Monday, December 8, 2008
Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary
The Feast to celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary first appeared in the 7th century and was firmly established in England by the 12th century. However, both St. Bernard and St. Thomas Aquinas debated whether Mary could have been born without original sin. In 1854 Pius IX ended any debate when he defined the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception as a dogma of faith. Even before this, in 1846, this feast was declared the patron feast of the Catholic Church in the United States.
The preface of the Mass contains the theology of the feast. It states that "no stain of Adam's sin" was allowed to touch Mary. "Full of grace" she was to be a worthy mother of God's Son and a sign of favor to the Church.
It was fitting and so God "chose her from all women to be our advocate...our pattern of holiness." O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us.
We ask God in the opening prayer of the Liturgy that "we may live in your presence without sin." This is with the help of Mary's prayer. What a joy to know that our Immaculate Mother intercedes for us! Advent is a time when many recite thousands of "Hail Marys" -- each time we pray "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death," Mary is praying for us!