7 Dec 2014

December 8th - Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

St Anne, BVM, St Joachim

"O Mary, Concieved without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee"

You prepared the Virgin Maryto be the worthy mother of your son.
You let her share beforehand in the salvationChrist 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, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
(Collect for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception)

Readings of the Day
December 8th is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary which is celebrated as a Solemnity and in Ireland it is a holy day of obligation.

Every year on 8th December the Pope goes to Piazza di Spagna in Rome to honour the statue of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception there designed by Luigi Poletti for the definition of the doctrine in 1854 and placed on the top of an ancient Roman column. It is generally seen as the official start of the Christmas season in Italy.

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:
“We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.”
When Our Lady appeared at Lourdes to Bernadette Soubirous four years later and Bernadette asked her, "Would you kindly tell me who you are?", she replied: "I am the Immaculate Conception".

  • You can read more about the doctrine over at EWTN here.
  • On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis focused his December 8th 2013 Sunday Angelus message on the importance of Mary as a model for the Christian life.
  • Over at Thinking Faith - the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception honours the doctrine that Mary was conceived without original sin. Philip Endean SJ delves into the mystery at the heart of this feast. What questions does it pose about sin and the human condition, and can we answer these questions with theology?
  • Sr Louise over at Pilgrims Progress has a personal reflection on the meaning of the day
  • Blue Eyed Ennis has a couple of reflections and links on the Immaculate Conception.
  • Sunday Reflections blog has a post for the feast.
  • Homily from the English Dominicans - here and here
  • David Mills reflects on "Delivered from All Stain" over at First Things.
(As an aside, Sacred Space 102fm celebrates with its home parish on their patronal feast day today as the parish church in Newcastle West is dedicated to Mary as the Immaculate Conception).


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