Feast of the Immaculate Conception
December 8, 2020
“She told me she was the Immaculate Conception”
St. Bernadette Soubirous
Today Christians around the world celebrate the Blessed Mother, who was conceived without sin. And how fitting that Mary is the patron saint of the United States. Just as we were given a saint’s name at Baptism, in 1846, the bishops of the United States asked Mary to watch over our country and its people in a new way. Her Immaculate Conception was the title of Mary selected and the specific feast day of Mary selected.
Mary came into this world free of sin, preserved of sin, and is “full of grace.” Though today’s Gospel is about the encounter between Mary and the messenger Gabriel at what is called the Annunciation, we don’t have another Gospel which speaks to the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in her own mother’s womb. Instead, we used the Mary’s motherhood to Jesus Christ as a commemoration of Mary’s own conception.
By giving Mary this grace from the first moment of her conception, God showed us an image of our own destiny. He shows us that this is possible for humans by His grace.
Pope St. John Paul II noted:
In contemplating this mystery in a Marian perspective, we can say that “Mary at the side of her Son, is the most perfect image of freedom and of the liberation of humanity and of the universe. It is to her as Mother and Model that the Church must look in order to understand in its completeness the meaning of her own mission”
(Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Libertatis conscientia, 22 March, 1986, n. 97; cf. Redemptoris Mater, n. 37).
Below is the story of the saint-visionary of Lourdes, St. Bernadette Soubirous, who at the age of 14, experienced 18 visions of “a small young lady,” who never identified herself as the Virgin Mary, but did tell Bernadette that “she was the Immaculate Conception”.
And further, by reading her tale to completion, you will also find a very moving article written in 1941 by St. Maximillian Kolbe. It is the last article written by St. Maximillian Kolbe before his arrest and deportation to Auschwitz by the Nazis. He, too, had an extraordinary spiritual experience, when, at the age of ten, the Blessed Mother came to him in a vision. He was a one of the most serious devotees and scholars of Our Lady.
Let us pray.
Loving God, as we approach the celebration of your saving engagement with us in the nativity of your Son, help us rejoice in the role you prepared your daughter Mary to play in your fulfillment of the hope of Israel we hear in the promises of Isaiah. Help us be moved to compassion, so that even our own suffering can lead us to live lives in sympathy with the least and the rejected among us. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death.
~ Dennis Hamm, S.J.
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To read about the history of St. Bernadette Soubrious…
On this day in 1879, the saint-visionary of Lourdes, St. Bernadette Soubirous, died after a life of just thirty-five years. Though she had been the recipient of church confirmed visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, she lived a simple post-apparition life of service in the order of the Sisters of Charity in Nevers, France. Her days in the religious order were characterized by what she had learned from the Blessed Virgin Mary: prayer and penance. She said, “The Virgin used me as a broom to remove the dust. When the work is done, the broom is put behind the door again.” The following is an excerpt from one of her letters which describes in her own words the initial apparition of Our Lady, and subsequent events: (read more…)
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