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Saturday, December 8, 2007

Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary has been around for a long time. It first appeared in the 7th century. It was only in 1854 that it was defined as a dogma to be believed. It was fitting that the Mother of God should always have been free from sin. This feast of Mary became the patronal feast of the Catholic Church in the United States in 1846. It is a feast of joy and the Church uses Mary's own words in the entrance antiphon: "I exalt for joy in the Lord, my soul rejoices in my God."

The opening prayer: "Father, you prepared the Virgin Mary to be the worthy mother of your Son. You let her share beforehand in the salvation Christ would bring by his death, and kept her sinless from the first moment of her conception. Help us by her prayers to live in your presence without sin. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, you Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, on God, for ever and ever. Amen."

What a wealth of theology contained in a short prayer! The Annunciation makes a fitting Gospel for both today's feast and Advent. Let us try to enter into the mind and heart of Mary as she listens to the Angel Gabriel. Let us also remember that Mary was only a teen-ager and was "greatly troubled" but she believed the angel and gave herself to God and whatever God wanted for her. May we do the same!

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