Today is the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This feast day is also the patronal feast day for the United States and therefore it’s a holy day of obligation. A little history about how this feast came about. It Originated in the seventh century and was called the “Feast of the Conception of Mary by St. Anne” – Pope Clement XI establish this solemnity for the entire church in 1708. This feast of Mary is the patroness of the United States of America, Spain, Tanzania, and the Dominican Republic of the Congo.
It’s true that we really don’t know that much about our Blessed Mother. We just get little glimpses of her in the Gospels, but the glimpses that we do get give us a model for us to imitate on our own spiritual journey. Some non-Catholics think we worship Mary – that is far from the truth. We try to model ourselves from what we see in how she responded to God.
After reading this Gospel story of the Annunciation we can see that Mary has two qualities that stand out for us to maybe imitate in our own spiritual quest. Obedience and humility seem to be paramount today. Mary did what God asked of her that is obedience. And she was someone who lived in the truth of things and that was the humility.
All obedience calls for struggle. I think you can ask any Passionist that you know of the times that he has been called upon to be obedient even though he said yes he may have had to struggle with what was being asked of him. I’m sure that Mary had to wrestle with two elements of the human condition that challenges all of us. Fear would be the first one. What does this mean to be the Mother of God? How is this really going to come about? So many questions, yet she was called to be obedient. Yet, deep down Mary trusted and this led to her obedient faith.
I mentioned that humility was also part of the glimpse that we get in this gospel reading. What is humility? Humility is not walking around with the head bowed. I believe that the virtue of humility comes about only when you have an authentic self-knowledge. Self-knowledge comes from prayer. Sitting alone with the Scriptures and meditating on the Word will bring you to true knowledge of self. Mary was able to accept who she was. And she placed herself in God’s hands.
I believe that Mary must have been filled with peace and joy in her yes to God’s will. Even though we may struggle in understanding God’s will in our own lives, When we listen to that inner voice, when we respond to that grace, we too will have joy and peace as Mary did.
V. Rev. Paul Wierichs, C.P.
Passionist Monastery of Our Lady of Florida
1300 US 1
North Palm Beach, FL 33408