Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Immaculate Conception

Dome in the apse of the Cathedral of the
Immaculate Conception
Blessed Lady, sky and stars, earth and rivers, day and night--everything that is subject to the power or use of man--rejoice that through you they are in some sense restored to their lost beauty and are endowed with inexpressible new grace.
From a sermon by Saint Anselm-Office of Readings for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception

For those who aren't familiar with the Liturgy of the Hours, there are always song lyrics for the Office of Readings, and Morning and Evening Prayer. Frequently, I don't know the melody for the songs. Often they are in common meter (a four-line verse with the first and third lines having eight syllables and the second and fourth having six) or (Think the Doxology or Hernando's Hideaway.), and I can sing them to some melody that fits. Other times that doesn't work and I just give up, but sometimes I try to find the melody online. That's what I did today, and I'm really glad because I found this. It's not the best recording, but I really like the lyrics and the melody.

To one that is so fair and bright
Velut maris stella,
Brighter than the day is light,
Parens et puella,
I cry to thee to turn to me:
Lady, pray thy Son for me,
Tam pia,
That I may come to thee,

In sorrow, counsel thou art best,
Felix fecundata:
For all the weary thou art rest,
Mater honorata:
Beseech Him in the mildest mood,
Who for us did shed His blood
In cruce,
That we may come to Him
In luce.

All this world was forlorn,
Eva peccatrice,
Till our Savior Lord was born
De te genetrice;
With thy Ave sin went away,
Dark night went and in came day
The well of healing sprang from thee

Lady, flower of every thing,
Rosa sine spina,
Thou bore Jesu, heaven's King,
Gratia divina.
Of all I say thou bore the prize,
Lady, Queen of paradise,
Maiden mild, Mother
Es effecta.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

One of the hardest things to teach children in religion classes is the difference between the Immaculate Conception and the Incarnation. I once went with several large, well-catechized homeschooling families to tour the cathedral (the one pictured above) and when the priest pointed to the picture in the dome and asked what Immaculate Conception  meant, they failed to the brightest child to give the correct answer. What they came up with, of course, was that it was when Jesus was conceived in Mary's womb. So, I was sitting in Mass last night listening to the gospel and I thought, "Well, no wonder everyone is confused because we even hear the scripture about the Annunciation on the feast of the Immaculate Conception." I was thinking about that today while reading St. Anselm's sermon and I realized that I couldn't think about any homily I've ever read that talked about the Immaculate Conception. What is there to say really, about that silent, miraculous moment when Mary was conceived. No angel appeared; no scripture speaks of it. It's completely shrouded in darkness--just a private moment between a husband and wife and God.




  1. A beautiful thought, that last one. And that's a beautiful hymn. I wonder where it was recorded--I didn't see any indication.

  2. Yes, Janet, that really is a beautiful gem of a thought.

    1. Thanks. What I like about writing is that sometimes those thoughts just kind of fall in your lap full-grown while you are typing.