the ember days fast and pray


(Today is a day of Fast and Partial Abstinence.)

 The Lord is now nigh; come, let us adore.

To-day the Church begins the Fast of Quatuor Tempora, or, as we call it, of Ember days: it includes also the Friday and Saturday of this same week. This observance is not peculiar to the Advent liturgy; it is one which has been fixed for each of the four seasons of the Ecclesiastical Year. We may consider it as one of those practices which the Church took from the Synagogue; for the Prophet Zacharias speaks of the fourth, fifth, seventh, and tenth months Its introduction into the Christian Church would seem to have been made in the apostolic times; such, at least, is the opinion of St. Leo, of St. Isidore of Seville, of Rabanus Maurus, and of several other ancient Christian writers. It is remarkable, on the other hand, that the Orientals do not observe this fast.

From the first ages, the Quatuor Tempora were kept, in the Roman Church, at the same time of the year as at present. As to the expression, which is not unfrequently used in the early writers, of The Three Times and not The Four, we must remember, that in the spring, these Days always come in the first week of Lent, a period already consecrated to the most rigorous fasting and abstinence, and that consequently they could add nothing to the penitential exercises of that portion of the year. The intentions, which the Church has in the fast of the Ember Days, are the same as those of the Synagogue; namely, to consecrate to God by penance the four Seasons of the year. The Ember Days of Advent are known, in ecclesiastical antiquity, by the name of the Fast of the tenth Month; and St. Leo, in one of his Sermons on this Fast, and of which the Church has inserted a passage in the second Nocturn of the third Sunday of Advent, tells us that a special fast was fixed for this time of the year, because the fruits of the earth had then all been gathered in, and that it behooved Christians to testify their gratitude to God by a sacrifice of abstinence, thus rendering themselves more worthy to approach to God, the more they were detached from the love of created things.


Fasting, adds the holy Doctor, has ever been the  nourishment of virtue. Abstinence is the source of chaste thoughts, of wise resolutions, and of salutary counsel. By voluntary mortifications, the flesh dies to its concupiscences, and the spirit is renewed in virtue. But since Fasting alone is not sufficient whereby to secure the soul’s salvation, let us add to it works of mercy towards the poor. Let us make that which we retrench from indulgence, serve unto the exercise of virtue. Let the abstinence of him that fasts, become the meal of the poor man.

Let us, the children of the Church, practice what is in our power of these admonitions; and since the actual discipline of Advent is so very mild, let us be so much the more fervent in fulfilling the precept of the fast of the Ember Days. By these few exercises which are now required of us, let us keep up within ourselves the zeal of our forefathers for this holy sea son of Advent. We must never forget, that although the interior preparation is what is absolutely essential for our profiting by the Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, yet this preparation could scarcely be real, unless it manifested itself by the exterior practices of religion and penance.

The fast of the Ember Days has another object besides that of consecrating the four seasons of the year to God by an act of penance; it has also in view the Ordination of the Ministers of the Church, which takes place on the Saturday, and of which notice was formerly given to the people during the Mass of the Wednesday. In the Roman Church, the Ordination held in the month of December was, for a long time, the most solemn of all; and it would appear, from the ancient chronicles of the Popes, that, excepting very extraordinary cases, the tenth month was, for several ages, the only time for the conferring Holy Orders in Rome. The faithful should unite with the Church in this her intention, and offer to God their fasting and abstinence for the purpose of obtaining worthy Ministers of the Word and the Sacraments, and true Pastors of the people.

The Church does not read anything, in the Matins of to-day, from the Prophet Isaias: she merely reads a sentence from the Chapter of St. Luke, which gives our Lady’s Annunciation, to which she subjoins a passage from St. Ambrose’s Homily on that Gospel. The fact of this Gospel having been chosen for the Office and Mass of to-day, has made the Wednesday of the third week of Advent a very marked day in the calendar. In several ancient Ordinaries, used by many of the larger Churches, both Cathedral and Abbatial, we find it prescribed, that feasts falling on this Wednesday should be transferred: that the ferial prayers should not be said kneeling, on that day; that the Gospel Missus est, that is, of the Annunciation, should be sung at Matins by the Celebrant, vested in a white cope, with cross, lights, and incense, the great bell tolling meanwhile; that in Abbeys, the Abbot should preach a homily to the Monks, as on solemn feasts. We are indebted to this custom for the four magnificent Sermons of St. Bernard on our Blessed Lady, and which are entitled: Super Missus est.

As the Mass of the Ember Days is seldom sung, excepting in Churches where the Canonical Office is said; as also that we might not add unnecessarily to this volume, we have thought it advisable to omit the Masses of Ember Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of Advent. The Station for the Wednesday is at St. Mary Major, on account of the Gospel of the Annunciation, which, as we have just seen, has made this day be looked upon as a real Feast of the Blessed Virgin. Having to speak, later on, of this Mystery, in the Proper of Saints, we will conclude this Wednesday with a Prose of the Middle Ages, in honour of our Blessed Lady’s receiving the Angel’s salutation, and with a prayer taken from one of the ancient Liturgies.



     (Taken from the Missal of Cluny of 1523)

The Angel, entering the Virgin’s chamber, and gently bidding her not to fear, says to her: Hail, Queen of Virgins! thou shalt conceive in thy womb the Lord of heaven and earth; and still remaining a Virgin, thou shalt bring forth the Salvation of mankind, O Gate of heaven bringing to the world the remedy of its iniquities ! How shall this be, replied the Virgin, for I know not man? How wouldst thou have me break the vow which I have sworn to keep? The grace of the Holy Ghost shall accomplish all these things, said the Angel. Fear not, but rejoice. I assure thee, thy virginity shall be left intact: the power of God shall maintain it. To this the noble Virgin answering, said to the Angel: I am the lowly handmaid of the Omnipotent God. Consenting to thy word, O heavenly messenger, bearer of so great a secret, and de siring to see fulfilled what thou announcest, I am ready to obey the decree of God. The Angel left her, and in that moment her virginal womb conceived the Word made flesh from hers. This was his chosen enclosure for nine months: then he left it, and began the great combat, carrying the cross upon his shoulders, wherewith he struck the enemy who brought death into the world. Oh! dear Mother of Jesus, who didst bring peace to Angels and to men by giving birth to Christ, Pray for us to this thy Son, that he be merciful to us, and forgive us our sins, and give us his assistance, whereby, after this exile, we may possess the blessed joys of eternal life. Amen.


      (Second Sunday of Advent)

It is meet and just, truly right and available to salvation that we should extol the Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ as one of the highest of God’s wonderful works. A heavenly messenger announced that he would be born among men. A Virgin, dwelling on this earth, was saluted by the Angel, and heard the great mystery. The Holy Ghost produced it in the Virgin’s womb, when he came to her. So that thus, Gabriel announcing, Mary believing, and the Spirit cooperating with the Word of God, confidence followed the angelical salutation, and the promise was fulfilled by the reality that the Virgin should find herself to be made a mother, by the power of the Most High overshadowing her. Behold, said the Angel, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a Son. How shall this be? answered Mary. But because she said it from faith, not from doubt, the Holy Ghost accomplished what the Angel promised. Virgin before the conception, and Virgin after the birth of her Son, she had received her God in her soul, before possessing him in her womb. Virgin full of the grace of God, she was the first to receive the salvation of the world, and therefore was chosen to be the true Mother of the son of God.



Immaculate Conception by José Antolinez

Immaculate Conception by José Antolinez


Let us consider how our Blessed Lady, having arrived at the house of her holy cousin Elizabeth, rendered her every possible service with the greatest love, favored her with her sweet and holy conversations, assisted at the glorious Birth of St. John the Baptist, and at length returned home to her humble dwelling at Nazareth.

But, that we may the better enter into these divine mysteries, let us again listen to the Seraphic St. Bonaventure.

St. John the Baptist, Altarpiece by Rogier van der Weyden (1455-60)

St. John the Baptist, Altarpiece by Rogier van der Weyden (1455-60)

When, therefore, her time was expired, Elizabeth gave birth to a son, whom our Lady took up, and with all diligence did what was required. The babe looked into Mary’s face like one that knew her; and as she gave him unto his mother, he turned his head towards Mary, for he fain would be in her arms again. Mary, on her part, delighted in nursing this holy babe, and fondled him, and kissed him with great joy. Consider the honour that is here given unto John. Never had child such arms as these to carry him. Many other privileges are related as being granted unto him; but for this present, I must needs pass them by. Now, on the eighth day, the child was circumcised, and was called John.

Then was the mouth Blessed be the Lord God of Israel! Thus were made, in that house, the two most beautiful Canticles, namely, the Magnificat and the Benedictus. Meanwhile, our Lady going aside, lest she should be seen by those that had come together for the ceremony, listened attentively to the Canticle of Zachary, which prophesied of her Son, and most prudently pondered in her heart upon all these things. At length, when the time came for her to return home, she bade Elizabeth and Zachary farewell, and giving John her blessing, she returned unto Nazareth. Recall to thy mind, in this her second journey, all that was told thee of her poverty. She returned to her house, where she would find neither bread, nor wine, nor those things which were needed. She had no property, nor money. She had been, now these three months, living with persons who were very rich; but now she returns unto her poor cottage, and has to procure her livelihood by the labour of her hands. Do thou sympathize with her, and learn to love poverty.


(Taken from the ancient Roman-French Missals.)

Hail, O glorious Virgin! Brightness of the heavens, rose of the world, lily of purity. Hail, precious gem! More beauteous than the sun, and joy of pure souls. Thou art the sinner’s hope, O Mary! Thou art the holy Mother of our Redeemer, and the consolation of us whom he redeemed.

Thou didst stay the reign of death, thou didst commence the reign of life. To thee, O Mary, the triple Hierarchy sing their praises. Hail! Flowery stem of Jesse, bright Star of the Sea, source that broughtest to us Him that is our true light. Thou bearest the Fruit of life, and he whom thou leadest will not miss the port of salvation.

O flowery garden, so sweet to the sick! O sealed fount of purity, that gavest us Jesus the author of grace. Thou throne of the true Solomon, enriched by the King of glory with the best of heaven’s gifts. O merciful Queen!

Thou art the rich unfailing stream of all sanctity. Have pity on us who trust in thee, and refresh our thirsty souls with thy efficacious prayers. Hear our sighs, O Mary! And suffer not us, poor children of Eve, to go astray.

Look with thy eye of love on our many wants: com passionate our poverty. Vessel of every fragrance, and Mother and treasury of divine grace. Breathe thy fragrance into our souls, and obtain for us the riches of grace. Beautiful Mother of our sweet Jesus! the world received its Saviour through thee, and the heavenly citizens call thee Queen.

Obtain for us that peace which has no end, and after this our exile, that light which is divine. Amen.



(The Mozarabic Breviary, Friday of the Second Week of Advent, Capitula.)

O King, whom our hearts desire, Lord Jesus Christ, come, we beseech thee, cleanse us as a furnace of fire from the dross of our sins, and make us like gold that is pure, and like silver that is without alloy. Inflame our hearts, by thy inspiration, that they seek thee unceasingly: so may our desires long with all ardour after thee, and pant with all eagerness to be united with thee. Amen.




Adoration of the Shepherds by Charles Le Brun (1689)


The Liturgical Year – Dom Guéranger, O.S.B.

The Lord is now nigh; come, let us adore.

Isaiah 28:16-18

Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I will lay a stone in the foundations of Sion, a tried stone, a corner stone, a precious stone, founded in the foundation. He that believeth, let him not hasten. And I will set judgment in weight, and justice in measure: and had shall overturn the hope of falsehood, and waters shall overflow its protection. And your league with death shall be abolished, and your covenant with hell shall not stand.

Heavenly Father! thou art preparing to set in the foundations of Sion a corner Stone, that is tried and solid; and this Stone, which is to give firmness to Sion, which is thy Church, this Stone is thy Incarnate Son. It was prefigured, as thy Apostle assures us, by that Rock of the desert, which yielded the abundant and saving stream, that quenched the thirst of thy people. But now thou art about to give us the reality; it has already come down from heaven, and the hour is fast approaching when thou wilt lay it in the foundations. O sacred Stone, which makest all one, and givest solidity to the whole structure! By thee it will come to pass, that there shall be no longer Jew nor Gentile, but all nations shall become one family. Men shall no more build on sand, nor set up houses which floods and storms may overturn. The Church shall rise up from the Stone which God now sets, and, secure on the great foundation, her summit shall touch the clouds. With all his weakness, and all his fickleness, man will partake of thy immutability, 0 divine Stone, if he will but lean on thee. Woe to him that rejects thee, for thou hast said, and thou art the eternal Truth: Whosoever shall fall upon that stone, shall be bruised; and upon whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. From this twofold evil, O thou that art chief Corner-stone, deliver us, and never permit us to be of the number of those blind men who rejected thee. Give us grace ever to honour and love thee as the cause of our strength, and the one sole origin of our solidity: and since thou hast communicated this thy quality of the Rock to one of thine Apostles, and by him to his successors unto the end of the world, grant us ever to cling to this Rock, the Holy Roman Church, in union with which all the faithful on the face of the earth are preparing to celebrate the glorious solemnity of thy Coming, O precious and tried Stone! Thou art coming that thou mayest destroy the kingdom of falsehood, and break the league which man-kind had made with death and hell.


(From the Mozarabic Breviary, First Sunday of Advent.)

Let all the assembly of Christ’s faithful ones laud the graces that are nigh, and sing their highest praises to their Creator.

When his only begotten Son, who created this world, redeemed us, he fulfilled the promises which the divine ‘prophets spoke in the ages past.

The Word having come down from heaven, and shown himself to men, he took away the punishment due to their sins; and assuming our nature, though but dust, he vanquished the prince of death.

Born of a Mother in time, but begotten eternally from the Father, in the two substances there is but one Person, that is the Person of the Word.

God has come into this world made Man, that our old man being changed into the new, we may put on new beauty by being regenerated in the new-born God.

Let the Gentiles, who have received this new birth of grace, in gladness and exultation at the trophy, won by the divine Nativity, keep every year its feast.

Let this Coming of Jesus be celebrated with devout solemnity by all, who have so just a share in the glory of this great day.

That so, when the Second Coming shall burst upon the world and fill it with fear, this most humble expression of our devout celebration of the first may give us confidence.

To God the Father, and to his only Son, and to the Holy Spirit, be glory for ever and ever, Amen.


(From the Mass of the Sixth Sunday of Advent, Preface.)

It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that in this holy time we should celebrate the memory of the ever Blessed Virgin Mary, who carried in the narrow enclosure of her womb the Lord of heaven, and who, according as the Angel had foretold to her, brought forth the Word become our Saviour in our mortal flesh This is he who is the Redeemer of the world, conceived in a chaste womb, his Mother both then and at his birth remaining ineffably the Virgin.




From the Liturgical Year

Dom Prosper Guéranger, O.S.B.

To-day, again, the Church is full of joy, and the joy is greater than it was. It is true that her Lord is not come; but she feels that he is nearer than before, and therefore she thinks it just to lessen somewhat the austerity of this penitential season by the innocent cheerfulness of her sacred rites. And first, this Sunday has had the name of Gaudete given to it, from the first word of the Introit; it also is honoured with those impressive exceptions which belong to the fourth Sunday of Lent, called Laetare. The Organ is played at the Mass; the Vestments are Rose-color; the Deacon resumes the dalmatic, and the Sub-Deacon the tunic; and in Cathedral Churches, the Bishop assists with the precious mitre. How touching are all these usages, and how admirable this condescension of the Church, wherewith she so beautifully blends together the unalterable strictness of the dogmas of faith and the graceful poetry of the formulae of her liturgy! Let us enter into her spirit, and be glad on this third Sunday of her Advent, because our Lord is now so near unto us. To-morrow we will resume our attitude of servants mourning for the absence of their Lord and waiting for him; for every delay, however short, is painful and makes love sad. The Station is kept in the Basilica of St. Peter, at the Vatican. This august temple, which contains the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles, is the home and refuge of all the faithful of the world ; it is but natural that it should be chosen to be witness both of the joy and the sadness of the Church.

The Night Office commences with a new Invitatory. The voice of the Church no longer invites the faithful to come and adore in fear and trembling the King, our Lord, who is to come. Her language assumes another character; her tone is one of gladness; and now, every day, until the Vigil of Christmas, she begins her Nocturns with these grand words: The Lord is now nigh; come, let us adore.

                                          Ch. XXVI.

In that day shall this canticle be sung in the land of Juda. Sion the City of our strength; a Saviour, a wall, and a bulwark shall be set therein. Open ye the gates and let the just nation, that keepeth the truth, enter in. The old error is passed away, thou wilt keep peace: peace, because we have hoped in thee. You have hoped in the Lord for evermore: in the Lord God mighty for ever, For he shall bring down them that dwell on high, the high city he shall lay low. He shall bring it down even to the ground, he shall pull it down even to the dust. The foot shall tread it down; the feet of the poor, the steps of the needy. The way of the just is right, the path of the just is right to walk in. And in the way of thy judgments, O Lord, we have patiently waited for thee: thy name, and thy remembrance are the desire of the soul. My soul hath desired thee in the night: yea, and with my spirit within me in the morning early I will watch to thee.

O Holy Roman Church, City of our Strength! behold us thy children assembled within thy walls, around the tomb of the Fisherman, the Prince of the Apostles, whose sacred relics protect thee from their earthly shrine, and whose unchanging teaching enlightens thee from heaven. Yet, O City of strength! it is by the Saviour, who is coming, that thou art strong. He is thy wall, for it is he that encircles, with his tender mercy, all thy children; he is thy bulwarks, for it is by him that thou art invincible, and that all the powers of hell are powerless to prevail against thee. Open wide thy gates, that all nations may enter thee; for thou art mistress of holiness and the guardian of truth. May the old error, which sets itself against the faith, soon disappear, and peace reign over the whole fold! O Holy Roman Church! thou hast for ever put thy trust in the Lord; and he, faithful to his promise, has humbled before thee the haughty ones that defied thee, and the proud cities that were against thee. where now are the Caesars, who boasted that they had drowned thee in thine own blood? Where the Emperors, who would ravish the in violate virginity of thy faith? Where the Heretics, who, during the past centuries of thine existence, have assailed every article of thy teaching, and denied what they listed? where the ungrateful Princes, who would fain make a slave of thee, who had made them what they were? where that Empire of Mahomet, which has so many times raged against thee, for that thou, the defenseless State, didst arrest the pride of its con quests? where the Reformers, who were bent on giving the world a Christianity, in which thou wast to have no part. where the more modern Sophists, in whose philosophy thou wast set down as a system that had been tried, and was a failure, and is now a ruin? And those Kings who are acting the tyrant over thee, and those people that will have liberty independently and at the risk of truth, where will they be in another hundred years? Gone and forgotten as the noisy anger of a torrent; whilst thou, O holy Church of Rome, built on the immovable rock, wilt be as calm, as young, as unwrinkled as ever. Thy path through all the ages of this world’s duration, will be right as that of the just man; thou wilt ever be the self- same unchanging Church, as thou hast been during the eighteen hundred years past, whilst everything else under the sun has been but change. Whence this thy stability, but from Him who is very Truth and Justice ? Glory be to him in thee! Each year, he visits thee; each year, he brings thee new gifts, wherewith thou mayest go happily through thy pilgrimage; and to the end of time, he will visit thee, and renew thee, not only with the power of that look wherewith Peter was renewed, but by filling thee with himself, as he did the ever glorious Virgin, who is the object of thy most tender love, after that which thou bearest to Jesus himself. We pray with thee, O Church, our Mother! and here is our prayer: Come, Lord Jesus! ” Thy name and thy “remembrance are the desire of our souls: they have ” desired thee in the night, yea, and early in the ” morning have they watched for thee.”

Eutychia and Lucy at the Tomb of Saint Agatha, by Jacobello del Fiore

Eutychia and Lucy at the Tomb of Saint Agatha, by Jacobello del Fiore

                   St. Lucy

          Virgin and Martyr

The mother of St. Lucy suffered four years from an issue of blood, and the help of man failed. St. Lucy reminded her mother that a woman in the Gospel had been healed of the same disorder. “St. Agatha,” she said, “stands ever in the sight of Him for Whom she died. Only touch her sepulchre with faith, and you will be healed.” They spent the night praying by the tomb, till, overcome by weariness, both fell asleep. St. Agatha appeared in vision to St. Lucy, and calling her sister, foretold her mother’s recovery and her own martyrdom. That instant the cure was affected; and in her gratitude the mother allowed her daughter to distribute her wealth among the poor, and consecrate her virginity to Christ. A young man to whom she had been promised in marriage accused her as a Christian to the heathen; but Our Lord, by a special miracle, saved from outrage this virgin whom He had chosen for His own. The fire kindled around her did her no hurt. Then the sword was plunged into her heart, and the promise made at the tomb of St. Agatha was fulfilled.

Reflection – The Saints had to bear sufferings and. temptations greater far than yours. How did they overcome them? By the love of Christ. Nourish this pure love by meditating on the mysteries of Christ’s life; and, above all, by devotion to the Holy Eucharist, which is the antidote against sin and the pledge of eternal life.

Holy Family Catholic Church (Columbus, Ohio) - interior, sanctuary, decorated for Laetare Sunday


    Gaudete Sunday / Rose Sunday

              STATION AT ST. PETER’S

        Privileged Sunday of the Second Class


            Rose or Violet Vestments

     Missa – ‘Gaudete’

The assembly of the faithful is attentive; the chanters intone the Gregorian melody, and the church echoes with these sweet words:

 INTROIT – Philippians 4: 4-6

Gaudete in Dómino semper: íterum dico, gaudéte. Modéstia vestra nota sit ómnibus homínibus: Dóminus enim prope est. Nihil sollíciti sitis: sed in omni oratióne petitiónes vestræ innotéscant apud Deum.

Ps. 84: 2 Benedixísti, Dómine, terram tuam: avertísti captivitátem Jacob.

Gloria Patri.

Gaudate in Dómino semper…

Rejoice in the Lord always: again I say, rejoice. Let your modesty be known to all men: for the Lord is nigh. Be nothing solicitous: but in everything by prayer let your petitions be made known to God.

Ps. Lord, Thou hast blessed Thy land: Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob.

Glory be to the Father.

Rejoice in the Lord always…

In the Collect, the Church asks for the grace of that divine visit, which dispels darkness and brings light. Darkness produces fear in the soul; whereas, light gives courage and joy to the heart.


Aurem tuam, quǽsumus, Dómine, précibus nostris accómmoda: et mentis nostræ ténebras grátia tuæ visitatiónis illústra: Qui vivis.

Incline Thine ear to our prayers we beseech Thee, O Lord; and enlighten the darkness of our minds by the grace of Thy visitation: Who livest.

Second Collect – St. Lucy, Virgin and Martyr

Exáudi nos, Deus salutáris noster: ut, sicut de beátæ Lúciæ Vírginis et Mártyris tuæ festivitáte gaudémus; ita piæ devotiónis erudiámur afféctu. Per Dominum.

Hear us, O God, our Saviour: and as we rejoice in the feast of blessed Lucy, Thy Virgin and Martyr: so may we learn filial devotion to Thee. Through our Lord.

Apotheosis of the Immaculate Conception with Jesuit Saints

Third Collect for the octave of the Immaculate Conception

Deus, qui per immaculátam Vírginis Conceptiónem dignum Fílio tuo habitáculum præparásti; quæsumus, ut qui, ex morte ejúsdem Fílii tui prævísa, eam ab omni labe præservásti, nos quoque mundos ejus intercessióne ad te pervenire concédas. Per eumdem Dominum nostrum.

O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin didst prepare a worthy dwelling place for Thy Son: we beseech Thee, that as by the foreseen death of the same Thy Son, Thou didst preserve her from all stain, so Thou wouldst grant to us also, through her intercession, to come unto Thee with clean hearts. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.

EPISTLE – Philippians 4: 4-7

Fratres: Gaudéte in Dómino semper: íterum dico, gaudéte. Modéstia vestra nota sit ómnibus homínibus: Dóminus prope est. Nihil sollíciti sitis: sed in omni oratióne et obsecratióne, cum gratiárum actióne, petitiónes vestræ innotéscant apud Deum. Et pax Dei, quæ exsúperat omnem sensum, custódiat corda vestra et intelligéntias vestras, in Christo Jesu Dómino nostro. 



Brethren, Rejoice in the Lord always: again, I say, rejoice. Let your modesty be known to all men. The Lord is nigh. Be nothing solicitous: but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Nothing is more just than that we rejoice in the Lord. Both the Prophet and the Apostle excite us to desire the Saviour: both of them promise us Peace. Therefore, let us not be solicitous: The Lord is nigh, nigh to his Church, and nigh to each of our souls. Who can be near so burning a fire, and yet be cold? Do we not feel that he is coming to us, in spite of all obstacles? He will let nothing be a barrier between himself and us, neither his own infinite high majesty, nor our exceeding lowliness, nor our many sins. Yet a little while, and he will be with us. Let us go out to meet him by these prayers, and supplications, and thanksgiving which the Apostle recommends to us. Let our zeal to unite ourselves with our holy mother the Church become more than ever fervent: now every day her prayers will increase in intense earnestness, and her longings after Him, who is her light and her love, will grow more ardent. First let us say together with her:

GRADUAL – Psalm 79: 2-3, 2

Qui sedes, Dómine, super Chérubim, éxcita poténtiam tuam et veni. Qui regis Israël, inténde: qui dedúcis velut ovem Joseph.

Thou, O Lord, That sittest upon the Cherubim, stir up Thy might and come. Give ear, O Thou that rulest Israel: that leadest Joseph like a sheep.


Alleluia, allelúia. Excita, Dómine, poténtiam tuam et veni, ut salvos fácias nos.  Allelúia.

Stir up, O Lord, Thy might, and come to save us. Alleluia.

GOSPEL – John 1:19-28

In illo témpore: Misérunt Judǽi ab Jerosólymis sacerdótes et levítas ad Joánnem, ut interrogárent eum: Tu quis es? Et conféssus est, et non negávit: et conféssus est:  Quia non sum ego Christus. Et interroga- vérunt eum: Quid ergo? Elías es tu? Et dixit: Non sum. Prophéta es tu? Et respóndit: Non. Dixérunt ergo ei: Quis es, ut respónsum demus his, qui misérunt nos? quid dicis de teípso? Ait: Ego vox clamántis in desérto: Dirígite viam Dómini, sicut dixit Isaías prophéta. Et qui missi fúerant, erant ex Pharisǽis. Et interrogavérunt eum, et dixérunt ei: Quid ergo baptízas, si tu non es Christus, neque Elías, neque Prophéta? Respóndit eis Joánnes, dicens: Ego baptízo in aqua: médius autem vestrum stetit quem vos nescítis. Ipse est, qui post me ventúrus est, qui ante me factus est: cujus ego non sum dignus ut solvam ejus corrígiam calceaménti. Hæc in Bethánia facta sunt trans Jordánem, ubi erat Joánnes baptízans.

St John the Baptist in the Wilderness - Giovanni Baglione

St John the Baptist in the Wilderness – Giovanni Baglione

At that time the Jews sent from Jerusalem priests and Levites to John, to ask him: Who art thou? And he confessed, and did not deny; and he confessed: I am not the Christ. And they asked him: What then? Art thou Elias? And he said: I am not. Art thou the Prophet? And he answered: No. They said therefore unto him: Who art thou, that we may give an answer to them that sent us? What sayest thou of thyself? He said: I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the Prophet Isaias. And they that were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said to him: Why then dost thou baptize; if thou be not Christ, nor Elias, nor the Prophet? John answered them, saying: I baptize with water: but there hath stood one in the midst of you, whom you know not. The same is He that shall come after me, who is preferred before me: the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to loose. These things were done in Bethania, beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

There hath stood One in the midst of you, whom you know not, says St. John the Baptist to them that were sent by the Jews. So that, our Lord may be near, he may even have come, and yet by some be not known! This Lamb of God is the holy Precursor’s consolation: he considers it a singular privilege to be but the Voice, which cries out to men to pre pare the way of the Redeemer. In this, St. John is the type of the Church, and of all such as seek Jesus. St. John is full’ of joy because the Saviour is come: but the men around him are as indifferent as though they neither expected nor wanted a Saviour. This is the third week of Advent; and are all hearts excited by the great tidings told them by the Church, that the Messias is near at hand? They who love him not as their Saviour, do they fear him as their Judge? Are the crooked ways being made straight? are the hills being brought low? are Christians seriously engaged in removing from their hearts the love of riches and the love of sensual pleasures? There is no time to lose: the Lord is nigh! If these lines should come under the eye of any of those Christians, who are in this state of sinful indifference, we would conjure them to shake off their lethargy, and render themselves worthy of the visit of the divine Infant: such a visit will bring them the greatest consolation here, and give them confidence hereafter, when our Lord will come to judge all mankind. Send thy grace, O Jesus, still more plentifully into their hearts; compel them to go in, and permit not that it be said of the children of the Church, as St. John said of the Synagogue: There standeth in the midst of you One, whom ye know not.

SERMON – The Peace of God – Fr Isaac Mary Relyea

During the Offertory, the faithful should unite in the prayer of the Church, and beg that the captivity, in which our sins hold us, may be brought to an end, and that the divine Deliverer may come.

OFFERTORY – Psalm 84: 2-3

Benedixisti, Dómine, terram tuam: avertísti captivitátem Jacob: remisísti iniquitátem plebis tuæ. 

Lord, Thou hast blessed Thy land: Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob: Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of Thy people.


Devotionisnostræ tibi, quǽsumus, Dómine, hóstia júgiter immolétur: quæ et sacri péragat institiúta mystérii, et salutáre tuum in nobis mirabíliter operétur. Per Dóminum.

May the sacrifice of our devotion, we beseech Thee, O Lord, be always offered unto Thee: that it may both fulfil the end for which Thou didst institute this sacred mystery, and wonderfully work in us Thy salvation. Through our Lord.

Madonna and Child with St Lucy - Francesco Vanni

Madonna and Child with St Lucy – Francesco Vanni

Second Secret – St. Lucy, Virgin and Martyr

Accépta tibi sit, Dómine, sacrátæ plebis oblátio pro tuórum honóre Sanctórum: quorum se méritis, de tribulatióne percepísse cognóscit auxílium. Per Dóminum. 

May the offering of Thy consecrated people be accepted by Thee, O Lord, in honour of Thy saints, by whose merits it knoweth that it hath received aid in time of trouble. Through our Lord.

Secret prayer for the octave of the Immaculate Conception

Salutárem hóstiam, quam in solemnitáte immáculatæ Conceptionis beátæ Vírginis Maríæ tibi, Dómine, offérimus, súscipe, et præsta: ut sicut illam, tua grátia præveniénte, ab omni labe immúnem profitémur; ita ejus intercessióne a culpis omnibus liberémur. Per Dóminum.

Receive the saving Victim we offer to Thee, O Lord, on the solemn feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary: and grant that, as we confess that by Thy preventing grace she was kept free from every stain of sin; so, by her intercession, we may be delivered from all our offenses. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord.



Vere dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare, nos tibi semper, et ubique gratias agere: Domine sancta, Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus. Qui cum unigenito Filio: tuo et Spiritu Sancto, unus es Deus, unus es Dominus: non in uninus singularitate personae, sed in unius Trinitae substantiae. Quo denim de tua Gloria, revelante te, credimus, hoc de Filio tuo, hod de Spiritu Sancto, sine differentia discretionis sentimus. Ut in confessione verare, sempitiernaeque Deitatis, et in personis proprietas, et in essential unitas, et in majestate adoretur aequalitas. Quam laudant Angeli atque Archangeli, Cherubim, quoque ac Seraphim: qui non cessant clamare quotodie, una voce dicentes:

It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, ever-lasting God: Who, together with Thine only-begotten Son, and the Holy Ghost, are one God, one Lord: not in the oneness of a single Person, but in the Trinity of one substance. For what we believe by Thy revelation of Thy glory, the same do we believe of Thy Son, the same of the Holy Ghost, without difference or separation. So that in con- fessing the true and everlasting Godhead, distinction in persons, unity in essence, and equality in majesty may be adored. Which the Angels and Archangels, the Cherubim also and Seraphim do praise: who cease not daily to cry out with one voice saying:


Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dóminus Deus Sábaoth. Pleni sunt cæli et terra glória tua. Hosánna in excélsis. Benedíctus qui venit in nómine Dómini. Hosánna in excélsis.

COMMUNION – Isaiah 35: 4

Dicite: Pusillánimes confortámini, et nolíte timére: ecce Deus noster véniet, et salvábit nos.

Say to the fainthearted, take courage and fear not: behold our God will come and will save us.


Imploramus, Dómine, cleméntiam tuam: ut hæc divína subsídia, a vítiis expiátos, ad festa ventára nos prǽparent. Per Dóminum nostrum.

We implore Thy mercy, O Lord, that these divine mysteries, by atoning for our sins, may prepare us for the coming festival. Through our Lord.

The Last Communion of St. Lucy

The Last Communion of St. Lucy

Second Postcommunion – St. Lucy, Virgin and Martyr

Satiásti, Dómine, famíliam tuam munéribus sacris: ejus, quæsumus, semper interventióne nos réfove, cujus solémnia celebrámus. Per Dóminum.

Thou hast filled Thy household, O Lord, with sacred gifts: do Thou ever cherish us always, through the intercession of her, whose festival we are celebrating. Through our Lord.

Postcommunion for the octave of the Immaculate Conception

Sacraménta quæ súmpsimus, Dómine Deus noster, illíus in nobis culpæ vúlnera réparent; a qua immaculátam beátæ Maríæ Conceptionem singuláriter præservásti. Per Dominum nostrum.

May the Sacraments which we have received, O Lord, our God, heal in us the wounds of that sin, from which Thou didst alone preserve the Immaculate Conception of Blessed Mary.  Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord.






Nativity of our lady

                     December 8

     (Holy Day of Obligation)


By Dom Prosper Guéranger – The Liturgical Year

At length, on the distant horizon, rises, with a soft and radiant light, the aurora of the Sun which has been so long desired. The happy Mother of the Messias was to be born before the Messias himself; and this is the day of the Conception of Mary. The earth already possesses a first pledge of the divine mercy; the Son of Man is near at hand. Two true Israelites, Joachim and Anne, noble branches of the family of David, find their union, after a long barrenness, made fruitful by the divine omnipotence. Glory be to God, who has been mindful of his promises, and who deigns to announce, from the high heavens, the end of the deluge of iniquity, by sending upon the earth the sweet white Dove that bears the tidings of peace!

The Feast of the Blessed Virgin’s Immaculate Conception is the most solemn of all those which the Church celebrates during the holy time of Advent; and if the first part of the Cycle had to offer us the commemoration of some one of the Mysteries of Mary, there was none whose object could better harmonize with the spirit of the Church in this mystic season of expectation. Let us, then, celebrate this solemnity with joy; for the Conception of Mary tells us that the birth of Jesus is not far off.

The intention of the Church, in this Feast, is not only to celebrate the anniversary of the happy moment in which began, in the womb of the pious Anne, the life of the ever-glorious Virgin Mary; but also to honour the sublime privilege, by which Mary was preserved from the original stain, which, by a sovereign and universal decree, is contracted by all the children of Adam the very moment they are conceived in their mother’s womb. The faith of the Catholic Church on the subject of the Conception of Mary is this: that at the very instant, when God united the Soul of Mary, which he had created, to the Body which it was to animate, this ever-blessed Soul did not only not contract the stain, which, at that same instant, defiles every human soul, but was filled with an immeasurable grace which rendered her, from that moment, the mirror of the sanctity of God himself, as far as this is possible to a creature. The Church, with her infallible authority, declared, by the lips of Pius the Ninth, that this article of her faith had been revealed by God himself. The Definition was received with enthusiasm by the whole of Christendom, and the Eighth of December of the year 1854 was thus made one of the most memorable days of the Church’s history.

immaculate conception

It was due to his own infinite sanctity that God should suspend, in this instance, the law which his divine justice had passed upon all the children of Adam. The relations which Mary was to bear to the Divinity, could not be reconciled with her undergoing the humiliation of this punishment. She was not only Daughter of the Eternal Father ; she was destined also to become the very Mother of the Son, and the veritable Spouse of the Holy Ghost; nothing defiled could be permitted to enter, even for an atom of time, into the creature that was thus predestined to contract such close relations with the adorable Trinity; not a speck could be permitted to tarnish in Mary that perfect purity which the infinitely holy God requires in those who are one day to be admitted to enjoy even the sight of his divine majesty in heaven; in a word, as the great Doctor St. Anselm says, it was just that this Holy Virgin Should be adorned with the greatest purity which can be conceived after that of God himself, since God the Father was to give to her, as her Child, that only Begotten Son, whom he loved as himself, as being begotten to him from his own bosom; and this in such a manner, that the self-same Son of God was, by nature, the Son of both God the Father and of this Blessed Virgin. This same Son chose her to be substantially his Mother; and the Holy Ghost willed that in Her womb he would operate the conception and birth of Him, from whom he himself proceeded.

Moreover, the close ties which were to unite the Son of God with Mary, and which would elicit from him the tenderest love and the most filial reverence for her, had been present to the divine thought from all eternity: and the conclusion forces itself upon us, that, therefore, the Divine Word had for this his future Mother a love infinitely greater than that which he bore for all his other creatures. Mary’s honour was infinitely dear to him, because she was to be his Mother, chosen to be so by his eternal and merciful decrees. The Son’s love protected the Mother. She, indeed, in her sublime humility, willingly submitted to whatever the rest of God’s creatures had brought on themselves, and obeyed every tittle of those laws which were never meant for her: but that humiliating barrier, which confronts every child of Adam at the first moment of his existence, and keeps him from light and grace until he shall have been re generated by a new birth, — oh! this could not be permitted to stand in Mary’s way, — her Son forbade it.

The Eternal Father would not do less for the Second Eve than he had done for the First; yet she was created, as was also the first Adam, in the state of original justice, which she afterwards forfeited by sin. The Son of God would not permit that the Woman, from whom he was to take the nature of Man, should be deprived of that gift which he had given even to her who was the mother of sin. The Holy Ghost, who was to overshadow Mary and produce Jesus within her by his divine operation, would not permit that foul stain, in which we are all conceived, to rest, even for an instant, on this his Spouse. All men were to contract the sin of Adam; the sentence was universal; but God’s own Mother is not included. God, who is the author of that law; God, who was free to make it as he willed; had power to exclude from it Her whom he had predestined to be his Own in so many ways ; he could exempt her, and it was just that he should exempt her; therefore, he did it.

Was it not this grand exemption which God himself foretold, when the guilty pair, whose children we all are, appeared before him in the Garden of Eden? In the anathema which fell upon the serpent, there was included a promise of mercy to us. I will put enmities, said the Lord, between thee and the Woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head. Thus was salvation promised the human race under the form of a victory over Satan; and this victory is to be gained by the Woman, and she will gain it for us also. Even granting, as some read this text, that it is the Son of the Woman that is alone to gain this victory, the enmity between the Woman and the Serpent is clearly expressed, and she, the Woman, with her own foot, is to crush the head of the hated Serpent. The Second Eve is to be worthy of the Second Adam, conquering and not to be conquered. The human race is one day to be avenged, not only by God made Man, but also by the Woman miraculously exempted from every stain of sin, in whom the primeval creation, which was in justice and holiness, will thus reappear in her, just as though the original sin had never been committed.

Raise up your heads, then, ye children of Adam, and shake off your chains! This day, the humiliation, which weighed you down, is annihilated. Behold! Mary, she who is of the same flesh and blood as your selves, has seen the torrent of sin, which swept along all the generations of mankind, she has seen it flow back at her presence and not touch her; the infernal dragon has turned away his head, daring not to breathe his venom upon her; the dignity of your origin is given to her in all its primitive grandeur. This happy day, then, on which the original purity of your race is renewed, must be a Feast to you. The Second Eve is created, and from her own blood, (which, with the exception of the element of sin, is the same as that which makes you to be the children of Adam,) she is shortly to give you the God-Man, who proceeds from her according to the flesh, as he proceeds from the Father according to the eternal generation.

And how can we do less than admire and love the incomparable purity of Mary in her Immaculate Conception, when we hear even that God, who thus prepared her to become his Mother, saying to her, in the divine Canticle, these words of complacent love: Thou art all fair, O my Love! and there is not a spot in thee! It is the God of all-holiness that here speaks; that eye, which sees all things, finds not a vestige, not a shadow of sin; therefore does he delight in her, and admire in her that gift of his own condescending munificence. We cannot be surprised after this, that Gabriel, when he came down from heaven to announce the Incarnation to her, is full of admiration at the sight of that purity, whose beginning was so glorious and whose progress was immeasurable; and that this blessed Spirit should bow down profoundly before this young Maid of Nazareth, and salute her with, “Hail, O Full of Grace!” And who is this Gabriel? An Archangel, that lives amidst the grandest magnificences of God’s creation, amidst all the gorgeous riches of heaven; who is Brother to the Cherubim and Seraphim, to the Thrones and Dominations; whose eye is accustomed to gaze on those nine angelic choirs with their dazzling brightness of countless degrees of light and grace; he has found on earth, in a creature of a nature below that of Angels, the fullness of grace, of that grace which had been given to the Angels measuredly. This fullness of grace was in Mary from the very first instant of her existence. She is the future Mother of God, and she was ever holy, ever pure, ever Immaculate.

Immaculate Conception - Ever Virgin Mother of God

This truth of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, which was revealed to the Apostles by the divine Son of Mary, inherited by the Church, taught by the Holy Fathers, believed by each generation of the Christian people with an ever increasing explicitness, this truth, we say, was implied in the very notion of a Mother of God. To believe that Mary was Mother of God, was an implicitly believing that she, on whom this sublime dignity was conferred, had never been defiled with the slightest stain of sin, and that God had bestowed upon her an absolute exemption from sin. But now, the Immaculate Conception of Mary rests on an explicit Definition dictated by the Holy Ghost. Peter has spoken by the mouth of Pius; and when Peter has spoken, every Christian should believe; for the Son of God has said: I have prayed for thee, Peter, that thy faith fail not. And again: The Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you.

The Symbol of our faith has therefore received not a new truth, but a new light on a truth which was previously the object of the universal belief. On that great day of the Definition, the infernal serpent was again crushed beneath the victorious foot of the Virgin-Mother, and the Lord graciously gave us the strongest pledge of his mercy. He still loves this guilty earth, since he has deigned to en lighten it with one of the brightest rays of his Mother’s glory. How this earth of ours exulted! The present generation will never forget the enthusiasm with which the entire universe received the tidings of the Definition. It was an event of mysterious importance which thus marked this second half of our century; and we shall look forward to the future with renewed confidence; for if the Holy Ghost bids us tremble for the days when Truths are diminished among the children of men, he would, consequently, have us look on those times as blessed by God in which we receive an increase of truth; an increase both in light and in authority.

The Church, even before the solemn proclamation of the grand dogma, kept the Feast of this 8th day of December; which was, in reality, a profession of her faith. It is true, that the Feast was not called the Immaculate Conception, but simply the Conception of Mary. But the fact of such a Feast being instituted and kept, was an unmistakable expression of the faith of Christendom in that truth. St. Bernard and the Angelical Doctor, St. Thomas, both teach that the Church cannot celebrate the Feast of what is not holy; the Conception of Mary, therefore, was holy and immaculate, since the Church has, for ages past, honoured it with a special Feast. The Nativity of the same holy Virgin is kept as a solemnity in the Church, because Mary was born full of grace; therefore, had the first moment of Mary’s existence been one of sin, as is that of all the other children of Adam, it never could have been made the subject of the reverence of the Church. Now, there are few Feasts so generally and so firmly established in the Church as this which we are keeping to-day.

The Greek Church, which, more easily than the Latin, could learn what were the pious traditions of the East, kept this feast even in the sixth century, as is evident from the ceremonial or, as it was called, the Type, of St. Sabas. In the West, we find it established in the Gothic Church of Spain as far back as the eighth century. A celebrated calendar which was engraved on marble, in the ninth century, for the use of the Church of Naples, attests that it had already been introduced there. Paul, the Deacon, Secretary to the Emperor Charlemagne, and after wards Monk at Monte-Cassino, composed a celebrated Hymn on the mystery of the Immaculate Conception; we will insert this piece later on, as it is given in the manuscript copies of Monte-Cassino and Benevento. In 1066, the Feast was first established in England, in consequence of the pious Abbot Helsyn’s being miraculously preserved from shipwreck ; and shortly after that, was made general through the whole Island by the zeal of the great St. Anselm, Monk of the Order of St. Benedict, and Archbishop of Canterbury. From England it passed into Normandy, and took root in France. We find it sanctioned in Germany, in a council held in 1049, at which St. Leo IX, was present; in Navarre, 1090, at the Abbey of Irach; in Belgium, at Liege, in 1142. Thus did the Churches of the West testify their faith in this mystery, by accepting its Feast, which is the expression of faith.

Lastly, it was adopted by Rome herself, and her doing so rendered the united testimony of her children, — the other Churches, — more imposing than ever. It was Pope Sixtus IV. who, in the year 1476, published the decree of the feast of Our Lady’s Conception for the City of St. Peter., In the next century, 1568, St. Pius V. published the universal edition of the Roman Breviary, and in its Calendar was inserted this feast as one of those Christian solemnities, which the faithful are every year bound to observe. It was not from Rome that the devotion of the Catholic world to this mystery received its first impulse; she sanctioned it by her liturgical authority, just as she confirmed it by her doctrinal authority, in these our own days.

The three great Catholic Nations of Europe, — Germany, France, and Spain, — vied with each other in their devotion to this mystery of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. France, by her King Louis XIV., obtained from Clement IX., that this feast should be kept with an Octave throughout the kingdom; which favour was afterwards extended to the universal Church by Innocent XII. For centuries previous to this, the Theological Faculty of Paris had always exacted from its Professors the oath that they would defend this privilege of Mary; a pious practice which continued as long as the University itself.

As regards Germany, the Emperor Ferdinand III., in 1647, ordered a splendid monument to be erected in the great square of Vienna. It is covered with emblems and figures symbolical of Mary’s victory over sin, and on the top is the statue of the Immaculate Queen, with this solemn and truly Catholic inscription:
















But the zeal of Spain for the privilege of the holy Mother of God surpassed that of all other nations. In the year 1398, John I. King of Arragon, issued a Chart, in which he solemnly places his person and kingdom under the protection of Mary Immaculate Later on, Kings Philip III. and Philip IV. sent ambassadors to Rome, soliciting, in their names, the solemn definition, which heaven reserved, in its mercy, for our days. King Charles III. in the last century, obtained permission from Clement XIII., that the Immaculate Conception should be the patronal feast of Spain. The people of Spain, so justly called the Catholic Kingdom, put over the door, or on the front of their houses, a tablet with the words of Mary’s privilege written on it; and when they meet, they greet each other with an expression in honour of the same dear mystery. It was a Spanish Nun, Mary of Jesus, Abbess of the Convent of the Immaculate Conception of Agreda, who wrote God’s Mystic City, which inspired Murillo with his Immaculate Conception, the master-piece of the Spanish School.

But, whilst thus mentioning the different nations which have been foremost in their zeal for this article of our holy faith, the Immaculate Conception,— it were unjust to pass over the immense share which the Seraphic Order, the Order of St. Francis of Assisi, has had in the earthly triumph of our Blessed Mother, the Queen of heaven and earth. As often as this feast comes round, is it not just that we should think with reverence and gratitude on him, who was the first theologian that showed how closely connected with the divine mystery of the Incarnation is this dogma of the Immaculate Conception?

John Duns Scotus

First, then, all honour to the name of the pious and learned John Duns Scotus! And when at length the great day of the Definition of the Immaculate Conception came, how justly merited was that grand audience, which the Vicar of Christ granted to the Franciscan Order, and with which closed the pageant of the glorious solemnity! Pius the Ninth received from the hands of the children of St. Francis a tribute of homage and thankfulness, which the Scotist School, after having fought four hundred years in defence of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, now presented to the Pontiff.

In the presence of the fifty-four Cardinals, forty- two Archbishops, and ninety-two Bishops; before an immense concourse of people that filled Saint Peter’s, and had united in prayer, begging the assistance of the Spirit of Truth; the Vicar of Christ had just pronounced the decision which so many ages had hoped to hear. The Pontiff had offered the Holy Sacrifice on the Confession of Saint Peter. He had crowned the Statue of the Immaculate Queen with a splendid diadem. Carried on his lofty throne, and wearing his triple crown, he had reached the portico of the basilica; there he is met by the two representatives of St. Francis: they prostrate before the throne: the triumphal procession halts: and first, there advances the General of the Friars Minor Observantines; he presents to the Holy Father a branch of silver Lilies: he was followed by the General of the Conventual Friars, holding in his hand a branch of silver Roses. The Pope graciously accepted both. The Lilies and the Roses were symbolical of Mary’s purity and love; the whiteness of the silver was the emblem of the lovely brightness of that orb, on which is reflected the light of the Sun; for, as the Canticle says of Mary, “She is beautiful as the Moon.” The Pontiff was overcome with emotion at these gifts of the family of the Seraphic Patriarch, to which we might justly apply what was said of the Banner of the Maid of Orleans:” It had stood the brunt of the battle; “it deserved to share in the glory of the victory.” And thus ended the glories of that grand morning of the Eighth of December, Eighteen-hundred and Fifty-four.

It is thus, O thou the humblest of creatures, that thy Immaculate Conception has been glorified on earth! And how could it be else than a great joy to men, that thou art honoured by them, thou the aurora of the Sun of Justice! Dost thou not bring them the tidings of their salvation? Art not thou, O Mary, that bright ray of hope, which suddenly bursts forth in the deep abyss of the world’s misery What should we have been without Jesus? And thou art his dearest Mother, the holiest of God’s creatures, the purest of virgins, and our own most loving Mother!

December 8 Feast of the Immaculate Conception BVM

How thy gentle light gladdens our wearied eyes, sweet Mother! Generation had followed generation on this earth of ours. Men looked up to heaven through their tears, hoping to see appear on the horizon the Star, which they had been told should disperse the gloomy horrors of the world’s darkness ; but death came, and they sank into the tomb, without seeing even the dawn of the Light, for which alone they cared to live. It was for us that God had reserved the blessing of seeing thy lovely rising, O thou fair Morning Star! which sheddest thy blessed rays on the sea, and bringest calm after the long stormy night! Oh! prepare our eyes that they may behold the divine Sun which will soon follow in thy path, and give to the world his reign of light and day. Prepare our hearts, for it is to our hearts that this Jesus of thine wishes to show himself. To see him, our hearts must be pure; purify them, thou O Immaculate Mother! The divine wisdom has willed that of the feasts which the Church dedicates to thee, this of thy Immaculate Conception should be celebrated during Advent; that thus the children of the Church, reflecting on the jealous care wherewith God preserved thee from every stain of sin, because thou wast to be the Mother of his divine Son, — might prepare to receive this same Jesus by the most perfect renouncing of every sin and every attachment to sin. This great change must be made; and thy prayers, O Mary! will help us to make it. Pray, we ask it of thee by the grace God gave thee in thy Immaculate Conception, that our covetousness may be destroyed, our concupiscence extinguished, and our pride turned into humility. Despise not our prayers, dear Mother of that Jesus who chose thee for his dwelling-place, that he might afterwards find one in each of us.

O Mary! Ark of the Covenant, built of an incorruptible wood, and covered over with the purest gold! help us to correspond with those wonderful designs of our God, who, after having found his glory in thy incomparable purity, wills now to seek his glory in our unworthiness, by making us, from being slaves of the devil, his temples and his abode, where he may find his delight. Help us to this, O thou that by the mercy of thy Son hast never known sin! and receive this day our devoutest praise. Thou art the Ark of Salvation; the one creature unwrecked in the universal deluge; the white Fleece filled with the dew of heaven, whilst the earth around is parched ; the Flame which the many waters could not quench; the Lily blooming amidst thorns; the Garden shut against the infernal serpent ; the Fountain sealed, whose limpid water was never ruffled ; the House of the Lord, whereon his eyes were ever fixed, and into which nothing defiled could ever enter; the mystic City, of which such glorious things are said. We delight in telling all thy glorious titles, O Mary! for thou art our Mother, and we love thee, and the Mother’s glory is the glory of her children. Cease not to bless and protect all them that honour thy immense privilege, O thou that wast conceived on this day! May this feast fit us for that mystery, for which thy Conception, thy Birth, and thy Annunciation, are all preparations, — the Birth of thy Jesus in Bethlehem: yea, dear Mother, we desire thy Jesus, — give him to us and satisfy the longings of our love.

Immaculate Conception Dec 8 Feast Day


The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Double of the First Class with an Octave

White Vestments

Missa ‘Gaudens gaudebo’


Isaiah 61:10 

I will rejoice with exceeding joy in the Lord, and my soul shall exult in my God: for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation; and with the robe of justice he hath covered me, as a bride adorned with her jewels. Ps. I will extol thee, O Lord, for thou hast upheld me: and hast not made my enemies to rejoice over me.

Glory be to the Father.

I will rejoice, with exceeding joy in the Lord…

Gaudens gaudebo in Domino, et exsultabit anima mea in Deo meo: quia induit me vestimentis salutis ; et indumento justitiae circumdedit me, quasi sponsam ornatam monilibus suis.

Ps. Exaltabo te, Domine, quoniam suscepisti me: nec delectasti inimicos meos su per me.

Gloria Patri.

Gaudens gaudebo te, Domine…


O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin didst prepare a worthy dwelling-place for  thy divine Son; grant, we beseech thee, that, as by the foreseen merits of the death of this thy Son, thou didst preserve her from every stain of sin, we also may, through her intercession, be cleansed from our sins and united with thee. Through the same, Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.


Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to prepare the ways of Thine only-begotten Son; that through His coming we may attain to serve Thee with purified minds. Who with Thee liveth and reigneth.


Immaculate Conception, Murillo 1650


Lesson from the Book of Wisdom.

Proverbs 8: 23-35

The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His ways, before He made anything, from the beginning. I was set up from eternity, and of old, before the earth was made. The depths were not as yet, and I was already conceived neither had the fountains of waters as yet sprung out; the mountains with their huge bulk had not yet been established: before the hills I was brought forth He had not yet made the earth, nor the rivers, not the poles of the world. When He prepared the Heavens, I was there when with a certain law and compass He enclosed the depths; when He established the sky above, and poised the fountains of waters; when He compassed the sea with its bounds, and set a law to the waters that they should not pass their limits; when He balanced the foundations of the earth; I was with Him, forming all things, and was delighted every day, playing before Him at all times, playing in the world: and my delight is to be with the children of men. Now, therefore, ye children, hear me: blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth me, and that watcheth daily at my gates, and waiteth at the posts of my doors. He that shall find me, shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord.

Dominus possédit me in inítio viárum, suárum, ántequam quidquam fáceret a princípio. Ab ætérno ordináta sum, et ex antíquis, ántequam terra fíeret. Nondum erant abyssi, et ego jam concépta eram: necdum fontes aquárum erúperant: necdum montes gravi mole constíterant: ante colles ego parturiébar. Adhuc terram non fécerat, et flúmina et cárdines orbis terræ. Quando præparábat cœlos, áaderam: quando certa lege, et gyro vallábat abyssos: quando æthera firmábat sursum, et librábat fontes aquárum: quando circúmdabat mari términum suum, et legem ponébat aquis ne transírent fines suos: quando appendébat fundaménta terræ. Cumeo eramcuncta compónens: et dilectábar per síngulos dies, ludens coram eo omni témpore, ludens in orbe terrárum: et delíciæ meæ esse cum fíliis hóminum. Nunc ergo, fílii, audíte me: Beáti qui custódiunt vias meas. Audíte discipliniam, et estóte sapiéntes, et nolite abjícere eam. Beátus homo qui audit me, et qui vígilat ad fores meas quotídie, et obsérvat ad postes óstii mei. Qui me invéniet vitam, et háuriet salútem a Dómino.


By: Dom Prosper Guéranger

The Apostle teaches us that Jesus, our Emmanuel, is the first born of every creature. These mysterious words signify not only that he is, as God, eternally begotten of the Father; but also that the Divine Word is, as Man, anterior to all created beings. Yet, how is this? the world had been created, and the human race had dwelt on this earth full four thousand years, before the Son of God took to himself the nature of man. We answer, that it is not in the order of time, but in the eternal intention of God, that the Man-God preceded every creature. The Eternal Father decreed first to give to his Eternal Son a created nature, namely, the nature of man, and, in consequence of this decree, to create all beings, whether spiritual or material, as a kingdom for this Man-God. This explains to us how it is, that the divine Wisdom, the Son of God, in the passage of the sacred Scripture which forms the Epistle of this Feast, proclaims his having existed before all the creatures of the universe. As God, he was begotten from all eternity in the bosom of the Father; as Man, he was, in the mind of God, the type of all creatures, before those creatures were made. But the Son of God could not be of our race, as the divine will decreed he should be, unless he were born in time, and born of a Mother as other men; and therefore She that was to be his Mother was eternally present to the thought of God, as the means whereby the Word would assume the human nature. The Son and the Mother are therefore united in the plan of the Incarnation: Mary, therefore, existed, as did Jesus, in the divine decree, before creation began. This is the reason of the Church’s having, from the earliest ages of Christianity, interpreted this sublime passage of the sacred volume of Jesus and of Mary unitedly, and ordering it and analogous passages of the Scriptures to be read in the assembly of the faithful on the solemnities or feasts of the Mother of God. But if Mary be thus prominent-in the divine and eternal plan ; if, in the sense in which these mysterious texts are understood by the Church, she was, with Jesus, before every creature ; could God permit her to be subjected to the original sin, which was to fall on all the children of Adam? She is, it is true, to be a child of Adam like her divine Son himself, and to be born at the time fixed; but God’s grace shall turn away from her that torrent, which sweeps all mankind along; it shall not come near to her, and she shall transmit to her Son, who was also the Son of God, the human nature in its original perfection, created, as the Apostle says, in holiness and justice.


Blessed art thou, O Virgin Mary, by the Lord the most high God, above all women upon the earth. Thou art the glory of Jerusalem, thou art the joy of Israel thou art the honour of our people.

Benedicta es tu, Virgo María, a Dómino Deo excélso, præ omnibus muliéribus super terram. V. Tu Glória, Jerúsalem, tu lætítia Isræl, tu honorificéntia pópuli nostri.


Thou art the glory of Jerusalem, thou art the joy of Israel, thou art the honour of our people. Alleluia, alleluia. Thou art all fair, O Mary, and the stain original is not in thee. Alleluia.

The Annunciation of the BVM


The continuation from the holy Gospel according to St. Luke.

At that time the Angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a Virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David: and the Virgin’s name was Mary. And the Angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace; the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

In illo témpore: Missus est Angelus Gabriel a Deo in civitátem Galilææ, cui nomen Názareth, ad Vírginem desponsátam viro, cui nomen erat Joseph, de Dómo David et nomen Vírginis, María. Et ingréssus Angelus ad eam, dixit: Ave, grátia plena Dóminus tecum benédicta tu in muliéribus


By: Dom Prosper Guéranger

This is the salutation with which the Archangel greets Mary. It shows us what was his admiration and his profound veneration for the Virgin of Nazareth. The holy Gospel tells us that Mary was troubled at these words, and thought within herself what such a salutation as this could imply. The Sacred

Scriptures record many Angelical salutations: but, as St. Ambrose, St. Andrew of Crete, and, before them, Origen, had remarked, there is not one which contains such praises as this does. The prudent Virgin was, therefore, naturally surprised at the extraordinary words of the Angel, and, as the early Fathers observe, they would remind her of that other interview between Eve and the serpent. She therefore remained silent, and it was only after the Archangel had spoken to her a second time, that she made him a reply.

And yet, Gabriel had spoken not only with all the eloquence, but with all the profound wisdom of a celestial Spirit initiated into the divine mysteries ; and, in his own superhuman language, he announced that the moment had come when Eve was to be transformed into Mary. There was present before him a woman destined for the sublimest dignity, the woman that was to be the Mother of God; yet, up to this solemn moment, Mary was but a daughter of the human race. Think, then, taking Gabriel’s words as your guide, what must have been the holiness of Mary in this her first estate: is it not evident, that the prophecy, made in the earthly paradise, had already been accomplished in Her?

The Archangel proclaims her Full of Grace. What means this, but that the second Woman possesses in herself that element of which sin had deprived the first? And observe, he does not say merely that divine grace works in her, but that she is full of it. “She is not merely in grace as others” are, as Saint Peter Chrysologus told us on his feast,” but she is filled with it.” Everything in Her is resplendent with heavenly purity, and sin has never cast its shadow on her beauty. To appreciate the full import of Gabriel’s expression, we must consider what is the force of the words in the language which the sacred historian used. Grammarians tell us, that the single word which he employs is much more comprehensive than our expression “full of grace.” It implies not only the present time, but the past as well, — an incorporation of grace from the very commencement, — the full and complete affirmation of grace, — the total permanence of grace. Our translation has unavoidably weakened the term.

The better to feel the full force of our translation, let us compare this with an analogous text from the Gospel of St. John. This Evangelist, speaking of the Humanity of the Incarnate Word, expresses all by saying, that Jesus is full of grace and truth. Now, would this fullness have been real, had sin ever been there, instead of grace, even for a single instant ? Could we call him full of grace, who had once stood in need of being cleansed? Undoubtedly, we must ever respectfully bear in mind the distance between the Humanity of the Incarnate Word and the person of Mary, from whose womb the Son of God assumed that Humanity; but the sacred text obliges us to confess, that the fullness of grace was, proportionately, in both Jesus and Mary.

Gabriel goes on still enumerating the supernatural riches of Mary. He says to her:” the Lord is with thee.” What means this? It means, that even before Mary had conceived our Lord in her chaste womb, she already possessed him in her soul. But, would the words be true, if that union with God had once not been, and had only begun when her dis union with him by sin had been removed? The solemn occasion, on which the Angel uses this language, forbids us to think that he conveyed by it any other idea, than that she had always had the Lord with her. We feel the allusion to a contrast between the First and the Second Eve; the First lost the God who had once been with her; the Second had, like the First, received our Lord into her from the first moment of her existence, and never lost him, but continued from first to last and for ever to have him with her.

Let us listen once more to the salutation, and we shall find from its last words that Gabriel is announcing the fulfillment of the divine oracle, and is addressing Mary as the woman foretold to be the instrument of the victory over Satan. “Blessed art thou among women.” For four thousand years, every woman has been under the curse of God, and has brought forth her children in suffering and sorrow: but here is the one among women, that has been ever blessed of God, that has ever been the enemy of the serpent, and that shall bring forth the fruit of her womb without travail.

The Immaculate Conception of Mary is therefore declared in the Archangel’s salutation; and we can now understand, why the Church selected this portion of the Gospel to be read to-day in the assembly of the faithful.

After the glorious chant of the Symbol of our Faith, the Choir intones the Offertory: it is composed of the words of the Angelical Salutation. Let us say to Mary, with Gabriel:

Verily, O Mary, thou art full of all grace.

annunciation_BOTTICELLI, Sandro


Luke 1: 28

Hail Mary, full of grace: the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Alleluia.

Ave María, gratia plena: Dóminus tecum, benedícta tu in muliéribus. Allelúia.


Receive, O Lord, this host of salvation, which we offer unto thee on this solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the blessed Virgin Mary ; and grant, that, as we confess her to have been pre served, by thy preventing grace, from every stain of sin, we may, by her intercession, be freed from all our sins. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Be appeased, we beseech Thee, O Lord, by the prayers and offerings of our humility: and where we have no merits to plead for us, do Thou help us with Thine aid. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord.

most holy name of mary 2


It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God and that we should praise and bless, and proclaim Thee, on the solemn feast of the Immaculate Conception of Blessed Mary: ever Virgin: Who also conceived Thine only-begotten Son by the over-shadowing of the Holy Ghost, and the glory of her virginity still abiding, gave forth to the world the everlasting light, Jesus Christ our Lord. Through whom the angels praise Thy Majesty, the Dominations worship it, and the Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the Heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with them we entreat Thee, that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted, while we say with lowly praise:

Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts. Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

Vere dignum et justum est, æquum et salutáre, nos tibi semper, et ubique grátias ágere: Dómine sancte, Pater omnípotens, ætérne Deus. Et te in solemnitáte immáculatæ Conceptionis beátæ Mariæ semper Vírginis collaudáre, benedícere, et prædicáre. Quæ et Unigénitum tuum Sancti Spíritus obumbratióne concépit, et virginitátis glória permanénte, lumen ætérnum mundo effúdit, Jesum Christum Dóminum nostrum. Per quem majestátem tuam laudant Angeli, adórant Dominatiónes, tremunt Potestátes cœli cœlorúmque Virtútes, ac beáta Séraphim, sócia exsultatióne concélebrant. Cum quibus et nostras voces ut admitti júbeas deprecámur, súpplici confessióne dicéntes:

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dóminus Deus Sábaoth. Pleni sunt cæli et terra glória tua. Hosánna in excélsis. Benedíctus qui venit in nómine Dómini. Hosánna in excélsis.



Psalm 88: 36-38

Glorious things are told of thee, O Mary, for He who is mighty hath done great things unto thee.


May the Sacraments which we have received, O Lord, our God, heal in us the wounds of that sin, from which Thou didst alone preserve the Immaculate Conception of Blessed Mary.  Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord.


Filled with the food of this spiritual nourishment, we suppliantly entreat Thee, O Lord, that through our participation in this Mystery Thou wouldst teach us to despise earthly things and to love heavenly ones. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord.



Novena in honor of the Immaculate Conception – Ninth day                             

    Mary’s Immaculate Conception 

In thy conception, O Virgin Mary, thou wast immaculate; pray for us to the Father, whose Son Jesus, conceived in thy womb by the Holy Ghost, thou didst bring forth.


Early in the Christian era the feast of Mary’s Immaculate Conception was observed in several countries. St. Anselm, Bishop of Canterbury, introduced it in England. A great number of Popes favored the doctrine of Mary’s absolute sinlessness, and the adversaries of the Immaculate Conception were bidden to be silent and not publicly assert or defend their view. In 1477, Pope Sixtus IV prescribed the feast of the Immaculate Conception to be observed in the whole Church, and made it obligatory on priests to recite the special canonical office and to use the Mass formula published for the purpose. In 1846, the bishops of the United States assembled in plenary council in Baltimore elected the Blessed Virgin under the title of her immaculate conception Patroness of the Church in their country.

Finally, Pope Pius IX, after consulting with the bishops throughout the world, and having implored the Holy Ghost for His guidance in prayer and fasting, promulgated, on December 8, 1854, the dogma which teaches that the Blessed Virgin Mary was in her conception, by a special grace and through the merits of her divine Son, preserved from the stain of original sin. This doctrine was received throughout the world with ineffable joy; and, indeed, no one who loves the Blessed Virgin can help rejoicing at this her most glorious privilege.

The invocation, “Queen conceived without the stain of original sin,” was added to the Litany of Loreto. In 1866, at the Second Plenary Council in Baltimore, the feast of the Immaculate Conception was raised to the rank of a Holy day of obligation for the Church of the United States.


In the inscrutable designs of His providence God ordained that the mystery of the immaculate conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary should be proclaimed an article of faith as late as the middle of the nineteenth century. But, then, its proclamation was attended by circumstances that undeniably proved that the Holy Father in pronouncing the dogma had been inspired and guided by the Holy Ghost.

Let us praise God and thank Him for bestowing this glorious privilege on our beloved Mother, and let us often invoke her under her favorite title, the Immaculate Conception. St. Alphonsus Liguori tells us that the devotion to this mystery is especially efficacious in overcoming the temptations of impurity. Therefore he was accustomed to recommend to his penitents thus tempted to recite three times every day the Hail Mary in honor of Mary immaculate. And the Venerable John of Avila assures us that he never found any one who practiced a true devotion to the Immaculate Conception of Mary, who did not in a short time obtain the gift of that virtue which renders us so dear to her immaculate heart.

Immaculate Conception is a dogma of the Catholic Church


O God, who through the immaculate conception of the Virgin didst prepare a worthy dwelling-place for Thy divine Son; grant that, as in view of Thy Son Thou didst preserve her from all taint, so Thou wouldst vouchsafe unto us that cleansed from all sin by her intercession we too may arrive at Thine eternal glory. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Lord have mercy on us.

Lord have mercy on us.

Christ have mercy on us.

Christ have mercy on us.

Lord have mercy on us.

Lord have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us.

Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.

God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us

Holy Mother of God, pray for us

Holy Virgin of virgins, pray for us

Mother of Christ, pray for us

Mother of divine grace, pray for us

Mother most pure, pray for us

Mother most chaste, pray for us

Mother inviolate, pray for us

Mother undefiled, pray for us

Mother most amiable, pray for us

Mother most admirable, pray for us

Mother of good counsel, pray for us

Mother of our Creator, pray for us

Mother of our Redeemer, pray for us

Virgin most prudent, pray for us

Virgin most venerable, pray for us

Virgin most renowned, pray for us

Virgin most powerful, pray for us

Virgin most merciful, pray for us

Virgin most faithful, pray for us

Mirror of justice, pray for us

Seat of wisdom, pray for us

Cause of our joy, pray for us

Spiritual vessel, pray for us

Vessel of honour, pray for us

Singular vessel of devotion, pray for us

Mystical rose, pray for us

Tower of David, pray for us

Tower of ivory, pray for us

House of gold, pray for us

Ark of the Covenant, pray for us

Gate of Heaven, pray for us

Morning Star, pray for us

Health of the sick, pray for us

Refuge of sinners, pray for us

Comforter of the afflicted, pray for us

Help of Christians, pray for us

Queen of Angels, pray for us

Queen of Patriarchs, pray for us

Queen of Prophets, pray for us

Queen of Apostles, pray for us

Queen of Martyrs, pray for us

Queen of Confessors, pray for us

Queen of Virgins, pray for us

Queen of all Saints, pray for us

Queen conceived without original sin, pray for us

Queen assumed into heaven, pray for us.

Queen of the most holy Rosary, pray for us

Queen of peace, pray for us

Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world: Spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world: Graciously hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world: Have mercy on us.

The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary And she conceived of the Holy Ghost.

Let us pray

O God, who didst will that Thy Word, at the message of an Angel, should take flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary: grant that Thy suppliants, who verily believe her to be the Mother of God, may be aided by her intercession with Thee. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.



O living light of holiness, model of purity, Mary immaculate, virgin and mother! As soon as thou wast conceived thou didst profoundly adore thy God, giving Him thanks that in thee the ancient curse was revoked, and blessing came again upon the sinful sons of Adam. O make this blessing kindle in my heart love for God; and do thou fan this flame of love within me, that I may love Him constantly and one day in heaven eternally enjoy Him, there to thank Him more and more fervently for all the wondrous privileges conferred on thee, and to rejoice with thee for thy high crown of glory.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!




Nativity of our lady

               Eighth Day

The Image of the Immaculate Conception


In thy conception, O Virgin Mary, thou wast immaculate; pray for us to the Father, whose Son Jesus, conceived in thy womb by the Holy Ghost, thou didst bring forth.


Christian art represents the Immaculate Conception as follows: The Blessed Virgin appears standing on a globe, about which is coiled a serpent holding an apple in its mouth. One of Mary’s feet rests upon the serpent, the other is placed on the moon. Her eyes are raised toward heaven; her hands are either joined in prayer, or she holds a lily in her right, and places the left on her breast. Her dress is white; her ample mantle is of blue color. A crown of twelve stars encircles her head. These emblems typify in a most striking manner Mary’s power and glory. “And a great sign appeared in heaven. A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Apoc. xii. 1).




The representation of the Immaculate Conception is very instructive. (1) Mary appears standing on the globe. This signifies that being human, she belongs to the earth, and yet is exalted above the world and sin; also, that she trampled underfoot earthly possessions, vanities, and joys. (2) A serpent is coiled about the globe, bearing an apple in its mouth. This reminds us of the fall of our first parents, and of the consequences of their sin. (3) Mary’s foot rests on the serpent, indicating that she never was under Satan’s dominion, but was preserved from sin in the first moment of her existence. (4) Mary stands on the moon. The moon, on account of its changes, is an emblem of inconstancy. We see it at Mary’s feet, to be reminded that we ought to be constant in faith and virtue. (5) Mary wears a crown, to indicate that she is a queen. The crown is composed of twelve stars: she is the queen of heaven. (6) Mary’s dress is white, to denote her spotless purity and innocence. (7) She folds her hands in prayer, reminding us to imitate her example. (8) Or she holds a lily in her right hand, to indicate her virginity and chastity, and the sweet odor of her virtues. (9) Mary’s mantle is blue, which color is emblematic of humility. Its folds are ample, to remind us that all who have recourse to her find a secure refuge in all dangers and necessities.

Therefore let us invoke her intercession in the words of Holy Church: “We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God. Despise not our petitions, and deliver us from all danger, O ever glorious and blessed Virgin!”


O God, who through the immaculate conception of the Virgin didst prepare a worthy dwelling-place for Thy divine Son; grant that, as in view of Thy Son Thou didst preserve her from all taint, so Thou wouldst vouchsafe unto us that cleansed from all sin by her intercession we too may arrive at Thine eternal glory. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, have mercy on us.

Lord, have mercy on us,

Christ, hear us.

Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.

God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us.

Holy Mother of God, pray for us.

Holy Virgin of virgins, pray for us.

Mother of Christ, pray for us.

Mother of divine grace, pray for us.

Mother most pure, pray for us.

Mother most chaste, pray for us.

Mother inviolate, pray for us.

Mother undefiled, pray for us.

Mother most amiable, pray for us.

Mother most admirable, pray for us.

Mother of good counsel, pray for us.

Mother of our Creator, pray for us.

Mother of our Redeemer, pray for us.

Virgin most prudent, pray for us.

Virgin most venerable, pray for us.

Virgin most renowned, pray for us.

Virgin most powerful, pray for us.

Virgin most merciful, pray for us.

Virgin most faithful, pray for us.

Mirror of justice, pray for us.

Seat of wisdom, pray for us.

Cause of our joy, pray for us.

Spiritual vessel, pray for us.

Vessel of honor, pray for us.

Singular vessel of devotion, pray for us.

Mystical rose, pray for us.

Tower of David, pray for us.

Tower of ivory, pray for us.

House of gold, pray for us.

Ark of the covenant, pray for us.

Gate of heaven, pray for us.

Morning star, pray for us.

Health of the sick, pray for us.

Refuge of sinners, pray for us.

Comforter of the afflicted, pray for us.

Help of Christians, pray for us.

Queen of angels, pray for us.

Queen of patriarchs, pray for us.

Queen of prophets, pray for us.

Queen of apostles, pray for us.

Queen of martyrs, pray for us.

Queen of confessors, pray for us.

Queen of virgins, pray for us.

Queen of all saints, pray for us.

Queen conceived without original sin, pray for us.

Queen of the most holy rosary, pray for us.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world: Spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world: Graciously hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world: Have mercy on us, O Lord.

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God:

That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

O God, who didst will that Thy Word, at the message of an Angel, should take flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary: grant that Thy suppliants, who verily believe her to be the Mother of God, may be aided by her intercession with Thee. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

December 8 Feast of the Immaculate Conception BVM


Behold, Virgin immaculate, at thy sacred feet I bow, while my heart overflows with joy in union with thine own, because from eternity thou wast the Mother-elect of the eternal Word, and was preserved stainless from the taint of Adam’s sin. Forever praised, forever blessed be the Most Holy Trinity, who in thy conception poured out upon thy soul the riches of that matchless privilege. I humbly pray thee, most gracious Mother, obtain for me the grace to overcome the bitter results of original sin. Make me victorious over them, that I may never cease to love my God.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!