Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Feast Of The Immaculate Conception

Happy feast of The Immaculate Conception!

Today is a Holy Day of Obligation in the United States, a day on which we celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary (the Immaculate Conception has been, since 1846, the Patroness of the United States). Note that it is she, Mary herself, who is the Immaculate Conception; the day does not refer to Mary's conceiving Jesus by the Holy Ghost, but to the conception of Mary in the womb of her mother, St. Anne, by Mary's father, St. Joachim. What makes her conception immaculate is not that she was conceived by the Holy Ghost of a virgin, as was Christ Our Lord, but that from the very moment of her conception, she was filled with grace by God, Who knew, in His omniscience, that she would say "yes" to the Angel Gabriel and become the Mother of the Savior. Exactly nine months from now, on September 8, we will celebrate Mary's birthday.

James 5:16 tells us that "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" -- and who is more righteous than Mary, the woman chosen by God to bring forth His very Son? As Bishop Fulton Sheen wrote, "It may be objected: 'Our Lord is enough for me. I have no need of her.' But He needed her, whether we do or not. God, Who made the sun, also made the moon. The moon does not take away from the brilliance of the sun. All its light is reflected from the sun. The Blessed Mother reflects her Divine Son; without Him, she is nothing. With Him, she is the Mother of Men."

You will see here where I wrote of a specific devotion - the Three Hail Mary's. What day could be better to begin praying regularly to Our Lady than on this special feast, when God took this pristine vessel and made her the Mother of His only Son, Jesus Christ?

Opening Heaven with the Three Hail Mary's Devotion
One of the greatest means of salvation and one of the surest signs of predestination, is unquestionably, the devotion to the Most Blessed Virgin. All the holy doctors of the Church are unanimous in saying with St. Alphonsus of Liguori: "A devout servant of Mary shall never perish." The chief issue is to persevere faithfully until death in this devotion.

Numerous examples show how agreeable the three Hail Marys Devotion is to the Divine Mother and what special graces it draws, during life and at the hour of death, on those who never omit it for a single day.

This practice was revealed to St. Melchtilde (13th century) while she was beseeching Our Blessed Mother to assist her in her hour of death. Our Lady appeared to her and said:

"I will, certainly. But I also want you to say three special Hail Marys to me every day. The first will be in honor of God the Father, Whose omnipotence raised my soul so high above every other creature that after God I have the greatest power in heaven and on earth. In the hour of your death I will use that power of God the Father to keep any hostile power far from you. The second Hail Mary will be said in honor of the Son of God Who communicated His inscrutable wisdom to me. In the hour of your death I will fill your soul with the light of that wisdom so that all the darkness of ignorance and error will be dispelled. The third Hail Mary will be in honor of God the Holy Ghost Who filled my soul with the sweetness of His love and tenderness and mercy. In your last hour I will then change the bitterness of death into divine sweetness and delight."

Our Blessed Mother also revealed to St. Gertrude the Great: "To any soul who faithfully prays the Three Hail Marys, I will appear at the hour of death in a splendor so extraordinary that it will fill the soul with heavenly consolation."

St. Leonard of Port Maurice, the celebrated missionary, had the Three Hail Marys recited morning and evening in honor of Mary Immaculate, to obtain the grace of avoiding all mortal sins during the day or night; moreover he promised in a special manner eternal salvation to all those who proved constantly faithful to this practice. He gave this devotion of Three Hail Marys as a penance in the confessional, especially for those who were struggling with sins of impurity.

1. Mary will appear to you at the hour of death and console the one who practices this devotion.
2. Mary will obtain for you special graces during life.
3. Avoidance of all mortal sin and in a special manner eternal salvation to all who practice this devotion with perserverance.

Recite morning and evening, three Hail Marys in honor of the three great privileges bestowed upon Our Blessed Mother by the most Blessed Trinity with this invocation at the end: for the morning: "O my Mother preserve me from mortal sin during this day." For the evening: "O my Mother preserve me from mortal sin during this night."
200 days granted by Leo XIII, 300 days for the members of the Archconfraternity of the Three Hail Marys by Benedict XV, and Apostolic Benediction by St. Pius X. Currently this would be considered a partial indulgence according to The Handbook of Indulgences.

Prayer ~ The Hail Mary
Hail Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen+


Anonymous said...

Ah yes I knew she was the immaculate conception (not her Jesus birthing/conceiving). Probably first from some cartoon they showed in CCD once about her visiting the grotto in Lourdes. And she said "I am the immaculate conception" and when Bernadette (I think?) told this to her parents they were like "wtf? what kid would make that up?" At least that's how the cartoon portrayed it.

Anyway, nice homage to Mary you did.

- L

Rubi said...

Thanks for posting all of the info on the Three Hail Mary's Devotion. I've been praying this a lot, since my eldest son was car jacked. One Hail Mary for the young man who held the gun; Another for the young man's mother; And one for my son, who is now drives a truck. An excellent post about Our Lady and this particular devotion. Thanks!