In the News: March 29, 2016

By Michael Duricy


Read recent items about Mary in both Catholic and secular news. Also see International Marian Research Institute news and updates.

ML/IMRI Features

Marian Events

Mary in the Catholic Press

Mary in the Secular Press

Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute Features


It is with sadness amid our Easter joy that we inform you that Mary Ellen Wilson passed away on Palm Sunday. Her service was Holy Thursday morning. Her obituary mentions her volunteer work with the Creche Collection at The Marian Library. Please remember her and her family in your prayers. Click here to see the obituary for Mary Ellen.


Mary in Media: Books, Films, Music, etc.

Brother Andy Kosmowski, S.M., has created a tumblr. What is tumblr? It is another social media outlet for showing off collections of The Marian Library! You can check it out (as well as our twitter and facebook pages--scroll down to tabs at the lower right of the screen) by visiting the Home Page of the International Marian Research Institute at: https://www.udayton.edu/imri/.


From the Marian Treasure Chest

Brother John M. Samaha, S.M., sent us the article below with these comments: "I am very pleased that this article was published in Messenger of Mary Immaculate, March-April 2016, pages 20-21. For the honor of Mary, Brother John."

Immaculate Mary and Bernadette Soubirous: An ongoing relevance by Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.

Annually we honor in our liturgical calendar two special vocations in God's plan of salvation--the immaculately conceived Virgin Mary and one of her special proteges, Bernadette Soubirous. 

The solemnity of Mary's Immaculate Conception is celebrated on December 8, and honors the conception of Mary in the womb of her mother, St. Anne, without original sin. February 11 is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, the date of the first appearance of Our Lady to Bernadette. April 16 is the feast day of St. Bernadette.

Significant sesquicentennials

In  2008 we celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Blessed Virgin's eighteen apparitions at Lourdes, where she identified herself to St. Bernadette as the Immaculate  Conception.

Mary Immaculate chose a fourteen-year-old illiterate girl to be her messenger of the Good News. This was an encounter of love between a child and a mother, between Bernadette Soubirous and Mary, Mother of God and our spiritual mother. For Bernadette it was a time of private ecstasy and public hell. She was mocked, ridiculed, hounded by authorities and reporters, interrogated and even threatened with prison. Yet she was resolute in delivering the message of the beautiful "Lady." In face of adversity she remained steadfast and responded heroically to this calling. She responded wholeheartedly to cooperating in Mary's apostolic mission. Years later Franz Werfel, a Jew and author of The Song of Bernadette, observed, "For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible. For those who believe, no explanation is necessary."

In 2004 we observed the 150th anniversary of Blessed Pope Pius IX's solemn definition of this dogma on December 8, 1854. Blessed Pius IX explained that Mary was preserved from original sin by a "singular grace and privilege" given her by God "in view of the merits of Jesus Christ," Redeemer of the human race. Mary, like every other human being, needed the redemptive benefits of Christ. But in anticipation of what God did for all through Christ, she alone was preserved from original sin "from the first moment of her conception." As one writer asserted, hers was a "redemption by exemption." By her Immaculate Conception she was conceived in the fullness of grace, in the state of closest possible union with God in view of her future role as the Mother of the Redeemer.

Affirming Mary's Immaculate Conception and unique vocation

When the feast was introduced in France, St. Bernard of Clairvaux opposed it, igniting a controversy that endured for three centuries. Most Scholastic theologians, including St. Anselm of Canterbury, St. Albert the Great, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Bonaventure opposed the doctrine on the grounds that it detracted from the universality of the redemption by Christ. But it was defended and explained with theological clarity in the thirteenth century by Blessed John Duns Scotus, a Franciscan. In 1263 the Franciscans adopted the feast.

The opponents of this feast and doctrine had argued that Mary had to be touched by original sin for at least an instant, even though she was sanctified in her mother’s womb. John Duns Scotus resolved these objections by explaining that Christ can save and redeem in two ways: he can rescue from sin those already fallen; or he can preserve one from being touched by sin even for an instant. Mary was granted "redemption by exemption."

The Council of Basel in 1439 affirmed this belief. Ten years later the Sorbonne in Paris required all its degree candidates to pledge an oath to defend the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Pope Sixtus IV in 1476 approved the feast with its proper Mass and Office, and in 1708 Pope Clement IX extended the feast to the universal Church and made it a holyday of obligation.

Later the Council of Trent (1545-1563) explicitly declared that Mary was exempt from the taint of original sin. From then on the belief was embraced generally and defended by all schools of theology. Many Catholic thinkers and founders of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries promoted and expounded Mary's Immaculate Conception with special interest and verve, and this doctrine became an important part of many Marian spiritualities. One such exponent was Blessed William Joseph Chaminade (1761-1850), founder of the Marianist Family.

At the First Council of Baltimore in 1846 the Catholic bishops of the United States of America chose Mary under the title of her Immaculate Conception as the patron saint of the nation. This deepened interest in our vast new country.

The apparition of Mary Immaculate to St. Catherine Laboure in 1830 at Paris had also advanced this devotion. At that time Mary asked the young nun to produce the Miraculous Medal, which honored the Immaculate Conception. And the solemn definition in 1854 was the culmination of this development. Like an additional seal of approval on the definition, four years later Mary appeared to the uneducated and sickly youngster, St. Bernadette Soubirous, at Lourdes. When Bernadette asked the Virgin Mary on March 25, 1858, to identify herself, Mary replied, "I am the Immaculate Conception."

In 1863 a new Mass and Office were composed for the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. This feast is also celebrated as the Conception of Mary by the Church of England. Among the Eastern Christian Churches, the feast of the Conception by St. Anne of the Most Holy Theotokos continues to be observed on December 9. The date set for the feast is nine months before the Birth of Mary on September 8. 

To celebrate the centenary of the definition of Mary's Immaculate Conception, Pope Pius XII, a devout apostle of Mary, declared 1954 a Marian Year--the first.

Today we continue to mark that solemn definition and its recognition by Mary Immaculate at Lourdes. 

Meaning for today

What is the message for us today? What is the significance of the apparitions at Lourdes? In our world of rationalism and secularism, or materialism and consumerism, God and the supernatural seem far removed from the generality of human beings.

Yet God continues to intervene in human history by sending the Mother of Jesus when the Christian faith is challenged and under attack. The human family needs to be reminded, sometimes in a dynamic and supernatural way, that God exists, that the Gospel of Jesus is a universal call to goodness and holiness, that we are responsible for our human choices. Apparitions are a wake-up call for a societal examination of conscience on how well we are responding to God's manifold invitations for personal salvation and world peace. How well are we responding this heaven-sent encouragement to live generously the Christian life? 

Recall the words of Pope St. John XXIII about Lourdes in 1959: "Listen to the salutary warnings of the Mother of God, who seeks to guide us in our conduct. Mary is the perfect model for the People of God to be with Jesus and herself co-redeemers and intercessors for each other and all humankind."

Knowing and teaching the whole truth about Mary is the best means to teach the whole truth about Jesus and His saving incarnation, His redemption, and His Church. The full truth about Mary safeguards the full truth about Jesus. Mary is the most effective guiding star and mediating force for the new evangelization. The Mother prepares the way for the Son.   

Like Bernadette we are called to live with a sense of Christian vocation, no matter how humble or ordinary our status in life. All of us are invited by Mary to cooperate with her in bringing Jesus to the world.


Marian Events

Holy Angels Parish and One More Soul invite you to a celebration of Jesus taking human nature in Mary's Womb. Mass for the Solemnity of the Annunciation will be held on Monday, April 4, 2016, at 7:00 p.m. with Father Greg Konerman serving as Celebrant and Homilist. There will be a special blessing for Mothers (and families) awaiting birth, and for families who have suffered the loss of a child. Following Mass there will be a presentation on Our Lady of America, the Immaculate Virgin. Light refreshments will be served. Attendees may park in the Holy Angels parking lot or the P Lot at the University of Dayton. The address of the parish is 1322 Brown Street, Dayton, Ohio 45409. For more information call 937-626-0027 or email steve@omsoul.com.


Mary in the Catholic Press

Meditations for Good Friday's Way of the Cross With Pope Francis from Zenit March 25, 2016

...In this extraordinary Jubilee Year, we are drawn to the Way of the Cross of Good Friday by a particular power, the mercy of our Heavenly Father, who wishes to fill us with his Spirit of grace and consolation.

Mercy is the channel of grace which God bestows upon all the people of today: men and women too often lost and confused, materialistic and idolatrous, poor and alone, who belong to a society that seems to have abandoned the notion of sin and truth.

"They will look on him whom they have pierced." (Zech 12:10) This evening, may the prophetic words of Zechariah be fulfilled in us! May our gaze rise from our abject poverty to look upon him, Christ our Lord, He who is Merciful Love. Then we will be able to see his face and hear him say: "I have loved you with an everlasting love." (Jer 31:3) By His forgiveness, He wipes away our sins and opens to us the way of holiness, on which we will embrace our cross, together with Him, out of love for our brothers and sisters. The font which has washed away our sins will become in us "a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (Jn 4:14)...

Brief moment of silence   

Let us pray.

Eternal Father, through the Passion of your beloved Son, you wished to reveal to us your heart and bestow upon us your mercy.

In union with Mary, His Mother and ours, may we know how to always welcome and protect the gift of love.

May she, the Mother of Mercy, present you with the prayers we raise for ourselves and for all humanity, so that the grace of this Way of the Cross may reach every human heart and fill them with new hope, that unfailing hope which radiates from the cross of Jesus.

Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.  Amen.

Click here to read the complete article.


Mary in the Secular Press

The director and editors of All About Mary under the auspices of the International Marian Research Institute do not necessarily endorse or agree with the events and ideas expressed in this feature. Our sole purpose is to report on items about Mary gleaned from a myriad of papers representing the secular press.

'This doubtful day of feast or fast': Good Friday and the Annunciation (A Clerk of Oxford blog) March 23, 2016

This year Good Friday falls on Lady Day, the feast of the Annunciation. This is a rare occurrence and a special one, because it means that for once the day falls on its 'true' date: in patristic and medieval tradition, March 25 was considered to be the historical date of the Crucifixion. It happens only a handful of times in a century, and won't occur again until 2157.

These days the church deals with such occasions by transferring the feast of the Annunciation to another day, but traditionally the conjunction of the two dates was considered to be both deliberate and profoundly meaningful. The date of the feast of the Annunciation was chosen to match the supposed historical date of the Crucifixion, as deduced from the Gospels, in order to underline the idea that Christ came into the world on the same day that he left it: his life formed a perfect circle. March 25 was both the first and the last day of his earthly life, the beginning and the completion of his work on earth. The idea goes back at least to the third century, and Augustine explained it in this way:

"He is believed to have been conceived on March 25, upon which day also He suffered; so the womb of the Virgin, in which he was conceived, where no one of mortals was begotten, corresponds to the new grave in which he was buried, wherein was never man laid, neither before him nor since...."

Click here to read the complete article.

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