Thursday, December 8, 2011
The Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Today the Church celebrates the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is a "black letter" day in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, meaning that it has no proper Collect, Epistle, and Gospel, as a "red letter" day would get. The American 1928 BCP did not retain the black letter days so it does not occur in the Protestant Episcopal Church calendar.
In contrast with the Church of Rome, our Church does not celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. It is important to note that our Church maintains the original title and spirit of the feast over the medieval accretions included in the Roman Liturgy for this feast. It is also interesting to note that many notable Roman theologians denied the Immaculate Conception, such as Thomas Aquinas and the Dominican Order, yet that opinion has been made dogma by the Roman Church. The Immaculate Conception intends to distort true Marian veneration, which our Church plainly rejects. The true spirit of Marian veneration is the veneration of Christ. To worship the Virgin is to insult the Virgin in an attempt to rob her Son of the worship due to Him. Our Lady does not accept invocations in her name but instead points us to the blessed Name of Christ. We should not fumble with beads in order to gain the favor of Mary but devote ourselves in prayer and the Scriptures to glorify God in Christ. It is a slap in the face of the "pure Virgin" as the BCP titles her to invoke her in prayer or sing praises to her name. Humble Mary prefers that we lift our eyes to the Lord in prayer and fasting in imitation of her holy example. How did the woman who uttered these words, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word, (St. Luke 1:38)" come to be called the "Queen of Heaven"?
A theology of Mary which centers on Mary is not a Marian theology at all. The Blessed Virgin Mary, through her life and witness, exhorts us to worship Christ alone as our Lord and Savior of our souls.