Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Immaculate Conception - Eastern Fathers speak

Some Eastern Father's on the Immaculate Conception...

Monday, 08 December 2008
The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Solemnity

Saint Ephrem : «You allowed no stain of Adam's sin to touch the Virgin Mary. Full of grace, she was to be a worthy mother of your Son» (Proper preface of the Mass)

Book of Genesis 3,9-15.20.

The LORD God then called to the man and asked him, "Where are you?" He answered, "I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid myself." Then he asked, "Who told you that you were naked? You have eaten, then, from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!" The man replied, "The woman whom you put here with me--she gave me fruit from the tree, so I ate it." The LORD God then asked the woman, "Why did you do such a thing?" The woman answered, "The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it." Then the LORD God said to the serpent: "Because you have done this, you shall be banned from all the animals and from all the wild creatures; On your belly shall you crawl, and dirt shall you eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel." The man called his wife Eve, because she became the mother of all the living.

Psalms 98,1.2-3.3-4.

Sing a new song to the LORD, who has done marvelous deeds, Whose right hand and holy arm have won the victory.
The LORD has made his victory known; has revealed his triumph for the nations to see,
Has remembered faithful love toward the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.
Has remembered faithful love toward the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.
Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth; break into song; sing praise.

Letter to the Ephesians 1,3-6.11-12.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved. In him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the one who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will, so that we might exist for the praise of his glory, we who first hoped in Christ.

Holy Gospel according to Saint Luke 1,26-38.

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" And the angel said to her in reply, "The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God." Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.

Commentary of the day :

Saint Ephrem (c.306-373), deacon in Syria, Doctor of the Church
Marian hymn

«You allowed no stain of Adam's sin to touch the Virgin Mary. Full of grace, she was to be a worthy mother of your Son» (Proper preface of the Mass)

St. Ephrem the Syrian
Son of God, grant me your own admirable Gift that I may celebrate the wondrous beauty of your beloved Mother! The Virgin gave birth to a son while preserving her virginity; she suckled him who gives nourishment to the peoples; in her immaculate breast she bore him who carries the whole world in his hands. She is Virgin and Mother, what will she not be hereafter? Holy in body, all beautiful in soul, pure of mind, upright in intelligence, perfect in feeling, chaste and faithful, pure of heart and filled with virtue.

May the hearts of virgins rejoice in Mary since of her was born the one who set humankind free from dreadful slavery. May the old Adam, wounded by the serpent, rejoice in Mary; it is Mary who gives Adam a posterity that allows him to crush the accursed serpent and who cures him of his mortal wound (Gen 3,15). Let priests rejoice in the blessed Virgin; she has brought the High Priest into the world who gave himself as a victim, putting an end to the sacrifices of the Old Covenant... Let the prophets rejoice in Mary, since in her were fulfilled their visions, in her were realized their prophecies, in her were confirmed their oracles. Let all the patriarchs rejoice in Mary since she received the blessing promised to them, she who, in her son, has brought them to completion...

Mary is the new tree of life who, instead of the bitter fruit picked by Eve, gives to mankind that sweet fruit on which the whole world is fed. [Sounds like St. Ephrem's 'intermediate' state language at work here; definitely coincides with the Immaculate Conception dogma of the west.]


On the Immaculate Conception
"The Reflection of the Beauty That Saves the World"

ROME, DEC. 9, 2008 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Monday, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, before praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters:

The mystery of Mary's Immaculate Conception, which we celebrated solemnly today, reminds us of two fundamental truths of our faith: in the first place original sin, and then the victory of Christ's grace over it, a victory that shines sublimely in Mary Most Holy. The existence of what the Church calls "original sin" is, sadly, a crushing truth, suffice it to look around us and above all in our interior. The experience of evil is, in fact, so consistent, that it imposes itself and makes us ask the question: from whence does it come? For a believer especially, the question is even more profound: If God, who is absolute goodness, has created everything, where does evil come from?

The first pages of the Bible (Genesis 1-3) respond precisely to the fundamental question -- posed by every human generation -- with the account of creation and our parents' fall: God created everything so that it would exist, in particular he created man in his own image; he did not create death, rather, the latter entered the world because of the envy of the devil (cf. Wisdom 1:13-14; 2:23-24), who, rebelling against God, also attracted men with deceit, inducing them to rebellion. It is the drama of freedom, which God accepts totally out of love, but promising that there would be the son of a woman that would crush the head of the ancient serpent (Genesis 3:15).

Hence, from the beginning, the "eternal counsel" -- as Dante would say -- has a "fixed term" (Paradise, XXXIII, 3): The Woman predestined to be mother of the Redeemer, mother of him who humbled himself to the extreme to lead us back to our original dignity. In God's eyes, this Woman has always had a face and name: "full of grace" (Luke 1:28), as the Angel called her when visiting her in Nazareth. She is the new Eve, spouse of the new Adam, destined to be the mother of all the redeemed. Thus wrote St. Andrew of Crete: "The Theotokos Mary, the common refuge of all Christians, was the first to be delivered from the primitive fall of our parents" (Homily IV, on Christmas, PG 97, 880 A). And today's liturgy states that God has "prepared a worthy dwelling for his Son and, in anticipation of his death, preserved her from all stain of sin" (Collect Prayer).

St. Andrew of Crete
Beloved, in Mary Immaculate we contemplate the reflection of the Beauty that saves the world: the beauty of God that shines on the face of Christ. In Mary, this beauty is totally pure, humble, free of all pride and presumption. The Virgin showed herself in this way to St. Bernadette 150 years ago in Lourdes, and in this way she is venerated in so many shrines. This afternoon, in keeping with tradition, I will also render her homage before the monument dedicated to her in the Piazza di Spagna. Let us now invoke the Immaculate Virgin with confidence, recalling with the Angelus the words of the Gospel, which today's liturgy proposes for our meditation.

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