Examining the Immaculate Conception as One of Four Marian Dogmas, and the Push for a Fifth

by Jayson M. Brunelle

On December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX solemnly issued the Apostolic Constitution, Ineffabilis Deus, wherein – exercising the uniquely Petrine charism of infallibility, which all valid successors of Peter enjoy, and which, itself, was solemnly defined during the First Vatican Council – His Holiness defined the longstanding doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary as a dogma of the Sacred Deposit of Faith, demanding full assent of intellect by all the faithful. 

This Ex Cathedra pronouncement was formulated thusly:  “Wherefore, in humility and fasting, we unceasingly offered our private prayers as well as the public prayers of the Church to God the Father through his Son, that he would deign to direct and strengthen our mind by the power of the Holy Spirit. In like manner did we implore the help of the entire heavenly host as we ardently invoked the Paraclete. Accordingly, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, for the honor of the Holy and undivided Trinity, for the glory and adornment of the Virgin Mother of God, for the exaltation of the Catholic Faith, and for the furtherance of the Catholic religion, by the authority of Jesus Christ our Lord, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own: “We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful” (Ineffabilis Deus). (more…)

Celebrating the Solemnity of All Saints

The Sermon on the Mount, from the Sistine Chapel, c.1481-83 (fresco) by Rosselli, Cosimo (1439-1507)
fresco; Vatican Museums and Galleries, Vatican City, Italy

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.” (Mt 5:1-12)

This is the Gospel reading for the Solemnity of All Saints.  Many persons, even amongst those who make no profession of faith in Christ as possessing a divine nature, are familiar with this passage from the Gospel of Matthew, if only for its literary merit.  This passage, however deserving of recognition for said merit, must be understood to be among the greatest of spiritual teachings regarding the blueprint for human existence ever to have been uttered by a man (Who was additionally divine).  Simply put, it is the most succinct, elegant and eloquent explanation of what Chapter Five of Lumen Gentium refers to as “The Universal Call to Holiness.”  The “Sermon on the Mount,” as the passage is sometimes refered to, is the most accurate depiction of what the life of a “saint” will look like while he or she is making his or her earthly pilgrimage through the dry and barren desert of this life, like the Israelites of old, being fed by God with a miraculous “Bread from Heaven” that strengthens, sustains and nourishes them along the way, in search of the “Promised Land,” that eternal City of God.  For the Israelites of old, that city was Jerusalem, which pre-figured the New Jerusalem, the eternal City of God, or “Heaven,” where the poor in spirit find eternal rest; those who mourn find the greatest of all possible comforts and rejoice; the meek and the humble, who, so often on earth, find themselves in the last place, suddenly are first; those who reject the allure of earthly pleasures are rewarded with the greatest possible gift of God Himself; those who forgive are forgiven; those who hold no malice in their hearts are rewarded with the vision of God; and those who are mocked, rejected, branded, and stigmatized as right-wing religious “fanatics” stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the great patriarchs, prophets, martyrs, confessors, and all of God’s great saints.    

Celebrating the Stigmata of St. Francis, Who, with Our Lady – Co-Redemptrix – Teaches Us the Tremendous Value of Salvific Suffering

Cantalamessa the Papal Preacher on feast day for God the Father | July 29, 2012 | Posted by

Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa O.F.M. Cap., the Preacher to the Papal Household, on lack of and need for Feast Day for God the Father, in liturgical calendar of the universal Church

“It’s sad that in the whole liturgical year there isn’t a feast dedicated to the Father, that in the whole Missal there isn’t even a votive Mass in His honor. Come to think of it, it’s very strange; there are many feasts dedicated to Jesus the Son; there is a feast of the Holy Spirit; there are many feasts dedicated to Mary… There isn’t a single feast dedicated to the Father, “source and origin of all divinity.” We could almost say that the Father, and no longer the Holy Spirit, is “the unknown divinity.””

To continue reading this article, please click here.

Baptism: The First Sacrament of Initiation into the Church

by Jayson Brunelle

Three sacraments collectively are referred to as the sacraments of initiation; these are Baptism, the Eucharist, and Confirmation. While we spoke earlier of the Eucharist as the “central sacrament,” we would not be able to approach the table of Our Lord without first having been made “partakers of the divine nature,” and this is accomplished through the sacrament of baptism. Baptism is a most profound sacrament that enables us to participate in the very life of God by washing us of original sin, personal sin, and any temporal punishment due to sin. It restores our friendship with God, enabling us to live in a state of sanctifying grace, whereby God the Holy Spirit dwells in us as the soul of our soul. Just as the human soul is the life principle of the body, the Holy Spirit of God is the life principle of our soul. (more…)

Reflections on the Rosary: The Joyful Mysteries

“Madonna dell Granduca” – A painting by Raphael (1483-1520).

by Jayson M. Brunelle

With Labor Day upon us, the “unofficial” end of summer and the beginning of the truly beautiful season of autumn, Holy Mother Church, in her liturgical calender, presents us with two consecutive months dedicated to Our Lady: September – the Month of Our Lady of Sorrows, and October – the Month of the Most Holy Rosary.  Moreover, within these two months are numerous magnificent feasts of our Lord, our Lady, and many very popular, patron saints to keep in mind.  For instance, in September we celebrate the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the 8th, the Most Holy Name of Mary on the 12th, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on the 14th, Our Lady of Sorrows on the 15th,  St. Robert Bellarmine (Doctor of the Church) on the 17th, St. Joseph of Cupertino on the 18th, St. Matthew on the 21st, Padre Pio on the 23rd, St. Vincent de Paul on the 27th, and the Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael on the 29th.  Additionally, in October, we begin the month with a number of significant feasts and commemorations: The Little Flower – St. Therese of Lisieux on the 1st, the Holy Guardian Angels on the 2nd, the great St. Francis of Assisi on the 4th, and the great St. Faustina Kowalska (Secretary of Divine Mercy) on the 5th.

This brings us to the great feast to which this series of articles is devoted; namely, the feast of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, formerly, Our Lady of Victory, celebrated on October 7th.  Wikipedia, the very reputable online encyclopedia,  quite possibly among the largest of information databases in the world, provides a very succinct history of the evolution of this particular feast: “In 1571 Pope Pius V instituted “Our Lady of Victory” as an annual feast to commemorate the victory in the Battle of Lepanto.[1][2][3] The victory was attributed to the Blessed Virgin Mary, as a rosary procession had been offered on that day in St. Peter’s Square in Rome for the success of the mission of the Holy League to hold back Muslim forces from overrunning Western Europe. In 1573, Pope Gregory XIII changed the title of this feast-day to “Feast of the Holy Rosary”. This feast was extended by Pope Clement XI to the whole of the Latin Rite, inserting it into the Roman Catholic calendar of saints in 1716, and assigning it to the first Sunday in October. Pope Pius X changed the date to 7 October in 1913, as part of his effort to restore celebration of the liturgy of the Sundays” (cf. (more…)

Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Purpose of Fatima: The Shield, The Weapon, and The Standard

by Jayson M. Brunelle, M.Ed., CAGS

On July 13, 1917, during the third apparition of Our Lady to the three shepherd children of Fatima, Portugal, the Blessed Mother spoke the following words:

“You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end; but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father. (more…)

Celebrating the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

by Jayson M. Brunelle

The tradition of venerating and paying homage to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus owes its origin to the earliest of Church teachings regarding the real presence of Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist, present with his Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity under the veil or appearance of the consecrated host, which is placed in a monstrance for solemn public adoration.  The term “heart” signifies the core, essence or life-force of a thing; thus, the “Heart of Christ,” the God-man, wherein the mystery of the unity of the two natures, and the subsequent reconciliation of humanity and divinity in the one Divine Person of Christ, is most fully depicted.

According to the mystical experiences had by St. Margaret Mary, Christ promised the following twelve graces to those who would fittingly adore an image of His Sacred and Eucharistic Heart, provided that their love for the Heart of Christ was genuine and sprang from an authentic devotion to this Divine Heart which truly is ablaze with the all-consuming fire of Divine Love for humanity: (more…)

Let Us Rejoice in this, the Great Feast of the Annunciation

by Jayson M. Brunelle

Luke 1:26:  “And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. 34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. 36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing shall be impossible. 38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. (more…)

Pope Benedict XVI: “Mary Suffers With Those Who Are in Affliction”

Our Lady’s Two Popes Embracing

On February 11, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI offered the following reflection on the profound interconnectedness of Mary, the Immaculate Conception, the Holy Eucharist and salvific suffering.  Continuing in the tradition of his predecessor, Blessed Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI underscores the totality of Mary’s “fiat,” or “yes,” to the divine will of the Father concerning her unique participation in the redemption of humanity with her Son, beginning at the annunciation and brought to completion at the foot of the cross.  It is precisely for this reason that Holy Mother Church ascribes to Mary the exalted title of “Co-Redemptrix,” standing, as it were, at the foot of each sick child’s cross.

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. On 11 February, the memorial of the Blessed Mary Virgin of Lourdes, the World Day of the Sick will be celebrated, a propitious occasion to reflect on the meaning of pain and the Christian duty to take responsibility for it in whatever situation it arises. This year this significant day is connected to two important events for the life of the Church, as one already understands from the theme chosen ‘The Eucharist, Lourdes and Pastoral Care for the Sick’: the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the apparitions of the Immaculate Mary at Lourdes, and the celebration of the International Eucharistic Congress at Quebec in Canada. In this way, a remarkable opportunity to consider the close connection that exists between the Mystery of the Eucharist, the role of Mary in the project of salvation, and the reality of human pain and suffering, is offered to us. (more…)