December 8, 1997
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The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, December 8
Seeking A Home
The United States of America is dedicated to Mary under the title Immaculate Conception. In 1846, the Sixth Provincial Council of Baltimore petitioned the Holy See to proclaim Mary as the patroness of the United States. Rome granted the permission in 1847. In the Marian Library, in our incredible clippings' file of over 56,000 items, we found an item on the history of the choice of the Immaculate Conception as our national Marian feastday. The article by Joseph Husslein, SJ, 1930 gives insight into the history and meaning of Mary's patronage. Please take into consideration that it is written in the language of the time. The facts nevertheless remain pertinent today.
For every American Catholic the year 1846 should be one of the most memorable dates [on the] historic calendar. It is the year in which the Sixth Provincial Council of Baltimore solemnly requested the Holy See to approve of its selction of "Mary Conceived without Sin" as Patroness of the United States.
Be it carefully noted that the peculiar phrasing itself of Mary's title by the assembled American prelates must obviously lead to the conclusion that it was taken by them, literally and directly, from the petition inscribed on the Miraculous Medal: "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you." So, then, it was that the Immaculate Conception, "Mary Conceived without Sin," Mary Immaculate, became officially the great Patroness of the vast union of States that had sprung up in the New World. And that world itself...had been discovered by one of the most devoted apostles of mary's privilege, Columbus.
"Conception," "Port Conception," "Holy Mary of the Immaculate Conception," were names he gave to islands or ports that he discovered. Worthy, too, of special notice is the fact that on his famous second voyage Columbus formally placed himself directly under the protection of the Immaculate Conception. ...
The first dedication, however, of the United States to the Immaculate Conception, so far as I am aware, was made by Father Andrew White, S.J., who about 1640 took upon himself to consecrate this new land to the Redeemer and the Immaculate Virgin, Our Mother, meaning it to be a substitute for the "Dowry of Mary," as England was called. His own private act has now been completed by the official and public dedication which henceforth constituted the United States, in all truth and reality, the land of the Immaculate Conception. ...
Unfortunately this dedication has not as yet sufficiently impressed itself upon the minds of the American people. To bring it home to them more tangibly is itself a great apostolate. On this account, ere there no other, we have reason to be grateful for all the publicity given to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. To make truly of December 8 a great national Catholic feast must obviously be our endeavor. ...
We have thus come in our historical account to the memorable year 1846. Just another eight years elapsed, and there followed at Rome, on December 8, 1854, the solemn declaration, by Pope Pius IX, of the Immaculate Conception of Mary...:
We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of the Omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and therefore should firmly and constantly be believed by all the Faithful.
The above excerpt from Fr. Husslein's article indicates that is it yet a long way before the
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is recognized as a special day for Americans to
celebrate. Mary Page invites anyone who has celebrated the day in special honor of the Blessed
Virgin Mary as our national patronness to share your celebrations with us. Perhaps your ideas
could inspire others.|
Mary Page receives many emails. Usually, we are asked questions about the teachings of the Catholic Church about Mary. When a new question of this type surfaces, we do our best to post answers that will benefit others in future.
This past week, we received a request for someone wishing to identify with "family." Perhaps you can be of assistance to Donna Marzicola Saylor. Her message to Mary Page follows:
My maiden name is Marzicola, and I have been searching for family, and I keep coming to this web site, but I am not really sure why. I hope maybe you can help me somehow. Do you know of any family?
My name is Donna, and my e-mail address is my husbands name. I really would appreciate your help.
"Donna Saylor" email@example.com
Known to some as Las Posadas, to others as Herbergsuche, and to most English speaking readers as Shelter Seeking -- a special custom begins during Advent in many parts of the world. Starting on December 15, nine days before Christmas Eve, it is the custom in many parts of the world to re-enact the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem.
Mary and Joseph found no place at the inn. During the Shelter Seeking devotion, a couple or a small group of people go from one house to another house, knock on the door, and ask for a place for the Virgin Mary to stay for the birth of her child. Where they were once rejected, this time, Mary are Joseph received with a warm welcome.
There are as many different ways to conduct Shelter Seeking as there are imaginations! Generally, a statue or image of Mary is carried day by day to nine different places in a home, or school, or parish neighborhood. There is a greeting, sometimes a song of welcome, a prayer for blessings on the coming Christmas season and all who dwell in the home or attend the school. Sometimes there is even a little play to recall the events.
The day that Mary's image is in the home or the classroom, special attention is paid to recalling the Christmas story, and heartfelt love is given to the Mother of Jesus as we remember that she bore and gave birth to Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
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