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Loneliness at Christmas from Mother of All Peoples on Vimeo.

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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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In her message directed to theologians, the Lady of All Nations not only exhorts all theologians to battle for the papal definition of Mary as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate, but also refers to the foundation of her co-redeeming role with Jesus as steeming from her Immaculate Conception.   The Marian apparitions of the Lady of All Nations were declared to be of “supernatural origin” by the Bishop of Amsterdam-Harlem on May 31, 2002. – Ed.

Old thoughts

I see the Lady standing there with a very serious look on her face. She says to me,
“Here I am again. Listen carefully! From the beginning, the Handmaid of the Lord was chosen to be the Coredemptrix. Tell your theologians that they can find everything in their books.”

Now I see an old library with lots of books. The Lady points this out to me. She pauses for a moment and smiles to herself as if inwardly amused. Nearly whispering, she says,
“I am not bringing a new doctrine. I am now bringing old thoughts.”

The Immaculate Conception

The Lady pauses again and then says,
“Because Mary is Coredemptrix, she is also Mediatrix, she is also Advocate. Not only because she is the Mother of the Lord Jesus Christ, but––and mark this well––because she is the Immaculate Conception. Theologians, I ask you: do you still have objections to this dogma? You will be able to find these words and thoughts. I ask you to work for this dogma. No, do not be afraid! A fight will break out. They, the others, will attack you; but the simplicity of this dogma lies in these last thoughts which Mary, the Lady of All Nations, gives you today. Fight for and ask for this dogma. It is the crowning of your Lady.”

The Lady says all of this with emphasis on almost every word.

The Lady and the Holy Spirit – The Apostles

Then she gazes before herself for a long time. She has a peculiar expression on her face; it is as if she looks like Mary of long ago, when she was still in the world. Then she says,
“The Lady, the Handmaid of the Lord, was chosen and made fruitful by the Holy Spirit.”

Now the Lady pauses and I see a haze, a radiant veil coming about her. Then she says, very slowly,
“The Lady was chosen. She was also to be present when the Holy Spirit was received. The Holy Spirit had to come over the Apostles,”
and, raising her forefinger, the Lady says with emphasis,
“the first theologians! For this reason, the Lord wanted His Mother to be present there. His Mother, the Lady of All Nations, at the departure of her Son became the Lady of All Nations, the Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate in the presence of one Apostle, one theologian as witness. For he had to care for the Mother. She had to care for her Apostles.”

As she says these last words, I first see someone from former times standing beside her, a young man in a long garment. Then that person is gone and I see several priests standing about her.

Keystone of Marian thought

Now the Lady looks at me and says with emphasis,
“This is the last time that the Lady will speak about this dogma. She will return, but for other matters. Tell your theologians, however, that now they have everything in their hands. Now they have to fulfill the will of the Lord Jesus Christ. This dogma must come as a keystone of Marian thought. Tell the theologians that the Lady of All Nations wants to see this fulfilled.”

The Pope – The Sacrista

Now the Lady spreads out her arms as if she were holding them protectively over something. Then I see the Holy Father, Pope Pius XII. The Lady says,
“I will assist the Holy Father. Mark my words well. He will receive the strength yet to prepare everything. Many changes are to come.”

Now I clearly see the Lady standing above St. Peter’s, and everything there seems to be spinning around. The Lady says,
“The Holy Father is to carry out his lofty plan as quickly as he can! Tell him that the Lady of All Nations has helped him and will stand by him with the strength he needs. The Holy Father knows everything already. The Lady will give him the strength he needs.”

Now the Lady looks very compassionately at Pope Pius XII. Very softly and almost pityingly she says,
“He knows what he has.”

Then the Lady brings her hands back to their usual position and says with emphasis,
“Tell the Sacrista that everything will turn out fine. He shall act and carry through with this cause, in the way the Lady asks of him.”

Message for the bishop

Now the Lady looks at me again and smiles. Moving her finger to and fro, she says,
“Now for your bishop. You shall ask him to make known the prayer and the messages.”

I then see a bishop. I do not know which one. I say to the Lady, “He won’t do it; I am so frightened about having to say that.” The Lady looks at me compassionately, and she says, smiling,
“Do not be afraid, child, but simply ask this. Tell him that the time has now come. He can give consent that it is my prayer. He can give consent to the building of the church. The signs are in my words––tell him that. Tell him also that the Lady wants her image to be placed in public now, and with it the words that the prayer comes from his Mother Mary, who wants to be his Lady of All Nations, too. Tell him: Mary is taking full responsibility for this.

Later I will give more signs, when my words have ceased. I shall return and speak to the nations. All of this had to precede.”

The hand of Satan

Then the Lady gazes before herself very seriously. Around the globe on which she is standing, it is as if I would see heavy clouds going by, while the globe is spinning around. The Lady points at that globe and says very sadly,
“Look at the world. Mark well what I am going to tell you.”

Now the Lady holds up her right hand, opened towards me. I see a large die lying in it. Then the Lady moves that hand as if she were shaking it over the world. Suddenly the scene changes. I now see a very different hand, more like a claw, which leaves me with a horrid, ghastly impression. In the claw, too, there is a die. The Lady says,
“Satan’s hand is passing over the whole world, holding a die. Do you know, Church, Community, what this means? Satan is still the prince of this world. He holds on to everything he can. That is why the Lady of All Nations had to come now, in this time. For she is the Immaculate Conception and thus the Coredemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate. These three thoughts in one. Theologians, do you hear this well?”

And it is as if the Lady would put three parts of something into one another, into one whole. Then she says,
“The Lady had to bring her prayer now over this satanic world. For the Holy Spirit is still to come over the peoples. Understand this message well. Pray my prayer then, peoples, that the Holy Spirit shall really and truly come.”

At this last sentence the Lady held up her hands, folded, as if to show people how they should pray.

Sacrifice and fight

Then the Lady pauses again, and she looks at me very seriously, yet with a smile. She says,
“And you, child, you are afraid to pass on all of this? Then the Lady tells you: let them come with all their needs, spiritual and bodily. The Lady is here and she will bring them back and help them. Make a sacrifice of your life. Tell your spiritual director that the Lord always chooses the weak for His exalted plans. He can be at ease.”

Now the Lady gazes into the distance and says,
“And to all the others: work on; fight for the Lady of All Nations, who must come in this time. I will help them.
I will return on May 31st.”

And then the Lady goes away very slowly.

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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 presentation was given at the Mariological Symposium held at Washington, D.C., on February 21, 2004, entitled “The Immaculate Conception in the Life of the Church: A Theological Symposium in Honor of the 150th Anniversary of the Proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception.” The article is available in a printed booklet version from Queenship Publications, 1-800-647-9882 or www. queenship@org.

On February 17, 1941, the “Property” of the Immaculata, Fr. Maximilian Kolbe, was arrested by the Nazi Gestapo, eventually leading to his martyrdom in Auschwitz. During the few hours before his arrest, Fr. Maximilian was inspired to write the heart of his unparalleled mariological ponderings regarding the “Immaculate Conception.”

The following are excerpts from this last written testimony:

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The Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, solemnly defined in 1854, attests to the indescribable and unfathomable mercy and power of the Triune God, manifested in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Standing firmly on both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, the Apostolic Constitution of Pius IX urges all believers to ponder more deeply this great mystery. This article was excerpted from Introduction to Mary, The Heart of Marian Doctrine and Devotion, Queenship, third edition, June 2006. – Assistant Editor

The dogma of the Immaculate Conception, which was solemnly defined by an infallible pronouncement of Bl. Pius IX in 1854, proclaims that Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin. Mary’s preservation from all stain of sin or its effects was a singular grace and privilege of God the Father in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the universal Redeemer of humanity.

Before examining the full solemn pronouncement of Bl. Pius IX (which was issued through an exercise of the papal charism of infallibility by which the Vicar of Christ is protected from error by the power of the Holy Spirit), let us first examine the revealed seeds of this dogma as they are first contained in Scripture and Tradition.

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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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Thy birth, O Virgin Mother of God,
heralded joy to all the world.
For from thou hast risen the Sun of justice,
Christ our God.

Destroying the curse, He gave blessing;
and damning death, He bestowed on us
life everlasting.

Blessed art thou among women
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
For from thou hast risen the Sun of justice,
Christ our God.

­ from The Divine Office – Matins (Morning Prayer)

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Lourdes: I am the Immaculate Conception from Mother of All Peoples on Vimeo.

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St. Maximilian Kolbe, Part IV: The Holy Spirit, “The Uncreated Immaculate Conception” from Mother of All Peoples on Vimeo.

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Before starting to consider what makes Mary the Immaculate Conception, it is good to stress, as St. Maximilian Kolbe did, that these distinctions we make, and which our intellect needs in order to see more clearly and to understand better the reasons why we should love, must not turn into occasions of diversion and distraction in our life of worship.

Our imagination leads us to think of God the Father, of Jesus, of the Immaculata, as the objects of "devotions" which are more or less similar. Instead, we should think of them as links in a single chain, as elements all leading to a single goal: God, who is One in his Trinity. (Letter to Niepokalanów, Nov. 10, 1934)

He insists on this idea:

Day by day, let us strive to belong more and more to the Immaculata, and in her and through her, to Jesus and to God; never should we try to go to Jesus without her. We do not serve God the Father, and Jesus our Lord, and the Immaculata; but we seek to serve God in Jesus and through Jesus, and to serve Jesus in the Immaculata and through the Immaculata. (Letter to Fr. Salezy Mikolajczyk, July 28, 1935)


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Writing in 1986 Prof. George S. Bebis, professor of patristics at the Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts, expressed the basic doctrine of the Eastern Orthodox communion concerning the place of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Christian economy of salvation:

"There is no doubt that the Orthodox Church holds the Virgin Mary in a position of the highest honor. But this is done always in association with Christology. In other words, the Theotókos cannot exist and cannot be venerated out of context from the doctrine of the Incarnation. Also, it should be added that the Orthodox Church accepts the personal holiness of the Virgin Mary and places her in the highest place after the All-Holy Trinity. The Virgin Mary has an eschatological message for us because she already lives in the eschaton; she enjoys the delightful fruits of the heavenly church of which we should become members through her intercession. She is not a goddess – this would have been a blasphemy – but through her active and voluntary participation in the divine plan of salvation, she is our loving mother and intercedes for all of us. This is why the monks of the Holy Mountain (Mount Athos, which is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and is called the "Garden of the Theotókos" ), while praying the Jesus Prayer, also pray wholeheartedly to the All-Holy Mother of God for the salvation of their souls. Orthodox theologians today, following the Scriptures and the Fathers of the Church, speak about the great mystery of the Incarnation and the great mystery of the Virgin Mary because beyond and above the beautiful, poetic language of ecclesiastical hymns, and aside from the splendid rhetorical schemes of the homilies, the mystery of the Incarnation has been experienced only by the Virgin Mary herself. It is because of this great mystery, incomprehensible to the human mind, Orthodox theology stands with awe before the icon of the Virgin Mary. All of us should pray that we may become imitators of her purity, humility, obedience, and her love for Jesus Christ, the Son of God, from whom alone our regeneration, resurrection and deification springs forth and becomes indeed a blessed reality" (1).


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The dogma of the Immaculate Conception, which was solemnly defined by an infallible pronouncement of Bl. Pius IX in 1854, proclaims that Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin. Mary’s preservation from all stain of sin or its effects was a singular grace and privilege of God the Father in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the universal Redeemer of humanity.

Before examining the full solemn pronouncement of Bl. Pius IX (which was issued through an exercise of the papal charism of infallibility by which the Vicar of Christ is protected from error by the power of the Holy Spirit), let us first examine the revealed seeds of this dogma as they are first contained in Scripture and Tradition.

[...]

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The following article is the final part of a chapter in the recently 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.
Asst. Ed.

From “Franciscan Thesis” (Opinio Minorum) to Defined Dogma

With the contribution of Scotus to a precise theological understanding of the mystery of the all-holiness, incomparable blessedness, most perfect graciousness and acceptability to the heavenly Father of his first-born daughter, Mary, the subsequent development of the doctrine known now as the Immaculate Conception up to its solemn definition in 1854, though drawn out, is relatively simple and easy to summarize. For from 1308 (year of the death of Scotus in Cologne) the problematic ultimately assumed in the Bull Ineffabilis Deus remained essentially the same. The power fueling that subsequent development first appears clearly in the explanation of Scotus, an explanation that relates the universal need of redemption to the absolute primacy of Christ (so including both Mary who descended from Adam but did not contract original sin, and the angels who did not sin) rather than to descent from Adam and contraction of original sin or the so-called debitum.

In establishing a distinctive link between the Immaculate Conception and the headship of Christ, Scotus has effectively defined the redemption in terms of the mediation of Christ, not the mediation in terms of the work of redemption. That mediation includes Mary Immaculate as Mediatrix; hence, her inclusion under Christ in the work of redemption, not to be purified but in being “preserved” to actively cooperate in the purification or liberation of the rest of his brethren and of her offspring (cf. Rev 12:17). Conversely, the Immaculate Conception is not merely an isolated, arbitrary exception to a universal rule, the debt of contracting original sin; it is the Marian mode of the absolute primacy of Christ, a mode found in each of the saving mysteries of Christ’s life and work: in his conception and birth, his public life, his Passion, death and Resurrection, his glorification of the Church. [...]

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Introduction

The recent history of Mariology has not always been told and so the recent reinvigoration of the movement for a fifth Marian Dogma by the group of five Cardinals remains a curiosity to some. Others believe the movement should be dropped since Cardinal Ratzinger in the year 2000 mentioned in an interview with Peter Seewald that he was not in favor of the title “Co-redemptrix.” The interview caused a stir in the English-speaking world when it was published two years later in God and the World; used ever since to question those who speak of the need for the official promulgation of the title. Since then, many still fail to make the distinction that Cardinal Ratzinger was not pope at that time, and he was not speaking in an official capacity. In fact, a careful examination of Joseph Ratzinger’s writings reveals he has a much deeper Mariology and understanding of all the issues necessary for such a title; he actually provides foundations that were missing in previous attempts to clarify the need for the title “Co-redemptrix.”

The intention of this article is to demonstrate that promulgation of the title and dogma “Co-redemptrix” is not a luxury but much rather a necessity, as even the dying of many religious orders reveals. John Paul the Great did much to heal misunderstandings in Mariology since Vatican II, but Joseph Ratzinger’s own words still ring true. Concerning Lumen Gentium, he made the statement: “The immediate outcome of the victory of ecclesiocentric Mariology was the collapse of Mariology altogether” (1), an outcome that not even Paul VI’s “introduction of the title ‘Mother of the Church’” could prevent (2). What allowed false interpretations that led to the collapse? What is the needed healing for the Church and the world? The five Cardinals are on the right track. The title “Co-redemptrix” is not a luxury, it is a necessity. It will help make sense of the titles “Mediatrix” and “Advocate” which Lumen Gentium did bestow on Mary. More importantly, it will restore the Mariology that our religious orders and our “domestic churches” (family homes) need to flourish. [...]

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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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The year 2004 marked the one-hundred-fiftieth anniversary of the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. On December 8, 1854, with the Bull Ineffabilis Deus, Blessed Pope Pius IX defined the Immaculate Conception of Mary as a dogma of faith. The dogmatic formula was that “the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant 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” (DS 2803).

Unfortunately, many Catholics, even those actively involved in the Church’s pastoral mission, have only a superficial or insufficient knowledge of the mystery of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. Very few know how to apply this dogma of faith to their daily Christian living. It is in this regard that Pope John Paul II stated that the one-hundred-fifitieth anniversary of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary “may be an opportunity to renew the theological, cultural and spiritual endeavor to communicate to the men and women of our time the meaning and the genuine message of this truth of faith” (1).

John Paul II presented the mystery of the Immaculate in a way that speaks to the heart of men and women of our time. Whereas in the past centuries Catholic dogmatic theology has expressed this truth of faith at times in a rather impersonal and abstract way, John Paul II preferred to speak about Mary in a personal and concrete way. Thus the spiritual, historical and cultural meaning involved in the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception can come alive for us and in this way, too, its close connection with the most fundamental mysteries of the Christian faith becomes apparent. Hence, if one wishes to communicate to the men and women of our time the meaning and genuine message of Mary’s Immaculate Conception all we have to do is explore the extremely rich and enlightening teachings of John Paul II on this truth of our faith. [...]

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Early on in my priestly ministry a woman who is a very good friend of mine confided to me about her state of frustration and annoyance when she discovered that she was pregnant with one of the “middle number” of her six children. Being a good Catholic, she never entertained the thought of abortion and surely never deliberately “rejected” this new life in her womb. Her attitude seems to have been characterized by that Stoicism which many of us try to pass off as “abandonment to Divine Providence,” but which, in reality, represents a rejection of God’s will for us together with those people or situations which He has brought into our lives without our permission.

The invitation to say with Mary “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38) was not readily accepted. Rather, she “resigned” herself to the presence of a child whose “timing” did not coincide with her’s or her husband’s. It may seem a bit harsh to describe her stance as one of rejection, but at base that is what it was: an unwillingness to accept God’s plan and this new life. On the other hand, with three little ones already “under foot” and vying for her attention along with her husband, her attitude was quite understandable. No doubt the rejection was not a conscious refusal, but for all of that it was nonetheless real.

Surely one of the great contributions of modern psychology to child-rearing in our century has been to highlight the importance of the relationship of the mother with the child in her womb from the very time when she becomes conscious of its existence. No doubt mothers have always grasped this intuitively. Still, it is one of the merits the nascent disciplines of psychology and psychiatry in our times to have underscored with ever greater clarity the inestimable importance of the mother/child bonding process which begins in the womb. [...]

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III. Period of Incipient Explicit Faith—from the Council of Ephesus (431) to Eleventh Century

During the period of time covered by the middle of the fifth century up into the eleventh century, the belief in the total sinlessness of the Virgin among the great body of the faithful, by the writers of this era and by the teaching Church, became considerably more explicit. Nevertheless, due to the denial of original sin by the Pelagians, a heresy condemned in 418 at the Council of Carthage, the writers who opposed Pelagius, Celestius and Julian, Bishop of Eclana, seem in some fashion to have denied Mary’s immunity from Adam’s sin. This denial stems, perhaps, from an overly literal interpretation of these early writings, and a failure to weigh duly the polemical exigencies of the epoch. It was held that Christ alone was free from original sin and that all other children of Adam inherited it. (87)

This insistence on the universality of the taint is attributable to the tendency to attach the disorder inherent in the generative act to the transmission of original sin. The element of inordinate concupiscence characteristic of active generation was believed to carry over necessarily into passive generation. Post-Augustinian Western writers were measurably influenced by this doctrine, and it rather effectively prevented what might well have been the logical conclusion to their general teaching on Mary’s exalted sanctity: that she received from God a special dispensation that exempted her from the consequence of Adam’s sin. (88) The well-established “all-holy” quality of the Mother of Christ, formulated and developed with such amplitude in earlier times, and assuredly emphasized between the Council of Nicaea (325) and the Council of Ephesus (431), (89) offered abundant material for the conclusion that Mary was conceived in grace. [...]

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Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary was formulated with absolute precision and for all time in the Bull of Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, on December 8, 1854. The essential words of the definition are these:

The most blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception, was by the singular grace and privilege of almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin. This doctrine is revealed by God and therefore must be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful. (1)

As is evident from the terms of this proposition, there are two constitutive elements in the definition: 1. a declaration of the privilege itself of the Immaculate Conception; 2. a statement of the certitude of that privilege. [...]

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During Mass each Sunday, Holy Day of Obligation and Solemnity we recite the Nicene Creed, praying: “by the power of the Holy Spirit, He was born of the Virgin Mary.” Notice “born of the Virgin Mary” (which also exists in the Apostles’ Creed used when praying the Rosary). What we profess has great significance.

We confess: Mary remained a virgin, “born of the Virgin Mary,” even in the process of giving birth! [...]

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One of the central Marian doctrines of the Catholic Church is the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. This doctrine, which received the added certainty of an infallible definition by Pope Pius IX in 1854, proclaims that Mary was conceived without any stain of Original Sin. Before examining the full solemn pronouncement of Pope Pius IX, which was issued with the papal charism of being protected from error by the power of the Holy Spirit, let us first examine the revealed seeds of this doctrine as they are contained in Scripture and Tradition.

From Sacred Scripture we have at least two passages of the Bible that present the implicit seed of the revealed truth of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. [...]

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Immaculate Conception Prayer

Published on September 29, 2005 by in JP2Imaculate Conception

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Mary, my Mother. Live in me. Act in me. Speak in and through me. Think your thoughts in my mind. Love, through my heart. Give me your dispositions and feelings. Teach, lead and guide me to Jesus. Correct, enlighten and expand my thoughts and behavior. Possess my soul. Take over my entire personality and life. Replace it with yourself. Incline me to constant adoration and thanksgiving. Pray in me and through me. Let me live in you and keep me in this union always.

- Pope John Paul II

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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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This year’s one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the definition of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception rightly inspires much reflection on the profound truth that the Maiden of Nazareth was preserved—thanks to the abundant grace of God in view of the merits won by the God-Man Jesus Christ on Calvary—from Original Sin in order to be a fitting mother for the King Who was to come. Would that this Sesquicentenary usher into our weary world a lasting period of new and deep adoration for the Messiah, intense reverence for His Ever-Virgin Mother and a more genuine commitment to fulfilling the Almighty’s wise plan for our lives, regardless of the sometimes seemingly high cost!

We also hope that this commemoration of the definition of 1854 may convince all peoples of good will that the magnificent and unrepeatable gift of human life is precious and deserves our every effort, no matter how heroic, to protect, cherish and promote it.

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The year 2004 marks the sesquicentennial of the dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception of Mary by Blessed Pope Pius IX in 1854. To celebrate the centenary of the infallible proclamation of this dogma of faith, Pope Pius XII, a great apostle of Mary, declared 1954 a Marian Year, the first one.

In 1858 Our Lady appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes, France. When Bernadette asked the beautiful lady who she was, Mary identified herself in these words: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” This happened four short years after the solemn definition. For the centenary of that miraculous event, the Marian-minded Pope Pius XII pronounced 1958 the Lourdes Year.

Though belief in Mary’s Immaculate Conception never wavered among the truly faithful, for centuries theologians were at a loss to explain adequately and with satisfactory doctrinal clarity this privilege accorded the Mother of Christ. Then in “the greatest of centuries” a humble and brilliant friar brought resolution to this knotty question: how was Mary, who was like all human beings in need of redemption, conceived without sin?
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In answer to our Holy Father’s call to offer a special mariological tribute to the historic memorial of the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of the solemn papal proclamation of the Immaculate Conception (this upcoming December 8th), Mother of All Peoples is happy to provide you with a featured expanded issue in theological honor to this extraordinary Marian dogma and its continued crucial relevance for the Church and the world today.

The following issue comprises nearly one hundred fifty pages of theological, historical, spiritual, and pastoral commentary on the ineffable richness of Our Lady’s freedom from original sin from the first instant of her conception, and her unparalleled plenitude of grace—truly, God’s greatest masterpiece in all creation.

To offer our readers more time in which to appreciate this expanded issue, and to facilitate a greater spiritual preparation for this great solemnity, the proceeding articles will remain posted for the two weeks leading up to and including the anniversary date which commemorates the solemn papal definition by Blessed Pius IX on December 8, 1854.

O Immaculata Co-redemptrix, stainless from your conception, full of grace beyond all human measure, pray for us; pray for our Holy Father; pray for the Church in all its contemporary needs; pray for the entire human family in such need of your suppliant omnipotence for world peace and  for personal sanctification.

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As this year the Catholic world commemorates the sesquicentenary of the dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Blessed Pius IX, there is special reason to reflect on this dogma as a mystery of faith and to consider some of the more recent theological insights that may help us to penetrate more deeply into it.

I. The Mystery

In his brilliant book, Cradle of Redeeming Love, John Saward states that

The human birth of the Son of God is a mystery in the strict theological sense: a divinely revealed reality that little ones can understand but not even learned ones can comprehend. Theological mysteries are truth and therefore light for the mind, but the truth is so vast, the light of such intensity, that the mind is dazzled and amazed. When a man meets a mystery of faith, he finds not a deficiency but an excess of intelligibility: there is just too much to understand. (1)

While Saward’s topic was specifically the “Christmas mystery,” his words are not at all inappropriately applied to the “mystery of the Immaculate,” the creature most intimately linked to the Redemptive Incarnation. [...]

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