Pray Always

"Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you.
For every one that asketh, receiveth: and he that seeketh, findeth: and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened." -Matthew 7:7-8

“We ought always to pray.” –Luke 18:1

“Pray always” –Romans 12:12

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Novena to the Immaculate Conception - Day 7

Novena for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Nov. 29th-Dec.7th) 

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception – December 8th

Day 7 – December 5 – Commemoration of Saint Sabbas, Abbot


Most holy Virgin, who, being predestined to become the Mother of God, wast preserved by a singular privilege from Original Sin and filled with grace, confirmed in grace and enriched with all the gifts of the Holy Ghost, do thou accept, we pray, the homage of our most lively admiration and of our most profound veneration, the expression of our intense and reverent affection.

Beholding in thee a relic of the earthly paradise that was lost to man, purer and more spotless than the snowy splendor of mountain tops bathed in light, in that magnificent act of treading upon the proud head of the infernal serpent, the Heavens exulted, earth was filled with joy, and Hell trembled with fear. With thee came the bright dawn of man's redemption from sin, and when the children of men, having for centuries anxiously scanned the horizon in expectation of a fairer day, raised their heads, they discovered thee on high like a radiant vision of paradise and saluted thee with a cry of holy enthusiasm: "Thou art all fair, O Mary, and in thee there is no Original Stain."

At our feet, O Mary, the muddy torrent of lust did not halt, as it did before thine, that torrent that still flows across the world and threatens continually to submerge our souls also. We bear about within us and perceive around us countless deadly incentives that cease not to urge us on to savor the foul pleasures of sensual passion. O good Mother, enfold us under thy mantle, protect us from the snares of the infernal enemy, renew in us our love of the angelic virtue, and grant that, by ever keeping vivid in our hearts the reflections of thy heavenly brightness, we may be able one day to sing to thee a hymn of love and glory in the world to come.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.  Ave Maria…

Let the intercession of the blessed Abbot Sabbas, we beseech thee, O Lord, commend us unto thee, that what by our own merits we are unworthy to receive, we may obtain by his patronage.  Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Reading –

Taken from the first half of the conclusion of the Discourse on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception by Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

There are many Doctors who maintain that Mary was exempted from contracting even the debt of sin; for instance, Cardinal Galatino (De Arc. l. 7, passim.), Cardinal Cusano (Excit. l. 8, Sicut lil.), De Ponte (In Cant. l. 2, exh. 19), Salazar (Pro Imm. Conc. c. 7), Catharinus (De Pecc. Orig. c. ult.), Novarino (Umbra Virg. exc. 18), Viva (P. 8, d. 1, q. 2, a. 2), De Lugo (De Inc. d. 7, s. 3, 4), Egidio (De Imm. Conc. l. 2, q. 4, a. 5), Denis the Carthusian (De Dign. M. l. 1, a. 13), and others.  And this opinion is also probable; for if it is true that the wills of all men were included in that of Adam, as being the head of all, and this opinion is maintained as probable by Gonet (Clyp. p. 2, tr. 5, d. 7, a. 2), Habert (Tr. De Vit. Et Pecc. c. 7, #1), and others, founded on the doctrine of St. Paul, contained in the fifth chapter to the Romans (Rom. v. 12).  If this opinion, I say, is probable, it is also probable that Mary did not contract the debt of sin; for whilst God distinguished her from the common of men by so many graces, it ought to be piously believed that he did not include her will in that of Adam.

This opinion is only probable, and I adhere to it as being more glorious for my sovereign Lady.  But I consider the opinion that Mary did not contract the sin of Adam as certain: and it is considered so, and even as proximately definable as an article of faith (as they express it), by Cardinal Everard, Duval (De Pecc. q. ult. a. 7), Raynauld (Piet. Lugd. erga V. Imm. n. 20), Lossada (Disc. Thomist. De Imm. Conc.), Viva (P. 8, d. 1, q. 2, a. 2), and many others.  I omit, however, the revelations which confirm this belief, particularly those of St. Bridget, which were approved of by Cardinal Turrecremata, and by four Sovereign Pontiffs, and which are found in various parts of the sixth book of her Revelations (Rev. l. 6, c. 12, 49, 55).

But on no account can I omit the opinions of the holy Fathers on this subject, whereby to show their unanimity in conceding this privilege to the divine Mother.

St. Ambrose says, "Receive me not from Sarah, but from Mary; that it may be an uncorrupted Virgin, a Virgin free by grace from every stain of sin" ("Suscipe me non ex Sara, sed ex Maria, ut incorrupta sit Virgo, sed Virgo per gratiam ab omni integra labe peccati"—In Ps. cxviii. s. 22).

Origen, speaking of Mary, asserts that "she was not infected by the venomous breath of the serpent" ("Nec serpentis venenosis afflatibus infecta est"—In Div. hom. 1).

St. Ephrem, that "she was immaculate, and remote from all stain of sin" ("Immaculata et ab omni peccati labe alienissima"—Orat. Ad Deip.).

As ancient writer, in a sermon, found amongst, the words of St. Augustine, on the words "Hail, full of grace," says, "By these words the angel shows that she was altogether (remark the word 'altogether') excluded from the wrath of the first sentence, and restored to the full grace of blessing" ("Ave 'gratia plena!' Quibus verbis ostendit ex integro iram exclusam primae sententiae, et plenam benedictionis gratiam restitutam"—Serm. 123, E. B. app.).

The author of an old work, called the Breviary of St. Jerome, affirms that "that cloud was never in darkness, but always in light" ("Nubes illa non fuit in tenebris, sed simper in luce"—Brev. In Ps. 77).

St. Cyprian, or whoever may be the author of the work on the 77th Psalm, says, "Nor did justice endure that that vessel of election should be open to common injuries; for being far exalted above others, she partook of their nature, not of their sin" ("Nec sustinebat justitia ut illud Vas electionis communibus lassaretur injuriis; quoniam, plurimum a caeteris differens, natura communicabat, non culpa"—De Chr. Op. De Nat.).

St. Amphilochius, that "He who formed the first Virgin without deformity, also made the second one without spot or sin" ("Qui antiquam illam virginem sine probro condidit, ipse et secundam sine nota et crimine fabricatus est"—In S. Deip. et Sim.).

St. Sophronius, that "the Virgin is therefore called immaculate, for in nothing was she corrupt" ("Virginem ideo dici immaculatam, quia in nullo corrupta est"—In Conc. Oecum. 6, act. 11).

St. Ildephonsus argues, that "it is evident that she was free from original sin" ("Constat eam ab omni originali peccato fuisse immunem"—Cont. Disp. De Virginit. M.).

St. John Damascene says, that "the serpent never had any access to this paradise" ("Ad hunc paradisum serpens adytum non habuit"—In Dorm. Deip. or. 2).  

St. Peter Damian, that "the flesh of the Virgin, taken from Adam, did not admit of the stain of Adam" ("Caro Virginis, ex Adam assumpta, maculas Adae non admisit"—In Assumpt.).

St. Bruno affirms, "that Mary is that uncorrupted earth which God blessed, and was therefore free from all contagion of sin" ("Haec est incorrupta terra illa cui benedixit Dominus, ab omni propterea peccati contagione libera"—In Ps. ci).

St. Bonaventure, "that our Sovereign Lady was full of preventing grace for her sanctification; that is, preservative grace against the corruption of original sin" ("Domina nostra fuit plena gratia praeveniente in sua sanctificatione, gratis scilicet praeservativa contra foeditatem originalis culpae"—De B. V. s. 2).

St. Bernardine of Sienna argues, that "it is not to be believed that he, the Son of God, would be born of a Virgin, and take her flesh, were she in the slightest degree stained with original sin" ("Non est credendum, quod ipse Filius Dei voluerit nasci ex virgine, et sumere ejus carnem, quae esset maculate ex aliquot peccato originali"—Quadr. s. 49, p. 1).

St. Laurence Justinian affirms, "that she was prevented in blessings from her very conception" ("Ab ipsa sui conceptione, in benedictionibus est praeventa"—In Annunt.).

The Blessed Raymond Jordano, on the words, Thou hast found grace, says, "thou hast found a singular grace, O most sweet Virgin, that of preservation from original sin" ("'Invenisti gratiam;' invenisti, O dulcissima Virgo! gratiam coelestem; quia fuit in te ab originis labe praeservatio"—Cont. de V. M. c. 6).  And many other Doctors speak in the same sense.

But, finally, there are two arguments that conclusively prove the truth of this pious belief.

The first of these is the universal concurrence of the faithful.  Father Egidius, of the Presentation (De Imm. Conc. l. 3, q. 6, a. 3), assures us that all the religious Orders follow this opinion; and a modern author tells us that though there are ninety-two writers of the order of St. Dominic against it, nevertheless there are a hundred and thirty-six in favor of it, even in that religious body.  But that which above all should persuade us that our pious belief is in accordance with the general sentiment of Catholics, is that we are assured of it in the celebrated bull of Alexander VII, Sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum, published in 1661, in which he says, "This devotion and homage towards the Mother of God was again increased and propagated, . . . so that the universities having adopted this opinion" (that is, the pious one) "already nearly all Catholics have embraced it" ("Aucta rursus et propagate fuit pietas haec et cultus erga Deiparam. . . . ita ut, accedentibus plerisque celebriorbus academiis ad hanc sententiam, jam fere omnes Catholici eam amplectantur").  And in fact this opinion is defended in the universities of the Sorbonne, Alcala, Salamanca, Coimbra, Cologne, Mentz, Naples, and many others, in which all who take their degrees are obliged to swear that they will defend the doctrine of Mary's Immaculate Conception.  The learned Petavius mainly rests his proofs of the truth of this doctrine on the argument taken from the general sentiment of the faithful (De Inc. l. 14, c. 2).  An argument, writes the most learned bishop Julius Torni, which cannot do otherwise than convince; for, in fact, if nothing else does, the general consent of the faithful makes us certain of the sanctification of Mary in her mother's womb, and of her Assumption, in body and soul, into heaven.  Why, then, should not the same general feeling and belief, on the part of the faithful, also make us certain of her Immaculate Conception?

Prayers for each day.

Our Lady of the Medal of the Immaculate Conception (The "Miraculous Medal")

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