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Day: December 8, 2014

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

(Vatican Radio) On the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception it is tradition for Popes to pay homage to Mary by the statue of Our Lady near the Spanish steps in the heart of Rome. This year Pope Francis will keep to the tradition but has added something to the day by donating a statue of Our Lady with child to his Cathedral of Saint John Lateran.
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is one  which highlights Mary’s sinless perfection, a great sign of hope for the Church and for the world. 
One  which falls each year on the 8th of December, a couple of weeks ahead of Christmas and which refers to a dogma proclaimed by Pius IX in 1854 by the title of ‘Ineffabilis Deus’, which defines the belief that Mary, by special divine favour, was without sin from the moment she was conceived.
An idea that came as a result of a complex theological debate over the centuries in part because some theology felt it might contradict a major tenet of the Catholic faith: the universality of  Redemption

However as we know when Pius IX proclaimed the dogma he quoted from Saint Luke’s account of the Annunciation and the Angel Gabriel’s ” Hail Mary, full of grace”. Understood as a recognition that Mary must always have been free of sin …
Benedictine Abbot Timothy Wright gives us a more in depth explanation: 

(from Vatican Radio)…

Pope Francis: Everything is a grace, a gift given freely by God

(Vatican Radio)  Before the recitation of the Angelus in St Peter’s Square on Monday, Pope Francis devoted his address to the Virgin Mary on the feast of the Immaculate Conception.  He said that this feast can be summed up in these words: everything is a grace, everything is a gift given freely by God, because of His love for us.
Listen to Lydia O’Kane’s report

The Holy Father explained that the Angel Gabriel calls Mary “full of grace” because in her there is no room for sin. God, he said, had always chosen her to be the mother of Jesus, and had preserved her from original sin.
The Pope went on to say that Mary responds to this grace and abandons herself saying to the angel : “Let it be done to me according to your word”.
Pope Francis underlined that “we too are asked to listen to God speaking to us and to welcome his will.
He also noted that the attitude of Mary of Nazareth shows us that being comes before doing, and that we must leave it to God to truly be what He wants us to be.
Mary, said Pope Francis is receptive, but not passive. On a physical level, she receives the power of the Holy Spirit but then gives flesh and blood to the Son of God that is formed in her, so that, on a spiritual level, she welcomes the grace and corresponds to it with faith.
Speaking to the crowds present in St Peter’s Square, the Holy Father stressed that as we have received for free, so we are called to give freely in imitation of Mary, who, immediately after welcoming the announcement from the Angel Gabriel, goes to share this gift with her cousin Elizabeth. Because, said the Pope, if everything is given to us, everything must be given back, this means, by letting the Holy Spirit make us a gift for others; that makes us become instruments of acceptance, reconciliation and forgiveness.
The Pope also stressed, in off the cuff remarks, that no one can buy salvation. Salvation is a gift given freely by God who comes to us and lives in us.
Following the recitation of the Marian Prayer, Pope Francis reminded the faithful that he would be going to Spanish Steps in the centre of Rome on Monday afternoon to renew the traditional act of homage and prayer at the foot of the monument to the Immaculate. 
(from Vatican Radio)…