Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Luke (1: 26-38) about the annunciation when the angel Gabriel visits Mary and she accepts God’s will for her.
On the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Fr Paul explains that this doctrine holds that the Virgin Mary conceived without original sin. It was this Grace then that allowed Mary to truly say ‘yes’ to the request expressed to her by the angel Gabriel – that she would be the one to be mother of God in the human form of Jesus.

This doctrine has been universally believed for centuries but was only formally defined in 1854. Interestingly, this is also one of the Marian doctrines that is shared between Catholicism and Islam although the theologies are quite different.

The Gospel, too, introduces us to Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, and it is through this week we will hear about John the Baptist through the words of Jesus.

Fr Paul shares an act of devotion that Pope Frances shared in 2016 on this Solemnity, and so we pray:

O Mary, our Immaculate Mother,
On your feast day I come to you,
And I come not alone:
I bring with me all those with whom your Son entrusted to me,
In this city of Rome and in the entire world,
That you may bless them and preserve them from harm.

I bring to you, Mother, children,
I bring to you, Mother, families,
Who carry forward life and society
With their daily and hidden efforts;
In a special way the families who struggle the most
For their many internal and external problems.
I bring to you, Mother, all workers, both men and women,
And I entrust to you especially those who, out of need,
Are forced to work in an unworthy profession
And those who have lost work or are unable to find it.

We are in need of your immaculate gaze,
To rediscover the ability to look upon persons and things
With respect and awareness,
Without egotistical or hypocritical interests.
We are in need of your immaculate heart,
To love freely,
Without secondary aims but seeking the good of the other,
With simplicity and sincerity, renouncing masks and tricks.

We are in need of your immaculate hands,
To caress with tenderness,
To touch the flesh of Jesus
In our poor, sick, or despised brethren,
To raise up those who have fallen and support those who waver.
We are in need of your immaculate feet,
To go toward those who know not how to make the first step,
To walk on the paths of those who are lost,
To find those who feel alone.

We thank you, O Mother, because in showing yourself to us
You free us of all stain of sin;
You remind us that what comes first is the grace of God,
The love of Jesus Christ who gave his life for us,
The strength of the Holy Spirit which renews all things.

Let us not give in to discouragement,
But, trusting in your constant help,
Let us engage ourselves fully in renewal of self,
Of this city and of the entire world.
Pray for us, Holy Mother of God!