Second Sunday in Advent: the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The feast of the Immaculate reminds humanity that there is only one thing that truly pollutes mankind: saying NO to God, which is sin. It is a very urgent and valuable message to be shared.

+ from the Gospel according to Luke 1:26-38

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[c] will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

The solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary and the second Sunday of Advent this year are in days of rapid succession. At this time which prepares us for Christmas, the Church wants to introduce us to Mary, the Woman whom God has chosen throughout eternity to be the Mother of His Son, Jesus. To be honest, Advent is actually a Marian time: the time when Mary made room in her womb for the Redeemer of the world; the time when the Virgin brought within herself the expectations and hopes of all of humanity.

Advent signifies the first historical coming of Jesus, Mary has not only been waiting for Him with her people, but has prepared for Him and made it possible because she is the Mother of the Expected. If Advent then tells us of the second and last coming of Christ when He brings liberation and definitive salvation, Mary – who is already in glory – anticipates the future that the Church expects. Mary is now already what the Church will be, when her Lord will come.

The Immaculate Conception is a dogma of faith, an undisputed truth affirmed by Pope Pius IX on 8 December 1854, who wrote: “The most blessed Virgin Mary in the first instant of her conception, by singular grace and privilege of almighty God and in view of merit of Jesus Christ, saviour of the human race, has been kept immune from all stains of original sin”.

Four years later the Virgin appeared at the grotto of Lourdes to St. Bernadette announcing herself with the words: “I am the Immaculate Conception“.

The texts of the words of God of this solemnity lead precisely to this mystery of weakness and sanctity of humanity.

Genesis refers to a rebellion against God at the beginning of creation. For his part, the apostle Paul in his Letter to the ancient inhabitants of Ephesus recalls the great dignity to which God has elevated all of mankind, predestining them to be holy and immaculate in His loving presence.

The Gospel of Luke narrates in great detail the moment of the annunciation. The Archangel Gabriel called Mary full of grace and announced to her the birth of the Redeemer in her virgin womb, after giving her assent to God who chose her throughout eternity to be the Mother of His Son. Imagine her shock, her fears! What must have gone through her mind.  Yet her love and trust in God made her accept this gift and great responsibility. It is likely that Luke may have met Mary of Nazareth in person. Tradition tells us that Luke was first to paint the image of the Mother of God with her Son cradled in her arms.

Dear friends,

God has not yet finished to be filled with wonder by what he has achieved in Mary. God never tires of contemplating her, astonished and captivated in light of the work that has been so perfectly successful. Our joyful wonderment before Mary shares the very wonder of God. With her saying YES to God, Mary has traveled her path of faith to the feet of the cross. In imitation of the Mother our faith must also be translated into daily works, coherent choices and obedience of love to God. It is a strenuous YES to be verbalised to God, after the equally fatiguing NO that we must say to sin.

Mary is immaculate also because she has never said NO to God.

The feast of the Immaculate reminds humanity that there is only one thing that truly pollutes mankind: saying NO to God, which is sin. It is a very urgent and valuable message to be shared. Mankind have lost their perception of sin. Mary is our point of reference, the polar star of our purity and of our hope of living in this world more holily and in a manner responsive to God’s plans and to his divine will.

She is our model for a holy life. Woman all of God, Mary. She is the mother and sister of those who are on the way, seekers of meaning and truth, to find a final and definitive harbour to their thirst for the infinite. For this reason we must never tire of looking at her, of invoking her, of imitating her in her virtues and in her daily following of Christ and of his Gospel. She, the YES Woman, facilitates total and trustful adhesion to the Word which, alone, is able to change the history and the hearts of those who welcome it and let it flourish in all its beauty and goodness.

Mary leaves us an example to follow. If the work of salvation is a gift of God’s love, its realisation in us then requires our availability. As God asked Mary for her collaboration for the birth and human nurturing of Jesus, so it requires from us all a “yes” of faith, a yes through which He invites us to trust Him and that we entrust ourselves to Him.

His Holiness Pope Paul VI recalled:

“The purity of Mary is a purity conceived in the first moment, deeply inserted into the being and the history of this exceptional creature.We must bring our purity, our love to the virtue in the heart, where our thoughts are born, where we truly are ourselves, in the cenacle of our thoughts, there we must be God’s love, there, desiring to be good and pure, there to try to filter out the bad impressions that arise inside and outside of us and look for the flame of purpose there Christian is pure, and if we do not succeed in doing so, then the Mystery of purity and of victory that we have contemplated puts this invocation on our lips: Our Lady, give us strength, give us virtue, give us what we lack. Mary, who is not a distant and alien being, but is our Mother, marvellous and infallible Mother, to whom she invokes her she will give this strength and this purity”.

We should be fascinated by the beauty that radiates from the Immaculate Virgin. It reflects an image pervaded by the love of God that makes us capable of love, inhabited by the fullness of life that comes from Him and is an advance of eternal life.

Let us therefore continue to look to Mary as a sign of consolation and sure hope and learn from her this simple but profound lesson: “The more you renounce what is yours, the more God will offer you what is his.”

May the Lord grant us, through the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin, our Mother, our exemplar and our guide, to go and meet Him in holiness and purity of heart and spirit.

PRAY WITH ME:-  O Father, who in the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed ever Virgin Mary prepared a worthy abode for Your Son, and in anticipation of His death You have preserved her from every stain of sin, grant us also, through her intercession, to come to meet You in holiness and purity of spirit. Amen.

BOOK REVIEW: “HOW THE ANCIENT ROMAN RITE HAS CHANGED” BY REV. P. PIETRO LEONE

The latest book by The Reverend Father Don Pietro Leone, academic, Lecturer in Doctrine and Traditional Ritual, is directed at Pope Francis, although the topic is not dear to the heart of the recipient: Mass in Vetus Ordo. The author of Come è Cambiato il Rito Romano Antico, published by Solfanelli, has set himself the objective of evaluating the two rites, the new and the ancient in a scientific manner, by comparing them in light of their respective sacramental theologies.

The decree of the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI, published in July 2007 to liberalise the ancient Roman Rite, aroused a variety of reactions: some welcomed it with joy, in the hope that it would be applied as widely as possible; while others have labeled it as “something for the nostalgic”.   In this context, the Book aims to evaluate the two rites with scientific discipline: more precisely, to compare them in light of their respective sacramental theologies.  The book further aims to offer the reader a synthetic vision on the topic, concerning both the ordinary (or “common”) of the Mass, that is the parts that are common to all Masses, those parts that are proper to one Mass or another.  The first part of the essay analyses the common of the Mass, the second part analyses inter-alia the differences of each Mass.  This comparison of the two rites will allow us to evaluate them in the correct manner.


Available from our: Hermitage Bookshop:


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The latest book by The Reverend Father Don Pietro Leone, academic, Lecturer in Doctrine and Traditional Ritual, is directed at Pope Francis, although the topic is not dear to the heart of the recipient: Mass in Vetus Ordo. The author of Come è Cambiato il Rito Romano Antico, published by Solfanelli, has set himself the objective of evaluating the two rites, the new and the ancient in a scientific manner, by comparing them in light of their respective sacramental theologies.

This resulted in a text that does not seek controversy and, free from all hypocrisy or duplicity, highlights the objectivity and the truth of the facts. The sources, on the other hand, are of unquestionable theological and historical value. It is essentially a compendium, a summary on the two rites accessible to all more or less on the subject prepared readers. A close examination of each one emerges, as it is written in the preface, “that they are so different that we cannot accurately speak of two forms of the Roman rite, nor to two Roman Rituals; but rather of two distinct rites, the first Roman and the second non-Roman: it will show us that in creating the New Rite the ancient Rite was destroyed”.

Father Leone has no reservations and no fear in highlighting the Protestant character of the new rite, so, he rigorously proposes a confrontation that leaves avenue for open to deception or for sugar-coating the subject: “In fact, all that was suppressed was almost everything that was part of the true essence of the Mass, that is, its sacrificial nature.  It is therefore in this perspective that we will compare the theology of the two rites in the following subsections: §1 on the offertory, relating to the anticipation of the sacrifice; §2 on the canon, relating to making the presence of the sacrifice; §3 on the real Presence, relating to its object, that is Jesus Christ himself; §4 on the sacrificial priesthood, relating to the minister who has received the power to make the sacrifice, §5 on the purpose of the Mass, relating to the finality of the sacrifice; §6 on Latin, relating to the language that is suitable; §7 on the orientation of the celebrant, relating to the appropriate orientation; §8 on the altar and table relating to the altar of sacrifice; and §9 on intelligibility and participation, concerning their principal objective, that is, the sacrifice itself” (p.27).

One could not then miss the correct interpretation of the sacramental priesthood. Priests are presbyters and not the laity, while, with the new rite, the priests are aligned with the lay priesthood of the Protestants.

So we see the change very clearly: in the modern Mass all the verbal distinctions in the offertory and in the canon between the priest and the laity have been removed, with the exception of the “pray brothers” (or “Orate Frates”).

The double Confiteor and the double Communion have been replaced with a single Confiteor and a single Communion, where no clear distinction exists between the priests and the faithful (a term that has been substituted with “assembly” or “people”), while the formula of absolution has been removed, as it was removed by the Protestants in the sixteenth century.

The Council of Trent replied very sternly to Luther and to all the Protestants for the heresy that arose from this with On The Sacrifice of the Mass: Canon I. — “If any one saith, that in the mass a true and proper sacrifice is not offered to God; or, that to be offered is nothing else but that Christ is given us to eat; let him be anathema.” (pp. 49-50)..

Therefore the purpose of the Mass is not simply for praise or adoration and thanksgiving, but it is also an expiation and supplication.  This statement is as true as it is eternal and is the answer not only to the Protestant repudiation that the Mass is a sacrifice and, as such, atoning appealing in nature, but also a response to the new Mass endorsed by Paolo VI and Annibale Bugnini, who as early as the pontificate of Pio XII, began to, with his collaborators in the Liturgical Commission to meet with the separated brethren.

Too bad that those brothers with their errors have affected the revolutionaries within the Church, poisoning a rite that has become directed more at mankind rather than a worship directed toward God.

However, the Vetus Ordo, thanks to the Summorum Pontificum of Pope Benedict XVI of 7 July 2007, continues to reaffirm a response to the growing interest for both the priests who apply it, and for the faithful who assist him and where the young are of great importance.

The author’s supernatural vision, which is expressed when he asserts that God has allowed so much liturgical degradation as a possible “severe punishment to the Church for the harm with the most extreme severity” (p. 131) with an appropriate similarity between the punishments to mankind as suffered during the twentieth century and foretold by Our Lady of Fatima, it does nothing but add value to this work of nonfiction, having value of a spiritual character.

Related to this book of great interest and usefulness, is the release of an analysis by Abbé Claude Barthe, theologian, defender and populariser of the “genius” of the traditional Roman liturgy, entitled Storia del Messale Tridentino, translated from French into Italian by Carlotta Anna Pallottino Luyt and published again by Solfanelli. [I have been unable to find a translation in English at this time]

The text is intended for all those who wish to understand how the product which is studied by a few, or rather that the Novus ordo, is nothing more than a consequence of a matured mentality, over a period of four centuries (ie from the promulgation of the Missal of the Council of Trent, which took place July 14, 1570, to the first edition of the missal of Vatican Council II, published March 26, 1970), during which the enemies of the Church operated with an invasive and systematic strategy.

The liturgical work carried out by the Council of Trent sanctioned the results of the medieval stabilisation of the Roman cult.  The reception of this Council, during these four hundred years, has been accompanied by an evolution of Catholicism, and the evolution that demarcated it – thanks to the burrowing actions of the opponents of Catholicism – in an increasingly incisive and firm way from Tradition, until we reach our chaotic and heretical times.

The liturgy of this Catholicism of the Counter-Reformation was celebrated from Pius V to John XXIII, up to the explosive threshold of a contemporary crisis.  I have chosen to focus the study in a particular way on this period, since in it there has been an assimilation of all the anterior liturgical stratifications, essentially following the Carolingian romanisation and the centralisation process realised by the Gregorian reform.  This retrospective is characterised by the fatal tendency to favour the author’s French point of view, which can indeed find an objective justification because of the important role that the Churches of France have participate in over this period in history of the Roman cult” (pp. 5-6).

Scrutinising the history of the Roman Missal is to understand the doctrinal, theological, liturgical and sacred a heritage that has been built, brick by brick, until we reach the formation of the Tridentine Missal.

Not, therefore, a handful of revolutionary men who idealised an alternative, as happened with the Novus Ordo, but a Pope, St. Pius V, who regularised and unified the Catholic liturgy in the world.  Commencing in the High Middle Ages, it has acquired a relevance, not equal to that of the Bible, but, on closer inspection, comparable and complementary, such as to give sacred character to the missal and vice versa.  To this we must add an intrinsic osmosis of the liturgical texts and ceremonies with the teachings of the magisterium.  Osmosis much greater than that, however still very strong, of the rights of the Church with the same teachings”(p.5).

So as to understand better lets give an example: the Carolingians accentuated the Romanisation of the liturgy of Gaul with a view of political and religious unification of their territories, but also to ensure the spread of Roman Catholicism in defence of religious orthodoxy.

The increasing use of the Roman liturgy as it was celebrated in Rome, as did the Franciscans of the thirteenth century, was achieved through the dissemination of the liturgical books of the Roman Curia and adopted by them.  The importance of the Missal and the Breviary, but also the pontifical of the Roman Curia, augmented by the invention of the printing press and the Counter-Reformation.

Thus the, violent Protestant attacks against the “papist” Masses and on the other hand, the doctrinal work of the Council of Trent (particularly in sessions XIII and XXII) have conferred on the Mass of the Curia added a truly Roman value.  It becomes, more evidently, a beacon of the Catholic Profession of faith as conveyed by tradition”.  A tradition that is so betrayed today, violated with inconceivable and sacrilegious abuses, abuses that find their matrix in the Lutheran denial of transubstantiation.