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Special IMMACULATE CONCEPTION Issue
December 8-9, 1999
SECTION THREE vol 10, no. 233-234
To print out entire text of today's issue, print this section as well as SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO
Wednesday, December 8, 1999
WEDNESDAY December 8:
Feast of the Solemnity of the IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF MARY
HOLY DAY OF OBLIGATION
First Reading: Genesis 3: 9-15, 20
Psalms: Psalm 98: 1-4
Second Reading: Ephesians 1: 3-6, 11-12
Gospel Reading: Luke 1: 26-38
SOLEMNITY OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF MARY
This feast was established for the universal Church by Pope Pius IX when He proclaimed that from all eternity, the Triune Divinity chose the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the tabernacle of the Son of God. The Dogma of the Immaculate Conception proclaimed once and for all that it was unthinkable that Mary be defiled in any way by sin in any manner whatsoever. Thus, in that infinitesmal second that God created Mary He made her Immaculate. This grace, like all other graces since Adam and Eve's fall, was given to Mary through the merits of her Divine Son Jesus. She stood alone as one free of the stain of original sin, redeemed not from the evil already present at birth, but from any evil that threatened this sacred temple known as the Mother of God. This was confirmed in the infallible words of Pius IX, "The most holy Virgin Mary was, in the first moment of her conception, by a unique gift of grace and privilege of Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ the Redeemer of mankind, preserved free from all stain of original sin." Saint Ephrem first held this belief in the fourth century. Seven centuries later the crusaders brought this belief back to the Western Church from the Eastern Church in the Holy Land where, since 750, it had been celebrated on December 9 along with the feast of Saint Anne who had conceived the Blessed Mother. In 1050 a feast honoring Mary's conception was offered by Pope Leo IX. In the twelfth century the Franciscan Father Duns Scotus defended the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception and was listed in the Roman Calendar in the year 1476 by Pope Sixtus IV. In 1708 Pope Clement XI made the conception of Our Lady a feast of obligation. Nearly 150 years later in 1854, Pius IX proclaimed it the feast of the Immaculate Conception. This interestingly followed the lead of the United States Bishops eight years earlier who had decreed in 1846 that the U.S. was consecrated to Mary's Immaculate Conception and assigned December 8 as the official feast of their Heavenly patron. Four years after Pius IX's infallible pronouncement, Our Lady herself confirmed this dogma at Lourdes when she proclaimed to the visionary Saint Bernadette Soubirous, "I am the Immaculate Conception."
Thursday, December 9, 1999
Thursday December 9:
Thursday in the Second Week of Advent and
Feast of Blessed Juan Diego, hermit and Guadalupe visionary
Violet or white vestments
First Reading: Isaiah 41: 13-20
Psalms: Psalm 145, 1, 9-13
Gospel Reading: Matthew 11: 11-15
Feast of Blessed Juan Diego, Hermit and Visionary of Guadalupe
Ten years after Hernando Cortez conquered Mexico for the world, Our Lady began her conquest of Mexico and all of the Americas for her Divine Son's world when she chose a simple peasant to convey one of the greatest miracles in the history of apparitions. On a frosty December morning in 1531 Blessed Juan Diego, a 51-year-old Aztec peasant. Juan and his wife, whose name is not recorded, were recent converts to Catholicism due to the influence of the Spanish evangelization which Cortez brought with him from Spain. Juan, a recent convert to Catholicism from the pagan Aztec traditions and practice that had taken its toll in the human sacrifice of hundreds and hundreds of thousands reaching into the millions. This was one of the main reasons Our Blessed Mother came in 1531, to stop the human sacrifice; both with the pagan Aztec traditions and the senseless slaughter of the Conquistadors who had cut a swath of blood across Mexico on Cortez' march to Mexico City from the Gulf. By exemplifying a gentler, Christ-like nature, not only would the native peoples understand what the missionaries were conveying, but also remind the Spanish soldiers of their roots and prompt them to repent of their warring ways. Into this atmosphere Our Lady chose Juan Diego to impart her message and give to him the on-going miracle of the miraculous tilma worn by Juan on the day of the apparition. In the nature of replacing the ridiculous with the sublime, Blessed Mary asked Juan to have a chapel or church built on the site where there had been an Aztec shrine. This site was the hill of Tepeyac. She asked him to go to the local bishop with this request. One can imagine the bishop's first reaction when he encountered this poor Indian approaching him...and then telling him why he was there. No one should be surprised at the Bishop's response. Bishop Zumarraga demanded a sign that this message Juan brought was truly Heaven-sent. Needless to say, Juan was intimidated and disheartened. He didn't even want to go back to the hill, but through the grace of the Holy Spirit there he was again the next day - December 12th, trembling on Tepeyac Hill both from the winter chill and in trepidation of what he would tell the Blessed Virgin and what, in turn, she would ask him to do. In the custom of the people of his day, Juan was dressed in simple pants and a shirt, sandals, a straw short-visored sombrero and a tilma, which was a scapular-like garment made from a versatile and strong-fibred cactus plant indigenous to this region. Shivering as he waited, he almost did not notice the light and the gentle whisp of wind as Our Lady hovered near the top of the hill. He moved closer and Our Lady sought to allay his fears, bidding him come closer and tell her the Bishop's reaction though she already knew. Juan related his encounter and the need for an outward sign. Our Lady responded with the request that he pick the roses growing out of the rough, semi-frozen tundra of Tepeyac. Juan was aghast to find rich red roses in full bloom and he quickly stooped to pick as many of these rich beauties as he could, gathering them in the full of his front tilma, then pulling it up against his chest to protect them in a pouch-like fashion; then scurrying off to present this "sign" to the Monsignor Zumarraga. Panting and nearly out of breath, he reached the Episcopo alerting the guards outside. His insistance to see the Bishop brought rebuffs from those in the outer circle who thought it odd that an Aztec peasant should be so bold, yet through the grace of God Juan was admitted to the Bishop's chambers and there excitedly exclaimed, "I have the sign, your Excellency!" Impatient, doubting and yet curious, Zumarraga beckoned Juan to approach him. Blessed Diego came near the foot of the Bishop and knelt in reverence as he unrolled his tilma. Juan's eyes were fixed on the fresh petals that tumbled to the floor and did not see the shock and amazement on the Bishop's face as his vision was transfixed on the image he beheld emblazoned on Juan's poor, fragmented tilma. To this day one can see at the Shrine an mega-sized enlargement of Our Lady's eye on the tilma. In the eye, one can see the reflection of the Bishop and his entourage as they stared in disbelief. While transfixed in this incredibility, Juan straightened up and, at once, realized the true miracle Our Lady had endowed. There on his tilma was an image of how she had appeared to him just hours before, in full color. She had appeared to Juan not as Our Lady of Grace, or as a European-kind of visage, but as an Aztec woman standing on the moon, dressed in a finely detailed full-flowing dress or garment that symbolized many of the Aztec traditions. It was an image that would be accepted by the native Indians of this land moreso than the European icons of the Virgin the Spanish had brought with them. As always the Mother of God has a method to her message and the message conveyed stirred the Bishop to a reconversion and a rededication to evangelizing and serving the Indians while preaching the reason for Our Lady's visit. The results, guided by God, spread faster than the December wind blowing across the Mexican terrain. Within a short time, countless native Indians had been brought into Holy Mother Church's fold. To top that, almost instantly the people realized the error of their ways in the ancient Aztec ways of human sacrifice and abandoned the practice. The population flourished and as the Church dwindled in the Old World due to the erosion of the Protestant Reformation, the pendulum of plentitude swung to the New World in graces and conversions. It was the beginning of a reverence and veneration that would be carried through every generation up through today. Many expect Blessed Juan to be canonized, possibly as early as this coming January at the close of the Synod of the Americas in Mexico City.
Friday, December 10, 1999
First Reading: Isaiah 48: 17-19
Psalms: Psalm 1: 1-4, 6
Gospel Reading: Matthew 11: 16-19
WORLDWIDE NEWS & VIEWS with a Catholic slant
After 20 year restoration, Sistine Chapel is finally complete just in time for Jubilee 2000
It took four times as long to restore the paintings Michelangelo created on the ceilings and walls of the Sistine Chapel nearly a half a millennium ago. But the glories of the great masters are now complete and look better than ever, just in time for the hordes of pilgrims and tourists who will pour into the Sistine Chapel to see these wondrous paintings depicting creation, the Last Judgment and scenes from the Old and New Testament. For more, click on Completion of Sistine Chapel.
SISTINE CHAPEL FULLY RESTORED AFTER 20 YEARS' WORK
15th Century Paintings Recover Original Splendor
VATICAN CITY, DEC 6 (ZENIT) - After 20 years of work, the restoration of
the Sistine Chapel is now complete. The last task to be undertaken was
the cleaning of the frescoes on the side walls, which include scenes
from the lives of Moses and Christ.
The final phase of the restoration, which lasted five years, has made
possible the recovery of the splendor of the 15th century paintings that
were commissioned by Pope Sixtus IV, before Michelangelo painted the
Creation on the ceiling (1508-1512) and the Last Judgment on the altar
wall, modifying forever the first artistic conception of this Chapel,
which has witnessed the election of so many Popes.
The restoration was carried out by experts from the Vatican Museums, who
were precise in matters of chronology in the Chapel's artistic works,
and testified to the decisive role of painters like Pietro Perugino,
Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, and Cosimo Rosselli.
The restoration, which was financed by the Patrons of the Vatican
museums, has made possible a thorough analysis of the techniques used by
the artists to decorate the Chapel. The Vatican experts have also been
able to discover with certainty the contribution made by each of the
No coincidence the twelve stars in European Union flag reflect the twelve stars of Mary as is revealed by devout Catholic who designed flag
We all know Our Lady has asked protection of all of Europe and most Catholic Europeans have called on her intercession, but now we learn that the European Union Flag designed in 1950 was inspired by the Blessed Virgin Mary at Rue de Bac for the twelve stars on a blue shield represent the Virgin Mary. It was designed by devout Catholic German artist named Arsene Heitz who recently revealed that his inspiration came from the visions at Rue de Bac and Catholic scriptural teachings. For more, click on Twelve Stars of Mary for Europe.
"COINCIDENCES" OF EUROPEAN FLAG
Designer Inspired by Virgin's Image in Paris' Rue du Bac
ROME, DEC 7 (ZENIT) - December 8 is a very special day for Europe: in
1955, on that day, the European Ministers' delegates officially adopted
the European flag designed by Arsene Heitz, who today is an octogenarian
artist in Strasbourg.
The decision was taken following the 1950 European Council's (one of the
predecessors of today's European Union) convocation of a competition to
design the flag of the newborn European Community. Among many other
artists, Heitz presented several designs, and one was chosen: 12 stars
on a blue background.
Recently Heitz revealed to a French magazine the reason for his
inspiration. At that time he was reading the history of the Blessed
Virgin's apparitions in Paris' Rue du Bac, known today as the Virgin of
the Miraculous Medal. According to the artist, he thought of the 12
stars in a circle on a blue background, exactly the way it is
represented in traditional iconography of this image of the Immaculate
Conception. In the beginning, Heitz saw it as a flight of fancy, among
the many that run through an artist's imagination; but the idea caught
his attention, to the point that it became the subject of his
According to Javier Paredes, Professor of Contemporary History at the
University of Alcala in Spain, in statements sent to ZENIT, "Heitz
listens to God in his interior; in other words, he prays with his heart
and his head. He says he is profoundly religious and devoted to the
Virgin, to whom he never misses praying a daily Rosary, together with
his wife. Because of this, he believes the inspiration not only from his
artistic talents, but from the silent voices that Heaven always speaks
to men of good will, among whom Heitz can undoubtedly be numbered. He is
an artist who, virtually at the end of his life and at the zenith of his
career, can proclaim with the guarantee of authenticity that he recalls
that moment, that he is interested in very few but very important
things, that he regards himself as a man who loves the whole world, but
especially the Blessed Virgin, who is our Mother."
Professor Paredes admits that "neither the stars nor the blue of the
flag are particularly religious symbols, thus respecting the conscience
of all Europeans, regardless of their beliefs."
Indeed, he recalls that "when Paul M.G. Levy, first director of the
Press and Information Service of the European Council had to explain to
the Members of the Economic Community the meaning of the design, he
interpreted the number of 12 stars as a 'figure of plentitude,' given
that in the 50s there were not 12 members in that Council, nor in the
"However, in Heitz's soul the words of the Apocalypse were very present:
'A great sign appeared in the Heavens: a Woman clothed with the sun and
with the moon at her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.'
And, perhaps without realizing it, the delegates of the European
Ministers officially adopted the design proposed by Heitz on the feast
of Our Lady: December 8, 1955," explained Prof. Paredes. "That's a lot
of coincidences, so henceforth it should not be difficult for us to
discover in the folds of the Europeans' flag the smile and affection of
Our Mother, the Queen of Europe, ready to lend a hand in that great
challenge that St. Peter's successor has proposed to us: to
re-Christianize the Old Continent with the example of our lives and the
testimony of our words."
Congregation for the Causes of Saints will reveal on Monday, December 20th those to be beatified and canonized in the year 2000
The long-awaited speculation will be over in two weeks when the Congregation for the Causes of Saints will reveal those candidates that have been confirmed for the title of blessed or saint by Pope John Paul II in the Jubilee Year. While some believe Pope John XXIII and Pope Pius IX will be beatified, most are relatively sure the Fatima children will be on the list and many also expect Blessed Juan Diego to be on the list for canonization. The jury is still out on whether Pope Pius XII and Pope Paul VI will make the list this time even though their process has been going on for some time. For more, click on 2000 Beatifications and Canonizations
BEATIFICATION DECREES WILL BE READ DECEMBER 20
VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- On December 20, the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints will read a series of decrees approving beatification and canonization for a number of candidates.
Many of these beatifications and canonizations will be scheduled for the Jubilee Year. And according to the Italian weekly Famiglia Cristiana, the beatification of Popes John XXIII and Pius IX have already been set for September 3, 2000.
The Congregation for the Causes of Saints has not confirmed the beatification of either pope; in fact, no statement about the cause of any candidate will be made until the official decrees are read in the presence of Pope John Paul II.
In the case of Pope John XXIII, there are two steps remaining before he can be beatified. The Congregation has not yet issued a decree recognizing his "heroic virtue." If such a decree is among those read on December 20, the Congregation must still recognize the validity of a miracle attributed to the late pope's intercession. However, informed sources say that a miracle-- the 1966 cure of an Italian nun-- has already been approved, so that the cause of John XXIII could proceed quickly to beatification.
The case of Pope Pius IX is quite different. The decree recognizing his "heroic virtue" was promulgated in 1985, and in 1986 the Congregation approved a miracle through his intercession. Thus the path is clear for his beatification. But Pope John Paul II has delayed scheduling the ceremony, because of sensitivities in Italy over the role of Pius IX In the political events that led to the unification of Italy. Pope John Paul sought the advice of a panel of historians, who recently delivered their judgment that the political passions had cooled, and the beatification could now proceed.
Other possible candidates for beatification in 2000 include Don Marmion, the Irish Benedictine and spiritual writer; and Cardinal John Henry Newman, the renowned English convert and author.
Despite the absence of any official confirmation from the Vatican, it is already common knowledge that one of the December 20 decrees will clear the way for the beatification of Francisco and Jacinta Marto, two of the three children to whom the Virgin Mary appeared at Fatima. That beatification is already scheduled to take place in Fatima on May 13.
Westminster Archdiocese launches door-to-door campaign to reach out to lapsed Catholics
;If the Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons can do it, why not the Catholics? That is the thinking in Britain where the Westminster Archdiocese is launching a door-to-door campaign for Catholic parishioners to team-up in an attempt to bring lapsed Catholics back into the Church. Many are doing it in honor of the late Cardinal Basil Hume whose brainchild this was. It is a natural since statistics show attendance slipping badly in England. For more, click on Knocking on England's doors.
BRITISH CATHOLICS START KNOCKING ON DOORS
LONDON (CWNews.com) - Lapsed Catholics in London may soon
receive a visit from local parishioners as part of a
campaign to win them back.
The Westminster Archdiocese is leading the way in the
Millennium Campaign to renew contact with the thousands of
Catholics who have drifted away from the Church. Some
parishes have adopted the method of the Jehovah's Witnesses
of door-knocking in pairs.
The campaign was launched on Sunday, less than a week after
new figures were published showing that while estimated
Catholic population has grown to an estimated 4.2 million,
Mass attendance figures have dropped by 30,000 over the
last year to just 1,056,027.
Westminster has responded by starting an outreach program
asking parishes to set up teams who will write to lapsed
Catholics in the area and visit them at home. The campaign
is led by Auxiliary Bishop Vincent Nichols, who has been
diocesan administrator since the death of Cardinal Basil
Hume earlier this year.
For more headlines and articles, we suggest you go to the Catholic World News site at the
CWN home page and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and the features, dossiers and Daily Dispatches at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.
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December 8-9, 1999 volume 10, no. 233-234 DAILY CATHOLIC