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Liturgical Season 1/5/05 World News
New Resources  Marian Events  Mary in the Secular Press
 News from the
Marian Library
 Prayer Corner News Archives

Mary Page News items give insight into our interest areas, our outreach, and the many ways people honor Our Lady. We welcome your input and your comments.

Liturgical Season

To celebrate the month of January with Mary:

Marian Commemoration Days

Mary Page offers a variety of resources inviting study, reflection and meditation.  We also list important Marian dates for each month of the year.  Please see Marian Commemoration Days for the month of January.

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New Resources

A section on Marian Dogmas has been added to our Resources index.  The latest addition was The Immaculate Conception. Expect more articles to follow.

A section on Marian Spiritualities has been added to our Resources index.  The latest addition was a paper by Sr. Marie Azzarello on Visitation-Pentecost Spirituality in the Congregation of Notre Dame.  Expect more articles to follow.

A section on international stamps with images of Mary has also been added to our Resources index.  The latest updated was United States.  Expect more countries to follow.

A section on Mary and Women is now under construction in our Resources index.  The latest addition was Bibliography.  Expect more articles to follow.

We have posted Mother of Protection, a Marian Christmas poem by Dr. Virginia M. Kimball.  We have also added a Prayer and a Novena to Our Lady of Providence.

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  News from the Marian Library

New Look for The Mary Page!

To prepare for the tenth anniversary of our web site,  the Mary Page Advisory Board has initiated a number of changes to the look, feel, and organizational structure of The Mary Page.  We welcome feedback from our readers.

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Current Exhibits

Sacred Dolls: Re-Imaging Our Lady, a display by Dianne Marlene Hargitai, is currently being exhibited at The Marian Library Gallery. 
For more information call 937-229-4214 or click here to see a virtual exhibit.


Crèche Exhibit Schedule

Marian Library
University of Dayton
7th floor of Roesch Library
300 College Park, Dayton OH
937-229-4214
On display: Nov. 29, 2004 through Jan. 7, 2005
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.  Closed on Dec. 23, 24, 27, 30 and 31.

St. John Gallery at the Bergamo Center
4400 Shakertown Road, Dayton, OH
937-320-5405
On display: Nov. 28, 2004 to Jan. 5, 2005
Hours: Noon-4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday or by appointment

Dayton Art Institute
456 Belmonte Park North, Dayton, OH
937-223-5277
On display: Wed., Nov. 24, 2004 through Jan. 6, 2005
Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (including holidays); 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursdays

For more information, and to see samples, click into udnativity.org.

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International Marian Research Institute Course Schedule

IMRI courses for the Fall 2004 semester concluded on November 19.  The course schedule through Fall 2005 is now available.

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Marian Events

Painted Prayers: Books of Hours from the Morgan Library
Location: Saint Louis Art Museum
Date: October 8, 2004 - January 9, 2005

Some of the most important artists of the late medieval and Renaissance periods are represented in this extraordinary exhibition of Books of Hours from the Morgan Library.  These exquisite prayer books, produced in Europe from 1259 to 1550, were intended to inspire personal devotion to the Virgin Mary.  Lavishly designed, illustrated, colored, and gilded, Books of Hours were the "bestsellers" of their day, and no expense was spared in their production.  Two of the books in the exhibition--the "Hours of Catherine of Cleves" (c. 1440) and the "Farnese Hours" (1546)--are acclaimed to be among the greatest works of art ever produced.

For more information on the exhibit, click into slam.org.  Also, click here for more information on illuminated manuscripts.

Click this link for a list of all of the current Marian Events by geographical position.

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Prayer Corner Requests

You are invited to help us pray for our Prayer Corner intentions.  Please take a look!  This site has been updated and enhanced and now allows users to directly submit prayer requests or to volunteer as a prayer partner for these intentions!

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News from Around the World

MARY, QUEEN OF PEACE, DEFEND US FROM DANGER

VATICAN CITY, JAN 5, 2005 (VIS)

In this year's first general audience, held in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father recalled that "in this holy season we contemplate the great mystery of the birth of Jesus, in whom God definitively enters history and offers salvation to men and women of all times and places. … John Paul II stressed how "the good news of salvation is thus intended from the very beginning for all peoples of the world. We commend this missionary task of all Christians to Mary, Mother of the Church. We also place under her protection this New Year, marked as it is by a deep concern for the sufferings which the people of Southeast Asia are presently undergoing. "We ask our Lady to watch over the whole world, praying that ancient Marian hymn sung at the beginning of this audience: Loving Mother of the Redeemer, Queen of peace, assist your people, defend them from all danger, be with the Church on her journey to our heavenly home. Amen".

AG/CHRISTMAS/... VIS 050105 (390)

LOVE OUR LADY, SERVE THE CHURCH

VATICAN CITY, DEC 13, 2004 (VIS)

This morning John Paul II received the members of the Fraternity of the Sons and Daughters of the Cross, accompanied by Cardinal Andrzej Maria Deskur.

… this gathering was of "singular value" because it takes place a few days after the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.  The Holy Father recalled that the spirituality of the members of the institute was "filled with devotion and love for the Virgin Mother of God."

"Love Our Lady," he continued, "to whom you have completely consecrated yourselves and be like her, faithful disciples of Christ. Serve the Church with enthusiasm, cultivating unity and full harmony with the pastors of the Christian communities to whom you offer your pastoral care. In this way, you will be effective witnesses of the One Who, from the Cross, entrusted all of us as children to His sweet Mother."

The Pope concluded by asking Our Lady to continue to guide the steps of the Daughters and Sons of the Cross and to help them to become "ever more like Jesus Who, in a few days, we will contemplate as a child in the mystery of Christmas."

AC/.../SONS:DAUGHTERS CROSS VIS 041213 (210)

VATICAN CITY, DEC 25, 2004 (VIS)

At midnight, the Holy Father celebrated Mass in the Vatican Basilica for the Solemnity of the Birth of Our Lord. In this year specially dedicated to the Eucharist, John Paul II spoke about the link between the birth of Jesus and the Eucharist in his homily. The Pope said that in "the Son of the Virgin, 'wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger,' we acknowledge and adore 'the Bread which came down from heaven,' the Redeemer who came among us in order to bring life to the world." After recalling that Bethlehem means "house of bread" in Hebrew, the Holy Father indicated that it was there that the "One, who under the sign of broken bread, would leave us the memorial of his Pasch. On this Holy Night, adoration of the Child Jesus becomes Eucharistic adoration." …

HML/MIDNIGHT MASS/... VIS 041228 (380)

Associated Press nativity story placements [Source: Time Bete, U.D. Public Relations]

Here's an initial analysis of the Associated Press nativity story placements. The story was picked up in at least 27 of the top-100 newspapers. It was also picked up on MSNBC.com and in The Guardan (UK). More than 6,000 people visited the UDnativity.org Web site in December.

More than 50 TV station Web sites picked up the AP story. This is in addition to the b-roll pick ups by TV stations.

TOP-100 NEWSPAPERS

Akron Beacon Journal
Atlanta Journal Constitution
Baltimore Sun
Boston Globe
Chicago Tribune
Cincinnati Enquirer
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Contra Costa Times
Fort Worth Star Telegram
Fresno Bee
Herald Sun
Indianapolis Star
Kansas City Star
Knoxville News Sentinel
Las Vegas Sun
Lexington Herald Leader
Modesto Bee
New York Times
News & Observer (NC)
Newsday
Philadelphia Enquirer
Pioneer Press (MN)
San Antonio Express
San Jose Mercury News
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
USA Today

OTHER

The Guardian (Web Watch)
MSNBC.com

TV STATION WEB SITES

WNBC.com WNBC - New York, NY
NBC4.tv KNBC - Los Angeles, CA
NBC5.com WMAQ - Chicago, IL
NBC10.com WCAU - Philadelphia, PA
NBC11.com KNTV - San Francisco, CA
KTVU.com KTVU - San Francisco, CA
TheBostonChannel.com WCVB - Boston, MA
TheWMURChannel.com WMUR - Manchester, NH
NBC5i.com KXAS - Dallas, TX
NBC4.com WRC - Washington, DC
WSBTV.com WSB - Atlanta, GA
ClickonDetroit.com WDIV - Detroit, MI
Click2Houston.com KPRC - Houston, TX
KIROTV.com KIRO - Seattle, WA
Channel4000.com Minneapolis, MN
MoreTV32.com WMOR - Tampa, FL
Click10.com WPLG - Miami, FL
NBC6.net WTVJ - Miami, FL
NewsNet5.com WEWS - Cleveland, OH
TheDenverChannel.com KMGH - Denver, CO
TheKCRAChannel.com KCRA - Sacramento, CA
WESH.com WESH - Orlando, FL
Local6.com WKMG - Orlando, FL
OrlandoWeather.com WESH - Orlando, FL
WFTV.com WFTV - Orlando, FL
ThePittsburghChannel.com WTAE - Pittsburgh, PA
WPXI.com WPXI - Pittsburgh, PA
TheWBALChannel.com WBAL - Baltimore, MD
TheIndyChannel.com WRTV - Indianapolis, IN
10News.com KGTV - San Diego, CA
NBCSanDiego.com KNSD - San Diego, CA
NBC30.com WVIT - Connecticut
WSOCTV.com WSOC - Charlotte, NC
WRAL.com WRAL - Raleigh, NC
NBC17.com WNCN - Raleigh, NC
TheKansasCityChannel.com KMBC - Kansas City, MO
ChannelCincinnati.com WLWT - Cincinnati, OH
TheMilwaukeeChannel.com WISN - Milwaukee, WI
NBC4Columbus.com WCMH - Columbus, OH
TheCarolinaChannel.com WYFF - Greenville, SC
ClickonSA.com KSAT - San Antonio, TX
NBC13.com WVTM - Birmingham, AL
TheWPBFChannel.com WPBF - West Palm Beach, FL
TheNewOrleansChannel.com WDSU - New Orleans, LA
ChannelOklahoma.com KOCO - Oklahoma City, OK
TheNewMexicoChannel.com KOAT - Albuquerque, NM
TheWGALChannel.com WGAL - Lancaster, PA
TurnTo10.com WJAR - Providence, RI
TheLouisvilleChannel.com WLKY - Louisville, KY
News4Jax.com WJXT - Jacksonville, FL
WHIOTV.com WHIO - Dayton, OH
TheIowaChannel.com KCCI - Des Moines, IA
TheHawaiiChannel.com KITV - Honolulu, HI
TheOmahaChannel.com KETV - Omaha, NE
Channel3000.com WISC - Madison, WI
TheJacksonChannel.com WAPT - Jackson, MS
TheChamplainChannel.com WPTZ - Plattsburgh, NY
WJACTV.com WJAC - Johnstown, PA
KFOXTV.com KFOX - El Paso, TX
WXII12.com WXII - Winston-Salem, NC
TheHometownChannel.com KHBS - Ft. Smith, AR
KRXI-TV.com KRXI - Reno, NV
TheKSBWChannel.com KSBW - Monterey, CA
TheBakersfieldChannel.com KERO - Bakersfield, CA
WTOV9.com WTOV - Steubenville, OH

Disaster News from India [Source: Fr. Pragasam, S.M.]

The situation in Tamil nadu is very bad. The actual number of death and displaced people is higher than what you hear through the media. The unofficial figure of death in Tamil nadu itself will be more than thirty thousand. Lots of people lost their homes and properties and loved ones. The sad news is that the victims are mostly fisherman and good number of them are are Christians. The worst hit area is Nagapatam and Velankanni is located just near and it is also being hit by the waves very badly. The water enter into the basilica of Our lady of Velankanni.

We hear through media that Andaman is also in the same situation; and some of the islands are not reachable still. There, also, the number of deaths is high; and people are being evacuated to Madras and Calcutta.

Here, people cancelled all their new year celebrations and are very much united in supporting the victims. NGO's and other volunteer organisations are trying to mobilise the man power and material support to support the victims.

We don't have brothers from these areas so we have not received any frightening news from our families and so we believe that our family members are safe by the grace of God.

Bro. Baskar, a Marist brother who is staying in our Scholasticate community and doing his Studies at U.D., was at home and encountered the disaster. He and his family members ran and escaped, but lost their homes and properties. Some other congregations, like the Augustinian sisters, are very much disturbed. Eleven of them from these areas and almost all of them lost their homes and all their possessions. Two of them lost some of their their family members. Please keep them all in your prayers.

The state Government and the Federal Governments are trying to help them but it took two days for them to stable themselves and organise the relief works. Now the relief works are going on and it would be hard to reach them all because the situation is bad due to lack of communications, road facilities and displacement of peoples.

Please keep them all in your prayers.

From Zenit

Address on World Day of Peace

"May Mary Help Us All to Build Together"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 1, 2005 (Zenit.org)

1. We begin the New Year celebrating the feast of Mary, Mother of God, "Theotokos."

The Blessed Virgin offers to the world the Messiah who is the blessing of God for each person and for the entire world. In this blessing is based the congratulations that we exchange this day: best wishes, because in Christ God has bestowed on us every good; wishes for peace, because "He is our peace" (Ephesians 2:14).

2. In this liturgical context is framed the World Day of Peace, which this year has as its theme the exhortation of the Apostle Paul: "Do Not Be Overcome by Evil but Overcome Evil With Good" (Romans 12:21). Evil "is the result of human freedom" (cf. Message for World Day of Peace 2005, 2) and is defeated when this, under the impulse of grace, is firmly oriented toward the good, that is, definitively toward God.

3. May Mary, queen of peace, help us all to build together this fundamental good of human coexistence. Only in this way can it advance along the paths of justice and fraternal solidarity.

Happy New Year!

[Translation by ZENIT] ZE05010125

Mary, first Tabernacle

NEW YORK, DEC. 25, 2004 (Zenit.org)

Archbishop Fulton Sheen has been gone for a quarter century, but certainly not forgotten. …

The vice postulator for Sheen's cause, Father Andrew Apostoli, told ZENIT that the archbishop's message is still as relevant today--and that includes his reflections on the Christmas season. …

The priest, who was ordained by Sheen, remembered that the archbishop linked Christ's birth directly to the Eucharist. "As he said, Mary was the first tabernacle who carried Christ within her and gave birth to the One who would say, 'I am the living bread come down from heaven,'" the vice postulator said. "In order to be our food and drink, Jesus had to become flesh and blood, and it was our Blessed Mother who provided this for him," Father Apostoli said. "So he saw the incarnation as the basis of the Lord's Eucharistic presence."

See www.archbishopsheencause.org.

ZE04122520

What St. Bernadette Can Say to Modern Audiences

Actress Stresses French Visionary's Message

SAN FRANCISCO, California, DEC. 25, 2004 (Zenit.org)

Seventeen years ago, a young American actress was handpicked to bring the story of St. Bernadette Soubirous to the silver screen.

Now, "Bernadette" (Ignatius), the film that captures the young saint's life and the miraculous apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes, is being released to an American audience on DVD for the first time. Actress Sydney Penny spoke about why she was drawn to St. Bernadette, how filming the movie inspired her, and how its message is still relevant today.

Q: What do you think of the story of Lourdes and of St. Bernadette?

Penny: The story of Bernadette and Lourdes seems almost incredible, living in these modern times. But many magnificent and incredible things happen every day--we just have developed the habit of analyzing them into insignificance.

Bernadette's story is a symbol of hope, an example of the power that one person's faith can have on the world.

Q: How do you think modern audiences would benefit from seeing a film like this about St. Bernadette and the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Lourdes?

Penny: The virtue of humility and the value of honesty are timeless. Bernadette spoke of what she saw simply as a lady in white--and faith is that pure, that simple.

We sometimes trip ourselves up with intellectual, metaphysical questions. Sometimes you just have to trust and believe.

Q: What does Bernadette have to say to today's young people?

Penny: Bernadette herself probably wouldn't have given any advice since she was convinced she knew nothing! It's good to remember that even as we strive in our lives and in our careers, that our successes are a reflection of the gifts we are divinely given; we ourselves can create nothing.

ZE04122521

Schoenstatt Starting a Novena for World Youth Day

VALLENDAR, Germany, DEC. 7, 2004 (Zenit.org)

On Wednesday, solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the Schoenstatt Youth will begin a nine-month novena in preparation for World Youth Day next August in Germany.

The theme of the international novena is the prayer of consecration: "O my Lady, O my Mother ..." It may be prayed each month individually or in a group.

Efforts are under way to start the novena worldwide.

The Schoenstatt Projects Office began to prepare the novena on the eve of Advent, for the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. The project was the inspiration of the Schoenstatt youth of Argentina.

The Schoenstatt Movement comprises several million people in more than 80 countries. It has 160 centers, the principal site being the shrine, which is a replica of the small original shrine in the German valley of Schoenstatt.

ZE04120720

Our Lady of Guadalupe's Tug on Modernity: Charlotte Allen on the Image's Lasting Significance

WASHINGTON, D.C., DEC. 10, 2004 (Zenit.org)

A centuries-old image of the Blessed Virgin still has a place in the hearts and minds of modern people--be they Catholic or not. So says Charlotte Allen, author of "The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus" (Free Press) and co-author of Inkwell Weblog for the Independent Women's Forum, a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy organization dedicated to research and public education on policy issues concerning women. She told ZENIT why Our Lady of Guadalupe's power has not waned, despite the image's treatment as a popular culture icon.

Q: Our Lady of Guadalupe has attracted increasing devotion in the United States and her shrine in Mexico City is the most popular in the world, attracting millions of visitors a year. What do you think accounts for this trend?

Allen: She is a powerful presence--particularly to Latin Americans--because she is an Indian virgin. That is attractive because many Mexicans and Latin Americans have Indian blood. There is also something about her that speaks to the contemporary world; she is a New World Madonna, the harbinger of modernity. Other Marian shrines, such as Fatima and Lourdes, are popular today because they have an association with modernity--Mary appeared there fairly recently. Shrines that draw visitors are those [that] people can associate with their own circumstances. Our Lady of Guadalupe is an older apparition, but it appeals to contemporary people because it's an artifact. It's powerful for people who have to see to believe; you can see her right there. The visual image of Our Lady is strong, striking and specific. Other apparitions don't have such a picture.

Q: What role does Our Lady of Guadalupe play in the culture of the Americas today?

Allen: In Los Angeles, where I am from, she is huge. One year we were in Los Angeles for her feast day and went to the new cathedral to celebrate. There was a long line of people with flowers, waiting to get inside the cathedral and kiss a big image of her. It was on a weekday, so people were taking off work and taking their kids out of school to see her. Little boys were dressed up like Juan Diego and little girls were wearing Mexican peasant skirts. Families were doing Indian dances there as they do in the plaza at the shrine.

At any store where Mexican Americans shop, you see her image on candles and cloth paintings. She plays an enormous role in their devotional life, no matter if she is a cultural image. It takes devotion to wait in line in order to kiss an image.

Q: How has Our Lady of Guadalupe kept the Americas' Spanish-speaking Catholics tied to their faith, their culture?

Allen: Evangelical Protestants who actively proselytize have made inroads with lapsed Spanish-speaking Catholics, but Protestantism doesn't have the Virgin. I have heard that some of the denominations ministering to Spanish-speaking people have incorporated Our Lady of Guadalupe in order to attract them. The Blessed Virgin Mary is not just Our Lady of Guadalupe; she appears as other images that are strong in Latin American culture and in other countries. All have a powerful effect on the faithful.

A certain percentage of Spanish-speaking Catholics doesn't practice their faith, but they still have her in their homes. Her presence there creates a tie to the faith. People pray to her as a miracle worker no matter what they think about the Church; they'll pray to the Virgin even when they won't pray to God. She keeps that tie strong.

Q: With her popularity and long-standing traditions, how can "La Virgen" bring lapsed Catholics of all stripes back into the Church and inspire new converts?

Allen: If she does--and I hope she does--it will be by her presence: Her powerful image is everywhere. Besides that, there is something lovely about her appearing to a humble Indian; I think that would attract a lot of individuals. People who don't like the hierarchy can see that the Church is a church for those who are ordinary and poor--Our Lady of Guadalupe speaks to those people. She is from the bottom up, not top down. If people can see that the Blessed Virgin Mary speaks to an ordinary poor man and chooses him as her messenger, there is a powerful emotional appeal.

Q: How is popular culture relating Our Lady of Guadalupe to the "divine feminine" and "earth mother"? What is the danger of those associations?

Allen: That's a kind of game that intellectuals play. There are Latin feminist intellectuals who try to focus on Our Lady of Guadalupe as the goddess. My feeling is that it doesn't have much appeal outside of small circles; it's something that happens because it is fashionable. It might have some effect on intellectual circles and college students, but it is so far removed from what she means in the Hispanic culture that it won't affect Hispanics--only overeducated white people.

Feminists often have a general distaste for the Blessed Virgin Mary because she is too obedient to God. It's hard to reconcile: Feminist scholars relate Our Lady of Guadalupe to a goddess figure or the Aztec mother goddess, but they usually have antipathy toward the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Still, Our Lady of Guadalupe may have an effect on them. They may think that she is fashionably diverse being Indian in appearance. They may like her politically correct appeal. But they may find themselves saying a prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe, and that prayer might be answered.

Q: The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe now appears on just about anything--CDs, books, car-seat covers, handbags, T-shirts and coffee mugs. Is there a chance of losing a sense of the sacred with this "profane" use of Our Lady's image?

Allen: I am not sure many of those images are meant to be profane, but they could be. They can be blasphemous or blessed--it depends on how you regard them or use them. A lot has to do with intention. If for laughs or a joke, it could be scandalous. But Our Lady of Guadalupe's image is so powerful, it has meaning anywhere. There is no way her image is not going to affect the person who looks at her. It could even be a point of conversion. It's amazing that images are something that the Church has always understood. During the controversy over icons in the eighth century, the Church knew it was important to defend them. An image is a way of capturing the Incarnation--God becoming man, in the flesh. God's image can be shown, and that image has power. Our Lady of Guadalupe is powerful because the Blessed Virgin Mary made her own image, her own incarnation.

ZE04121022

Pope Entrusts to Mary Respect for Human Life

Marks the 150th Anniversary of Proclamation of Dogma of Immaculate Conception

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 8, 2004 (Zenit.org)

John Paul II entrusted to the Virgin Mary respect for human life and the search for peace, as he celebrated the 150th anniversary of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

"Help us to build a world where man's life is always loved and defended, every form of violence banished, the peace of all tenaciously sought," the Pope implored during the homage he offered today before the statue of the Immaculate Conception in Rome's Piazza di Spagna.

Among the thousands of pilgrims at the piazza were groups of young people, and men and women religious, who mingled with numbers of workers from nearby stores. The Pope arrived at 4:20 p.m. in the piazza, where he received Walter Veltroni, mayor of Rome, as well as the vicar of Rome, Cardinal Camillo Ruini.

During the meditation on the Blessed Virgin that he composed for the occasion, the Pope said: "Once again we are here to honor you, at the foot of this column, from which, with love, you watch over Rome and the whole world."

The Pope's visit to the square is part of the city's annual popular tradition. This occasion was especially marked by the 150th anniversary of the day when Pope Pius IX proclaimed "as truth of the Catholic faith" the Virgin Mary's "preservation from all stain of sin," John Paul II said.

After the meditation, John Paul II offered a floral homage to the Virgin, while Cardinal Ruini incensed the image. The flowers had been gathered that same morning in the Vatican Gardens: 150 roses placed in a basket and tied with a ribbon with the Vatican coat of arms.

Two readers proclaimed, respectively, excerpts from the Letter to the Ephesians and from Pius IX's dogmatic bull "Ineffabilis Deus."

Earlier, the Pope presided at a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica to solemnly observe the anniversary.

The homily ended with an emotional imploration of the Holy Father to the Virgin: "May you accompany every Christian on the path of conversion and holiness, in the struggle against sin and in the search for true beauty, which is always the sign and reflection of divine Beauty."

John Paul II also prayed, with a clear and firm voice, to the Virgin Mary for "peace and salvation for all peoples."

After the Mass, the Pope prayed the Angelus with several thousand pilgrims who weathered the rain in St. Peter's Square.

"The privilege of being preserved from original sin means" that Mary "is the first redeemed by her Son. Her sublime beauty, reflection of that of Christ, is a pledge for all believers of the victory of divine Grace over sin and death," John Paul II told his listeners.

That is why "the Immaculate Conception appears as a beacon of light for humanity of all times" who "leads us to believe and hope in God, in his salvation and in eternal life," and "illuminates, particularly, the path of the Church engaged in the New Evangelization," the Holy Father stressed.

ZE04120805

How Abbot of Solesmes Explained the Immaculate Conception

Abbey Republishes a Work That Was Key for Proclamation of Dogma

SOLESMES, France, DEC. 8, 2004 (Zenit.org)

The Abbey of Solesmes, long renowned for its Gregorian chant, also is known for another key contribution: a deeper understanding of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

At the origin of this endeavor is the figure of Dom Prosper Guéranger (1805-1875), the abbot who restored the Benedictine monastery, after the French Constitutional Assembly prohibited religious vows in 1790, scattering the monks of that community.

Impressed by Guéranger's contribution to liturgical reform and by the publication of his "Mémoire sur l'Immaculée Conception" in 1850, the following year Pope Pius IX commissioned him to write a document proposing a definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Three years later, the same Pope would formulate the dogma with the bull "Ineffabilis Deus."

To better understand the importance of Dom Guéranger's book on the Immaculate Conception, republished this year by the abbey, ZENIT interviewed Brother Jacques de Préville, a monk at Solesmes.

Q: Why did Dom Guéranger write his book in 1850?

Brother Jacques: The definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, desired by many, judged inopportune by some, had been the object of important works in the years that preceded it.

Pius IX, with the encyclical "Ubi Primum" of February 2, 1849, had invited bishops worldwide to give their point of view on the possibility and opportuneness of this definition. In France, many bishops created commissions of theologians to prepare their response. With his book, Dom Guéranger, first abbot of Solesmes, wished to contribute to the effort of reflection on this privilege of Mary.

Q: Of what importance was the feast of the Immaculate Conception in the life of Dom Guéranger?

Brother Jacques: The privilege of the Immaculate Conception of Mary was something that was especially dear to him. He recalled, in fact, the grace of light he received on December 8, 1823, the feast of Our Lady's conception, when he was studying in the seminary, still depending too much on a rational view. He himself recounted the event: "It was then when the merciful and compassionate Queen, Mother of God, came to my assistance in a way which was as triumphant as it was unexpected. On December 8, 1823, while I was doing my meditation with the Community, and I approached my argument -- the mystery of the day -- with my rational viewpoints, as usual, suddenly I was led to believe in Mary immaculate in her conception. Speculation and feeling were united effortlessly in this mystery.

"I felt a sweet joy in my consent; without rapture, with a gentle peace and sincere conviction. Mary deigned to transform me with her blessed hands, without anxiety, without vehemence: One nature disappeared to leave room for another. I did not say anything to anyone, especially because I did not imagine the significance that this revelation would have for me. I was undoubtedly overwhelmed; but today I am still overwhelmed when understanding the scope of the favor that the Holy Virgin deigned to grant me that day."

Q: What did he wish to do with his "Mémoire"?

Brother Jacques: Dom Guéranger wished to show in a book why belief in the Immaculate Conception might be the object of a dogmatic definition. It was published in April 1850. With great clarity and very extensive information, Dom Guéranger established this possibility.

For the belief to be defined as a dogma of faith, he explained, it is necessary that the Immaculate Conception form part of Revelation, expressed in Scripture or Tradition, or be implied in beliefs previously defined. Needed, afterward, is that it be proposed to the faith of the faithful through the teaching of the ordinary magisterium. Finally, it is necessary that it be attested by the liturgy, and the Fathers and Doctors of the Church."

Dom Guéranger showed that these three conditions were met and that, consequently, the definition was possible. "The Church," he said, "had to wait a suitable time to recollect herself, to confirm this universal agreement which today is the proof that this is the doctrine of the Catholic Church" [see "Mémoire sur l'Immaculée Conception," p. 129].

Q: How does Dom Guéranger explain the link that exists between Revelation and the definition of the "new" dogma?

Brother Jacques: Dom Guéranger recalls that "there is no new revelation when the Church defines a dogma of faith" [ibid., p. 2]. The Church adds nothing to the datum of faith. The only thing she does is to recognize that this newly defined truth already formed part implicitly of the treasury of Revelation.

The same would occur with the dogma of the assumption of Mary, defined by Pius XII in 1950. Before these truths defined in this way, the believer must now give his full adherence of faith.

Dom Guéranger then shows, toward the end of the work, how the definition of the Immaculate Conception was extremely appropriate, something that he himself ardently desired. It would be to honor the Virgin Mary with the official recognition of her privilege.

It would be "beneficial for the human race, as it is not possible that earth raise its praise to Mary without this Mother of mercy not acknowledging with new benefits her children's impulse of heart toward her, especially when this praise has as its objective to glorify in her the gift she most loves, the integrity of her soul, her exemption from any stain, in a word, holiness" [ibid., p. 131].

Q: Wherein lies the originality of this work?

Brother Jacques: In these pages, one can admire Dom Guéranger's great spirit of faith, his profound sense of Church, his fervent love of the Virgin Mary. In them resounds the voice of the monk familiar with the Scriptures, the Fathers of the Church, and liturgical prayers. One perceives the contemplative, who has meditated for a long time on the mystery of Mary Immaculate.

Q: Why have you republished the book?

Brother Jacques: After seeing the book, during a trip of the abbot of Solesmes to Rome, Pius IX asked him to work on a plan of the text in view of the definition. We thought it would be useful to publish Dom Guéranger's "Mémoire" again in 2004. It might help to understand better the breadth of Blessed Pius IX's bull and the great light it gives us.

["Mémoire sur l'Immaculée Conception" may be purchased through www.solesmes.com.]

ZE0412082

On Solemnity of Immaculate Conception

"Beacon of Light for Humanity for All Times," Says John Paul II

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 8, 2004 (Zenit.org)

Here is a translation of the address John Paul II delivered today, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, before praying the midday Angelus with several thousand pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

1. "Tota pulchra es, Maria!" One hundred and fifty years ago, on December 8, 1854, Blessed Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Most Holy Virgin. The privilege of being preserved from original sin means that she is the first redeemed by her Son. Her sublime beauty, a reflection of that of Christ, is pledge for all believers of the victory of the divine grace over sin and death.

2. The Immaculate Conception appears as a beacon of light for humanity for all times. At the beginning of the third millennium, she leads us to believe and hope in God, in his salvation, and in eternal life. She illuminates particularly the path of the Church engaged in the New Evangelization.

3. This afternoon, during the traditional homage to the Virgin in Piazza di Spagna, I will entrust the city of Rome and the entire world to her, Immaculate Mother of the Word-made-Man. We now appeal to her powerful intercession, reciting the Angelus with filial confidence.

I greet the pilgrims present, in particular the representatives of the Pontifical Academy of the Immaculate, headed by the Lord Cardinal Andrzej Maria Deskur. Beloved: on this day of celebration I am particularly close to you. I pray for you and encourage you to persevere in your devotion to Mary Immaculate.

May the Virgin obtain for all the graces desired.

[Translation by ZENIT] ZE04120802

Pope's Homily at Mass on Solemnity of Immaculate Conception

Mary a "Sign of Hope for All the Living," Says John Paul II

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 8, 2004 (Zenit.org)

Here is a translation of the homily John Paul II delivered during the concelebrated Mass at which he presided in St. Peter's Basilica, on the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. The day also marked the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of this Marian dogma.

1. "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!" (Luke 1:28). With these words of the Archangel Gabriel, we address the Virgin Mary several times a day. We repeat them today with fervent joy, on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, recalling that December 8 of 1854, when Blessed Pius IX proclaimed this admirable dogma of the Catholic faith precisely in this Vatican Basilica.

I cordially greet all those who have come here today, in particular the representatives of the National Mariological Societies, who took part in the International Marian Mariological Congress, organized by the Pontifical Marian Academy.

I also greet all of you here present, dear brothers and sisters, who have come to render filial homage to the Immaculate Virgin. I greet in a special way, the Lord Cardinal Camillo Ruini, to whom I renew my most cordial wishes for his priestly jubilee, expressing all my gratitude to him for the service, which with generous dedication he has rendered and continues to render to the Church as my vicar general for the Diocese of Rome and as president of the Italian episcopal conference.

2. How great is the mystery of the Immaculate Conception that today's liturgy presents to us! A mystery that does not cease to attract the contemplation of believers and inspire the reflection of theologians. The theme of the Congress just recalled--"Mary of Nazareth Receives the Son of God in History"--has fostered deeper study of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary as presupposition for receiving in her virginal womb the Word of God incarnate, Savior of the human race.

"Full of grace": with this appellative, according to the Greek original of Luke's Gospel, the Angel addresses Mary. This is the name with which God, through his messenger, wished to describe the Virgin. He ever thought of her and saw her in this way, "ab aeterno."

3. In the hymn of the Letter to the Ephesians, proclaimed earlier, the Apostle praises God the Father because he "has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" (1:3). With what most special blessings God looked upon Mary from the beginning of time! Truly blessed, Mary, among all women (see Luke 1:42)!

The Father chose her in Christ before the creation of the world, so that she would be holy and immaculate before him in love, predestinating her as the first fruits to filial adoption through Jesus Christ (see Ephesians 1:4-5).

4. Mary's predestination, as that of every one of us, is relative to the predestination of the Son. Christ is that "seed" that would "bruise the head" of the ancient serpent, according to the Book of Genesis (see Genesis 3:15); he is the Lamb "without blemish" (see Exodus 12:5; 1 Peter 1:19), immolated to redeem humanity from sin.

In anticipation of his salvific death, Mary, his Mother, was preserved from original sin and from every other sin. In the victory of the new Adam there is also that of the new Eve, Mother of the redeemed. The Immaculate is thus a sign of hope for all the living, who have conquered Satan through the blood of the Lamb (see Revelation 12:11).

5. We contemplate today the humble maiden of Nazareth, holy and immaculate before God in charity (see Ephesians 1:4), that "charity," which in its original source, is God himself, One and Triune. Sublime work of the Most Holy Trinity is the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of the Redeemer! In the bull "Ineffabilis Deus," Pius IX recalls that the Almighty has established "with one and the same decree the origin of Mary and the incarnation of divine Wisdom" ("Pius IX Pontificis Maximi Acta," Pars prima, p. 559). The Virgin's "yes" to the Angel's annunciation is situated in the concreteness of our earthly condition, in humble gift to the divine will of saving humanity not from history, but in history. In fact, preserved immune from every stain of original sin, the "new Eve" benefited in a singular way from the work of Christ as most perfect Mediator and Redeemer. Redeemed first of all by her Son, she participates fully in his holiness. She is already that which the whole Church desires and hopes to be. She is the eschatological icon of the Church.

6. Because of this, the Immaculate, who indicates "the beginning of the Church, Bride of Christ without blemish or wrinkle, radiant with beauty" ([see] Preface) always precedes the People of God on the pilgrimage of faith toward the Kingdom of Heaven (see "Lumen Gentium," No. 58; encyclical "Redemptoris Mater," No. 2). In the Immaculate Conception of Mary the Church sees projected, anticipated in her most noble member, the saving grace of Easter. In the event of the Incarnation she finds the Son and the Mother indissolubly united: "he who is the Church's Lord and Head and she who, uttering the first fiat of the New Covenant, prefigures the Church's condition as spouse and mother" ("Redemptoris Mater," No. 1).

7. To you, Immaculate Virgin, predestined by God above every other creature as advocate of grace and model of holiness for his People, I renew this day in a special way the entrustment of the whole Church. May you guide your children on the pilgrimage of faith, rendering them ever more obedient and faithful to the Word of God. May you accompany every Christian on the path of conversion and holiness, in the struggle against sin and in the search for true beauty, which is always the sign and reflection of divine Beauty. May you, again, obtain peace and salvation for all peoples. May the eternal Father, who willed you to be the Immaculate Mother of the Redeemer, renew also in our time, through you, the wonders of his merciful love. Amen!

[Translation by ZENIT] ZE04120801

Papal Meditation on Blessed Virgin Mary [In Rome's Piazza di Spagna]

ROME, DEC. 8, 2004 (Zenit.org)

Here is a translation of the meditation John Paul II pronounced when paying homage to the Virgin Mary, before the statue located in Piazza di Spagna, on the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

1. Immaculate Virgin!

Once again we are here to honor you, at the foot of this column, from which, with love, you watch over Rome and the whole world, ever since, one hundred and fifty years ago, Blessed Pius IX proclaimed, as truth of the Catholic faith, your preservation from every stain of sin, in anticipation of the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ.

2. Immaculate Virgin!

Your intact spiritual beauty is for us a living source of confidence and hope. To have you as Mother, Holy Virgin, reassures us on the path of life as pledge of eternal salvation. Because of this, with confidence we take recourse to Thee, O Mary.

Help us to build a world where man's life is always loved and defended, every form of violence banished, the peace of all tenaciously sought.

3. Immaculate Virgin!

In this Year of the Eucharist, grant us to celebrate and adore with renewed faith and ardent love the holy mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ. In your school, O Eucharistic Woman, teach us to remember the wonderful works that God does not cease to accomplish in the hearts of men.  With maternal care, Virgin Mary, guide our steps always on the paths of the good. Amen!

[Translation by ZENIT] ZE04120803

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The director and editors of Mary Page under the auspices of the International Marian Research Institute do not necessarily endorse or agree with the events and ideas expressed in this feature. Our sole purpose is to report on items about Mary gleaned from a myriad of papers representing the secular press.

Waiting to be healed--by holy water from Lourdes [Source: The Straits Times (Singapore), 11/21/2004]

600 sick and infirm people will be offered the water flown in here for major church event

SOME 120 litres of holy water, air-freighted from Lourdes, France, is now being kept in a secret location here. It will be taken out only on Dec 4, when 10,000 Roman Catholics are expected to turn up at the Singapore Indoor Stadium for The Lourdes Experience, a seven-hour event to mark the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of a Catholic doctrine.

Tens of thousands of pilgrims flock to Lourdes every year, where Catholics believe the Virgin Mary appeared to an illiterate peasant girl, Bernadette Soubirous, in 1858. At the grotto near the Gave River, St Bernadette was instructed by Mary to dig in the earth. From that spot, a spring started to flow. Pilgrims drink the water or bathe in it, believing that this, together with their faith in God, can heal them.

Cancer specialist Gabriel Oon, one of the organisers of the event, made arrangements with the Catholic diocese at Lourdes to transport the water here during his trip there in May. The water, in a polystyrene container, was flown here in September. It was given free, and donations paid for the transportation costs, said Dr Oon. 'The water is an integral part of any pilgrimage to Lourdes so we wanted to have some physical reminder of Lourdes here at the event.'

Among the 10,000 people attending are some 600 who have chronic illnesses and physical disabilities. They will be given small bottles containing the water. 'Whether there will be physical healings, it's hard to say; but I believe many will be healed spiritually that day,' said Dr Oon. They will also receive rosaries which were brought in from Bethlehem, the birth place of Christ in Israel, Lourdes, and some made by the Carmelite nuns here.

The event is the first of its kind organised by a Catholic organisation here. Its $98,000 cost was paid for by donations from Catholics. Archbishop Nicholas Chia, the head of the Catholic church here, said: 'We hope the occasion will lead to a deeper appreciation of Mother Mary's role in bringing them closer to God.'

Organisers, which include several Catholic organisations, such as the Order of Malta, the Legion of Mary and the St Vincent de Paul Society, said the event is to commemorate the 150th anniversary this year of the proclamation of the Immaculate Conception. It was made by Pope Pius IX in 1854, and asserts that the Virgin Mary, from the first moment of her conception, was preserved free from every stain of original sin.

All but a few hundred of the 10,000 tickets have been snapped up. They were distributed free through the 31 Catholic churches here, with priority given to the sick. During the event, the congregation will say the stations of the cross, which depict the last 12 hours of the life of Christ. Mass, celebrated by the archbishop, will follow. Prayers will also be said for the sick and disabled, who will be seated in the stall areas closest to the stage and altar.

Among those attending is Mr. Shelac Nathan, a retired school principal and grandfather of two, who suffers from a weak heart and diabetes. Said Mr. Nathan, 80: 'I've not been to Lourdes, but have heard many things about it, how people have been cured there. This is the next best thing; and when I am at the stadium, I will pray for healing and good health.'

About 10,000 'miraculous medallions', each embossed with the image of the Virgin Mary will be given out to all at the event. The medals were specially flown in from Paris, and donated by the St Vincent de Paul Society, which helps the poor here.

Uganda; Hill of Fortune And Blessings [Source: Africa News, 11/14/2004]

Kiwamirembe Hill is not a place for politicians only, but all and sundry that may have problems and desire divine intervention in their lives. Catholics and other believers around the country congregate at Kiwamirembe Hill to ask or thank the Virgin Mary for her blessings. As Ms Mary Hilda Nambooze, the shrine care keeper and receptionist, says: "The virgin Mary is here for you. This is her seat of wisdom where everyone should kneel and ask for wisdom to avoid failure. For instance, if you have money but only don't seem to get anything worthwhile from it, ask her for financial guidance; and she will help you plan."

The focal point of pilgrims at Kiwamirembe hill is a shrine with an inbuilt statue of the Virgin Mary, decorated with rosaries with enough kneeling space. "This is where you introduce yourself and make your petitions known to Mary. You then say your prayers and the rosary, then move to the next stage of the pilgrimage" says Nambooze.

The next stage is the way of the cross. It is an uphill climb, which is not peaceful at all. It is road mapped by 15 paintings of Jesus from the moment he was arrested till death on the cross. Each statue is on a raised circular platform where people can stand around, look and imagine Jesus' pain and suffering and then pray for anything or thank him for the cross. It is so hilly that I slipped a number of times and by the time I finally reached the cross I was sweating and very tired as though I had just taken part in a marathon.

Nambooze explained the fatigue and strategic location uphill, "It was done this way so that Christians would share in Jesus' suffering. It is hilly and tiresome so that you realise how difficult it was for Christ to finally bring you the peace and freedom that we Christians enjoy today."

The priest of Kiwamirembe shrine, Fr John Mbwega, 94, walks with the aid of a walking stick 3 miles up to the hill everyday from his home in Lweza as a sign of penance. "I walk up hill everyday as a sign of penance, and because that is what Fr De Bernadi intended it to be, that Christians would share in Christ's suffering." At the top of the hill is a big cross where pilgrims celebrate mass after following the way of the cross.

For those who are in a hurry or don't want to climb uphill, there are 28 steps which one can crawl upon while reciting the rosary or saying a prayer till the top. Crawling upon the steps or climbing uphill is no easy task; but if peace is what one is looking for, they will surely do it.

But do the Virgin Mary and the tedious climb uphill yield results? Yes, it does to some people like John Mary Kasili. "I had no clothes and wanted land and peace before I heard of Kiwamirembe hill. I prayed and got what I wanted. I am now a fully-dressed man with a house of my own, which I got through prayer."

Another, a woman who preferred anonymity, said she had come to thank God for giving her a child. Nambooze also cited a few notables who she claims frequent the place and that the Virgin Mary has done 'tremendous wonders' in their lives. "Lady Justice Laeticia Kikonyogo is a usual visitor here; and God has answered her prayers as you can see," she said. "Vice President Bukenya (Gilbert), former Vice President Kazibwe and Maria Mutagamba also usually come here to pray, and also donate money for the well-being of the place."

Kiwamirembe hill was originally called Katatembwa. It is believed that there were evil spirits in the valley. At night the spirits would light a fire. Later it came to be known as Kiwamirembe because people would lay their burdens there and go back light-hearted. It then became a Catholic shrine of peace through a promise Fr John De Benardi, an Italian priest, made to the Virgin Mary.

According to Monsignor Lawrence Mbwega, a 94-year-old priest at the shrine, "During Amin's reign in 1971, Fr John was terrified of the war and the subsequent death it would bring to the Christians in the area." He prayed to the Virgin Mary, and asked her to give them peace, and in return, he would construct a place where people would go and worship God in remembrance of the peace he accorded them through Mary.

After the war, Fr John constructed this shrine in 1988 at Kiwamirembe Hill, next to Nakigalala Tea Estate, about three miles from Kajjansi township. His Eminence Cardinal Emmanuel Nsubuga officially opened it on May 26, 1989. Captain Roy Zziwa (of Dairo Air Services--DAS) donated the paintings, which were made by an Italian called Carrelo Puzzolo. It is a fine work of art made in copper.

The hill is open to everyone everyday. The day I visited, there were a few people who had come to pray. But there are some seasons and days put aside for special groups of people and reasons. At the beginning of every exam period, there is a special pilgrimage specifically for candidates who go to ask for wisdom. Every third Friday of the month is the day for the way of the cross during which a bishop from one diocese celebrates mass. They also hold occasional night prayers.

However, Kiwamirembe is not only for peace lovers and seekers; it is also used as a party ground of sorts. According to the caretaker, one can hold a party at no charge. But parties aside, if you ever feel in dire need of peace or retaining your job, Kiwamirembe is apparently the place to visit; and the Virgin Mary may honour your requests.

Expert explains grilled cheese "miracle" [Source: Associated Press, 11/17/2004]

Brace yourself. There may be a less-than-miraculous explanation for that image of the Virgin Mary a Florida woman says appeared in her grilled cheese sandwich. Professional skeptic Joe Nickell says it's the same phenomenon that lets people see ships in the clouds, butterflies in ink blots and the man on the moon.

Remember that elderly lady who showed Johnny Carson her collection of potato chips with celebrity faces? (And how Carson munched on a chip, letting her think for a moment it was one of hers?) "It's just the human ability to make images out of randomness," said Nickell, investigative columnist for Skeptical Inquirer magazine and senior research fellow of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. "The images are called simulacra, from the root word meaning similar. And the mental habit that causes us to see such things is called pareidolia," he said. Nickell has studied and written about such things for 30 years. He is among the thousands who have visited Maria Rubio's 1977 "holy tortilla" in New Mexico, the "Milton Madonna" on a Massachusetts hospital window pane, and the "Clearwater Virgin" on a building in Florida.

Diana Duyser of Miami put her grilled cheese sandwich up for sale on eBay last week. She said she took a bite after making it 10 years ago and saw a face staring back. Into a clear plastic box it went and has remained on her night stand, she said. Nickell explained that pareidolia is the process by which the human brain interprets essentially random patterns into recognizable images. "It doesn't take much to make a face. Three or four dots or marks and you've got something that looks like a face," he said.

Many simulacra are of religious images, he said, and "perhaps most often associated with Catholic or Orthodox tradition, wherein there is a special emphasis on icons or other holy images." Most, he concluded, are the result of natural processes, such as weathering or the buildup of chemical residues. "Theologians and clerics are usually quick to dismiss such images, one priest wisely attributing them to 'pious imagination,"' Nickell said. "However, they remain intensely popular among the superstitious faithful." Nickell added that the Easter Bunny exists in the wood grain of his office door.

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