Posted by: fvbcdm | December 8, 2014

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (8 Dec 2014)

In my opinion, the best religious movie that Hollywood has produced has been “The Song of Bernadette,” based on the book of the same name by a famous Austrian Jewish author, Franz Werfel. In the movie, there is a wonderful moment when Saint Bernadette is returning from the grotto accompanied by her mother, aunt, and lots of others.  Everyone had been urging Bernadette to find out who the beautiful young woman was, who appeared to her repeatedly in the grotto just outside of the town.  But so far, the lady had just smiled brightly and ignored the question.  This time, when Bernadette asked her again if she would please tell the child who she was, she gave an answer.

“Well, what did she say?” they demanded of the child.  Bernadette, very happy and proud that she had been able to remember those big words, said, without knowing what she was really saying, “She said, ‘I am the immaculate conception.’”  The women accompanying the child stopped dead in their tracks and looked totally awe-stricken.  Four year before, Pope Blessed Pius IX had infallibly defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, namely, that Mary the mother of our Lord, had been conceived and born totally free of sin and full of grace.  Even though Lourdes was a little backwater town, the news of Rome filtered into its remote location and the adult Catholics there knew what Immaculate Conception meant.  It could only be applied to the Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  And little Bernadette, knowing nothing of these things, had no idea of what she was really saying, namely, that the Mother of God had been appearing to her daily for weeks.

Those words hit the town like the explosion of a bomb and transformed the obscure little town into one of the very greatest and most popular shrines in the world, as it remains to this day. But even before that, the bishops of the Church in our very young country had chosen the Mother of the Lord under the title of her Immaculate Conception as the patroness of our country.  So today, we American Catholics celebrate our national patronal day and also the incomparable woman who is the Mother of God.  The English Protestant poet, Wordsworth, called her “our tainted nature’s solitary boast.” And we joyfully pray today as Our Lady taught Saint Catherine Laboure to pray: “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note: This message was composed some years ago.

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