The Immaculate Conception: A Franciscan View of Reality
Dear brothers and sisters,
What does it mean to be “full of grace”? On December 8, we will celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. One of the Church's prayers for the day says:
Father, the image of the Virgin is found in the Church. Mary had a faith that your Spirit prepared and a love that never knew sin, for you kept her sinless from the first moment of her conception. Trace in our actions the lines of her love, in our hearts her readiness of faith. Prepare once again a world for your Son who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. Few Catholics may know its Franciscan roots, but we in fraternity can rejoice and give thanks for the slow, but sure, development of this beautiful teaching.
For centuries, especially in what is now Great Britain, the people of God long understood Mary’s conception as linked to the fullness of grace given to her. But it was up to one humble university professor to explain and justify that popular belief.
In the 13th century, holy Franciscan priest and theologian, Blessed John Duns Scotus, won a famous debate against the Dominicans. He defended Our Lady's great privilege of her Immaculate Conception, laying the groundwork for the Church (centuries later) to define this as a dogma of the Catholic faith. While he was in Paris, Scotus was an unpretentious and courageous apostle of the faith against the oppressive government in power. His public defense of the papacy as the head of the Church eventually got him thrown out of the country.
“Christ was able to redeem others. He has indeed redeemed us through the Cross so as to attract us to his love. He willed that men and women should be more worthy of the love of God.” ~ Bl. John Duns Scotus
This Advent season, may we feel free to ask help from the Mother of God, and let us pray that the Lord will truly “Trace in our actions the lines of her love, in our hearts her readiness of faith.”
May the Lord give you peace,
Donna Foley, OFS
Secular Franciscan Order
Old Mission San Luis Rey
4050 Mission Avenue
Oceanside, CA 92057
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