Sunday, December 7, 2014


Immaculate Conception- Peru- 1700s
This week we have in the middle of Advent, two great feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and birthdays for two of us in the monastery.  This first is December 8, the IMMACULATE CONCEPTION of Virgin Mary and Mother Mary Grace's birthday.  While there are many famous paintings of the Immaculate Conception, most notably Murillo's, I have chosen two lesser known works for this day.

Few doctrines of the Catholic Church are as misunderstood as the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Many people, including many Catholics, think that it refers to the conception of Christ through the action of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. That event, though, is celebrated at the feast of the Annunciation of the Lord (March 25, nine months before Christmas).

The Immaculate Conception refers to the condition that the Blessed Virgin Mary was free from Original Sin from the very moment of her conception in the womb of her mother, Saint Anne.
Imm. Conception- Cuzco (Peru) School- 1700s

In teaching that Mary was conceived immaculate, the Catholic Church teaches that from the very moment of her conception, the Blessed Virgin Mary was free from all stain of original sin. This simply means that from the beginning, she was in a state of grace, sharing in God's own life, and that she was free from the sinful inclinations which have beset human nature after the fall.
She is patoness of  The United States.

The second great day, December 12,  is my birthday and the feast of OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE, patroness of the Americas.  Here I offer two modern depictions of her, one by my dear santero friend, Br. Arturo Olivas, SFO.

He says of her:
Mary, the Mother of Christ bears many titles, which witness to her enormous appeal as a heavenly advocate for all people. As the Mother of the Redeemer she is especially effective in drawing her Divine Son to those who are in particular need of His love and compassion. Such was the case when she appeared to Juan Diego, an Aztec convert, on Tepeyac Hill near Mexico City in December of 1531.

Arturo Olivas
Stephen Whatley- England
The native people of Mexico were devastated by the Spanish conquest. Hundreds of thousands died in warfare, disease, and slavery. Their culture was shattered and their spirits were leveled by the onslaught of an alien worldview. Mary appeared as an Indian woman on a site formerly dedicated to Tonantzin, the Aztec mother goddess, and spoke to Juan Diego in his native Nahua. She assured her motherly love and concern to the Indian people of the New World and to all people who suffer and are oppressed. As proof of her appearance she left her image on Juan Diego’s tilma or cloak which hangs today in the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City.

Mexican settlers brought devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe to New Mexico as early as 1598. New Mexican artists called santeros painted her image on pine panels with natural pigments and sealed with pinon sap varnish. She is always shown with her hands clasped in prayer and wearing a rose-colored robe and a blue or green mantle while standing on a crescent moon supported by a cherub and surrounded by a golden mandorla.

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