Thursday of this week, December 8th, is the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a Holy Day of Obligation for faithful Christians. Mass will be celebrated at Saint James starting at 6:30 in the evening. This feast day was one of the English Church’s gifts to the rest of the Western Church. It was borrowed from the East in Saxon Days, and while Norman bishops attempted to abandon it because it was not observed in Rome, the English Church kept hold of it and eventually Rome came around in keeping its observance. Devotion to Mary is ever understandable by the faithful, for she is the one who gave her Son, Jesus, His human nature, His flesh and blood. Mary is the one through whom Christ can always call Himself “The Son of Man.” With her Immaculate Conception we find ourselves already anticipating the road leading to Bethlehem, moving toward the joyful mystery of Mary as the Mother of God. The feast recalls for us the faithfulness, purity and wholeness of Mary as we anticipate her total self giving and boundless humility. From the moment of her conception Mary is “full of grace.” As we prepare to go out to greet Jesus at Christmas our procession is led by Mary and all the saints; Mary who is the very best and most beautiful fruit of all creation.
Interestingly on Friday, December 9th, the Catholic world recalls the life of Saint John Diego who was blessed in being a most beautiful vision of Our Lady. And so on the following Monday, December 12th, we observe the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patron of the Americas.
We have much for which to be thankful as we open ourselves in the season of Advent to the mystery of Christ’s Incarnation and that of His blessed mother, Mary most holy. Much too, for both prayer and meditation.