The Nativity of the Virgin Mary |
While everyone, at least most everyone, celebrates December 25 as the Birthday of our Lord, it seems that only committed Catholics honor His Mother on her birthday. So many miss out on the significance of this birth for she was conceived in her mother Saint Anne's womb as immaculate, without the stain of Original Sin. But then why wouldn't the Father prepare the most pure tabernacle for His Son? Makes perfect sense that she would be the most perfect being possible. And if Christ honored His Mother with recognition of such respect and love, should any of God's children ever do less? We didn't think so.
Editor's Note: Denise is the mother of five children in New England. She is the founder of THE CATHOLIC MOM website that promotes motherhood and Catholic Education. This is a practical site organized by Denise for Traditional Catholic mothers striving to impart the Faith in their children. She offers a myriad of topics and links to things that are both important and helpful to today's mom in raising truly Catholic children in these times when they are so ravaged by the world, the flesh and the devil. Our Catholic moms are the hope for the restoration of the Church through their offspring, our leaders of tomorrow. Recently this Catholic Mom has been fighting cancer, accepting her cross as she juggles treatments with motherhood.
Scripture is complete with the praises of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, exclaiming her spotlessness in all time through her Immaculate Conception, virginal and saintly soul.
"As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters." (Cant. ii. 2)
"Thou art all fair, O my love, and there is not a spot in thee." (Cant. iv. 7)
"My sister, my spouse, is a garden enclosed, a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed up." (Cant. iv.12)
"Thou art beautiful, O my love, sweet and comely as Jerusalem; terrible as an army set in array." (Cant. vi.3)
"One is my dove, my perfect one is but one, she is the only one of her mother, the chosen of her that bore her. The daughters saw her, and declared her most blessed: the queens and concubines, and they praised her." (Cant. vi. 8)
"Who is that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array?" (Cant. vi. 9)
"And the angel being come in , said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou
among women. Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of
salutation this should be. And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God."
(Luke i. 28-30)
Every child at birth is given a name so they may be identified and greeted. "Joachim and Anna's child was given the name of Mary, fifteen days after her birth according to the Hebrew custom. This name will always resound in the Church across the ages, issuing spontaneously from the lips and heart of thousands and thousands of faithful peoples, without losing any of its freshness, sweetness and potency." (Life of the Blessed Mother by a Carmelite of St. M. Magdalen De' Pazzi Ch. VI Page 42; Translated by Daughters of St. Paul; Nihil Obstat John M. A. Fearns, S.T.D. Imprimatur Francis Cardinal Spellman Archbishop of New York; December 7, 1949)
Think how that name not only identified Mary but became our salvation! How often do souls cry out this holy name in times of temptation, at death, during an emergency, when a favor is needed? At every turn through her name, Mary gives souls hope for change, for conversion and for Heaven!
"Mary signifies star of the sea, lady, strength, beauty, illuminatrix, grace and sweetness."
Mary's birth also gives hope to souls in desperation because they can look to the faith and longings of her mother St. Anne who hoped amongst the impossible to become fruitful where she had been barren.
For years she and St. Joachim watched as their neighbors had child after child after child and they were ridiculed as being punished by God. Instead though God was planning to show his glory through showing them mercy as St. Paul describes Our Lord in Romans "That He might shew the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He hath prepared unto glory." (Romans ix. 23)
This reminds me of a story I read recently of two friends who married and one had eight children and the other one had none. For years the barren one pined away in longing wondering why God had so blessed her friend but seemingly abandoned her. But, one day her friend got sick and died and the husband went mad and couldn't care for the children. The barren couple took the children unto their own and finally understood why God had left them so barren all those years.
A mother robbed of children has on open heart and cannot look upon the sufferings of others with disdain as she knows their pain. Think of the pain that those eight children went through by the loss of their mother. Only a new mother who had gone through such suffering herself could understand and welcome them with an open heart.
By Our Lord creating years and years and years and years of longing in St. Anne's heart it prepared and purified her for the great vocation she was to be given to care for the future Mother of God.
On December 8, 1854 Pope Pius IX wrote the encyclical Ineffabilis Deus and defined ex cathedra the Dogma of The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Pope said of her Divine Motherhood
"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 that 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."
On the fifteenth anniversary of the dogma Pope Saint Pius X wrote the encyclical Ad Diem Illum about the Immaculate Conception on Febrary 2, 1904 explaining also the Mariology of the Church.
St. Alphonsus de Liguori who had a great devotion to Mary gives us a litany of praises to her honor in regard to the Immaculate Conception by the Church Fathers in The Glories of Mary (p. 309 Redemptorist Fathers, Edited by Rev. Eugene Grimm; Nihil Obstat Arthur J. Scanlan, S.T.D. Imprimatur Patritius Cardinalis Hayes April 16, 1931; Approbation Andrew B. Kuhn C.SS.R. January 1, 1931)
"St. Ambrose says, 'Receive me not from Sarah, but from Mary; that it may be an uncorrupted Virgin, a Virgin free by grace from every stain of sin.'
Origen, speaking of Mary, asserts that 'she was not infected by the venomous breath of the serpent.'
St. Ephram, that 'she was immaculate, and remote from all stain of sin.'
An ancient writer, in a sermon, found amongst the works of St. Augustine, on the words 'Hail, full of grace,' she says, 'By these
words the angel shows that she was altogether (remark the word 'altogether') excluded from the wrath of the first sentence, and restored to the full grave of blessing.'
The author of an old work, called the Breviary of St. Jerome, affirms that 'that cloud was never in darkness, but always in light.'
St. Cyprian, or whoever may be the author of the work on the 77th Psalm, says, 'Nor did justice endure that the vessel of election should be open to common injuries; for being far exalted above others, she partook of their nature, not of their sin.'"
You may read the rest of the Church Fathers in the Glories of Mary on page 310 and 311.
Mary visited St. Bernadette Soubiroux at Lourdes in 1858 and told her that her name was The Immaculate Conception. Have you ever wondered why our Lady and the Church waited almost 2000 years to bring this dogma to the full attention of Catholics? Perhaps because she knew that our late ages would be so full of sin that we would then need Mary's sinless example more than ever?
When my own little daughter, named after Mary was little she used to carry a statue of Our Lady around with her every where she went. She so loved Our Lady that she made up this song to her when she was only four years old.
I will end here with the beautiful Litany of the Immaculate Conception on her Nativity.
God the Father, Source of all sanctity, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, uncreated Sanctity, Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, Spirit of Sanctity, Have mercy on us.
Most sacred Trinity, one God, Have mercy on us.
Holy Mary Immaculate, Pray for us.*
Virgin of virgins, immaculate,*
Holy Virgin, by predestination immaculate,*
Holy Virgin, in thy conception immaculate,*
Holy Virgin, after thy conception immaculate.*
Daughter of the Father, immaculate,*
Mother of the Son, immaculate,*
Spouse of the Holy Ghost, immaculate,*
Seat of the most Holy Trinity, immaculate,*
Image of the Wisdom of God, immaculate.*
Dawn of the Sun of justice, immaculate,*
Living ark of the body of Christ, immaculate.*
Daughter of David, immaculate,*
Guide to Jesus, immaculate,*
Virgin, triumphing over original sin, immaculate,*
Virgin, crushing the head of the serpent, immaculate,*
Queen of heaven and earth, immaculate,*
Gate of the heavenly Jerusalem, immaculate,*
Dispenser of graces, immaculate,*
Spouse of Saint Joseph, immaculate,*
Star of the world, immaculate,*
Impregnable tower of the Church Militant, immaculate,*
Rose amid thorns, immaculate,*
Olive of the fields, immaculate,*
Model of all perfection, immaculate,*
Cause of our hope, immaculate,*
Pillar of our faith, immaculate,*
Source of Divine Love, immaculate,*
Sure sign of our salvation, immaculate,*
Rule of perfect obedience, immaculate,*
Pattern of holy poverty, immaculate,*
School of devotion, immaculate,*
Abode of chaste modesty, immaculate,*
Anchor of our salvation, immaculate,*
Light of Angels, immaculate,*
Crown of Patriarchs, immaculate,*
Glory of Prophets, immaculate,*
Lady and Mistress of Apostles, immaculate,*
Support of Martyrs, immaculate,*
Strength of Confessors, immaculate,*
Diadem of Virgins, immaculate,*
Splendor of all Saints, immaculate,*
Sanctity of all Christians, immaculate,*
Companion of devout souls, immaculate,*
Joy of those who hope in thee, immaculate,*
Health of the sick, immaculate,*
Advocate of sinners, immaculate,*
Terror of heretics, immaculate,*
Protectress of all mankind, immaculate,*
Patroness of those who honor thee, immaculate,*
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world: spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world: graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world: Have mercy on us.
In thy Conception, O Virgin Mary, thou wast immaculate.
Let us pray, O Almighty and Eternal God, Who didst prepare for Thy Son a worthy habitation, by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary: we beseech Thee that, as Thou didst preserve her from every stain of sin, through the merits of the pre-ordained atonement of Jesus Christ, so Thou wouldst grant that we also may come without spot to Thee. Through the same Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Pray for us to the Father, Whose Son Jesus, conceived of the Holy Ghost, thou didst bring forth.