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|THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION|
By Mon Pedrosa
In the beginning i just accepted this mystery. Without question. Since we were kids this was drummed into us until the natural processes of introspection and examination of the young mind is replaced by mystery, where all inquiry is brought to a screeching halt. Now that I am a little older I understand what my mother Holy Mother Church has been teaching me all these years - and to all the faithful all these centuries past. I accept so that I might understand.
Here is my own take on this mystery, which is how this minuscule mind tries to understand (which I define as getting into something by going underneath the externals). And then we will go to the complicated ancient traditions of Holy Mother Church, and the papal pronouncements on the matter.
What is the basis for my belief that the Blessed Mother was conceived in her Mom, St. Anne’s, womb without original sin? Simple. From a consideration of my own Mom. When my mother “who once was” Doña Luisa was born, it was obvious she had first been conceived in the womb of her Mama, Lola Justina. And it was equally obvious that she would die and pass into the next life after she had lived her span of years. And she conceived us her children who would end up in the same way. In other words, a woman is conceived and lives her life, and conceives in order to bring forth life that will end. The role of all women in this world is to give life (no one else can do that) that one day must end.
But Mary, daughter of Joachim and Anna of Nazareth, had an extraordinarily different role. She was to conceive and give birth to One who would offer everlasting life to others, and who Himself after the end of His mortal days, would rise from biological death, something that never happened in the entire history of the human race, never to die again. And therefore she was conceived in order to conceive a Life that would never end. And no one else had done that.
Gayundin naman na kapag naghahanda sa bahay ang Mama sa pagdating ng isangnapakahalagang panauhin ay kinakailangang maging malinis ang loob at labas ng aming tahanan.
Pansamantalang itinatabi at inililigpt ang pang-araw-araw at karaniwang gamit at ang inilalabas ni Mama ay ang mga nakatagong gamit na gawa sa pilak at bordadong sapin sa hapag-kainan.
Ang ihahandang pagkain ay ang pinakamasarap sa panlasa ng darating na mahalagang panauhin at titiyaking walang anuman itong kapintasan.
Gayundin ang naganap sa Nazareth ng saniban ng Espiritu ang katauhan ni Ana na ina ni Maria- inihandang maayos ang sinapupunan para sa katawan at kaluluwa ng sanggol! Iyan ang tunay na kahulugan ng napakakumplikadong salita ng mga Teologo na sa wikang banyaga ay Immaculate Concepcion."
Sya nga naman bakit hindi would be the pinoy version of Duns Scotus’ formulary: “it was fitting, it was in His power, therefore God allowed it.” Sa madaling salita "Sapagkat naaangkop, na sa Kanyang kapangyariyan, Kanya itong isinagawa!" (Tagalog re-translation from my waray tagalong courtesy of Nick Navarete)
She was far removed, as earth is to the nearest star, from the rest of humanity.
“Woman! above all women glorified, Our tainted nature's solitary boast” from “The Virgin” by William Wordsworth. Ecclesiastical Sonnets, a tribute to the Blessed Virgin Mary
Just follow my perambulations a little bit more, to bring us to the end of her days on earth. Her extraordinary conception, started an extraordinary existence, that would end her terrestrial stay in an extraodinary fashion. Through her, the Word was made flesh in her womb. He would return the favor: she from whom His flesh came would be assumed into heaven. In theological terms, it was fitting that the Incarnation of the Son into earth would bring about the Carnation of His mother into heaven. All of this came through her, the feminine maternal principle (there was no masculine), privileged from all eternity in the mind of God.
PROOF FROM SCRIPTURE
No direct or categorical proof of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception can be brought forward from Scripture. But there is the first scriptural passage containing the promise of the redemption, which mentions also the Mother of the Redeemer. The sentence against the first parents was accompanied by the Earliest Gospel (Proto-evangelium), which put enmity between the serpent and the woman:
"and I will put enmity between thee and the woman and her seed; she (he) shall crush thy head and thou shalt lie in wait for her (his) heel" (Genesis 3:15)
The translation "she" of the Vulgate is interpretative; it originated only after the fourth century, and cannot be defended critically. The Proto-evangelium in the original text contains a direct promise of the Redeemer, and in direct reference to it the manifestation of the masterpiece of His Redemption, the perfect preservation of His virginal Mother from original sin.
The salutation of the angel Gabriel — chaire kecharitomene, Hail, full of grace indicates a unique abundance of grace, a supernatural, godlike state of soul, which finds its explanation only in the Immaculate Conception of Mary. But the term kecharitomene (full of grace) serves only as an illustration, not as a proof of the dogma. (Catholic Encyclopedia)
But there is more. In a consideration of the linguistic divide between the original aramaic of the Gospel of Luke more explicitly in Luke 1:28, and its derivative translations into Hebrew, Koine, Latin, and the western languages.
The first of the two passages from Saint Luke's Gospel is the greeting of the Angel Gabriel to Mary, originally written in Koine Greek. The opening word of greeting, chaíre, here translated "Hail", literally has the meaning "Rejoice", "Be glad".
In the original Aramaic. But if you go to the original Aramaic we enter into mind-boggling meanings of that transcendent matchless encounter between the handmaid and the messenger of God. It is another instance of the great divide between the ancient world of the Aramaic and the succeeding worlds of Hebrew, Greek, Roman civilizations and the rest of the evangelized world, their culture and their languages. Let us hear again that part of the encounter between the angel of God Gabriel and this Jewish lass from Nazareth. It is from Luke who we are told got it straight from the Blessed Virgin herself:
The angel went to her and said,
"Greetings, you who are highly favored!
The Lord is with you."
Mary was greatly troubled at his words
and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
(Luke 1:28-29 NIV)
But let us use the Aramaic which was the language of that conversation:
SHLOM-A LOHQ MALYATH TAYBUZO MRAN IMAQ
Why was she greatly troubled at these words? 1.Shalom 2.Full of Grace 3.the Lord is with you. They were ordinary words. Taken separately she would have heard them in the synagogue, even every day in ordinary conversation. Perhaps it is the juxtapositioning that the messenger from heaven made of these phrases.
The aramaic word that is translated as ‘greeting’ is SHALOM. The Hebrew word SHALOM means peace. Idiomatically it is also used to greet, and it is used as well to bid farewell. But it means much more than that. That ancient word signifies perfection, fullness, completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. It literally means everything that is good.
Shalom is Peace, Perfection, Wholeness. Nothing hello about it. Nor Hail. Nor Ave which is Latin for Hi. Ave is plain wrong. It is Peace. And Peace that is out of this world. And Perfection, the perfection of the Mother of God.
Is this word and its profound meanings, that which gave the Virgin Lady pause? That is what happens when the divine speaks directly to the mind without the intervention of human language in all its infirmities. The words took on the fulness all the meanings of the message prepared for her from all eternity. The message from heaven cascaded down the corridors of eternity into her virginal mind. And She who was born for this wastroubled. See for yourself. St. Lawrence Brindisi (1559 - 1619) gives us a hint. In his treatise on the Immaculate Conception he looks at this passage:
One only is my dove, one my perfect one (Canticle of Canticles 6,7).
He says the Hebrew reads: my immaculate one. There are three words in Hebrew very similar: tham, thamah, and thamim, of which the first means simple, the second immaculate, and the last perfect. While the Hebrew text uses the second, the Aramaic mind knows it comprehends all three.
Perfect peace you are full of grace for the Lord is with you.
It is as if that word floating around for millenia and used by peoples in all its different meanings finally came to alight like a dove coming home to roost upon the virginal mind of this singular lass of Galilee. (extract from The Hail Mary. The Prayers of My Life. Ramon A. Pedrosa)
In Aztec Nahuatl. And this brings us to another extraordinary happening in the history of the world: the appearance in 1531 of the Mother of God to the indigenous people of the world through the Aztec race whose culture and civilization were just devastated by the West. There at Tepeyac she pronounces who she is in the noble language of that race:
CA NEHWATL IN NIZENKISKA ZEMICACC ISHPOSTLI
ININ INANTZIN IN HWEL NELLI TEOTL
I Am The Perfect Ever Virgin Mother Of The Truest God
The nahuatl terms here brings us back to the aramaic words of the Archangel in Nazareth. The word translated as ‘Hail’ iin English, or 'Shalom’ in Hebrew, means ‘Perfection’ in aramaic. And the juxtapositioning of the words according to nahuatl syntax mean that she was perfect (immaculate) from all eternity! Not merely from a determinate fixed time on earth as from her conception, but from all eternity she was immaculate!!! (Extract from TEPEYAC: Our Lady of ‘Guadalupe’ revisited. Ramon A Pedrosa)
The tradition of the Immaculate Conception did not exist in the early church. It came about gradually from people, and was developed through the centuries by theologians.
The Eastern Churches already celebrated a feast of the Conception of the Most Holy and All Pure Mother of God on December 9 perhaps as early as the 5th century in Syria. By the 7th century it was a widely known feast in the East.
But among the many advocacies to the Blessed Mother in the Roman Catholic Church the most primitive and the most original is “the Immaculate Conception." But it was a latecomer. From end to end of the Byzantine world, both the Catholic and the Orthodox, as early as the seventh century, greet the Mother of God as archrantos, “the immaculate, spotless one," especially on the feast of Her conception on December 9 in the Byzantine Church. She was archrantos first even before She was declared theotokos! Indeed, she had to be Spotless first before she could become the Mother of God.
Here is one of the finest examples where the witness of the people takes primary role in establishing a fact against the penchant for so-called solid proof or evidence. In truth much of what is called history today would disappear from the libraries of the world if
the evidentiary process were followed, subjecting every assertion to the test of material evidence. This is known as sensus fidelium in Roman Catholic teachings and can be implicitly traced back to the early Fathers of the Church. It means the "sense of the faithful" and refers to doctrinal truth recognised (sensed) by the whole body of the faithful.
For instance there is no proof that the Iliad was written by Homer or for that matter that the Gospels and the Epistles were actually written by the writers. There is no historical indication that Moses wrote the Pentateuch. But they are all in the deposit of accepted fact based on the tradition of thousands of years.
So it is with the Immaculate Conception. For while there is no documentary proof for her immaculate Conception (how can you document that), nor her Assumption, her favored state was so renowned in all the lands that had commerce with Israel that even centuries later at the founding of a new religion she takes preeminent status in Islam in the Sur’at of the Qur’an.
Theological reflection offers strong a priori argumentation to support the dogma, the chief of which is that corollary to Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception is her Perpetual Virginity and her Assumption:
a) Since Mary was conceived without Original Sin she does not suffer its consequences, one of which is the corruption of the body in the grave;
b) since Mary conceived Christ virginally, gave birth to Him miraculously, and remained ever a Virgin, it is not fitting that a body so sanctified should see corruption.
Proof from reason
There is an incongruity in the supposition that the flesh, from which the flesh of the Son of God was to be formed, should ever have belonged to one who was the slave of that arch-enemy, whose power He came on earth to destroy. it is also remarked that a peculiar privilege was granted to the prophet Jeremiah and to St. John the Baptist: they were sanctified in their mother's womb, because by their preaching they had a special share in the work of preparing the way for Christ. Consequently some much higher prerogative is due to Mary. (A treatise of P. Marchant, claiming for St. Joseph also the privilege of St. John, was placed on the Index in 1833. But why not!)
But the theologians could not agree. It was rejected by Bernard of Clairvaux, Alexander of Hales, and St. Bonaventure (who, teaching at Paris, called it "this foreign doctrine"), and by St. Thomas Aquinas who expressed questions about the subject, but said that he would accept the determination of the Church. Aquinas and Bonaventure, for example, believed that Mary was completely free from sin, but that she was not given this grace at the instant of her conception.
The Oxford Franciscans William of Ware and especially Blessed John Duns Scotus defended the doctrine. Scotus proposed a solution to the theological problem involved of being able to reconcile the doctrine with that of universal redemption in Christ, by arguing that Mary's immaculate conception did not remove her from redemption by Christ, but was the result of a more perfect redemption that was given to her on account of her special role in history. Scotus said that Mary was redeemed in anticipation of Christ's death on the cross. This was similar to the way that the Church explained the Last Supper (since Roman Catholic theology teaches that the Mass is the sacrifice of Calvary made present on the altar, and Christ did not die before the Last Supper). Scotus' defence of the thesis was summed up by one of his followers as potuit, decuit ergo fecit (God could do it, it was fitting that He did it, and so He did it). Following his defence of the thesis, students at Paris swore to defend the position, and the tradition grew of swearing to defend the doctrine with one's blood. The University of Paris supported the decision of the (schismatic) Council of Basel in this matter. Duns' arguments remained controversial, however, particularly among the Dominicans, who were willing enough to celebrate Mary's sanctificatio (being made free from sin) but, following the Dominican Thomas Aquinas' (he had been canonised in 1323 and declared "Doctor Angelicus" of the Church in 1567) arguments, continued to insist that her sanctification could not have occurred at the instant of her conception.
But popular opinion remained firmly behind the celebration of Mary's conception. The Council of Trent (1545–63)—which might have been expected to affirm the doctrine—instead declined to take a position.
And so it It was not until 1854 that Pope Pius IX, with the support of the overwhelming majority of Roman Catholic bishops, whom he had consulted between 1851–1853, promulgated the papal bull Ineffabilis Deus (Latin for "Ineffable God"), which defined ex cathedra the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.
Again, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception defined by Pope Pius IX is viewed as a key example of the use of sensus fidelium shared by believers and the Magisterium rather than pure reliance on Scripture and Tradition
In the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December, 1854, Pius IX pronounced and defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary "in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin."
THE IMMACULATA PRAYER
The famous Immaculata prayer was composed by Saint Maximillian Kolbe. It is a prayer of consecration to the Mary, and echoes the devotion known as Slavery to the Blessed Virgin Mary of Saint Louie-Marie Grignon de Monfort:
O Immaculata, Queen of Heaven and earth, refuge of sinners and our most loving Mother, God has willed to entrust the entire order of mercy to you. I, (name), a repentant sinner, cast myself at your feet, humbly imploring you to take me with all that I am and have, wholly to yourself as your possession and r. Please make of me, of all my powers of soul and body, of my whole life, death and eternity, whatever most pleases you. If it pleases you, use all that I am and have without reserve, wholly to accomplish what was said of you: "She will crush your head," and "You alone have destroyed all heresies in the whole world." Let me be a fit instrument in your immaculate and merciful hands for introducing and increasing your glory to the maximum in all the many strayed and indifferent souls, and thus help extend as far as possible the blessed kingdom of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. For wherever you enter you obtain the grace of conversion and growth in holiness, since it is through your hands that all graces come to us from the most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
V. Allow me to praise you, O Sacred Virgin
R. Give me strength against your enemies