December 08, 2006

Immaculate Conception

Today is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a Holy Day of Obligation. Meaning, you must attend a Mass today. So, what are you doing reading this blog? Look for a Mass to attend today, now!

If you have returned after you looked up a Mass time....

Today, represents one of the many church teachings that for 30 years I had no idea of the true meaning of. I thought Immaculate Conception referred to Mary's perpetual virginity. Immaculate Conception refers to the fact that from the first moment of her conception, Mary was exempt from the stain of Original Sin.

Prior, to a few years ago, I had a history of never going to Mass on this day. I did not know I had to.

The Immaculate Conception is one of only TWO instances of a Pope teaching infallibly. For a long time, I thought everything the Pope said was supposedly infallible. Not so. But, today, represents one of those times. On December 8, 1954, Pope Pius IX spoke ex cathedra and defined the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception. All Roman Catholics must believe and accept this teaching. No negotiations, no exceptions.

What's the other instance of a Pope teaching infallibly?

Pope Pius XII on November 1, 1950 on the the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.


Blogger Unknown said...

Great picture of our Blessed Mother on her big day!

Minor quibble on infallibility.

Yes, in terms of dogma, the doctrine of papal infallibility has been used only twice, for the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption.

But, some quibbler on the internet pointed out, whenever there is a canonization, it is in fact a matter of being an infallible statement regarding faith and morals and is a declaration by the Pope that is true and thus must be believed.

We don't necessarily have to pray to these saints, but the Church states that there is no doubt but that they are indeed in Heaven and worthy of veneration and suitable subjects for public and private devotions.

"Venerables" and "Blesseds" may only be used for private devotions and public devotions in areas with which they were associated when they were alive.

Pope John Paul II alone canonized over 400 saints.

When I first began my reversion to the Church, I knew that I was in bad shape and needed help.

So being half Polish, I chose two what I thought were obscure 20th century Polish "Blesseds" to assist me on my journey: Blessed Faustina Kowalska and Blessed Maximilian Kolbe. How's that for real dumb luck? I got to them before the mobs started gathering.

I've got some "seniority" with them. And they are taking care of me.

December 08, 2006 8:52 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Ray: I agree that if someone is made a Saint we are to believe that person is in Heaven and enjoying the Beautific Vision.

However, I don't put that on the same level as ex cathedra statements by the Holy Father because the faithful have the option of praying to or venerating that saint if they want to or not. You don't have the same option with the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception or the Assumption.

You picked two good ones! Or, perhaps, they picked you? I don't think things like that happen by accident.

December 08, 2006 9:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gosh, that's a beautiful picture of the Blessed Mother. I have not seen it before!

Happy and Holy Feast Day!!

December 08, 2006 11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, yes, Ray, you are absolutely correct that the Pope does indeed speak infallibly on all matters of faith and morals. Not just the two Dogmas, but all matters of faith and morals, when he speaks "ex cathedra", from the cathedral chair.

Saints' cannonizations are of course ex cathedra and are infallible, but no, we do not have to participate in any special devotion to every one of them--how COULD we--except in a general way as we do when we include all the Saints in our Profession of Faith at every Mass: "I believe in the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting"-- which comes, of course, at the end of the Creed.

God bless!

December 08, 2006 11:50 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

From my study, which I admit is sometimes lacking, the 2 Dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Annuciation are the ONLY two times in Church history where the Pope spoke ex cathedra.

The Pope does not speak ex cathedra when he canonizes Saints or issues an Encyclical or speaks during his weekly Catechesis sessions.

I am, by no means, belittling or lessening the importance of the Holy Father's teachings on faith and morals.

The ex cathedra statements are unarguably divinely revealed dogma that are of greater significance. They are undeniably matters of faith and morals but I've been taught, as recently as Wednesday evening, that the Pope is not infallible in all matters except when he speaks ex cathedra.

There is a difference between the infallibility of the CHURCH (i.e. the Creed) versus the infallibility of the Pope. That's the difference and the point I'm trying to make.

(and probably doing a poor job of it)

December 08, 2006 1:01 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Me again...perhaps I should have used the adverb: "spoke" rather then "taught" in my original post?

December 08, 2006 1:03 PM  

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