On December 8th, the Catholic Church throughout the world celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. This feast day is the patronal feast of the United States of America. It commemorates the great gift that God bestowed upon the Blessed Virgin Mary who “was preserved, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, free from all stain of original sin.” (Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus) Thursday, December 8, 2016 is a Holy Day of Obligation. All Catholics are obliged to attend Holy Mass. As this feast occurs early in Advent, it is a perfect time to consider Mary and her important role in the celebration of Christmas.
"Queen of peace, pray for us! Our gaze is directed toward you in great fear, to you do we turn with ever-more insistent faith in these times marked by many uncertainties and fears for the present and future of our planet.
Together we lift our confident and sorrowful petition to you, the first fruit of humanity redeemed by Christ, finally freed from the slavery of evil and sin: hear the cry of the pain of victims of war and so many forms of violence that bloody the earth. Clear away the darkness of sorrow and worry, of hate and vengeance. Open up our minds and hearts to faith and forgiveness!
Mother of mercy and hope:
Help every human being of every race and culture to find and embrace Jesus, who came to earth in the mystery of Christmas to give us 'His' peace.Mary, Queen of peace, give us Christ, true peace in the world!"
- Prayer of Pope John Paul II, December 8, 2003