Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and also the occasion of my annual beef about how Scripture's most important verse has disappeared from our Catholic bibles and even today's Mass readings.
Enshrining the ancient belief that Mary was conceived without sin in her mother's womb into Dogma, Pope Pius IX declared:
“...so the most holy Virgin, united with him by a most intimate and indissoluble bond, was, with him and through him, eternally at enmity with the evil serpent, and most completely triumphed over him, and thus crushed his head with her immaculate foot.” - Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, December 8, 1854
Pius IX is referencing Genesis 3:15, the protoevangelium, the "first gospel," so-called because it is the first instance of the announcement of a Savior (and thus Scripture's "most important verse"):
"I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel."
Unfortunately (at least in my view), neither in our modern Catholic bibles nor in today's Mass readings, will you hear of the virgin crushing the head of the evil serpent as our ancestors did for almost 2000 years, and as is enshrined in countless artful depictions of this magnificent moment, which not only foretold of our salvation, but concludes it in an image of the final victory over Satan at the end of time.
Instead you will hear (or read) this:
"I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.”
Of course the "he" is Jesus, and of course it is Jesus who triumphs over Satan and wins our salvation (if we want it), but that's not what the Church has historically understood the Scripture to say. And for it to say what the modern translations say, we would have to destroy 2000 years of paintigs, mosaics, statues, and even songs, not to mention rewrite the Dogma as Pius IX wrote it.
Also, in this version, Satan's head is not even "crushed," only struck at, or in some translations, only "bruised."
We would also have to change the story about Our Lady of Guadalupe, the only apparition in which Mary names* herself: Tequantlaxopeuh, an Aztec word (since she was speaking to an Aztec) meaning “She who crushes the stone serpent,” the "stone serpent" being the dreaded Aztec god, Quetzalcoatl, to whom were offered tens of thousands of still beating hearts gouged out of living chests.
*In other apparitions, such as at Lourdes, Mary does not give her name but a title ("I am the Immaculate Conception").
Scholars have their reasons for changing the verse (much of it having to do with making peace with protestants who reject the Immaculate Conception), but in the scriptural absence of Mary as “serpent crusher”, Quetzalcoatl has ravenously returned: for whereas this dreaded Aztec god once feasted on thousands of human hearts ripped from living chests, he now devours millions of living infants ripped from warm wombs, and drinks to intoxication the rivers of blood which flow from our abortuaries and the other altars of slaughter erected in homage to the gods of the Culture of Death.
Santa Maria Te Coatlaxopeuh, Protectress of Unborn Children, pray for us.
Also, for nearly 30 post-Vatican II years the words "full of grace" disappeared from the Gospel of December 8 until they reappeared in 1997 after John Paul II required the English translation of the Gospel to include them. And while the words of today's Gospel now include "full of grace," most of our Catholic bibles do not. Rather, "favored one" or something using the word "favor" is used. Scholars argue that this translation is more exact. In replying to this argument, a certain Fr. John Echert on EWTN makes the following reply:
"Granting your grammatical analysis, the fact that the Holy Spirit continues to work in the Church to guide Her in the interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures should lead us to accept the ancient tradition which translated the text of St. Luke as, “full of grace” rather than “highly favored” or some equivalent. The texts of Scripture should not be interpreted in isolation from the life of the Church, especially when a relevant dogma bears upon the subject. Such an approach assumes that there is only an original understanding and allows for no opportunity for a deepened understanding under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This approach was the failure of many of the Scribes of the time of Christ, who refused to understand the prophets and law beyond their own limited perception of meaning. As we know, many texts of the Old Testament have had subsequent applications and meaning, as is evident in the fact that they are quoted in connection with Christ. The Greek behind “full of grace” does not of itself prove the Immaculate Conception and neither would a similar Greek expression associated with another person, such as St. Stephen, demand that we say the same of him as to his conception. The Church teaches that Mary was conceived full of grace and while Stephen may have been full of grace at the time recounted in Acts, such was no doubt subsequent to his own baptism, wherein original sin was washed away and replaced by grace. ©