Den katholischen Glauben kennen, leben, lieben & verteidigen!
Der Begriff der Unbefleckten Empfängnis (lateinisch immaculata conceptio), einer „Empfängnis ohne Erbsünde“, bezeichnet den Glauben daran, dass Maria, die Gottesmutter, durch Gottes Gnade im Moment ihrer Empfängis durch Anna und ihrer Zeugung durch Joachim vor der Erbsünde bewahrt wurde. Maria wird als (virgo) immaculata (concepta) "unbefleckte (unbefleckt empfangene) Jungfrau" bezeichnet und verehrt. Das "Hochfest der ohne Erbsünde empfangenen Jungfrau und Gottesmutter Maria", auch „Mariä Empfängnis“ genannt, wird seit jeher am 8. Dezember gefeiert. Es ist bezogen auf das Fest Mariä Geburt am 8. September, 9 Monate später.
Die unbefleckte Empfängnis ist ein Dogma. Papst Pius IX. verkündete am 8. Dezember 1854 in der Bulle „Ineffabilis Deus“ (der unbegreifliche Gott) als von Gott geoffenbarte und darum von allen Gläubigen fest und standhaft zu glaubende Lehre: „Die seligste Jungfrau Maria wurde im ersten Augenblick ihrer Empfängnis durch ein einzigartiges Gnadengeschenk und Vorrecht des allmächtigen Gottes im Hinblick auf die Verdienste Christi Jesu, des Erlösers des Menschengeschlechtes, rein von jedem Makel der Erbschuld bewahrt." D 1641. VgI. die Enzyklika „Fulgens corona“ (1953) Pius XII.
Der 8. Dezember ist nach der Partikularnorm Nr. 15 in Deutschland kein gesetzlicher Feiertag, jedoch in Österreich.
Erklärung des Dogmas
Unter Empfängnis ist die passive Empfängnis zu verstehen. Der erste Augenblick der Empfängnis ist jener Zeitpunkt, in dem die Seele von Gott erschaffen und der von den Eltern in einem normalen Geschlechtsakt bereiteten Leibesmaterie eingegossen wurde. Das Wesen der Erbsünde besteht (formaliter) in dem durch den Sündenfall Adams verschuldeten Mangel der heiligmachenden Gnade. Maria blieb vor diesem Mangel bewahrt, so dass sie im Zustand der heiligmachenden Gnade in das Dasein trat.
Das Freisein von der Erbsünde war für Maria ein unverdientes Geschenk Gottes (gratia) und ein Ausnahmegesetz (privilegium), das nur ihr gewährt wurde (singulare). Die Wirkursache (causa efficiens) der Unbefleckten Empfängnis Mariens ist der allmächtige Gott.
Die Verdienstursache (causa meritoria) ist das Erlösungsverdienst Jesu Christi. Daraus folgt, dass auch Maria erlösungsbedürftig war und tatsächlich erlöst wurde. Infolge ihres natürlichen Ursprungs unterlag sie wie alle übrigen Adamskinder der Notwendigkeit, sich die Erbsünde zuzuziehen (debitum contrahendi peccatum originale), durch ein besonderes Eingreifen Gottes wurde sie aber vor der Befleckung durch die Erbsünde bewahrt. So wurde auch Maria durch die Gnade Christi erlöst, jedoch auf vollkommenere Weise als die übrigen Menschen. Während diese von der vorhandenen Erbsünde befreit werden (redemptio reparativa), wurde Maria, die Mutter des Erlösers, vor der Behaftung mit der Erbsünde bewahrt (redemptio praeservativa oder praeredemptio). Das Dogma der Unbefleckten Empfängnis Mariens widerspricht darum in keiner Weise dem Dogma von der Allgemeinheit der Erbsünde und der Erlösungsbedürftigkeit.
Die Zweckursache (causa finalis proxima) der Unbefleckten Empfängnis Mariens ist ihre Gottesmutterschaft.
Maria wird in der Bibel häufig als die „neue Eva“ bezeichnet - die Ähnlichkeit und der Gegensatz zwischen Maria und Eva sind ebenfalls ein starkes Zeichen. „Maria ist einerseits ein Abbild Evas in ihrer Reinheit und Unversehrtheit vor dem Sündenfall, andererseits ein Gegenbild Evas, insofern Eva die Ursache des Verderbens, Maria aber die Ursache des Heiles ist“ (Heiliger Ephräm der Syrer).
Argumente aus der Schrift
Die Lehre von der Unbefleckten Empfängnis Mariens ist nicht explizit in der Heiligen Schrift ausgesprochen. Nach der Auslegung zahlreicher Theologen ist sie einschlussweise in folgenden Schriftworten enthalten:
Gen 3,15 EU (Protoevangelium): "Feindschaft setze ich zwischen dir und der Frau, zwischen deinem Nachkommen und ihrem Nachkommen. Er trifft dich am Kopf und du triffst ihn an der Ferse."
Der Literalsinn der Stelle dürfte folgender sein: Zwischen dem Satan und seinem Anhang einerseits und Eva und ihrer Nachkommenschaft anderseits soll ein beständiger sittlicher Kampf sein. Die Nachkommenschaft Evas wird einen vollständigen und endgültigen Sieg über den Satan und seinen Anhang erringen, wenn sie auch selbst durch die Sünde verwundet wird. In der Nachkommenschaft Evas ist der Messias eingeschlossen, in dessen Kraft die Menschheit den Sieg über den Satan erringen wird. So ist die Stelle indirekt messianisch. Vgl. D 2123.
Indem man den Nachkommen der Frau individuell fasste und auf den Erlöser bezog (vielleicht schon die Septuaginta (autoV)), kam man dazu, in der Frau Maria, die Mutter des Erlösers, zu sehen. Diese direkt messianisch-marianische Auslegung wird seit dem 2. Jahrhundert von einzelnen Vätern vertreten, z. B. von Irenäus, Epiphanius, Isidor von Pelusium, Cyprian, dem Verfasser der Epistola ad amicum aegrotum, Leo dem Großen. Die Mehrzahl der Väter, unter ihnen die großen Kirchenlehrer des Morgenlandes und des Abendlandes, hat sie jedoch nicht. Nach ihr steht Maria zusammen mit Christus in einer vollendeten und siegreichen Feindschaft mit dem Satan und seinem Anhang. Daraus hat man in der Theologie der Spätscholastik und der Neuzeit geschlossen: Der Sieg Mariens über den Satan wäre kein vollständiger gewesen, wenn sie jemals unter seiner Herrschaft gestanden hätte. Folglich musste sie ohne Erbsünde in die Welt eintreten. Die Bulle „Ineffabilis deus“ erwähnt zustimmend die messianisch-marianische Auslegung der Väter und kirchlichen Schriftsteller“, gibt aber keine authentische Erklärung der Stelle. Die Enzyklika „Fulgens corona“ tritt unter Berufung auf die Auslegung vieler Väter und Kirchenlehrer sowie der meisten anerkannten Exegeten aufs neue für die messianisch-marianische Deutung ein, die von vielen neueren Theologen als der vom Heiligen Geist beabsichtigte volle Literalsinn (sensus plenior), von anderen als der typische Sinn (Eva ein Typus Mariens) der Stelle betrachtet wird.
Lk 1,28 EU: „Sei gegrüßt, du Begnadete.“
Der Ausdruck „Begnadete“ vertritt in der Anrede des Engels den Eigennamen und muss deswegen eine charakteristische Eigenschaft Mariens zum Ausdruck bringen. Der tiefste Grund, warum auf ihr in besonderer Weise das Wohlgefallen Gottes ruht, ist ihre Auserwählung zur Würde der Gottesmutter. Dementsprechend muss auch die aus dem Wohlgefallen Gottes hervorgehende Gnadenausstattung Mariens von einzigartiger Vollendung sein. Vollendet ist sie aber nur dann, wenn sie nicht bloß intensiv, sondern auch extensiv vollendet war, d. h. wenn sie sich über das ganze Leben erstreckte, angefangen vom Eintritt in die Welt.
Lk 1,41f EU: Elisabeth spricht, vom Heiligen Geist erfüllt, zu Maria: „Gesegnet bist du unter den Frauen und gesegnet ist die Frucht deines Leibes.“
Der Segen Gottes, der auf Maria ruht, ist in Parallele gesetzt zum Segen Gottes, der auf Christus seiner Menschheit nach ruht. Dieser Parallelismus legt nahe, dass Maria ebenso wie Christus vom Anfang ihrer Existenz an frei von aller Sünde war.
Argumente aus der Tradition
Weder die griechischen noch die lateinischen Väter lehren die Unbefleckte Empfängnis Mariens ausdrücklich (explicite). Doch lehren sie dieselbe Einschlussweise (implicite), indem sie zwei Grundgedanken vertreten, die in konsequenter Weiterentwicklung zum Dogma führen:
Die Idee vollkommenster Reinheit und Heiligkeit Mariens. Der heilige Ephräm sagt: „Du und deine Mutter, ihr seid die einzigen, die in jeder Hinsicht ganz schön sind; denn an Dir, o Herr, ist kein Flecken, und kein Makel an Deiner Mutter“ (Carm. Nisib. 27). - Das Wort des heiligen Augustin, dass sich alle Menschen als Sünder bekennen müssen, „ausgenommen die heilige Jungfrau Maria, die ich um der Ehre des Herrn willen ganz aus dem Spiel lassen möchte, wenn von Sünde die Rede ist“ (De natura et gratia 36, 42), ist nach dem Zusammenhang auf die Freiheit von persönlichen Sünden zu beziehen.
Die Idee sowohl der Ähnlichkeit als des Gegensatzes zwischen Maria und Eva. Maria ist einerseits ein Abbild Evas in ihrer Reinheit und Unversehnheit vor dem Sündenfall, anderseits ein Gegenbild Evas, insofern Eva Ursache des Verderbens, Maria Ursache des Heiles ist. Der heilige Ephräm lehrt: „Zwei Unschuldige, zwei Einfache, Maria und Eva, waren sich ganz gleich. Später jedoch wurde die eine Ursache unseres Todes, die andere Ursache unseres Lebens“ (Op. syr. 11 327). Vgl. Justin, Dial. 100; Irenäus, Adv. haer. III 22, 4; Tertullian, De carne Christi 17.
Argumente aus der Vernunft
Es ist unstimmig, wenn man annimmt, das Fleisch, aus dem das Fleisch des Gottessohnes geformt werden sollte, wäre je Sklave des Erzfeindes gewesen, dessen Macht der Gottessohn mit seiner Fleischwerdung zerstören wollte. Daher das Axiom des Pseudo-Anselmus (Eadmer), das Duns Scotus ausformulierte: Decuit, potuit, ergo fecit. (Es ziemte sich, [Gott] konnte es, also machte er es.) Es ziemte sich, dass die Mutter des Erlösers von Geburt an von Sünde frei sei. Gott konnte ihr dieses Privileg gewähren, und deshalb tat er dies auch. Es muss angemerkt werden, dass auch der Profet Jeremia und der hl. Johannes der Täufer Privilegien erhielten. Sie wurden schon im Mutterleib geheiligt, weil sie durch ihren Verkündigungsauftrag den wichtigen Auftrag hatten, den Weg für Christus zu bereiten. Folglich ziemt sich für Maria noch ein grösseres Vorrecht.
„Maria konnte ebenso wenig wie sie die Wiederherstellung der Gnade verdienen. Sie wurde ihr jedoch durch Gottes frei schenkende Güte wiedergegeben, gleich vom ersten Augenblicke ihres Daseins an, und dadurch geriet sie tatsächlich nie unter den ursprünglichen Fluch, der im Entzug dieser Gnade bestand. Diese besonderen Gnadenvorzug besaß sie, um fähig zu werden, geistig und seelisch die Mutter ihres und unseres Erlösers zu werden.“ (John Henry Newman)
Die Immaculata als "Apokalyptische Frau" - Skulptur von Fritz König an der Fassade der Gedenkkirche Maria Regina Martyrum in Berlin-Charlottenburg: unten der siebenköpfige Drache, darüber die Frau, die gebären soll, auf der Mondsichel stehend, und die Strahlen der Sonne als Krone darüber.
Als künstlerischer Ausdruck der Immaculata werden für gewöhnlich Darstellungen angesehen, die Maria als die "apokalyptische Frau" der Johannes-Apokalypse (Offb 12,1-6 EU) zeigen: auf der Weltkugel stehend und die Schlange zertretend, mit Sternenkranz um das Haupt und der Mondsichel zu ihren Füßen ("Mondsichel-Madonna").
Immaculata (Bildband zum 150jährigen Jubiläum des Dogmas der Unbefleckten Empfängnis mit Texten der Kardonale Ratzinger-Meiser-Scheffczyk - 80 Seiten) Fe-Medienverlag
Pur spezial "Immaculata" (Katholisches Themenheft - 20 Seiten, DIN A 5) Fe-Medienverlag
Carl Feckes (Hg.), Die heilsgeschichtliche Stellvertretung der Menschen durch Maria, Ehrengabe an die Unbefleckte Empfangene von der Mariologischen Arbeitsgemeinschaft Deutscher Theologen dargereicht. Schöningh Verlag Paderborn 1954 (395 Seiten; Imprimatur Paderbornae, d. 20 m. iulii 1954 Vicarius generalis. Dr. Tuschen).
Gerhard Lohfink und Ludwig Weimer: Maria - nicht ohne Israel. Eine neue Sicht der Lehre von der Unbefleckten Empfängnis. Freiburg, Basel, Wien (Herder) 2008.
Siehe auch: Novene zu Ehren der Unbefleckten Empfängnis, Litanei zu Ehren der Unbefleckten Empfängnis
↑ Wolfgang Beinert, Heinrich Petri (Hrsg.): Handbuch der Marienkunde, Regensburg 1984, zitiert nach Immaculata. In: ABC zur Volkskunde Österreichs, Austria-Forum
In the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December, 1854, Pius IX pronounced and defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary "in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin."
"The Blessed Virgin Mary..."
The subject of this immunity from original sin is the person of Mary at the moment of the creation of her soul and its infusion into her body.
"...in the first instance of her conception..."
The term conception does not mean the active or generative conception by her parents. Her body was formed in the womb of the mother, and the father had the usual share in its formation. The question does not concern the immaculateness of the generative activity of her parents. Neither does it concern the passive conception absolutely and simply (conceptio seminis carnis, inchoata), which, according to the order of nature, precedes the infusion of the rational soul. The person is truly conceived when the soul is created and infused into the body. Mary was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin at the first moment of her animation, and sanctifying grace was given to her before sin could have taken effect in her soul.
"...was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin..."
The formal active essence of original sin was not removed from her soul, as it is removed from others by baptism; it was excluded, it never was in her soul. Simultaneously with the exclusion of sin. The state of original sanctity, innocence, and justice, as opposed to original sin, was conferred upon her, by which gift every stain and fault, all depraved emotions, passions, and debilities, essentially pertaining to original sin, were excluded. But she was not made exempt from the temporal penalties of Adam — from sorrow, bodily infirmities, and death.
"...by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race."
The immunity from original sin was given to Mary by a singular exemption from a universal law through the same merits of Christ, by which other men are cleansed from sin by baptism. Mary needed the redeeming Saviour to obtain this exemption, and to be delivered from the universal necessity and debt (debitum) of being subject to original sin. The person of Mary, in consequence of her origin from Adam, should have been subject to sin, but, being the new Eve who was to be the mother of the new Adam, she was, by the eternal counsel of God and by the merits of Christ, withdrawn from the general law of original sin. Her redemption was the very masterpiece of Christ's redeeming wisdom. He is a greater redeemer who pays the debt that it may not be incurred than he who pays after it has fallen on the debtor.
Such is the meaning of the term "Immaculate Conception."
Proof from Scripture
No direct or categorical and stringent proof of the dogma can be brought forward from Scripture. But the first scriptural passage which contains the promise of the redemption, mentions also the Mother of the Redeemer. The sentence against the first parents was accompanied by the Earliest Gospel (Proto-evangelium), which put enmity between the serpent and the woman: "and I will put enmity between thee and the woman and her seed; she (he) shall crush thy head and thou shalt lie in wait for her (his) heel" (Genesis 3:15). The translation "she" of the Vulgate is interpretative; it originated after the fourth century, and cannot be defended critically. The conqueror from the seed of the woman, who should crush the serpent's head, is Christ; the woman at enmity with the serpent is Mary. God puts enmity between her and Satan in the same manner and measure, as there is enmity between Christ and the seed of the serpent. Mary was ever to be in that exalted state of soul which the serpent had destroyed in man, i.e. in sanctifying grace. Only the continual union of Mary with grace explains sufficiently the enmity between her and Satan. The Proto-evangelium, therefore, in the original text contains a direct promise of the Redeemer, and in conjunction therewith the manifestation of the masterpiece of His Redemption, the perfect preservation of His virginal Mother from original sin.
The salutation of the angel Gabriel — chaire kecharitomene, Hail, full of grace (Luke 1:28) indicates a unique abundance of grace, a supernatural, godlike state of soul, which finds its explanation only in the Immaculate Conception of Mary. But the term kecharitomene (full of grace) serves only as an illustration, not as a proof of the dogma.
From the texts Proverbs 8 and Ecclesiasticus 24 (which exalt the Wisdom of God and which in the liturgy are applied to Mary, the most beautiful work of God's Wisdom), or from the Canticle of Canticles (4:7, "Thou art all fair, O my love, and there is not a spot in thee"), no theological conclusion can be drawn. These passages, applied to the Mother of God, may be readily understood by those who know the privilege of Mary, but do not avail to prove the doctrine dogmatically, and are therefore omitted from the Constitution "Ineffabilis Deus". For the theologian it is a matter of conscience not to take an extreme position by applying to a creature texts which might imply the prerogatives of God.
Proof from Tradition
In regard to the sinlessness of Mary the older Fathers are very cautious: some of them even seem to have been in error on this matter.
Origen, although he ascribed to Mary high spiritual prerogatives, thought that, at the time of Christ's passion, the sword of disbelief pierced Mary's soul; that she was struck by the poniard of doubt; and that for her sins also Christ died (Origen, "In Luc. hom. xvii").
In the same manner St. Basil writes in the fourth century: he sees in the sword, of which Simeon speaks, the doubt which pierced Mary's soul (Epistle 260).
St. Chrysostom accuses her of ambition, and of putting herself forward unduly when she sought to speak to Jesus at Capharnaum (Matthew 12:46; Chrysostom, Homily 44 on Matthew).
But these stray private opinions merely serve to show that theology is a progressive science. If we were to attempt to set forth the full doctrine of the Fathers on the sanctity of the Blessed Virgin, which includes particularly the implicit belief in the immaculateness of her conception, we should be forced to transcribe a multitude of passages. In the testimony of the Fathers two points are insisted upon: her absolute purity and her position as the second Eve (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:22).
Mary as the second Eve
This celebrated comparison between Eve, while yet immaculate and incorrupt — that is to say, not subject to original sin — and the Blessed Virgin is developed by:
Justin (Dialogue with Trypho 100),
Irenaeus (Against Heresies III.22.4),
Tertullian (On the Flesh of Christ 17),
Julius Firmicus Maternus (De errore profan. relig xxvi),
Cyril of Jerusalem (Catecheses 12.29),
Epiphanius (Hæres., lxxviii, 18),
Theodotus of Ancyra (Or. in S. Deip n. 11), and
Sedulius (Carmen paschale, II, 28).
The absolute purity of Mary
Patristic writings on Mary's purity abound.
The Fathers call Mary the tabernacle exempt from defilement and corruption (Hippolytus, "Ontt. in illud, Dominus pascit me");
Origen calls her worthy of God, immaculate of the immaculate, most complete sanctity, perfect justice, neither deceived by the persuasion of the serpent, nor infected with his poisonous breathings ("Hom. i in diversa");
Ambrose says she is incorrupt, a virgin immune through grace from every stain of sin ("Sermo xxii in Ps. cxviii);
Maximus of Turin calls her a dwelling fit for Christ, not because of her habit of body, but because of original grace ("Nom. viii de Natali Domini");
Theodotus of Ancyra terms her a virgin innocent, without spot, void of culpability, holy in body and in soul, a lily springing among thorns, untaught the ills of Eve, nor was there any communion in her of light with darkness, and, when not yet born, she was consecrated to God ("Orat. in S. Dei Genitr.").
In refuting Pelagius St. Augustine declares that all the just have truly known of sin "except the Holy Virgin Mary, of whom, for the honour of the Lord, I will have no question whatever where sin is concerned" (On Nature and Grace 36).
Mary was pledged to Christ (Peter Chrysologus, "Sermo cxl de Annunt. B.M.V.");
it is evident and notorious that she was pure from eternity, exempt from every defect (Typicon S. Sabae);
she was formed without any stain (St. Proclus, "Laudatio in S. Dei Gen. ort.", I, 3);
she was created in a condition more sublime and glorious than all other natures (Theodorus of Jerusalem in Mansi, XII, 1140);
when the Virgin Mother of God was to be born of Anne, nature did not dare to anticipate the germ of grace, but remained devoid of fruit (John Damascene, "Hom. i in B. V. Nativ.", ii).
The Syrian Fathers never tire of extolling the sinlessness of Mary. St. Ephraem considers no terms of eulogy too high to describe the excellence of Mary's grace and sanctity: "Most holy Lady, Mother of God, alone most pure in soul and body, alone exceeding all perfection of purity ...., alone made in thy entirety the home of all the graces of the Most Holy Spirit, and hence exceeding beyond all compare even the angelic virtues in purity and sanctity of soul and body . . . . my Lady most holy, all-pure, all-immaculate, all-stainless, all-undefiled, all-incorrupt, all-inviolate spotless robe of Him Who clothes Himself with light as with a garment . . . flower unfading, purple woven by God, alone most immaculate" ("Precationes ad Deiparam" in Opp. Graec. Lat., III, 524-37).
To St. Ephraem she was as innocent as Eve before her fall, a virgin most estranged from every stain of sin, more holy than the Seraphim, the sealed fountain of the Holy Ghost, the pure seed of God, ever in body and in mind intact and immaculate ("Carmina Nisibena").
Jacob of Sarug says that "the very fact that God has elected her proves that none was ever holier than Mary; if any stain had disfigured her soul, if any other virgin had been purer and holier, God would have selected her and rejected Mary". It seems, however, that Jacob of Sarug, if he had any clear idea of the doctrine of sin, held that Mary was perfectly pure from original sin ("the sentence against Adam and Eve") at the Annunciation.
St. John Damascene (Or. i Nativ. Deip., n. 2) esteems the supernatural influence of God at the generation of Mary to be so comprehensive that he extends it also to her parents. He says of them that, during the generation, they were filled and purified by the Holy Ghost, and freed from sexual concupiscence. Consequently according to the Damascene, even the human element of her origin, the material of which she was formed, was pure and holy. This opinion of an immaculate active generation and the sanctity of the "conceptio carnis" was taken up by some Western authors; it was put forward by Petrus Comestor in his treatise against St. Bernard and by others. Some writers even taught that Mary was born of a virgin and that she was conceived in a miraculous manner when Joachim and Anne met at the golden gate of the temple (Trombelli, "Mari SS. Vita", Sect. V, ii, 8; Summa aurea, II, 948. Cf. also the "Revelations" of Catherine Emmerich which contain the entire apocryphal legend of the miraculous conception of Mary.
From this summary it appears that the belief in Mary's immunity from sin in her conception was prevalent amongst the Fathers, especially those of the Greek Church. The rhetorical character, however, of many of these and similar passages prevents us from laying too much stress on them, and interpreting them in a strictly literal sense. The Greek Fathers never formally or explicitly discussed the question of the Immaculate Conception.
The conception of St. John the Baptist
A comparison with the conception of Christ and that of St. John may serve to light both on the dogma and on the reasons which led the Greeks to celebrate at an early date the Feast of the Conception of Mary.
The conception of the Mother of God was beyond all comparison more noble than that of St. John the Baptist, whilst it was immeasurably beneath that of her Divine Son.
The soul of the precursor was not preserved immaculate at its union with the body, but was sanctified either shortly after conception from a previous state of sin, or through the presence of Jesus at the Visitation.
Our Lord, being conceived by the Holy Ghost, was, by virtue of his miraculous conception, ipso facto free from the taint of original sin.
Of these three conceptions the Church celebrates feasts. The Orientals have a Feast of the Conception of St. John the Baptist (23 September), which dates back to the fifth century; it is thus older than the Feast of the Conception of Mary, and, during the Middle Ages, was kept also by many Western dioceses on 24 September. The Conception of Mary is celebrated by the Latins on 8 December; by the Orientals on 9 December; the Conception of Christ has its feast in the universal calendar on 25 March. In celebrating the feast of Mary's Conception the Greeks of old did not consider the theological distinction of the active and the passive conceptions, which was indeed unknown to them. They did not think it absurd to celebrate a conception which was not immaculate, as we see from the Feast of the Conception of St. John. They solemnized the Conception of Mary, perhaps because, according to the "Proto-evangelium" of St. James, it was preceded by miraculous events (the apparition of an angel to Joachim, etc.), similar to those which preceded the conception of St. John, and that of our Lord Himself. Their object was less the purity of the conception than the holiness and heavenly mission of the person conceived. In the Office of 9 December, however, Mary, from the time of her conception, is called beautiful, pure, holy, just, etc., terms never used in the Office of 23 September (sc. of St. John the Baptist). The analogy of St. John's sanctification may have given rise to the Feast of the Conception of Mary. If it was necessary that the precursor of the Lord should be so pure and "filled with the Holy Ghost" even from his mother's womb, such a purity was assuredly not less befitting His Mother. The moment of St. John's sanctification is by later writers thought to be the Visitation ("the infant leaped in her womb"), but the angel's words (Luke 1:15) seem to indicate a sanctification at the conception. This would render the origin of Mary more similar to that of John. And if the Conception of John had its feast, why not that of Mary?
Proof from reason
There is an incongruity in the supposition that the flesh, from which the flesh of the Son of God was to be formed, should ever have belonged to one who was the slave of that arch-enemy, whose power He came on earth to destroy. Hence the axiom of Pseudo-Anselmus (Eadmer) developed by Duns Scotus, Decuit, potuit, ergo fecit, it was becoming that the Mother of the Redeemer should have been free from the power of sin and from the first moment of her existence; God could give her this privilege, therefore He gave it to her. Again it is remarked that a peculiar privilege was granted to the prophet Jeremiah and to St. John the Baptist. They were sanctified in their mother's womb, because by their preaching they had a special share in the work of preparing the way for Christ. Consequently some much higher prerogative is due to Mary. (A treatise of P. Marchant, claiming for St. Joseph also the privilege of St. John, was placed on the Index in 1633.) Scotus says that "the perfect Mediator must, in some one case, have done the work of mediation most perfectly, which would not be unless there was some one person at least, in whose regard the wrath of God was anticipated and not merely appeased."
The feast of the Immaculate Conception
The older feast of the Conception of Mary (Conception of St. Anne), which originated in the monasteries of Palestine at least as early as the seventh century, and the modern feast of the Immaculate Conception are not identical in their object.
Originally the Church celebrated only the Feast of the Conception of Mary, as she kept the Feast of St. John's conception, not discussing the sinlessness. This feast in the course of centuries became the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, as dogmatical argumentation brought about precise and correct ideas, and as the thesis of the theological schools regarding the preservation of Mary from all stain of original sin gained strength. Even after the dogma had been universally accepted in the Latin Church, and had gained authoritative support through diocesan decrees and papal decisions, the old term remained, and before 1854 the term "Immaculata Conceptio" is nowhere found in the liturgical books, except in the invitatorium of the Votive Office of the Conception. The Greeks, Syrians, etc. call it the Conception of St. Anne (Eullepsis tes hagias kai theoprometoros Annas, "the Conception of St. Anne, the ancestress of God").
Passaglia in his "De Immaculato Deiparae Conceptu," basing his opinion upon the "Typicon" of St. Sabas: which was substantially composed in the fifth century, believes that the reference to the feast forms part of the authentic original, and that consequently it was celebrated in the Patriarchate of Jerusalem in the fifth century (III, n. 1604). But the Typicon was interpolated by the Damascene, Sophronius, and others, and, from the ninth to the twelfth centuries, many new feasts and offices were added.
To determine the origin of this feast we must take into account the genuine documents we possess, the oldest of which is the canon of the feast, composed by St. Andrew of Crete, who wrote his liturgical hymns in the second half of the seventh century, when a monk at the monastery of St. Sabas near Jerusalem (d. Archbishop of Crete about 720). But the solemnity cannot then have been generally accepted throughout the Orient, for John, first monk and later bishop in the Isle of Euboea, about 750 in a sermon, speaking in favour of the propagation of this feast, says that it was not yet known to all the faithful (ei kai me para tois pasi gnorizetai; P.G., XCVI, 1499). But a century later George of Nicomedia, made metropolitan by Photius in 860, could say that the solemnity was not of recent origin (P.G., C, 1335). It is therefore, safe to affirm that the feast of the Conception of St. Anne appears in the Orient not earlier than the end of the seventh or the beginning of the eighth century.
As in other cases of the same kind the feast originated in the monastic communities. The monks, who arranged the psalmody and composed the various poetical pieces for the office, also selected the date, 9 December, which was always retained in the Oriental calendars. Gradually the solemnity emerged from the cloister, entered into the cathedrals, was glorified by preachers and poets, and eventually became a fixed feast of the calendar, approved by Church and State.
It is registered in the calendar of Basil II (976-1025) and by the Constitution of Emperor Manuel I Comnenus on the days of the year which are half or entire holidays, promulgated in 1166, it is numbered among the days which have full sabbath rest. Up to the time of Basil II, Lower Italy, Sicily, and Sardinia still belonged to the Byzantine Empire; the city of Naples was not lost to the Greeks until 1127, when Roger II conquered the city. The influence of Constantinople was consequently strong in the Neapolitan Church, and, as early as the ninth century, the Feast of the Conception was doubtlessly kept there, as elsewhere in Lower Italy on 9 December, as indeed appears from the marble calendar found in 1742 in the Church of S. Giorgio Maggiore at Naples.
Today the Conception of St. Anne is in the Greek Church one of the minor feasts of the year. The lesson in Matins contains allusions to the apocryphal "Proto-evangelium" of St. James, which dates from the second half of the second century (see SAINT ANNE). To the Greek Orthodox of our days, however, the feast means very little; they continue to call it "Conception of St. Anne", indicating unintentionally, perhaps, the active conception which was certainly not immaculate. In the Menaea of 9 December this feast holds only the second place, the first canon being sung in commemoration of the dedication of the Church of the Resurrection at Constantinople. The Russian hagiographer Muraview and several other Orthodox authors even loudly declaimed against the dogma after its promulgation, although their own preachers formerly taught the Immaculate Conception in their writings long before the definition of 1854.
In the Western Church the feast appeared (8 December), when in the Orient its development had come to a standstill. The timid beginnings of the new feast in some Anglo-Saxon monasteries in the eleventh century, partly smothered by the Norman conquest, were followed by its reception in some chapters and dioceses by the Anglo-Norman clergy. But the attempts to introduce it officially provoked contradiction and theoretical discussion, bearing upon its legitimacy and its meaning, which were continued for centuries and were not definitively settled before 1854. The "Martyrology of Tallaght" compiled about 790 and the "Feilire" of St. Aengus (800) register the Conception of Mary on 3 May. It is doubtful, however, if an actual feast corresponded to this rubric of the learned monk St. Aengus. This Irish feast certainly stands alone and outside the line of liturgical development. It is a mere isolated appearance, not a living germ. The Scholiast adds, in the lower margin of the "Feilire", that the conception (Inceptio) took place in February, since Mary was born after seven months — a singular notion found also in some Greek authors. The first definite and reliable knowledge of the feast in the West comes from England; it is found in a calendar of Old Minster, Winchester (Conceptio S'ce Dei Genetricis Mari), dating from about 1030, and in another calendar of New Minster, Winchester, written between 1035 and 1056; a pontifical of Exeter of the eleventh century (assigned to 1046-1072) contains a "benedictio in Conceptione S. Mariae"; a similar benediction is found in a Canterbury pontifical written probably in the first half of the eleventh century, certainly before the Conquest. These episcopal benedictions show that the feast not only commended itself to the devotion of individuals, but that it was recognized by authority and was observed by the Saxon monks with considerable solemnity. The existing evidence goes to show that the establishment of the feast in England was due to the monks of Winchester before the Conquest (1066).
The Normans on their arrival in England were disposed to treat in a contemptuous fashion English liturgical observances; to them this feast must have appeared specifically English, a product of insular simplicity and ignorance. Doubtless its public celebration was abolished at Winchester and Canterbury, but it did not die out of the hearts of individuals, and on the first favourable opportunity the feast was restored in the monasteries. At Canterbury however, it was not re-established before 1328. Several documents state that in Norman times it began at Ramsey, pursuant to a vision vouchsafed to Helsin or Æthelsige, Abbot of Ramsey on his journey back from Denmark, whither he had been sent by William I about 1070. An angel appeared to him during a severe gale and saved the ship after the abbot had promised to establish the Feast of the Conception in his monastery. However we may consider the supernatural feature of the legend, it must be admitted that the sending of Helsin to Denmark is an historical fact. The account of the vision has found its way into many breviaries, even into the Roman Breviary of 1473. The Council of Canterbury (1325) attributes the re-establishment of the feast in England to St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury (d. 1109). But although this great doctor wrote a special treatise "De Conceptu virginali et originali peccato", by which he laid down the principles of the Immaculate Conception, it is certain that he did not introduce the feast anywhere. The letter ascribed to him, which contains the Helsin narrative, is spurious. The principal propagator of the feast after the Conquest was Anselm, the nephew of St. Anselm. He was educated at Canterbury where he may have known some Saxon monks who remembered the solemnity in former days; after 1109 he was for a time Abbot of St. Sabas at Rome, where the Divine Offices were celebrated according to the Greek calendar. When in 1121 he was appointed Abbot of Bury St. Edmund's he established the feast there; partly at least through his efforts other monasteries also adopted it, like Reading, St. Albans, Worcester, Gloucester, and Winchcombe.
But a number of others decried its observance as hitherto unheard of and absurd, the old Oriental feast being unknown to them. Two bishops, Roger of Salisbury and Bernard of St. Davids, declared that the festival was forbidden by a council, and that the observance must be stopped. And when, during the vacancy of the See of London, Osbert de Clare, Prior of Westminster, undertook to introduce the feast at Westminster (8 December, 1127), a number of monks arose against him in the choir and said that the feast must not be kept, for its establishment had not the authority of Rome (cf. Osbert's letter to Anselm in Bishop, p. 24). Whereupon the matter was brought before the Council of London in 1129. The synod decided in favour of the feast, and Bishop Gilbert of London adopted it for his diocese. Thereafter the feast spread in England, but for a time retained its private character, the Synod of Oxford (1222) having refused to raise it to the rank of a holiday of obligation.
In Normandy at the time of Bishop Rotric (1165-83) the Conception of Mary, in the Archdiocese of Rouen and its six suffragan dioceses, was a feast of precept equal in dignity to the Annunciation. At the same time the Norman students at the University of Paris chose it as their patronal feast. Owing to the close connection of Normandy with England, it may have been imported from the latter country into Normandy, or the Norman barons and clergy may have brought it home from their wars in Lower Italy, it was universally solemnised by the Greek inhabitants. During the Middle Ages the Feast of the Conception of Mary was commonly called the "Feast of the Norman nation", which shows that it was celebrated in Normandy with great splendour and that it spread from there over Western Europe. Passaglia contends (III, 1755) that the feast was celebrated in Spain in the seventh century. Bishop Ullathorne also (p. 161) finds this opinion acceptable. If this be true, it is difficult to understand why it should have entirely disappeared from Spain later on, for neither does the genuine Mozarabic Liturgy contain it, nor the tenth century calendar of Toledo edited by Morin. The two proofs given by Passaglia are futile: the life of St. Isidore, falsely attributed to St. Ildephonsus, which mentions the feast, is interpolated, while, in the Visigoth lawbook, the expression "Conceptio S. Mariae" is to be understood of the Annunciation.
No controversy arose over the Immaculate Conception on the European continent before the twelfth century. The Norman clergy abolished the feast in some monasteries of England where it had been established by the Anglo-Saxon monks. But towards the end of the eleventh century, through the efforts of Anselm the Younger, it was taken up again in several Anglo-Norman establishments. That St. Anselm the Elder re-established the feast in England is highly improbable, although it was not new to him. He had been made familiar with it as well by the Saxon monks of Canterbury, as by the Greeks with whom he came in contact during exile in Campania and Apulin (1098-9). The treatise "De Conceptu virginali" usually ascribed to him, was composed by his friend and disciple, the Saxon monk Eadmer of Canterbury. When the canons of the cathedral of Lyons, who no doubt knew Anselm the Younger Abbot of Bury St. Edmund's, personally introduced the feast into their choir after the death of their bishop in 1240, St. Bernard deemed it his duty to publish a protest against this new way of honouring Mary. He addressed to the canons a vehement letter (Epist. 174), in which he reproved them for taking the step upon their own authority and before they had consulted the Holy See. Not knowing that the feast had been celebrated with the rich tradition of the Greek and Syrian Churches regarding the sinlessness of Mary, he asserted that the feast was foreign to the old tradition of the Church. Yet it is evident from the tenor of his language that he had in mind only the active conception or the formation of the flesh, and that the distinction between the active conception, the formation of the body, and its animation by the soul had not yet been drawn. No doubt, when the feast was introduced in England and Normandy, the axiom "decuit, potuit, ergo fecit", the childlike piety and enthusiasm of the simplices building upon revelations and apocryphal legends, had the upper hand. The object of the feast was not clearly determined, no positive theological reasons had been placed in evidence.
St. Bernard was perfectly justified when he demanded a careful inquiry into the reasons for observing the feast. Not adverting to the possibility of sanctification at the time of the infusion of the soul, he writes that there can be question only of sanctification after conception, which would render holy the nativity, not the conception itself (Scheeben, "Dogmatik", III, p. 550). Hence Albert the Great observes: "We say that the Blessed Virgin was not sanctified before animation, and the affirmative contrary to this is the heresy condemned by St. Bernard in his epistle to the canons of Lyons" (III Sent., dist. iii, p. I, ad 1, Q. i).
St. Bernard was at once answered in a treatise written by either Richard of St. Victor or Peter Comestor. In this treatise appeal is made to a feast which had been established to commemorate an insupportable tradition. It maintained that the flesh of Mary needed no purification; that it was sanctified before the conception. Some writers of those times entertained the fantastic idea that before Adam fell, a portion of his flesh had been reserved by God and transmitted from generation to generation, and that out of this flesh the body of Mary was formed (Scheeben, op. cit., III, 551), and this formation they commemorated by a feast. The letter of St. Bernard did not prevent the extension of the feast, for in 1154 it was observed all over France, until in 1275, through the efforts of the Paris University, it was abolished in Paris and other dioceses.
After the saint's death the controversy arose anew between Nicholas of St. Albans, an English monk who defended the festival as established in England, and Peter Cellensis, the celebrated Bishop of Chartres. Nicholas remarks that the soul of Mary was pierced twice by the sword, i.e. at the foot of the cross and when St. Bernard wrote his letter against her feast (Scheeben, III, 551). The point continued to be debated throughout the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and illustrious names appeared on each side. St. Peter Damian, Peter the Lombard, Alexander of Hales, St. Bonaventure, and Albert the Great are quoted as opposing it.
St. Thomas at first pronounced in favour of the doctrine in his treatise on the "Sentences" (in I. Sent. c. 44, q. I ad 3), yet in his "Summa Theologica" he concluded against it. Much discussion has arisen as to whether St. Thomas did or did not deny that the Blessed Virgin was immaculate at the instant of her animation, and learned books have been written to vindicate him from having actually drawn the negative conclusion. Yet it is hard to say that St. Thomas did not require an instant at least, after the animation of Mary, before her sanctification. His great difficulty appears to have arisen from the doubt as to how she could have been redeemed if she had not sinned. This difficulty he raised in no fewer than ten passages in his writings (see, e.g., Summa III:27:2, ad 2). But while St. Thomas thus held back from the essential point of the doctrine, he himself laid down the principles which, after they had been drawn together and worked out, enabled other minds to furnish the true solution of this difficulty from his own premises.
In the thirteenth century the opposition was largely due to a want of clear insight into the subject in dispute. The word "conception" was used in different senses, which had not been separated by careful definition. If St. Thomas, St. Bonaventure, and other theologians had known the doctrine in the sense of the definition of 1854, they would have been its strongest defenders instead of being its opponents.
We may formulate the question discussed by them in two propositions, both of which are against the sense of the dogma of 1854:
the sanctification of Mary took place before the infusion of the soul into the flesh, so that the immunity of the soul was a consequence of the sanctification of the flesh and there was no liability on the part of the soul to contract original sin. This would approach the opinion of the Damascene concerning the holiness of the active conception.
The sanctification took place after the infusion of the soul by redemption from the servitude of sin, into which the soul had been drawn by its union with the unsanctified flesh. This form of the thesis excluded an immaculate conception.
The theologians forgot that between sanctification before infusion, and sanctification after infusion, there was a medium: sanctification of the soul at the moment of its infusion. To them the idea seemed strange that what was subsequent in the order of nature could be simultaneous in point of time. Speculatively taken, the soul must be created before it can be infused and sanctified but in reality, the soul is created and sanctified at the very moment of its infusion into the body. Their principal difficulty was the declaration of St. Paul (Romans 5:12) that all men have sinned in Adam. The purpose of this Pauline declaration, however, is to insist on the need which all men have of redemption by Christ. Our Lady was no exception to this rule. A second difficulty was the silence of the earlier Fathers. But the divines of those times were distinguished not so much for their knowledge of the Fathers or of history, as for their exercise of the power of reasoning. They read the Western Fathers more than those of the Eastern Church, who exhibit in far greater completeness the tradition of the Immaculate Conception. And many works of the Fathers which had then been lost sight of have since been brought to light.
The famous Duns Scotus (d. 1308) at last (in III Sent., dist. iii, in both commentaries) laid the foundations of the true doctrine so solidly and dispelled the objections in a manner so satisfactory, that from that time onward the doctrine prevailed. He showed that the sanctification after animation — sanctificatio post animationem — demanded that it should follow in the order of nature (naturae) not of time (temporis); he removed the great difficulty of St. Thomas showing that, so far from being excluded from redemption, the Blessed Virgin obtained of her Divine Son the greatest of redemptions through the mystery of her preservation from all sin. He also brought forward, by way of illustration, the somewhat dangerous and doubtful argument of Eadmer (S. Anselm) "decuit, potuit, ergo fecit."
From the time of Scotus not only did the doctrine become the common opinion at the universities, but the feast spread widely to those countries where it had not been previously adopted. With the exception of the Dominicans, all or nearly all, of the religious orders took it up: The Franciscans at the general chapter at Pisa in 1263 adopted the Feast of the Conception of Mary for the entire order; this, however, does not mean that they professed at that time the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. Following in the footsteps of their own Duns Scotus, the learned Petrus Aureolus and Franciscus de Mayronis became the most fervent champions of the doctrine, although their older teachers (St. Bonaventure included) had been opposed to it. The controversy continued, but the defenders of the opposing opinion were almost entirely confined to the members of the Dominican Order. In 1439 the dispute was brought before the Council of Basle where the University of Paris, formerly opposed to the doctrine, proved to be its most ardent advocate, asking for a dogmatical definition. The two referees at the council were John of Segovia and John Turrecremata (Torquemada). After it had been discussed for the space of two years before that assemblage, the bishops declared the Immaculate Conception to be a doctrine which was pious, consonant with Catholic worship, Catholic faith, right reason, and Holy Scripture; nor, said they, was it henceforth allowable to preach or declare to the contrary (Mansi, XXXIX, 182). The Fathers of the Council say that the Church of Rome was celebrating the feast. This is true only in a certain sense. It was kept in a number of churches of Rome, especially in those of the religious orders, but it was not received in the official calendar. As the council at the time was not ecumenical, it could not pronounce with authority. The memorandum of the Dominican Torquemada formed the armoury for all attacks upon the doctrine made by St. Antoninus of Florence (d. 1459), and by the Dominicans Bandelli and Spina.
By a Decree of 28 February, 1476, Sixtus IV at last adopted the feast for the entire Latin Church and granted an indulgence to all who would assist at the Divine Offices of the solemnity (Denzinger, 734). The Office adopted by Sixtus IV was composed by Leonard de Nogarolis, whilst the Franciscans, since 1480, used a very beautiful Office from the pen of Bernardine dei Busti (Sicut Lilium), which was granted also to others (e.g. to Spain, 1761), and was chanted by the Franciscans up to the second half of the nineteenth century. As the public acknowledgment of the feast of Sixtus IV did not prove sufficient to appease the conflict, he published in 1483 a constitution in which he punished with excommunication all those of either opinion who charged the opposite opinion with heresy (Grave nimis, 4 Sept., 1483; Denzinger, 735). In 1546 the Council of Trent, when the question was touched upon, declared that "it was not the intention of this Holy Synod to include in the decree which concerns original sin the Blessed and Immaculate Virgin Mary Mother of God" (Sess. V, De peccato originali, v, in Denzinger, 792). Since, however, this decree did not define the doctrine, the theological opponents of the mystery, though more and more reduced in numbers, did not yield. St. Pius V not only condemned proposition 73 of Baius that "no one but Christ was without original sin, and that therefore the Blessed Virgin had died because of the sin contracted in Adam, and had endured afilictions in this life, like the rest of the just, as punishment of actual and original sin" (Denzinger, 1073) but he also issued a constitution in which he forbade all public discussion of the subject. Finally he inserted a new and simplified Office of the Conception in the liturgical books ("Super speculam", Dec., 1570; "Superni omnipotentis", March, 1571; "Bullarium Marianum", pp. 72, 75).
Whilst these disputes went on, the great universities and almost all the great orders had become so many bulwarks for the defense of the dogma. In 1497 the University of Paris decreed that henceforward no one should be admitted a member of the university, who did not swear that he would do the utmost to defend and assert the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Toulouse followed the example; in Italy, Bologna and Naples; in the German Empire, Cologne, Maine, and Vienna; in Belgium, Louvain; in England before the Reformation. Oxford and Cambridge; in Spain Salamanca, Toledo, Seville, and Valencia; in Portugal, Coimbra and Evora; in America, Mexico and Lima. The Friars Minor confirmed in 1621 the election of the Immaculate Mother as patron of the order, and bound themselves by oath to teach the mystery in public and in private. The Dominicans, however, were under special obligation to follow the doctrines of St. Thomas, and the common conclusion was that St. Thomas was opposed to the Immaculate Conception. Therefore the Dominicans asserted that the doctrine was an error against faith (John of Montesono, 1373); although they adopted the feast, they termed it persistently "Sanctificatio B.M.V." not "Conceptio", until in 1622 Gregory XV abolished the term "sanctificatio". Paul V (1617) decreed that no one should dare to teach publicly that Mary was conceived in original sin, and Gregory XV (1622) imposed absolute silence (in scriptis et sermonibus etiam privatis) upon the adversaries of the doctrine until the Holy See should define the question. To put an end to all further cavilling, Alexander VII promulgated on 8 December 1661, the famous constitution "Sollicitudo omnium Ecclesiarum", defining the true sense of the word conceptio, and forbidding all further discussion against the common and pious sentiment of the Church. He declared that the immunity of Mary from original sin in the first moment of the creation of her soul and its infusion into the body was the object of the feast (Denzinger, 1100).
Explicit universal acceptance
Since the time of Alexander VII, long before the final definition, there was no doubt on the part of theologians that the privilege was amongst the truths revealed by God. Wherefore Pius IX, surrounded by a splendid throng of cardinals and bishops, 8 December 1854, promulgated the dogma. A new Office was prescribed for the entire Latin Church by Pius IX (25 December, 1863), by which decree all the other Offices in use were abolished, including the old Office Sicut lilium of the Franciscans, and the Office composed by Passaglia (approved 2 Feb., 1849).
In 1904 the golden jubilee of the definition of the dogma was celebrated with great splendour (Pius X, Enc., 2 Feb., 1904). Clement IX added to the feast an octave for the dioceses within the temporal possessions of the pope (1667). Innocent XII (1693) raised it to a double of the second class with an octave for the universal Church, which rank had been already given to it in 1664 for Spain, in 1665 for Tuscany and Savoy, in 1667 for the Society of Jesus, the Hermits of St. Augustine, etc., Clement XI decreed on 6 Dec., 1708, that the feast should be a holiday of obligation throughout the entire Church. At last Leo XIII, 30 Nov 1879, raised the feast to a double of the first class with a vigil, a dignity which had long before been granted to Sicily (1739), to Spain (1760) and to the United States (1847). A Votive Office of the Conception of Mary, which is now recited in almost the entire Latin Church on free Saturdays, was granted first to the Benedictine nuns of St. Anne at Rome in 1603, to the Franciscans in 1609, to the Conventuals in 1612, etc. The Syrian and Chaldean Churches celebrate this feast with the Greeks on 9 December; in Armenia it is one of the few immovable feasts of the year (9 December); the schismatic Abyssinians and Copts keep it on 7 August whilst they celebrate the Nativity of Mary on 1 May; the Catholic Copts, however, have transferred the feast to 10 December (Nativity, 10 September). The Eastern Catholics have since 1854 changed the name of the feast in accordance with the dogma to the "Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary."
The Archdiocese of Palermo solemnizes a Commemoration of the Immaculate Conception on 1 September to give thanks for the preservation of the city on occasion of the earthquake, 1 September, 1726. A similar commemoration is held on 14 January at Catania (earthquake, 11 Jan., 1693); and by the Oblate Fathers on 17 Feb., because their rule was approved 17 Feb., 1826. Between 20 September 1839, and 7 May 1847, the privilege of adding to the Litany of Loretto the invocation, "Queen conceived without original sin", had been granted to 300 dioceses and religious communities. The Immaculate Conception was declared on 8 November, 1760, principal patron of all the possessions of the crown of Spain, including those in America. The decree of the First Council of Baltimore (1846) electing Mary in her Immaculate Conception principal Patron of the United States, was confirmed on 7 February, 1847.
APA citation. Holweck, F. (1910). Immaculate Conception. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved December 8, 2018 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07674d.htm
MLA citation. Holweck, Frederick. "Immaculate Conception." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 8 Dec. 2018 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07674d.htm>.
AirMaria.com: Dec 08 - Homily: Immaculate Privilege
Wer meine Arbeit unterstützen möchte, kann dies hier tun:
"Es gibt nicht mehr als 100 Menschen auf der Welt, die die Katholische Kirche wirklich hassen, aber es gibt Millionen, die das hassen, was sie für die Katholische Kirche halten…Wenn wir Katholiken all die Unwahrheiten und Lügen, die gegen die Kirche gesagt wurden, glauben würden, würden wir die Kirche wahrscheinlich Tausend Mal mehr hassen als sie es tun."
Erzbischof Fulton Sheen
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Father Joseph Ratzinger 1969 Prediction of the Future of the Church
In a 1969 German radio broadcast, Father Joseph Ratzinger offered this prediction of the future of the Church:
“The future of the Church can and will issue from those whose roots are deep and who live from the pure fullness of their faith. It will not issue from those who accommodate themselves merely to the passing moment or from those who merely criticize others and assume that they themselves are infallible measuring rods; nor will it issue from those who take the easier road, who sidestep the passion of faith, declaring false and obsolete, tyrannous and legalistic, all that makes demands upon men, that hurts them and compels them to sacrifice themselves.
To put this more positively: The future of the Church, once again as always, will be reshaped by saints, by men, that is, whose minds probe deeper than the slogans of the day, who see more than others see, because their lives embrace a wider reality. Unselfishness, which makes men free, is attained only through the patience of small daily acts of self-denial. By this daily passion, which alone reveals to a man in how many ways he is enslaved by his own ego, by this daily passion and by it alone, a man’s eyes are slowly opened. He sees only to the extent that he has lived and suffered.
If today we are scarcely able any longer to become aware of God, that is because we find it so easy to evade ourselves, to flee from the depths of our being by means of the narcotic of some pleasure or other. Thus our own interior depths remain closed to us. If it is true that a man can see only with his heart, then how blind we are!
How does all this affect the problem we are examining? It means that the big talk of those who prophesy a Church without God and without faith is all empty chatter. We have no need of a Church that celebrates the cult of action in political prayers. It is utterly superfluous. Therefore, it will destroy itself. What will remain is the Church of Jesus Christ, the Church that believes in the God who has become man and promises us life beyond death. The kind of priest who is no more than a social worker can be replaced by the psychotherapist and other specialists; but the priest who is no specialist, who does not stand on the [sidelines], watching the game, giving official advice, but in the name of God places himself at the disposal of man, who is beside them in their sorrows, in their joys, in their hope and in their fear, such a priest will certainly be needed in the future.
Let us go a step farther. From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge — a Church that has lost much. She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes, so it will lose many of her social privileges. In contrast to an earlier age, it will be seen much more as a voluntary society, entered only by free decision. As a small society, it will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members. Undoubtedly it will discover new forms of ministry and will ordain to the priesthood approved Christians who pursue some profession. In many smaller congregations or in self-contained social groups, pastoral care will normally be provided in this fashion. Along-side this, the full-time ministry of the priesthood will be indispensable as formerly. But in all of the changes at which one might guess, the Church will find her essence afresh and with full conviction in that which was always at her center: faith in the triune God, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, in the presence of the Spirit until the end of the world. In faith and prayer she will again recognize the sacraments as the worship of God and not as a subject for liturgical scholarship.
The Church will be a more spiritual Church, not presuming upon a political mandate, flirting as little with the Left as with the Right. It will be hard going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek. The process will be all the more arduous, for sectarian narrow-mindedness as well as pompous self-will will have to be shed. One may predict that all of this will take time. The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism on the eve of the French Revolution — when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain — to the renewal of the nineteenth century.
But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.
And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. It may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but it will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.”
Why did it have to be a friend who chose to betray the Lord?
and why did he use a kiss to show them, that's not what a kiss is for?
Only a friend can betray a friend, a stranger has nothing to gain.
and only a friend comes close enough to ever cause so much pain.
Why did it have to be a thorny crown place upon his head?
It should have been a royal one, made of jewels and gold instead.
It had to be a crown of thorns, because in this world that we live,
all that would seek to love a thorn is all the world has to give.
Why did it have to be a heavy cross he was made to bear?
and why did they nail His feet and hands; His love would have held him there.
It was a cross for on a cross, a thief was supposed to pay.
and Jesus had come into the world to steal every heart away.
Yes, Jesus had come into the world to steal every heart away.
“In this world are many people who do not master their bodies. Such people say that no one can tell them what to do, not even God, and they think that in this way they have no master. In the end they become slaves to anything.”
"Interesting that they call it "gay pride" because pride is the worst of sins and the root of all other sins - in essence a stubborn rebellion against God and his commandments. This parade in Tel Aviv is awful and shameful not only because Israel promotes sexual perversion and the distortion of God's purpose for the human person, but it's even worse because they celebrate it with "pride". Remember that God will extend His protection upon you, Israel, only to the extent that you keep his commandments. In other words, you are inviting disaster upon your nation. Repent!"
Andre Villeneuve on the Gay Pride in Israel
"Nur weil du dich nicht für Politik interessierst, heißt das noch lange nicht, dass die Politik sich nicht für dich interessiert."
Ich habe mich gestern mit jemandem aus der Kirche getroffen. Wir sind beide schockiert über die Zustände innerhalb der Kirche und die Scheinheiligkeit, wie damit umgegangen wird. Wir wollen unseren Teil dazu beitragen, damit sich das ändert.
Unter anderem wollen wir das aus dem Dunklen zerren, was dort viel zu lange verborgen war. In der ganzen Missbrauchs-Debatte werden ja die hetero- oder homosexuellen "Fehltritte" diverser Geistlicher oder Kirchen-Angehöriger völlig unter den Teppich gekehrt.
Wenn du uns dabei (gerne auch anonym) unterstützen willst: wir brauchen Fakten. Belege, Links, Zeugnisse - und wenn es nur schriftliche Berichte von Augenzeugen sind. Vertraulichkeit wird zugesichert.
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“We do not want a church that will move with the world. We want a church that will move the world.”
― G.K. Chesterton
“Every sin is a choice to turn a miraculous being into an object for consumption. It flattens the human person, one’s self and one’s victim, into a one-dimensional universe.”
― Michael D. O'Brien, Father Elijah: An Apocalypse
If the Church becomes more and more like the world, why would we need the Church then anymore? The world does what the world does - and it can do that way better than Church people will ever be able to. If we don't have more than this, if we are no different than anybody else, what's the point of being a follower of Jesus Christ?
Moralistic Therapeutic Deism
"Das Gebet ist die beste Waffe, die wir haben ; es ist ein Schlüssel, der das Herz Gottes öffnet".
Wisdom of the ancients: "Should we look to kings and princes to put
right the inequalities between rich and poor? Should we require soldiers
to come and seize the rich person's gold and distribute it among his
destitute neighbors? Should we beg the emporer to impose a tax on the
rich so great that it reduces them to the level of the poor and then to
share the proceeds of that tax among everyone? Equality imposed by force
would achieve nothing, and do much harm. Those who combined
both cruel hearts and sharp minds would soon find ways of making
themselves rich again. Worse still, the rich whose gold was taken away
would feel bitter and resentful; while the poor who received the gold
from the hands of soldiers would feel no gratitude, because no
generosity would have prompted the gift. Far from bringing moral benefit
to society, it would actually do moral harm. Material justice cannot be
accomplished by compulsion, a change of heart will not follow. The only
way to achieve true justice is to change people's hearts first - and
then they will joyfully share their wealth." -- St. John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople (died in 407 A.D.)
My goal in life? I want to cross the finish line with nothing else left to give for my Lord, hearing those words: "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter in!"
"In Deutschland ist es wichtiger, Verständnis zu haben als Verstand."
do you and I realize what we are doing at this point? We are molding
Jesus into our image. He is beginning to look a lot like us because,
after all, that is whom we are most comfortable with. And the danger now
is that when we gather in our church building to sing and lift up our
hands in worship, we may not actually be worshiping the Jesus of the
Bible. Instead we may be worshiping ourselves"
Pfarrgemeinderäte sind eines der gescheiterten Experimente in Folge des 2. Vatikanischen Konzils. Frei nach dem Motto "Das Gegenteil von gut ist gut gemeint".
Da bilden sich - in der Regel theologisch kaum gebildete - Laien ein, dem Pfarrer vorschreiben zu können, was er zu tun oder zu lassen hat (oder zumindest einen Einfluss darauf und auf die Angelegenheiten der Pfarrei zu nehmen). Laien, die kaum wiedergeben können, was die Kirche lehrt und warum (gemäß dem Katechismus der Katholischen Kirche) - und deren Privatleben auch nicht notwendigerweise mit den kirchlichen Lehren zu Ehe und Familie übereinstimmt.
Laien haben eine wichtige Funktion innerhalb der Kirche - Priester spielen zu wollen gehört aber nicht dazu (ja, auch innerhalb der Messe maßen sie sich immer mehr an). Folge davon ist, dass Priester oftmals einen psychischen und spirituellen Albtraum erleben, ständig unter Stress sind und Probleme mit ihrer Identität haben.
Auch ohne Pfarrgemeinderäten kann und soll man den Pfarrer tatkräftig unterstützen.
Ein absolutes Unding aber sind die Pfarreiverbände. Da werden einfach bestehende Pfarreien zusammengeworfen und die Priester funktionieren bestenfalls als Sakramentenspender und sind sonst nur einer von vielen.
Nein, das geschieht nicht deshalb, weil wir zu wenig Priester haben. Weltweit ist due Zahl der Priester eher am steigen und viele unserer Geistlichen kommen eh aus anderen Ländern.
Hier wollen Menschen die Kirche übernehmen, die mit dem traditionellen katholischen Glauben nicht mehr viel zu tun haben und den Rest der Kirche auch noch zugrunde richten.
Ich kann nur alle verbliebenen traditionellen Katholikinnen und Katholiken auffordern, aufzustehen, tätig zu werden und für ihre Kirche zu kämpfen!
Wenn die Hirten es nicht tun, müssen eben die Schafe tätig werden!
“One of the most pathetic—and dangerous—signs of our times is the growing number of individuals and groups who believe that no one can possibly disagree with them for any honest reason.”
Aufruf an alle Priester und Ordensangehörigen!
Viele von euch wissen Bescheid, wenn eure Mitbrüder sich sexuell unangemessen verhalten - sei es, dass sie Minderjährige missbrauchen oder sexuellen Kontakt mit Menschen desselben oder des anderen Geschlechts haben.
Die "Täter" gehen hierbei quer durch alle Hierarchie-Ebenen.
Trotzdem ist kaum jemand bereit, mit diesem Wissen an die Öffentlichkeit zu gehen. Über die Gründe hierfür kann man nur spekulieren - Angst, Bequemlichkeit, Desinteresse etc.
Jeder dieser Gründe ist eine Schande für sich.
Wer selbst Vergebung finden will, muss auch seinen Anteil dazu leisten, Sünde auszurotten. Wer dies nicht tut, wird zum Mittäter.
Diejenigen, die nun bereit sind, mit ihren Informationen an die Öffentlichkeit zu wenden, dürfen sich gerne an mich wenden. Wir werden einen Weg finden - und wenn es bedeutet, dass euer Name dabei verschwiegen wird.
Seid nicht weiterhin Teil des Problems - werdet Teil der Lösung!
Copyright 2019 Robert Gollwitzer. All Rights Reserved.