8 December: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. On this feast day, we celebrate the wondrous moment when the Blessed Virgin began her existence in this world. God allowed her to be conceived without sin in the womb of her mother, Saint Anne. Blessed Mary had the sublime privilege, alone among all human beings and in virtue of the future merits of Christ, of being preserved at the very first moment of conception from the stain of original sin. Mary remained pure from all personal sin throughout her life. Although it falls in the month of December, this great feast does not have any special relationship with Advent. It was fixed on December 8 in order to separate the feast by nine months from the date of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin (Mary’s birth day) on September 8. However, in celebrating this feast we may easily enter into the spirit of Christmastide, for Mary draws us ever closer to her son, Jesus. Mary is our hope, guide, and mother along the path of salvation. The Immaculate Conception is the Patroness of the United States. How often our Holy Father has stated in recent years that the hope of peace in the world does not lie in force of arms, but rather in prayers and recourse to the intercession of Our Lady. This feast day provides the perfect opportunity for a renewal of love for our country and true devotion to Our Blessed Mother.
Ideas for celebrating this feast day at home:
- Go to mass: the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is a holy day of obligation. Have older children listen carefully for references to the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, not only in the readings and homily, but also in the prayers during the liturgy of the Eucharist.
- Get Patriotic! Our Lady is the Patroness of the United States of America under her title of the “Immaculate Conception.” This is a good month to place an American flag on your home altar or near your statue or picture of Our Lady, and ask for Mary’s intercession for the USA.
- Wear a miraculous medal and make a home display honoring Mary. The miraculous medal bears these fitting words, “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”
- Set your dinner table with a white cloth, white candles, good dishes, and white roses. Place a picture or statue of Mary as the centerpiece.
- To celebrate the sin-less-ness of Mary, how about a WHITE dinner! Ideas: white fish with rice; creamy chicken alfredo with sourdough bread; roasted cauliflower with cheese sauce. Serve it all with a tall glass of white milk!
- Dessert is the fun part! Enjoy a white cake or cupcakes with white icing, vanilla ice cream, meringue cookies, or an angel food cake topped with whipped cream.
- Gather after dinner to read an advent or Marian book aloud to your children. Finish the night by praying a family rosary together.
- Invoke the intercession of Saints Anne and Joachim, parents of our Blessed Mother: pray one of these prayersor novenas to Jesus’s Grandparents.
- Pray a Marian prayer: There are many Marian prayers that you can pray with your kids on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Ave Maria Stellisis a beautiful song that is traditional to this feast. The Hail Mary and Hail, Holy Queen are basic Marian prayers that are good for kids to know by heart. And the Magnificat, Mary’s own prayer and her longest speaking part in the Bible, is a wonderful prayer for any Marian feast day.
- Service project: make this “Treat a Pregnant Lady” day! There are so many little things that make a day easier for a pregnant mom: taking toddlers for a bit to give mom a break; drop off a meal; etc. If you don’t know a pregnant mom, perhaps take a donation to a local pregnancy crisis center. This feast day provides a great opportunity to transform faith and teaching into good works – teaching children to put their faith into practice.