SOLEMNITY OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
(Patronal Feastday of the United States of America)
HOLY DAY OF OBLIGATION
Mass Schedule: 8:30am only
And [the angel Gabriel] came to [Mary] and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” (Luke 1:28-30)
We celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which references Mary’s conception in her mother’s womb without the stain of Original Sin: An essential part of God’s plan for the mother of his Son was that she be conceived free from Original Sin.
“Through the centuries the Church became ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception” (CCC, no. 491).
In anticipation that she was to bear the Son of God, Mary was preserved from the time of her conception from Original Sin. We call this the Immaculate Conception. No sin would touch her, so that she would be a fitting and worthy vessel of the Son of God. The Immaculate Conception does not refer to the virginal conception and birth of Christ, but rather to Mary’s being conceived without inheriting Original Sin.
In the course of time, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception became more precisely enunciated, as its truth—long supported by the universal popular devotion of the faithful—was better understood by deepening theological inquiry. In 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed this dogma infallibly: that is, in his role as supreme teacher of the Church, he declared that this doctrine is divinely revealed and must be accepted with faith by the entire Church. (United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, 142-143) Even before this tenet of the faith was formally declared, a long tradition of faith that held this belief that Mary was conceived without sin already existed.
Father, the image of the Virgin is found in your Church. Mary had a faith that your Spirit prepared and a love that never knew sin, for you kept her sinless from the first moment of her conception. Trace in our actions the lines of her love, in our hearts her readiness of faith. Prepare once again a world for your Son who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.