May 8, 2023 Column Father De Celles

FIRST HOLY COMMUNION. Congratulations to all the children who received First Holy
Communion at Mass today and over the last two days! We’ll continue to have children doing this
over the next two weeks.
Having them receive FHC at the various Masses instead of one Saturday morning Mass
gives the whole parish a chance to share in the happy occasion. It also helps unite the children
more closely to the parish and reminds all of us how important our children are to the parish.
Beyond all that, seeing the little ones receive so reverently reminds us of all of Jesus’ call to
“become like little children,” especially in our complete faith and tender love for Him in the Most
Blessed Sacrament. Please watch them carefully, and learn/remember. And keep them in your
prayers going forward.
MONTH OF MARY. The Church sets aside May as a month of particular devotion to the Blessed
Mother. So let’s review what are called the “Marian Dogmas.” Remember, a “dogma” is a
doctrine (teaching) that is revealed by God, either in Sacred Scripture or Sacred Tradition.
There are four dogmas about Mary that have been formally declared as infallibly held as such
by the Church. There are many other Marian doctrines that are also infallibly held by the
Church, even if not formally declared as such.
Mother of God. The first Marian Dogma to be formally declared by the Church was the
declaration by the Council of Ephesus, in 431, that Mary is “Theotokos” (in Greek), or “Mother of
God. This was part of the Council’s condemnation of the Nestorian heresy which denied the full
divinity of Jesus: in declaring that Jesus was truly always fully God, they also declared that,
therefore, Mary was truly the Mother of God. Directly related to this dogma is the doctrine of the
“Queenship of Mary,” that she is “Queen of Heaven and Earth” (and Queen of Apostles, Saints,
Peace, Priests, etc.….). After all, if she is the Mother of God/Jesus, she is the surely the mother
of the King/Jesus, which makes her the Queen.
Perpetual Virginity. The second Marian Dogma to be formally declared is her perpetual
virginity (Second Council of Constantinople, 553). The Church teaches that Mary was a
perpetual virgin, the “ever-virgin Mary.” This means she was a virgin all her life: “ante-partu, in-
partu, et post-partu.” So, she was a virgin before the birth of Jesus (“ante-partu”) so that Jesus
was conceived by the singularly miraculous act of the Holy Spirit and no act of man. Moreover,
she remained a virgin after His birth (“post-partu”) until the end of her life on earth. Finally, Mary
was a virgin during the birth of Jesus (“in-partu”). The Church has always used the term
“virginity” to mean that the “bodily integrity” of the female remains intact. Thus, Mary’s “virginity
in-partu” means that the actual physical act of giving birth to Jesus occurred in some miraculous
way: He did not pass from Mary’s womb physically in the same way all other babies pass from
their mothers’ wombs, so that Mary’s body was not damaged or altered in any way, and she
incurred no birthing pains whatsoever. We do not know the details of how this happened, and
the Church strongly discourages too much speculation on this. Even so, St. Thomas Aquinas
(ST III, 28, 2) quotes St. Augustine (Sup. Joan. Tract. 121): “To the substance of a body in
which was the Godhead closed doors were no obstacle. For truly He had power to enter in by
doors not open, in Whose Birth His Mother’s virginity remained inviolate.”
Immaculate Conception. In 1854 Pope Pius IX, in Ineffabilis Deus, solemnly declared
the Dogma that Mary from the moment of her conception in the womb of her mother (Ann), Mary
had never been tainted by the stain or effects of the original sin of Adam and Eve, as all other
human beings have been (except, of course, for Jesus). Although in centuries past some had
questioned whether and how this was possible, nevertheless, this doctrine was taught
consistently in the Church back to antiquity. The reason God gave this singular gift to Mary was
to prepare her to be the Mother of Jesus, i.e., so that no sin would touch Baby Jesus and so that
Mary might be the very best and holiest mother to Jesus possible. All this in fulfillment of God’s
ancient promise to the devil (Genesis 3): “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and
between your offspring and her offspring; he shall crush your head, and you shall bruise his

heel.” Part of this Dogma is the belief that Mary never committed even the slightest act of
personal sin: her perpetual sinlessness.
Assumption. The Dogma of the Assumption of Mary was formally proclaimed in 1950
by Pope Pius X (Munificentissimus Deus). Rather than formally ending any historical theological
debate or question, this formal declaration was more of an act of honoring the Blessed Mother
by declaring something that had always been held by the whole Church without debate. The
only question that had ever been raised was whether Mary actually died or if she just sort of fell
asleep (“the Dormition”). Pope Pius deftly refused to settle that debate, as he taught: “the
Immaculate Mother of God, the ever-Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly
life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.” Thus, Mary is the first, after her Son, to
receive the fullness of the “Resurrection of the Body,” that we all hope for one day.
Vacation. I will be out of town on vacation this coming week, but should be back next Sunday.
Thank the good Lord for sending Fr. Bergida to be in charge in my absence. But let me know if
he tries to make any changes—I don’t want to come back and find dancers in the sanctuary at
the 9am Mass!
Oremus pro invicem. Ad Jesum, per Mariam, cum Raymundus.
Fr. De Celles