December 8th is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception ofthe Blessed Virgin Mary which is celebrated as a Solemnity and in Ireland it is a holy day of obligation.
What the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception means is that from the first moment of her conception, God, anticipating and foreseeing the merits of her Son's passion and death, and knowing she would say "yes" to becoming the Mother of the Saviour, filled her with grace, and preserved her free from all stain of original sin.
If you would like the theology of the feast in mini-bites have a look at this page from the BBC.
In 1849 Blessed Pope Pius IX consulted the faithful and bishops of the world about the appropriateness of defining the doctrine and received a largely positive response. The core of the definition was solemnly set out in 1854 and was expressed in this way in the Constitution Inneffabilis Deus:
- Blue Eyed Ennis has a couple of lovely thoughts and reflections on the Immaculate Conception.
- Sunday Reflections blog has a post for the feast.
- Homily from the English Dominicans
- David Mills reflects on "Delivered from All Stain" over at First Things.