• Today is the feast of the Immaculate Conception



    DO you know who or what the Immaculate Conception is?

    Those who have forgotten their catechism, or never learned it, will say the Immaculate Conception is Jesus Christ, that the Immaculate Conception is that of Jesus Christ. Well, it is indeed true that Jesus the Second Person of the Holy Trinity (the Trinity of one God in the Persons of Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) was conceived as a human being immaculately in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Jesus, the God-Man, could not be anything but immaculate.

    But the great feasts of the Church for Jesus Christ are Christmas, His birth, and His Resurrection from the dead on the third day after his death on the cross. The moment of Jesus’ conception happened when the Blessed Virgin Mary said Yes to the Archangel Gabriel’s announcement to her that God had chosen her to be the bearer of God in human form, and she would conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit, and she would give birth to him who would redeem men and women (and mankind) from their sins.

    “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word,” she told St. Gabriel after he explained how she could do the impossible of conceiving when she was a virgin. From that moment God the Word, the Second Person, who would be known as Jesus, took flesh in the womb of Mary. That is the moment of Jesus’ conception or incarnation—the beginning of his human nature, his membership in the human race. The Incarnation (the enfleshment of God) is celebrated on March 25 every year. It is also known as the Annunciation. Nine months after that is the birth or nativity of Jesus our God-Man savior: Christmas Day.

    In the Christian Orthodox Church, the Feast of the Annunciation is celebrated more lavishly. In the Roman Catholic Church, it is a solemn day but not a holy day of obligation in most countries. (On a holy day of obligation Catholics are obliged, are duty bound, to go to Mass.)

    It was actually in the Eastern domains of early Christianity, where the Orthodox Church and the Eastern rite Catholic Churches were based, which first celebrated the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. In the seventh century, Eastern Christians began to observe the feast of the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary by her mother Saint Anne (wife of St. Joachim, Mary’s father) on December 8. Nine months later, on September 8 is the Feast of the Birth or Nativity of the Virgin,

    A theological controversy in the Western Church developed about the immaculate conception of the Blessed Virgin, in relation to the doctrine of Original Sin. Jesus saved all mankind, including His mother, Mary. But how could Mary be subject to Jesus’ redemptive action if she was conceived immaculately. One of those who could not accept the immaculate conception doctrine was the brightest mind in Christian theology and philosophy, the Dominican St. Thomas Aquinas. He contended that although Mary did not commit any sin whatsoever after the Annunciation she was at least also stained with Adam and Eve’s Original Sin by being a human being born of her human parents.

    The hero who championed Mary’s immaculate conception was the Franciscan Duns Scotus, who only became Blessed Duns Scotus on March 20, 1993, when Blessed John Paul II beatified him. People, including this writer, are praying for his canonization.

    Blessed Duns Scotus’ answer to St. Thomas Aquinas’ objection was simple: God sanctified (made a saint) of Mary at the moment of her conception because God sees and knows everything. He knew that the Blessed Virgin would agree to His call, through Archangel Gabriel, for her to bear Christ. Duns Scotus explained that Mary too had been redeemed by Jesus, only He (the Eternal Second Person of the Trinity) redeemed her at the moment of her conception.

    This is of course unique. Other people are redeemed upon their baptism and after they fall into sin upon their getting absolved after making a good confession and doing penance or at their deathbed after receiving the sacrament of extreme unction.

    It was only on December 8, 1854 when Pope Pius IX promulgated the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. In the Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus, he wrote: “We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.”

    All Christians, not just Catholics, are obliged by canon law to accept this doctrine as true because it is a promulgated dogma.

    The Feast of our Mother Mary’s Immaculate Conception is extremely important to Filipino Catholics, and even other Filipino Christians like many Aglipayans and Anglicans-Episcopalians.

    This importance can be seen in the fact that in the Philippines there are only three holy days of obligation: January 1 – Motherhood of Mary (New Year’s Day), December 8—Immaculate Conception which is the title of our Blessed Mother as Patroness of the Philippines, and December 25—Nativity of the Lord (Christmas Day.)

    The liturgical observances (Holy Mass) of all major solemnities of the Church in the Philippines have been moved to the nearest Sunday. Therefore, the obligation to hear Mass on that day becomes simultaneous to the Sunday observance.

    Our Mother Mary, the Immaculate Conception is not only the patroness of the whole Philippines but also of specific town, cities and provinces.

    She is the patroness of the Archdiocese of Manila.

    She is also patroness of Puerto Princesa, Palawan. There the people and the Church began to celebrate their Immaculate Conception fiesta on December 1. The celebration reaches a high point today but the celebrations will continue on until January 6, the end of the Christmas season.


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    1. Thanks Rene. In my speeches as an invited guest being an SB member of barangays celebrating the feast of the Immaculate Conception during these past few days, I make it a point to explain what the feast is all about. As some of your readers admit, many Catholics do not really know what the feast is all about and more so the rural folks. I also took the occasion of emphasizing the value of human life God has given each one of us through the cooperation of our parents and that each of our lives God has a purpose and He provides the means and gifts we need to carry out our mission. Happy Feast day Rene!

        Thank you too, Rey. God bless you and all who have not stopped to fight for the pro-life cause and to battle against the Culture of Death–Rene Bas

    2. “The liturgical observances (Holy Mass) of all major solemnities of the Church in the Philippines have been moved to the nearest Sunday. Therefore, the obligation to hear Mass on that day becomes simultaneous to the Sunday observance.”
      Is this a fact? Christmas has been moved to a Sunday? The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception has been moved to a Sunday? It seems that there is journalistic imprecision here.

      • Reply to DcnRic:

        Please note what I wrote before the paragraph you quote:

        “This importance can be seen in the fact that in the Philippines there are only three holy days of obligation: January 1 – Motherhood of Mary (New Year’s Day), December 8—Immaculate Conception which is the title of our Blessed Mother as Patroness of the Philippines, and December 25—Nativity of the Lord (Christmas Day.)”
        No, Christmas has not been moved to Sunday but remains as a holy day of obligation on Dec 25 whatever day of the week it is. Same for Immaculate Conception on December 8 and the Motherhood of Mary on Jan 1, which are holy days of obligation whatever day of the week. These three feasts (of the 10 holy days of obligation ordained by the universal Church) remain holy days of obligation, meaning their liturgical observances (Masses etc) HAVE NOT BEEN MOVED to the nearest Sunday. That is why these three feasts dates are the ONLY HOLY DAYS OF OBLIGATION in the Philippines.
        Then follows the:
        “The liturgical observances (Holy Mass) of all major solemnities of the Church in the Philippines have been moved to the nearest Sunday. Therefore, the obligation to hear Mass on that day becomes simultaneous to the Sunday observance.”
        Thanks for your interest and attention.
        Rene Q. Bas

    3. Gloria M. Kuizon on

      On behalf of all the devotees of Our Lady the Immaculate Conception, thank you for writing and printing this article.

      On reading this article, may those among your readers whose religious sense is fadingbe reminded of the happier and more innocent times when they were friends of Mama Mary.

      Glotia M. Kuizon
      Novaliches, QC

    4. Re the article “Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception” by Rene Q. Bas Publisher-Editor, thank you for giving veneration to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. She is our country’s patroness. We owe her a lot for the blessings we as a people keep on getting from her Son Jesus and the other two persons of the Holy Trinity.

      Manila Times used to have a Religion Page. Why did you terminate it?

      Please continue to have stories about great feast days on your Page 1.

      Many Filipinos especially young ones no longer believe,Such articles as this one about the Immaculate Conception help validate to them our Faith in God, the Church and Mother Mary.

      Eddie de Leon

    5. Thank God, Our Lady and the other saints for The Manila Times. You alone, among all the big dailies in Manila, have honored the Immaculate Conception with an article on your front page. And it is even written by your Publisher-Editor.
      Our Mama Mary’s intercessions for our country and people are the reasons we have not yet been wiped out from the face of the earth because of the corruption and immorality of our leaders in government, politics and business.
      More power, Manila Times.

    6. It’s the start of a wonderful Sunday when a daily paper publishes a story honoring Mama Mary. You are blessed, Mr. Rene Bas, for having written “Today is the feast of the Immaculate Conception.”
      I looked at the CBCP website yesterday. Alas, there was no special article or column or anything reminding people of December 8 being the most important solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Understandanly, the bishops and priests are so busy helping the poor victims of Yolanda. We hope that as they do their work in Leyte, they also honor Mother Mary on her very important feast day. So important, as you have written, that here in the Philippines, there are only three holy days of obligation that must be observed if they occur on a weekday–the Motherhood of Mary on January 1, the birth of Jesus on December 25 and the Immaculate Conception today December 8.
      May you have more and more graces from God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Mr. Bas. And all of you in the Manila Times too.

    7. egfestin@gmail.com on

      “Today is the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception” shows that owners and publishers of the Manila Times still have the correct values.
      Mass media today don’t bother to have articles like this not even in their inside pages. But you placed this article on Page 1.
      Bravo, Manila Times.
      And thank you Rene Bas for writing again. We miss your Enthusiasms column. And we still remember that it was thanks to you that former president GMA publicly announced that she would back up the passage of the Overseas Voting law for us OFWs.

      E. G. Festin
      Los Angeles, CA

    8. Anima A. Agrava on

      “Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception” by Rene Bas, Publisher-Editor.

      May God continue to bless The Manila Times and help it regain its preeminence before the Marcos Dictatorship jailed its publisher and editors, closed it down and took away its presses during Martial Law.

      Every day I get the Manila Times, the PD Inquirer, the Manila Bulletin and the P. Star.

      You are the only national newspaper that has given honor in a front-page story to our country’s patroness, the Immaculate Conception, today her Feast Day. The Manila Bulletin has a paragraph in today’s column by Fr. Bel San Luis. There is nothing in the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the Philippine Star.

      Keep up your good work for God, the Filipino people and.our nation.

      Anima A. Agrava

    9. I have been a devotee but asking in my mind the word “immaculate” with human being like Mama Mary. Your brief explanation of Blessed Duns Scotus’ answer is truly enlightening. Thank you for writing.

    10. Juliet A. H. S. Arciwal on

      Comment about Rene Q. Bas’ :Feast of the Immaculate Conception”

      Thank you, Manila Times and Mr. Bas for publishing something very important but news media don’t bother to talk about.
      If all Catholics and other Christians who revere Mother Mary took to heart the teachings of Jesus and the example of Mother Mary and the saints, they would not vote for government officials and lawmakers who steal money from the mouths of the poor.
      By the way, Archbishop Cardinal Tagle, and I think other bishops too, have announced that the Masses for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception will be tomorrow, Monday Dec. 9, because today’s Sunday Masses will follow the regular Advent season schedulle. However, those who attend the Dec. 8 Sunday Mass have also fulfilled the obligation to attend the Mass of the Immaculate Conceptioon on Monday.

      • Rene Bas reply to tcanlas.

        No, dear reader tccanlas.
        Good Friday is not one of the 10 feast days or feast dates that the Vatican ordains as holy days of obligation.

        First what is a “holy day of obligation”?
        A “holy day of obligation” is a feast day or solemnity on which date we Catholics have the duty of attending Mass and spending it in serenity and reflection of our love for God and our status as his children. The obligation of Catholics to observe and fulfill our duty on a holy day of obligation is an extension of the requirement for us to do the commandment to “keep the Sabbath holy” (this is our “Sunday duty” or “Sunday obligation.”).
        As my article states there are only three holy days of obligation in the Philippines. The Vatican lists 10. Under canon law, the bishops of local churches with the Holy See’s approval may transfer the liturgical observances of any holy day of obligation to the nearest Sunday.
        In the United States, the Catholic Church there has been permitted to have only six of the 10 holy days of obligation.
        The 10 holy days of obligation–days that we must treat like a Sunday when they fall on the other days of the week–are:
        1. Jan 1 the feast of Mary, the Mother of God
        2. January–The Epiphany of Our Lord Jesus Christ (or the feast of the Three Kings or the Three Magi).
        3. March 19–The feast of St. Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This different from the feast of St. Joseph the Worker and Patron of Workers on May 1, which is not a holy day of obligation.
        4. The Ascension of Our Lord (which is 40 days after our Lord Jesus Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday.
        5. Corpus Christi (The feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. This solemnity reminds us of the Last Supper (Holy Thursday, when our Lord instituted the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
        6. June 29-Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles.
        7. The feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, commemorates the death or “sleep” (Dormition) of our Mother Mary and the immediate assumption of her body into heaven before it could begin to decay, which is tantamount to her resurrection.
        8. Nov 1 — All Saints Day
        9. Dec 8 – The feast of the Immaculate Conception
        10. Dec 25-The Nativity of our Lord or Christmas Day.

        Now for your question about Good Friday. No it is not a holy day of obligation. But our Holy Mother Church urges us to observe it solemnly and, if we can, to attend the Good Friday liturgical services, including the Adoration of the Cross and receiving Holy Communion. There is no Mass on Good Friday. The Body of our Lord that we receive in the Good Friday Communion is host that was preconsecrated at the Holy Thursday Mass. Some of us Catholics, like OFWs in the US, Western Europe, etc. would lose our jobs or at least earn demerits if we miss going to work on Good Friday.
        Thank you, tccanlas, for reading my article and thinking about.
        Rene Bas