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The Season of the Immaculate Conception
A Convent Christmas Custom
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  Sister kneels at shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe A Sister kneels before the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe: “Make me a Juan Diego, unworthy though I be. Let me carry thy message far and near; let me show my love for thee...”

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Winter 2015

The Virgin

By William Wordsworth

Mother! whose virgin bosom was uncrost
With the least shade of thought to sin allied.
Woman! above all women glorified,
Our tainted nature’s solitary boast;
Purer than foam on central ocean tost;
Brighter than eastern skies at daybreak strewn
With fancied roses, than the unblemished moon
Before her wane begins on heaven’s blue coast;
Thy image falls to earth. Yet some, I ween,
Not unforgiven the suppliant knee might bend,
As to a visible Power, in which did blend
All that was mixed and reconciled in thee
Of mother’s love with maiden purity,
Of high with low, celestial with terrene!




Dear Friends,

This beautiful poem by Wordsworth fittingly opens our newsletter during this time which might be called the season of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. From November through February we have a little string of pearls, feasts of Mary which relate directly to this glorious prerogative of Our Heavenly Mother.

On the 27th of November we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous medal. St. Catherine Laboure was given the design for this medal by Our Blessed Lady herself, as well as the commission to have it struck and distributed. The inscription around the image of Our Lady, “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee,” earned for it the name, medal of the Immaculate Conception. The popular name, Miraculous Medal was given to it on account of its power to obtain spiritual and material blessings.  

Next comes the feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8. Here in America, this is the principal feast of our Blessed Mother and a Holyday of Obligation, for under this title our country is dedicated to her protection. In the Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus, Pope Pius IX defined the dogma of Mary’s freedom from every contagion of sin from the first instant of her existence. The beauty of the abundant praises of the Immaculate Virgin compiled in this document is truly worthy of the spotless Virgin!

Following closely upon the titular feast is that of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Another link between our continent and Mary’s Immaculate Conception can be found in this most comforting and maternal apparition. In order to lead the native people of Mexico away from their horrendous practice of human sacrifice in idolatry, Our Lady left them her miraculous image, replete with symbolism which they could easily understand. To her humble servant Juan Diego, she revealed her identity as “She who crushes the stone serpent.” Blocking out the sun, the moon beneath her feet and her garment studded with stars, Mary shows herself to be the Woman of the Apocalypse, who foils the demon by her sinlessness and fidelity to God.

And the last pearl, as we wend our way through the months as well as through the centuries: Lourdes. Four years after the dogma was proclaimed, Mary revealed her identity to St. Bernadette in the momentous words, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” The miraculous spring of healing waters which flowed from the grotto at Lourdes was but one more proof of the power of the Immaculate Virgin to aid her children spiritually and temporally.

The Serpent-Slayer, the Demon-Crusher, never for an instant under the dominion of the prince of darkness! No wonder he hates her! And her victory over him, like and with that of her Son, will be eternal! With what confidence shall we not pray in time of temptation, and in all our needs, “O Mary conceived without sin pray for us who have recourse to Thee!”

 

A Convent Christmas Custom

Rev. Mother holds the statue of the Infant Jesus while a Sister kisses His feet

A beautiful custom observed at the motherhouse during the Twelve Days of Christmas is the ceremony of the Kissing of the Feet of the Infant Jesus mentioned by St. Alphonsus in The Incarnation, Birth and Infancy of Jesus Christ. The Sisters come up one by one to venerate the Infant while the following exhortation suggested by St. Alphonsus is read:

Now then, O all ye devout souls, does Jesus invite you to come and kiss His feet this night. The shepherds who came to visit Him in the stable of Bethlehem brought their gifts; you must also bring your gifts. What will you bring Him? Listen to me: the most acceptable present you can bring Him is that of a contrite and loving heart. Let each one then say to Him:

Lord, I should not have dared to approach Thee, seeing myself so deformed by my sins; but since Thou, my Jesus, dost invite me so courteously, and call me so lovingly, I will not refuse. After having so many times turned my back upon Thee, I will not add this fresh insult, namely, that of refusing this affectionate, loving invitation out of distrust. It is true that this my heart offended Thee at one time, but it is now penitent, and I bring it Thee penitent. Yes, O Infant! I repent of having offended Thee. I confess that I have been a traitor, cruel and ungrateful; that it is I who have caused Thee to suffer so much, and who have made Thee shed so many tears in the stable of Bethlehem. But Thy tears are my hope. I am a sinner, it is true, and I do not deserve to be pardoned; but I come before Thee, Who being God, has become a little child to obtain pardon for me.

Eternal Father, look at the tears of Thy innocent Son; they invoke Thy pardon in my behalf. Thou dost deny nothing to the prayers of Thy Son. Listen to Him, then, now that He asks Thee to pardon me on this night — the night of joy, the night of salvation, the night of pardon. Ah, my Infant Jesus, I hope for pardon from Thee; but the forgiveness of my sins alone is not sufficient for me. On this night Thou dost grant great spiritual graces; I also desire that Thou shouldst bestow a great grace on me — the grace to love Thee. Now that I am about to approach Thy feet, inflame me wholly with Thy holy love, and bind me to Thee; but bind me so effectually that I may nevermore be separated from Thee. I love Thee, O my God, Who didst become a little child for my sake; but I love Thee very little; I desire to love Thee very much, but Thou must enable me to do it. I come, then, to kiss Thy feet, and I offer Thee my heart; I leave it in Thy hands; I will have it no longer; do Thou change it, and keep it forever; do not give it back to me again; for if Thou dost, I fear lest it should betray Thee afresh.

Most holy Mary, thou art the Mother of this great Son, but who art also my Mother, it is to thee that I consecrate my poor heart; present it to Jesus; and He will not refuse to receive it, when presented by thee. Do thou, then present it and beg Him to accept it.

Calendar

December 8

10
12
18-20
22
25

27
  Feast of the Immaculate Conception
Mary Immaculata’s feastday
Sr. Mary Loretta’s feastday
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Christmas concerts at Mount St. Michael
Sr. Mary Cabrini’s feastday
Christmas Day
Sr. Marie Emmanuel’s feastday
Sr. Mary Evangeline’s feastday
 
The Sisters praying during the 40 Hours Devotion

Our Apostolate of Prayer

Are you worried about a loved one? Is there a problem that is weighing heavily upon your heart? Send in your intentions, and the Sisters will commend them in their prayers and Masses, especially during our upcoming Novenas:

Our Lady of Prompt Succor
   (Feast: January 15)
Our Lady of Lourdes
   (Feast: February 11)



January 1
3
15

21

31
  Feast of the Circumcision
Sr. Mary Genevieve’s feastday
Feast of Our Lady of Prompt Succor (Novena: Jan. 6-14)
Rev. Mother’s Feastday
Sr. Maria Ines’s feastday
Sr. Giovanna Marie’s feastday
February 1
2
5
10
11

18
20
  Sr. Mary Bridget’s feastday
Purification BVM (Candlemas)
Sr. Mary Agatha’s feastday
Ash Wednesday
Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes (Novena: Feb. 2-10)
Sr. Mary Bernadette’s feastday
Sr. Marie Jacinta’s feastday
March 4
9
19
  Sr. Maria Kazimiera’s feastday
Mother Mary Dominica’s feastday
Feast of St. Joseph
Sr. Mary Josephine’s feastday

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Anima Mariae is the free quarterly newsletter of the CMRI Sisters.
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