Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Immaculate Conception

                                                      "Immaculate Conception" by Velazquez

The Church traditionally dedicates the month of December to the Immaculate Conception.   Many confuse this dogma with the doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus.  The virgin birth of Jesus is self-explanatory.  Here is the Catholic Encyclopedia's description of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception:

"In the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December, 1854, Pius IX pronounced and defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary "in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin." 

Though defined only in 1854, the Immaculate Conception was long held by the Church to be among the truths revealed by God.  The feast itself, which is celebrated on December 8, appears to have arisen in eastern monasteries as long ago as the seventh century.  In 1846, a few years before the promulgation of  Ineffabilis Deus,  the first Council of Baltimore decreed that Mary in her Immaculate Conception would be the principal Patron of the United States.

"Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!"

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