Angel Gabriel was first to proclaim Mary’s immaculate conception when he addressed her: “Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee!” God had a plan and had prepared her for it. From her conception in the womb of her mother Saint Anne, Mary was free from sin.
This belief has been held and celebrated by Christians from the earliest days of the Church. Closer to home, when the bishops of the United States met in Baltimore in 1846, they chose the Blessed Virgin Mary, conceived without sin, as the Patroness of the United States of America. As our patroness, she intercedes with God for the welfare of our country and our Church. What a blessing this is for us!
It was Pope Pius IX who gave formal definition of this dogma in 1854, proclaiming: "The most blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin." Four years later, Mary herself appeared to St. Bernadette at Lourdes confirming her title with the words, "I am the Immaculate Conception."
We are proud to call ourselves children of Mary—but do we really accept the responsibility of living as her children, acting as she would have us act? How do we take advantage of opportunities to respond to situations in ways that reflect our caring for others? Beyond that, have we recognized that there really is no “other” because we are all brothers and sisters? Have we learned how to disagree without hating?
We surely have work to do and prayers to pray if we are going to help our nation unify amidst the increasing divisions that we see in our government, workplaces, neighborhoods, and even in our families. We know that we have someone who will help us, so let us begin to call on our patroness for help…
O Mary, conceived without sin,
pray for us who have recourse to thee.
- Carolyn Wolfbauer, OP
Sister Carolyn resides in Dominican Convent
in Sparkill and volunteers in the Office of