Thursday, December 15, 2011

Octave Day of the Immaculate Conception

Today is the Octave Day of the Immaculate Conception in the traditional calendar.  Holy Mother Church put great emphasis on this dogma prior to Vatican II, and I think it has been a great loss to all of us that this emphasis has been so greatly lessened.  Here is a beautiful reading from the traditional Breviary which eloquently praises our Blessed Mother and shows why she is so important in our salvation.  As St. Damascene said:  "Devotion to you, O Blessed Virgin, is a means of salvation which God gives to those whom he wishes to save." 

A Homily by St. Epiphanius the Bishop

St. Anne after the Conception of
the Blessed Virgin
I am at a loss what words or terms I ought to employ in speaking of this illustrious and holy Virgin. She is raised above all things except God ; she was made much higher than the Cherubim and Seraphim, and the whole host of heaven ; neither the voices of heaven nor of earth are full enough to set forth her majesty, no, not the voices of Angels. O blessed Virgin! O pure dove and Bride of heaven! O Mary! At once the heaven, the temple, and the throne of God! Mother of the Sun that shineth both on heaven and on earth, even Christ! Bright cloud, through which the Son of Man hath come as the lightning, that lighteneth from the East even unto the West! Hail, gate of heaven, full of grace, of whom the Prophet in the Song of Songs openly speaketh in the course of his prayer, saying, A garden enclosed is my sister, my Spouse, a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed.

The Virgin is that stainless lily whence hath sprung the Rose that fadeth not, even Christ. O Holy Mother of God! Ewe without spot, thou hast borne the Lamb that took flesh of thee, even Christ! O Maiden whose holiness hath dazzled the heavenly armies! There hath appeared a great sign in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, and with the Light in her arms ; a great sign in heaven, the Virgin's womb the chamber of the Son of God ; a great sign in heaven, the Lord of angels made the Virgin's child. The angels accused Eve, but now they praise Mary, who hath raised Eve fallen, and restored to heaven Adam banished from Paradise. For Mary is the bridge between heaven and earth, the ambassadress who hath reconciled them in her womb.

We cannot measure the grace bestowed upon this holy Virgin. Hence the salutation addressed to her by Gabriel, Hail, thou glorious heaven, full of grace. Hail, Virgin adorned with many graces, yea, full of grace. Hail, thou vessel of gold that holdest the manna that came down from heaven, full of grace. Hail, thou unfailing fountain, that satisfiest the thirsty soul with sweet waters, full of grace. Hail, holy, sinless Mother of him that was before thee, even Christ. Hail, thou Queenly purple, mantle of the King of heaven and earth. Hail, thou Book that no man can understand, and yet which the Eternal Word, the Son of the Father, hath opened for earth to read.

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