12/8 Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Image: Michael McGrath

This family portrait shows us Anna and Joachim, parents of Mary, at the head of the image.  Pictured with Mary is Joseph, with Jesus is at the family's center. A dove nearby reminds us that Mary conceived Jesus of the Holy Spirit. Mary is venerated as the Immaculate Conception, she who was conceived immaculately in the womb of her mother, Anna.

You'll find the scriptures for this feast here.  The gospel for this day can be misleading since it concerns Mary conceiving Jesus by the Holy Spirit.  Since the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was declared centuries after the gospels were written, there's no scriptural "account" of Mary being conceived immaculately in her mother Anna's womb.  
Many folks think that Jesus is the Immaculate Conception but a simple "birthday check" yields the correct information.  Nine months from today is the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary - and if you count nine months back from Christmas, December 25, you'll find yourself on March 25 which is the Feast of the Annunciation, celebrating the angel Gabriel's visit to Mary to announce that she had conceived the Christ child in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit.
A Preface prayer from the older Sacramentary gives us a short lesson in the theology of the Immaculate Conception:

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God.

For you preserved the Most Blessed Virgin Mary
from all stain of original sin,
so that in her, endowed with the rich fullness of your grace,
you might prepare a worthy Mother for your Son
and signify the beginning of the Church,
his beautiful Bride without spot or wrinkle.

She, the most pure Virgin, was to bring forth a Son,
the innocent Lamb who would wipe away our offenses;
you placed her above all others
to be for your people an advocate of grace
and a model of holiness.

And so, in company with the choirs of Angels,
we praise you, and with joy we proclaim:
Holy, Holy, Holy...


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