Cardinal Wuerl Celebrates Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

“In order that we might grow ever more strongly in our desire to be truly a faith-filled, confident disciple of the Lord, we turn to Mary in prayer.”

December 09, 2013

HYATTSVILLE, Md. – Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, today celebrated the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

In his homily, Cardinal Wuerl said, “The Church holds up the Immaculate Conception for us today to say to us there is more to life than this material world, there is more to existence than the finite experience of the human condition. Each one of us is called to see a much richer, fuller reality that is the realm of the Spirit – the kingdom of God’s grace.”

The feast marks Mary’s conception in the womb of Saint Anne. God sanctified Mary, saving her from Original Sin. Mary was destined to consent to bear Christ. As explained in The Catechism of the Catholic Church, “In order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God’s grace. Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, ‘full of grace’ through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception.” (CCC n.490)

On Dec. 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX officially declared in the Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus that the Immaculate Conception is a dogma of the Church, which means that all Christians are bound to accept it as true. Pope Pius IX wrote, “The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.”

Said Cardinal Wuerl, “While we cannot equal Mary in the wondrous mysteries in which she participated and in the privileges she received, we can certainly emulate her faith that says, although God’s ways are mysterious and I do not always understand the unfolding of God’s plan and God’s providential order, nonetheless, if God calls, I accept. If God challenges, I respond. As the catechism says, she is the supreme model of what it means to believe.”

Because this feast day honors Mary, the Mother of God, and celebrates one of the most important events in salvation history, this Holy Day of Obligation is never abrogated (temporarily waived) for Catholics. However, if Dec. 8 falls on a Sunday as it does in 2013, the celebration of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is transferred to Monday, Dec. 9, because Sundays in Advent take precedence over any other feast. When the celebration is transferred, rather than naturally falling on a Monday, the obligation to attend Mass does not transfer with it.

The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 96 Catholic schools, located in Washington, DC, and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.

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