The Immaculate Conception

Today, December 8, is the glorious solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. It is a day that all Catholics should celebrate with joy and thanksgiving because this amazing gift to Mary is also a gift for us!

Immaculate Conception

Image by Murillo (1678) via wikipedia, CCO Public Domain

What is the purpose of the Solemnity?

This solemnity celebrates the great grace given to Mary in virtue of the fact that she was to be the mother of Our Savior: She was conceived without original sin.

We are all born with original sin thanks to our first parents, Adam and Eve. At baptism original sin is washed away. But for Mary, she was freed from original sin at the moment of her conception.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states in articles 490-493:

“Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God,134 was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:

The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.135

The “splendor of an entirely unique holiness” by which Mary is “enriched from the first instant of her conception” comes wholly from Christ: she is “redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son”.136 The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” and chose her “in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love”.137″

This is a wonderful mystery that we would do well to meditate upon. I encourage you to go deeper into this mystery and for more information you can go here.

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Saints and Feast Days in December 2016

Wow. Just wow. There are only a couple more days left before December. I am so NOT ready! Well, ready or not, here it comes, right?! And, of course, with a new month comes a new set of saint and feast days – the last one for the year.

Image by artemtation (2013) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Image by artemtation (2013) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Saints and Feasts

December 2: First Friday Devotions (optional)

December 3First Saturday Devotions (optional)

December 3: St. Francis Xavier, priest (obligatory memorial)

December 6: St. Nicholas, bishop (optional memorial)

December 7: St. Ambrose, bishop & doctor of the church (obligatory memorial)

December 8: The Immaculate Conception (solemnity, holy day of obligation)

December 9: St. Juan Diego (optional memorial)

December 12: Our Lady of Guadalupe (feast)

December 13: St. Lucy, virgin and martyr (obligatory memorial)

December 14: St. John of the Cross, priest & doctor of the church (obligatory memorial)

December 21: St. Canisius, priest & doctor of the church (optional memorial)

December 23: St. John of Kanty, priest (optional memorial)

December 25:  Nativity of Our Lord Merry Christmas! (solemnity, holy day of obligation)

December 26: St. Stephen, the first martyr (feast)

December 27: St. John, apostle and evangelist (feast)

December 28: The Holy Innocents, martyrs (feasts)

December 29: St. Thomas Becket, bishop & martyr (optional memorial)

December 30: The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary & Joseph (feast)

 December 31: St. Sylvester I, pope (optional memorial)

Other Dates to Note

Every Saturday is traditionally dedicated to devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary

December is traditionally dedicated to the Immaculate Conception.

December 7: Pearl Harbor Day, 1941 (USA)

December 21: Winter Begins

December 26: Boxing Day (Canada)

You can print out a pdf version of this here (no opt-in required).

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Tweetable: Saints and Feast Days in December 2016

Why You Should Pray Novenas (and How to Pray Them)

all about novenas

As Catholics, prayer is an essential element to living an authentic spiritual life. There are many ways to pray and one of my favorite ways is by praying a novena. If you haven’t prayed a novena yet, I hope the following tutorial will convince you to give it a try.

What is a novena?

Traditionally, a novena is a prayer that is said everyday for nine days straight. (The root of novena is “novem” which means nine.) There are, however, other types of novenas, such as the St. Andrew Christmas novena which is 26 days. There are also novenas where the prayer is repeated several times a day like the Glory Be to the Father novena.  There are even novenas that are prayed weekly or monthly such as the Sacred Heart Devotion. However, normally, a novena is one prayer said once a day for nine days.

Why pray a novena?

Novenas are beautiful and a very efficacious type of prayer. The prayers are often centered on a particular theme and thus can help you stay focused in prayer, particularly when you are praying for special intention. Additionally, if you are in the habit of praying regularly, praying a  novena elevate your prayer life to the next level. On the flip side, if you are not in the habit of praying, a novena can help you get back into the habit of prayer.

How do you pray a novena?

Usually, especially for a big feast day like Divine Mercy Sunday or the Immaculate Conception, you will use preset prayers. You can find those prayers online or in a Catholic prayer-book. Thus, all you have to do is follow along the prayers for each day. There are many, many different novena prayers that can be said in honor a saint, a feast day, or other need.

There are other ways to pray a novena as well. Really, you can make up your own prayers and pray a novena at any time for any intention. For example, you can pray a novena of Hail Marys every day for nine days for a loved one who is ill, looking for a job, or in thanksgiving for favors received. Another idea is to pray short aspiration prayer for nine days for you and your spouse before your wedding anniversary (or for another couple).

There are many ways of praying a novena and the types of prayers prayed in a novena are endless. You could even do a novena for 12 days or 24 days or even three or five days if that works for you. The basic idea is the same: a set of prayers (or single prayer) said over the course of several days or weeks.

I encourage you to pray a novena soon. And when you do, let me know how it went. I am sure it will enrich your prayer life as it has done for mine!

Other resources to learn about novenas

New Advent

About.com

praymorenovenas.com This is a great site that I found that automatically sends you the prayers of a novena as they come up during the year. it’s website states, ” The PrayMoreNovenas.com community prays 1 novena together each month. You will get the novena prayers for each monthly novena delivered to your inbox on the morning of each day.” This is very handy if you are interested in praying more novenas or at least want to be informed of the various novenas as they come up. I signed up for the emails and although I don’t pray every novena, every month, and impressed with the many different novena prayers that are offered.

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All your questions about novenas, answered.

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All about novenas.

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Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

December 8 is the glorious solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. It is a day that all Catholics should celebrate

Immaculate Conception

Image by Murillo (1678) via wikipedia, CCO Public Domain

with joy and thanksgiving because this amazing gift to Mary is also a gift for us!

What is the purpose of the Solemnity?

This solemnity celebrates the great grace given to Mary in virtue of the fact that she was to be the mother of Our Savior: She was conceived without original sin.

We are all born with original sin thanks to our first parents, Adam and Eve. At baptism original sin is washed away. But for Mary, she was freed from original sin at the moment of her conception.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states in articles 490-493:

“Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God,134 was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:

The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.135

 The “splendor of an entirely unique holiness” by which Mary is “enriched from the first instant of her conception” comes wholly from Christ: she is “redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son”.136 The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” and chose her “in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love”.137″

This is a wonderful mystery that we would do well to meditate upon. I encourage you to go deeper into this mystery and for more information you can go here.

Additionally, this year (2015-2016) the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is extra special because it marks beginning of the extraordinary jubilee of the Year of Mercy! The Holy Father says that mercy is the “beating heart of the Gospel” and that mercy is exemplified in the this solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

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Saints and Feasts in December 2015

Since next week is the solemnity of Christ the King and Thanksgiving, and I won’t be doing much (if any) blogging, I thought I would get a jump start and send out the saints and feasts for December a little early.

Don’t you just love December! I know there is a lot of work and stress that goes into the holidays but we have to make time to remember what the holidays are about: Jesus! Besides Christmas (of course), there are some lovely and wonderful solemnities, feasts and memorials that I hope you won’t be too busy to overlook.

In addition, to make December even more special, December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, begins the Holy Year of Mercy! No doubt this will be a year of great grace!

Saints and Feasts in Dec 2015

Without further ado, here are the most notable dates for December:

Saints and Feasts

December 3:  St. Francis Xavier, priest (obligatory memorial)

December 4: St. John Damascene, priest (optional memorial)

December 4: First Friday Devotions (optional)

December 5: First Saturday Devotions (optional)

December 7: St. Ambrose, bishop & doctor of the church (obligatory memorial)

December 8: The Immaculate Conception (solemnity, holy day of obligation)

December 9: St. Juan Diego (optional memorial)

December 11: St. Damasus I, pope (optional memorial)

December 12: Our Lady of Guadalupe (feast)

December 14: St. John of the Cross, priest & doctor of the church (obligatory memorial)

December 21: St. Canisius, priest & doctor of the church (optional memorial)

December 23: St. John of Kanty, priest (optional memorial)

December 25: Nativity of Our Lord, Merry Christmas! (solemnity, holy day of obligation)

December 26: St. Stephen, the first martyr (feast)

December 27: The Holy Family (feast)

December 28: The Holy Innocents, martyrs (feasts)

December 29: St. Thomas Becket, bishop & martyr (optional memorial)

December 31: St. Sylvester I, pope (optional memorial)

 Other Dates to Note

Every Saturday is traditionally dedicated to devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary

December is traditionally dedicated to the Immaculate Conception.

December 7: Pearl Harbor Day, 1941 (USA)

December 21: Winter Begins

December 26: Boxing Day (Canada)

I pray you will have a blessed and holy Advent leading up to Christmas, filled with joy and family.

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Tweetable: Saints & Feasts in December 2015

Image by artemtation (2013) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

31 Days With Mary: Day 5

Mother Mary(Photo Credit)

Mary: Her Immaculate Conception

“Mary, a virgin not only undefiled but a virgin whom grace has made inviolate, free of every stain of sin.” – St. Ambrose (388)

““God freely chose Mary from all eternity to be the Mother of his Son. In order to carry out her mission she herself was conceived immaculate. This means that, thanks to the grace of God and in anticipation of the merits of Jesus Christ, Mary was preserved from original sin from the first instant of her conception.” – Compendium of the CCC

Offering: The renewal of our baptismal vows.

 

Wordless Wednesday: “I am the Immaculate Conception”

The above quote is from Our Lady to Bernadette in Lourdes during one of her apparitions. When the parish priest told Bernadette to ask Our Lady her name. That was her answer. What is the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception and why are we celebrating the Immaculate Conception today? Find out here and here and here.

Immaculate Conception (Photo credit: Bartolome Esteban Murillo)

(Linked to WW.)