The Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady. (December 8.)

On the Beauty of the Dogma that Declares Mary to Have Been Conceived without Sin.

PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.

My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.

On the Beauty of the Dogma that Declares Mary to Have Been Conceived without Sin.

Represent to yourself the newly created world on that first Sabbath morning, when God rested from His work, and with satisfaction saw “all things that He had made that they were very good,” How fair, how glorious must have been the aspect of creation as yet unstained, undesecrated, the virgin soil as yet under no curse; with what delight must the eye of the first man have rested on the clear azure of the firmament, the pleasing verdure of earth, the brilliant hues of the flowers, among which no poisonous growth proclaimed it cursed by God. When you have placed this scene vividly before your mind reflect that all which you admire so much is but a faint image of the beauty and glory of the ever-immaculate Virgin Mary. And this article of belief, fiercely contested and widely ridiculed, that the Blessed Virgin from the first moment of her conception was preserved and kept free from every stain of original sin by a special gift and grace of Almighty God, through the foreseen merits of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the human race, is not only essentially beautiful, it also satisfies the understanding and delights the heart of man.

1st. Consider that our reason tells us that God had power to work this miracle on Mary’s behalf, and that it was meet and right that He should accomplish it. If God was able to cause Gedeon’s fleece to remain perfectly dry whilst all around the ground was drenched with dew, He was able to preserve Mary alone without spot or stain of sin, amidst all His sin-stained creatures. “If,” says St. Anselm, “it has pleased God to give to the chestnut the peculiarity of being enclosed in a prickly envelope during the time of its growth and development, and thus secured from the possibility of injury, could He not cause the human temple which He was preparing for Himself, for His own abode, although conceived amongst the thorns of sinful humanity, to be completely preserved from contact with those thorns? Assuredly He both could and did do this.” And why was it His will to do this, if not because it was most fitting that Mary should be conceived without sin, for only think what was her high destiny, in what relation she stood to Christ, and what was her position in regard to the devil, and your own reason will show you the justice of this dogma. Consider how repugnant it would be to your feelings to think that a vessel which had been put to a profane use, which had been grievously defiled, even though it had been subsequently cleansed, should be employed to contain the sacred and precious blood of our Lord; or that an altar on which for years abominable sacrifices had been offered to idols, should all at once be used for the celebration of the holy mysteries of Christian worship. Could you imagine it possible that Mary, the chalice of the divinity, the altar of the incarnate God, should have been previously defiled by the stain of sin, that she should, even for the shortest time imaginable have been subject to the power of the devil? “What man,” exclaims St. Cyril, “what man of sound reason would be found to believe that the Son of God having built for Himself a living temple, chosen for Himself a human throne where He was Himself to dwell in person, would have tolerated being compelled to surrender the first claim to that dwelling-place, to yield the first use of it to the evil one, to His deadly enemy? Could any reasonable being entertain such an idea for a single instant?”

2d. Consider that this article of belief delights and satisfies our heart. It fills the heart pre-eminently with unspeakable joy. Can it fail to give you real pleasure to see your Mother, your Helper, your Mediatrix, in a word your greatest benefactress thus honored? If you know John the Baptist to have been sanctified in his mother’s womb, would it not grieve you to think that she who is greater than John, who was more than the precursor, who was the Mother of Christ, should have even for one brief moment borne the stain of sin in her mother’s womb? Is it not also a source of unspeakable joy to know that one member at least of the human race was never subject to the power of Satan, your bitterest enemy, your most hateful foe? And finally, does not the sight of so fair a creation of divine omnipotence fill your heart with gladness? Does not the sight of so splendid, so miraculous a work of divine grace fill your soul with rapture? Well may the Church exclaim in the words of the versicle: Thy immaculate conception, Virgin, brought joy to the whole world. Yet the immaculate conception of our blessed Lady is not only a source of rejoicing for the Christian, it is also a source of inspiration and of strength; it inspires us with love for holy chastity, which shines forth so resplendently in the person of the immaculate Virgin, and it strengthens us to sustain the conflict in defense of that virtue when we are assailed by the temptations of that serpent whose head the immaculate Virgin crushes. Let this admonition for holy chastity be the fruit of to-day’s meditation. If you are a Priest, remember that you stand in the same relationship to the Incarnate God as Mary did; if you are a Religious, and therefore like her a Spouse of Christ, take heed that you are indeed a chaste bride of Heaven, and in seasons of conflict and temptation have immediate recourse to the succor and protection of the ever-immaculate Virgin.

PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.

My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.

Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ

(Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: New York, December 31, 1900)

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Four Prayers in Honor of the Immaculate Conception

In Thy Conception, O Virgin Mary, thou wast immaculate! Pray for us to the Father, whose Son Jesus, conceived in thy womb by the Holy Ghost, thou didst bring forth.

An indulgence of 300 days each time. (321)

Blessed be the holy, immaculate, and most pure conception of the most blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God.

300 days’ indulgence each time. Plenary indulgence monthly. (324) When granting this indulgence Pope Leo XIII., remarked: “There is no praise more glorious for so august a Mother, none more pleasing.”

O Mary, who didst come into this world free from sin! Obtain from God for me to leave it without sin.

300 days’ indulgence. (323)

O Mary, conceived without sin, Pray for us who have recourse to thee.

300 days’ indulgence each time. Plenary indulgence monthly. (325)

Petition to the Blessed Virgin

Almighty and Eternal God, Who didst provide for sinners a Refuge and Help in the Blessed Mary ever Virgin, vouchsafe, that through her intercession we may be freed from every sin, and may obtain the blessed fruits of Thy Mercy. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Three years’ indulgence each time. Plenary indulgence monthly. (403)

Act of Consecration to Our Blessed Lady.

Recite the Hail Mary and then add:

My Queen, my Mother! I give myself entirely to thee, and, to show my devotion to thee, I consecrate to thee this day my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart, and my whole being without reserve.

Wherefore, good Mother, as I am thine own, keep me, guard me, as thy property and possession.

500 days’ indulgence each time. Plenary indulgence monthly. (310)

Virgin Mary, thou hast been exalted above all the women of the world by the Lord God Supreme.

300 days’ indulgence each time. Plenary indulgence monthly. (287)

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Come, let us adore the King our Lord, who is to come!

Hymn from the Office of Lauds for Advent

The solemn voice of the Precursor is heard, explaining the obscurity of the ancient figures; let our slumbers cease; Jesus is rising on our horizon.

Let the sluggish soul now rise, and stay no more upon this earth; a new star is shining, which will take all sin away.

Lo! the Lamb is sent to forgive us freely our debt; let us unite in tears and prayers, that we may obtain pardon.

That when He comes the second time, filling the world with fear, He may not have to punish us for our sins, but may protect us in mercy.

Power, honour, praise, and glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Paraclete, for ever and ever. Amen.

Prayers from the Office and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for Advent

V. O Lord, hear my prayer.

R. And let my cry come unto Thee.

Almighty Lord and God, who hast brought us to the beginning of this day, let thy powerful grace so conduct us through it, that we may not fall into any sin, but that all our thoughts, words, and actions may be regulated according to the rules of thy heavenly justice, and tend to the observance of thy holy law. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

V. Incline unto my aid, O God.

R. O Lord, make haste to help me.

Lord God, and King of heaven and earth, vouchsafe this day to rule and sanctify, to direct and govern our souls and bodies, our senses, words, and actions in conformity to Thy law, and strict obedience to Thy commands; that by the help of Thy grace, O Saviour of the world! we may be fenced and freed from all evils. Who livest and reignest for ever and ever. Amen.

V. O Lord God of hosts, come and deliver us.

R. Show Thy face, and we shall be saved.

V. Show us, O Lord, thy mercy.

R. And grant us the Saviour, whom we expect from Thee.

V. The Lord shall rise upon thee, O Jerusalem!

R. And His glory shall be seen upon thee.

Exert, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy power and come; that by thy protection we may be freed from the imminent dangers of our sins, and be saved by Thy mercy; who livest and reignest God, world without end. Amen.

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Novena for Advent

Hail and blessed be the hour and the moment

in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, O my God! To hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen.

(It is piously believed that whoever recites the above prayer fifteen times a day from the feast of St. Andrew (Nov. 30th) until Christmas will obtain what is asked.)

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