What a beautiful feast of Our Lady! And how fitting that the Mother of God would be a pure and spotless vessel to bear the Second Person of the Trinity.
(note: many times there is confusion among our nonCatholic friends, or even our fellow Catholics regarding this doctrine and feast. we are not celebrating the Annunciation or the Virgin Birth, rather we are celebrating God’s creating Mary in her mother’s womb, while applying the merits of Christ to her in order to make her “wholly born by God’s Grace.”)
The Catechism on the Immaculate Conception of Mary
490. To become the mother of the Savior, Mary “was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role”. The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as “full of grace”. In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God’s grace.
491. Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1844:
“The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.” (Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, 1854.)
492. The “splendor of an entirely unique holiness” by which Mary is “enriched from the first instant of her conception” comes wholly from Christ: she is “redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son.” The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” and chose her “in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love.”
493. The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God “the All-Holy” (Panagia) and celebrate her as “free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature”. By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long.
For prayers and activities for today, please see Women for Faith and Family’s page. I would like to make the Mary Candle found on this page. Perhaps after Mass we’ll stop and pick up a candle.
Here is a coloring page from DomesticChurch.Com
O, Mary, conceived without sin,
pray for us who have recourse to thee!