“With or without the typhoon, we need to celebrate. We ought to celebrate,” Caceres Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona exhorted at the Pontifical Mass celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception last December 8, Monday, six-thirty in the morning at the Immaculate Conception Parish, Naga City. Despite typhoon ‘Ruby’, parishioners and devotees of the Lady still attended the mass and celebrated the Parish’s 50th Foundation Anniversary.
In his homily, the Carmelite prelate shared his reflections on the “meaning of the Virgin Mary in [one’s] spiritual life”. According to him, Mary, mankind’s mother and role model, can be described in 3 F’s: faithful, fruitful and forward-looking. Mary had an unwavering faith in the Father. She never doubted the guidance and help of the Father in her life. Because of this, her life became meaningful and fruitful. Through the “inspiration of the Spirit”, she brought forth the Redeemer of mankind. Mary was an ordinary woman made extraordinary by her faith.
The Holy Father also said this. With faith, Mary received the graces given to her and upon receiving them, proceeded to share them with others. Likewise, man must also receive the graces given to him in faith and in return, “must be a gift for others”. Pope Francis said, “Allow the Holy Spirit to make us instruments of acceptance, instruments of reconciliation, instruments of forgiveness.”
December 8 marks the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. One of the four dogmas in Roman Catholic Mariology, the said teaching speaks of the conception and birth of Mary by her mother, St. Anne. This was instituted by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854 at the Basilica of St. Peter, Vatican City, Rome, placing into effect the papal bull, Ineffabilis Deus.
According to teaching, Mary was born free of original sin, making her receive the graces earlier than all of mankind, who in turn, receive the graces after baptism. It was not until four years later, in 1858, when the Lady appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes that the dogma had a wider audience and a larger impact. On one of her visions to the child, she said, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” This did not only reaffirm the said teaching but also made it irrefutable.
A privilege and a great blessing from God, the Immaculate Conception of Mary springs from two verses in the Bible taken from the Book of Genesis (3:15) and the Gospel of Luke (1:28); where, in the former, God places hostility between the Devil and Mary, and in the latter, the Angel Gabriel greets the Blessed Virgin with the words, “full of grace.”
Slated as one of the Holy Days of Obligation as Catholics, the Lady of the Immaculate Conception is also the Patroness of many countries such as the Philippines, South Korea, Brazil, Portugal, Spain, the United States of America, and Nicaragua. (Natalie Hazel Quimlat)