The Immaculate Conception
(Declared a dogma December 8, 1854 by Pius IX)
On this day, so dear to every Catholic heart, we celebrate first of all the moment when Almighty God, in a vision telescoping the ages, showed Mary both to our first parents and to the demon, as the Virgin Mother of the future divine Redeemer, the Woman destined to crush the proud head of the serpent. This episode is narrated in the first book of Scripture, Genesis chapter 3. We find Her again in the last canonical prophecy of the Bible, the Apocalypse or Revelation of Saint John the Apostle, as the Woman clothed with the sun, having on Her head a crown of twelve stars. In this beautiful vision She is also identified with the persecuted Apostolic Church, obliged to flee into the desert, and as the Mother of a great Head of that Church, destined to govern the flock of the latter times in the final combat, who like that flock is Her own Child. (chapter 12) Mary, like Her Son, is at the beginning and the end of all God's intentions, an integral part of His designs for the Redemption of the human race.
Since by eternal decree She was exempted from all stain of original sin from the first moment of Her Creation, and was endowed with the richest treasures of grace and sanctity, it is fitting that we honor Her glorious prerogatives by this special feast of the Immaculate Conception. We should join in spirit with the Blessed in heaven and rejoice with our dear Mother, not only for Her own sake, but for ours, Her children, for we are partakers of Her glory and happiness. The treasures of the mother are the heritage of the children, said Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus.
We celebrate at the same time the ever-memorable day, the 8th of December of 1854, which raised the Immaculate Conception of Our Blessed Lady from a pious belief to the dignity of a dogma of the infallible Church, causing a great and universal joy among the faithful. The Holy See had already permitted the feast day from the time of Sixtus IV, by his papal bull Cum Praecelsa (1477), formally allowing its celebration for all dioceses desiring it. In 1854, the ancient faith of the people in their Mother exulted.
Reflection: Let us repeat frequently these words applied by the Church to the Blessed Virgin: Thou art all fair, O Mary! and there is no stain in Thee (Cant. 4:7).
The Holy Bible: Old and New Testaments; Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler's Lives of the Saints and other sources, by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).