The Immaculate Conception
December 8 – Holy Day of Obligation in the Catholic Church
“Tota pulchra es! Thou art all fair, O Mary, and the stain of original sin is not in thee.” This cry of admiration which begins the office of the Immaculate Conception well expresses the sentiments of mankind, who carry the stain of original sin, before the immaculate purity of the Most Blessed Virgin.
Having decreed from all eternity that Mary was to be the Mother of the Word Incarnate (today’s epistle, Prov. 8:22-35), God clothed her with sanctity (introit, Isaiah 61:10) and made her soul a worthy dwelling for His Son (collect). The complete redemption which preserved the Blessed Virgin Mary from original sin from the moment of her conception, should not be separated from our own redemption by Christ. Celebrated in the heart of Advent, the feast of the Immaculate Conception announces the splendor of the redeeming Incarnation.
This feast day, instituted by Pope Pius IX when proclaiming the dogma on December 8, 1854, was already celebrated in the Orient in the 8th century, in Ireland and Spain in the 9th century, and in England in the 11th century. These ancient feastdays are a testimony of the traditional devotion to the immaculate purity of the Virgin Mary. The solemn proclamation by Pius IX only formally defined its meaning and affirmed the continual faith of the Catholic Church.
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