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Notes/Sermons



ADVENT AND THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF MARY

In the interaction of the temporal and sanctoral cycles of the liturgy we often find that the sanctoral cycle (the cycle of Saints’ feasts) intensifies and complements the mysteries recalled in the timecycle of the Year (i.e. Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost.) This is true to an excellent degree with the celebration of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary on December 8th.

This dogmatic feast celebrates the singular privilege of Mary as immaculately preserved from all stain of sin by virtue of the foreseen merits of Christ and on account of her other singular privilege of being the Mother of God. In the Incarnation Christ took his human flesh entirely from His mother Mary. Through the Immaculate Conception, the God-Man Jesus is born of flesh unstained by any sin.

These are the two privileges of Mary: the Immaculate Conception and the Divine Maternity. All of the honors, all of the trust we place in Mary’s intercession, all of the further theological teaching the Church has developed regarding the “Marian dimension” of Christianity—all of it derives from these two privileges. Understand that and the whole of the Church’s Marian life makes perfect sense. It is no exaggeration to say, as St. Bernard of Clairvaux says: “De Maria, numquam satis” (Of the Blessed Virgin Mary, one can never say enough.) 

Take away the dogmatic underpinning of Mary, and it dissolves very quickly into sentimentality. Christ Our Lord and Maria Immaculata Our Lady are not to be sentimentalized and rendered as something icky-sweet, something ornamental fora commercialized season emptied of its Faith-content. God became Man, the-Wordmade-flesh, in order to take upon Himself the sin-guilt of the whole world. The Redemption accomplished once-and-for-all upon the Cross, its merits are now continually applied to individual human souls and the world they live in, throughout all the generations in this, the Last Age of the world. At some point— unforeseen and unforeseeable by us, when the mysterious number of elect souls has been reached — Christ will return to earth in His Second Advent. The Kingdom of God will then have come in all its fullness.

In the economy of salvation Mary thus has an indispensable role, as Mother and Mediatrix of Grace, Co-redemptrix, Advocate. There is the marvelous phrase associated with St. Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort which encapsulates the great mystery: Ad Jesum per Mariam, “To Jesus through Mary”.

The celebration of the Feast of Mary’s Immaculate Conception helps us to concentrate our understanding of the Mystery of the Incarnation and to embrace more fully its saving power in our lives.

About Our Parish

Mary Immaculate of Lourdes is Newton and Needham Massachusetts's oldest Roman Catholic Parish. Founded as Saint Mary's Parish in 1870 it was renamed "Mary Immaculate of Lourdes" when the new Church was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1910. In addition to being a regular territorial parish of the Archdiocese of Boston it is also a "Mission Parish" since 2007 with a special apostolate for the Traditional Latin Mass (1962 Missal).

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"If you are willing to serenely bear the trial of being displeasing to yourself, then you will be for Jesus a pleasant place of shelter."
- St. Therese of Lisieux (+1897)

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