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THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

An awed silence fell over the throng that had gathered in St Peter’s for this history-making ceremony. The tall stately Pope Pius IX had just celebrated Mass at the great main altar. Now he was stepping forward to read his proclamation. Tears of joy glistened in his eyes. In a voice loud and clear but ringing with emotion, he read: “We declare, affirm and define that the doctrine which states that the Blessed Virgin Mary was preserved and exempted from all stain of original sin from the first instant of her conception in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of all mankind, is a doctrine revealed of God and which, for this reason, all Christians are bound to believe firmly and with confidence…”

As he reached the end, his voice broke and tears ran unchecked down his cheeks.

Forty-thousand voices sang the hymn Te Deum Laudamus. The dome of Michelangelo resounded with the triumphant notes. The bells of Rome’s churches rang joyously. That night, Rome was ablaze with light.

This happened on December 8, 1854.

A DOCTRINE REVEALED OF GOD

For centuries, millions of Catholics had believed that the Mother of God had been conceived without the stain of original sin; anything else would have been unthinkable. But the Holy Ghost had reserved the solemn definition for modern times. Our Lady had told Venerable Dominic of Jesus and Mary, a Carmelite who had lived at the time of St Louis Marie de Montfort, that the promulgation was “saved for the latter days of the Church.” This was part of the divine plan, foretold by St Louis Marie, to make our Lady more known, more loved and more honoured in our time than she had ever been before. The Blessed Mother herself had paved the way for the proclamation in 1830 when, to Catherine Laboure, she had called herself “Mary conceived without sin.”

MARY CONCEIVED WITHOUT SIN

The doctrine was an especially appropriate one for the nineteenth century. The great heresy of the day – which has persisted into our own time – was man’s elevating himself to equality with God. The Immaculate Conception reminds us that only Mary, of all human creatures, was conceived without the stain of original sin. All the rest of us came into the world with this mark on our souls. As a result of this sin, we are weak and inclined towards evil. Only God’s help will keep us on the road to salvation. We are absolutely dependent on God.

As the Blessed Virgin was intensifying her campaign, so was the devil. This very city of Rome, which was outdoing itself to honour the great Mother of God, had, just six years before, been the scene of the wildest disorders. They had been directed principally at Pope Pius IX, Christ’s vicar on earth.

WE ARE ABSOLUTELY DEPENDENT ON GOD

In those days the Pope, besides being the head of the Universal Church, was a king. He ruled a country known as the Papal States, and Rome was its capital. In the city there were many “liberals” who opposed the rule of the Pontiff on the pretence that they were in favour of a democracy. Actually, they hated the Church, and they knew no better way of fighting it than by attacking its visible head.

Riot followed riot. The revolutionaries managed to get control of the civic guard, so the Pope was powerless to stop the riots. Events reached a climax in November, 1848. On the 15th, a group of conspirators stabbed to death the Pope’s Prime Minister, Count Pellegrino Rossi. The mob celebrated the murder by carrying the bloody knife triumphantly through the streets. It was even carried to the home of the widow who was alone with her daughter.

Later that night, the mob marched to the Papal Palace. Shots were fired, and some found their mark. Several people were wounded. Monsignor Palace, the Pope’s secretary, was shot dead.

On November 24, 1848, the Pope was forced to flee from Rome. The city was left in the hands of the “liberals,” the men who were “to usher in a new era for mankind, the glorious era of a redemption far different from that announced by Christ.”

ONLY GOD’S HELP WILL KEEP US ON THE ROAD TO SALVATION

It was different all right – horribly different. Under the “Roman Republic,” freedom of the press and freedom of speech were rigidly suppressed. Taxes were increased. All bank deposits, all gold, silver and jewellery were confiscated, as was all the property belonging to the Church. People were thrown into jail without trial. The Minister of Finance requisitioned all hospitals, orphan asylums and other charitable institutions. The inmates were turned into the streets.

In 1830, our Lady had struck in the heart of the enemy territory – Paris. Now, eighteen years later, the devil had struck at the city which was the capital of Christ’s Church – Rome. As things are usually judged in this world, the devil seemed to have the better of it.

MARY HAD APPEARED TO A HUMBLE LITTLE POSTULANT

Mary had appeared in the quiet of the night to a humble little postulant in a convent chapel. So far as anyone could tell at the time, she had had no effect at all on the city or the world. The enemies of religion, on the other hand, were in complete control of Rome. The Holy Eucharist was defiled in public ceremonies. But this control did not last long.

Louis Napoleon, nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, had become head of the French government. He decided to help Pius IX, who was in exile at Gaeta. A French army marched against Rome, and the “republic” fell on June 30, 1849. The Pope returned to the city on April 12, 1850.

His return did not mean the end of his troubles. He was kept in power only by Louis Napoleon, who was ready to sacrifice him the moment he could gain thereby. Rome was still filled with “liberals” who were ready to repeat their revolution of 1848. King Victor Emmanuel of Piedmont and his crafty premier, Cavour, were campaigning for a united Italy with Rome as its capital. Most people were sure that eventually they would be successful. In addition to the troubles in Rome, there was scarcely a country in the world where the rights of the Church were not being infringed upon. Switzerland, Russia and Prussia were especially violent in their persecutions.

With the Church beset on all sides, there were many who freely predicted that its days were numbered. It was not possible, these people said, for any institution to withstand so many attacks coming from so many quarters at the same time.

THE GATES OF HELL WILL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST CHRIST’S CHURCH 

From a strictly material viewpoint, these people were right. But they forgot Christ’s promise that He would remain with His Church always and that the gates of hell should not prevail against her. They forgot – or did not know – that “Mary must be terrible to the devil and his crew, as an angel ranged in battle, principally in these latter times.

In the midst of all her troubles, the Church had one of her most glorious moments, when Pius IX proclaimed the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Less than four years after the proclamation, Pope Pius IX was to learn with joy that our Lady had appeared at Lourdes and had put what seemed to be the seal of approval on his action by saying, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”

– From: “The Woman Shall Conquer” by Don Sharkey, Prow Books/Franciscan Marytown Press, Libertyville, IL, 1954

 

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Posted by on September 29, 2019 in Words of Wisdom

 

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PRAYERS FOR POPE FRANCIS ON THE SOLEMNITY OF STS PETER AND PAUL

“On this Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul let us remember to pray for Pope Francis, the successor of St Peter. Pope Francis has shown great courage in reforming the Roman Curia and the Vatican Bank. He also lives a simple lifestyle and shows a great example how we should live a Gospel life in the Church. His mercy and love has been admired by people all over the world and he has travelled much to make contact with those in the church who particularly need support. A few days ago Pope Francis issued an encyclical letter addressed to all peoples of the world concerning environmental issues. This will contribute greatly to the discussion taking place about how we look after our planet, which is our common home.

So we should pray for Pope Francis that he will fulfil the mission given to him by God and that he will always be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in leading us in the Church.” (St Saviour’s)

 
 

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BISHOP PAUL LIU JINGHE – SENT TO A RE-EDUCATION CAMP UNDER COMMUNIST RULE

[From the obituary of the recently deceased Bishop Paul Liu Jinghe of the Catholic Diocese of Yongping, the People’s Republic of China.]

“Bishop Paul was born in 1920 in Huanghuagang and entered a minor seminary in 1931 and then a major seminary in 1939, where he began his studies in theology and philosophy. Paul was ordained a priest in 1945 and was sent to do pastoral work in Lulong and Tangshan in the Diocese of Yongping. When the communists took power in China they eventually formed the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, which took away the power of the Pope in Rome and gave the government state supervision over mainland China’s Catholics.

It was during this time that Fr Paul was imprisoned three times for his Catholic Faith and loyalty to the Pope in Rome. In 1970 Fr Paul was then sent to a re-education camp and forced to work first in a textile factory, then in a chemical plant and finally in a stone quarry. Fr Paul was released from this camp after 9 years and he continued his pastoral work in a new setting. He then accepted being ordained as a Bishop in 1981 by the state controlled Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association. This meant that his ordination as a Bishop was not accepted or recognised by the Pope and he was thus excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church by this action.

After a while Bishop Paul began to realise the error of his way and deeply regretted going against the wishes of the Pope and putting himself outside of the unity of the Church in Rome.

In an act of humility Bishop Paul then made contact with the Pope and expressed his sincere apology, asking for forgiveness and reconciliation, requesting the legitimisation of his role as Bishop in union with the Church in Rome. It was Pope Benedict who in 2008 accepted the apology and re-established Bishop Paul’s full communion with the successor of St Peter and the Church in Rome. Bishop Paul retired from active ministry in 2010 due to failing health and always refused to take part in any activities of the state controlled Chinese Patriotic Association as a sign of communion and obedience to the Pope. Bishop Paul died recently just before his 93rd birthday.

The experience of Bishop Paul reminds us of what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches about the unity of the Church:

‘The Pope, Bishop of Rome, and Peter’s successor, is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and the whole company of the faithful… The college or body of bishops has no authority unless united with the Roman Pontiff, Peter’s successor’ (sections 882 & 883).”
– From: “Spiritual Thought from Fr Chris”

 
 

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