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Quiero compartir las palabras de la bula Ineffabilis Deus que se define la dogma de la Inmaculada Concepcion en Espanol porque me encanta, "Para honor de la santa e indivisa Trinidad, para gloria y ornamento de la Virgen Madre de Dios, para exaltacion de la fe Católica y acrecentamiento de la religión cristiana, con la autoridad de nuestro Señor Jesucristo, de los bienaventurados apóstoles Pedro y Pablo y con la nuestra, declaramos, proclamamos y definimos que la doctrina que sostiene que la beatísima Virgen Maria fue preservada inmune de toda mancha de culpa original en el primer instante de su concepción, por singular gracia y privilegio de Dios omnipotente, en atención a los méritos de Cristo Jesus, salvador de genero humano, esta revelado por Dios y debe ser, por tanto, firme y constantemente creida por todos los fieles." 

In the constitution Ineffabilis Deus published on December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed: “We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary from the first moment of her conception was preserved… immune from all stain of original sin is revealed by God and is therefore firmly and constantly, to be believed by all the faithful.”

As grandiose as the declaration sounds, the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary actually comes from popular devotion in the early centuries and not so much the result of theological disputes. We don’t celebrate doctrines and teachings. We celebrate saving events. We celebrate the precious gift of God in Jesus Christ through the Blessed Virgin Mary. We deeply acknowledge her holiness. We don’t just talk about Mary to gain knowledge. The Immaculate Conception is not a piece of information that the church forgot to process in her infancy. This is not an after-thought. It’s a recognition of the gift of God. We are aware of the longing and expectation associated with advent. We know very well the prophecy that was fulfilled. God went to the simple people and not to the theologians, experts, religious elites and the highly-ranking officials. God went to Nazareth, a small forgotten village in Ancient Galilee. God called Mary, a young unassuming virgin- woman to be the bearer of the savior. God highly favored the simple-minded and not those who have complicated personalities. God invited the innocent and not the intellectuals who make excuses, reason out and talk a lot. God chose the least likely individual to carry in her womb the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.

Photo taken @ Virac, Catanduanes, Philippines

Since none of us was conceived free from “the sins of the world”, the Immaculate Conception is a silent protest to denounce the dominance of the prince of evil in which all of us have gone through. The Blessed Mother was conceived without sin and therefore,  she was not affected by the structures of sin and the cycle of oppression, misery and violence we participate even if most of the time we are not aware of it.  She was exempted. She was freed by any stain of sin. We belong to a sinful world. Although this year, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is not a holy day of obligation, nonetheless, holiness is a sacred duty. Talk about the Catholic culture, if it’s not a holy day of obligation, only a handful will show up for mass while the rest take it for granted and back to business. But that’s not the intent of the Immaculate Conception. As you know, it came out as a popular devotion and being a devotion, it had a personal touch with the devotees. God always takes the initiative. God always takes the first step. Even when we come together to actively participate in the liturgy, the core of Catholic worship and the most powerful means of sanctification at the church’s disposal, we do so because God, foremost, offered each of us the grace. Amen. 

Overlooking the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception @ Virac, Catanduanes, Philippines