Today is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Patroness of the United States and Patroness of the Diocese of Lansing. Happy feast day! Ave Maria!
“My brother and sisters, our work on this day especially is to open ourselves up to the grace of God which is already at work in our midst,” said Bishop Earl Boyea in his feast day homily at Saint Mary Cathedral in Lansing, December 8.
“Will we accept that? Will we be open to that? Or will constantly fight it off? We don’t need to wake God up. We need to let God wake us up.”
The term “Immaculate Conception” refers to the conception of the Virgin Mary free from original sin by virtue of the merits of her son Jesus Christ. The Catholic Church teaches that God acted upon Mary in the first moment of her conception, thus keeping her “immaculate”.
Although the belief that Mary was sinless, or conceived without original sin, has been widely held since Late Antiquity, the doctrine was not dogmatically defined in the Catholic Church until 1854 when Blessed Pope Pius IX, declared ex cathedra, i.e., using papal infallibility, in his papal bull Ineffabilis Deus, the Immaculate Conception to be doctrine.
The bishops of the United States bishops unanimously chose the Virgin Mary, conceived without sin, as patroness of the country, on 13 May 1846. She also became patroness of the Diocese of Lansing upon its creation in 1937. O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!