons, Seat of Wisdom Books, A Division of Queenship, 2008. Fifteen international Mariology experts contributed to the text. The book features a foreword by Archbishop Raymond L. Burke and has 17 chapters divided into four parts: 1. Mary in Scripture and the Early Church; 2. Marian Dogma; 3. Marian Doctrine; and 4. Marian Liturgy and Devotion. The book will be available from Queenship Publications in mid-February.
Asst. Ed.

The Immaculate Conception (28)

It is commonplace today to encounter theologians who dismiss the auto-definition of Mary at Lourdes as an impossibility, typical of an over-excited mystical imagination and without theological, much less doctrinal, value (29). Such skepticism is but an aspect of a general minimizing of the Immaculate Conception as a doctrine without any immediate biblical foundation, or as a late blooming theologoumenon, coefficient of an outdated scholastic system of metaphysics and tributary to a questionable Augustinian theory of original sin, since Vatican II historical relics of a bygone age. Assertions of this kind form the basis for proposals to “dedogmatize” the Immaculate Conception and thereby reduce Mariology to the status of a marginal part of theology, dealing with truths on the lower rungs of the “hierarchy of truths,” belief in which is not absolutely necessary for salvation (30).

Careful, honest and objective examination of these claims does not require much time to recognize the unsustainable structure of this kind of argumentation and the gratuitous character of so many of its erroneous assertions (31). Let us focus our attention on one of the most gratuitous, viz., that the mystery now known as the dogma of the Immaculate Conception made a late appearance in the Church, long after the close of public revelation and formation of the deposit of faith. This is simply false. And the demonstration of its falsity not only undermines the credibility of most of the other assertions in modern arguments against the Immaculate Conception, but makes plain the central importance of this mystery within the economy of salvation. The development or process culminating in the dogmatic definition of 1854, rather than creating a new truth, clarified one always believed because always included in the deposit of faith formed by our Lord. It is by first studying this Tradition as it is proclaimed by the living Magisterium of the Church that we come to master a theological (and not merely philological-historical) exegesis of the Scriptures. In studying the Immaculate Conception as framed by Tradition we come to realize what St. Bonaventure means when he says (32) that we find in Scripture not merely a treatise on Mariology, but somehow the presence of Mary in every verse of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. For it is impossible to speak of the incarnate Word without including some reference to the Marian mode of the Incarnation. Appreciation of how the biblical affirmation of the all-holiness of Mary, her blessedness, her absolute immunity from the Devil’s influence, comes to be expressed as the Immaculate Conception, and how this formulation is basic to an understanding of the mysteries of grace and of the Church, arises precisely out of study of this mystery in Tradition. […]

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St. Maximilian Kolbe’s use of three titles—Complement of the Trinity, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, and Created Immaculate Conception—are both Marian and pneumatological. This is the heart of his important contribution to the theological treatise on the Holy Spirit, and indeed may well be the heart both of pneumatology as well as mariology.

The titles only appear in the writings of St. Maximilian after 1932. Whether the order of their appearance is also their chronological order in the mind of St. Maximilian cannot be determined, as least as regards Complement and Spouse. It would seem that Created and Uncreated Immaculate Conception are terms which only entered his conscious reflection just before his arrest. How much before the dictation (Feb. 17, 1941) of his last material for the book on the Immaculate Conception, never completed, is not certain. Nonetheless the insight is not unconnected with the many years of reflection on Our Lady’s autodefinition at Lourdes: I am the Immaculate Conception and that of God on Mount Sinai: I am who am (1). […]

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