pray

Gospel

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
LK 1:26-38


In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 

And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 

The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 

Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 

The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” 

Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
Gospel citations come from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright 1989, 1993, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Approved by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Reflection

Katie Olson ’04, ’13 M.A.

When I think about my relationship with God, I think about some “should haves”: I should be trusting; I should express gratitude; I should present my best self in prayer. If God is calling me, I should immediately trust and answer.

In the Gospel reading today, what most strikes me is that Mary does not immediately embrace any of these “should haves.” When God sends an angel to Mary, she is afraid. When the angel Gabriel speaks to her of her grace, she is perplexed. When the angel tells her of God’s plan, she questions, “How can this be?”

The honesty of Mary’s reactions is comforting to me. Her conversation is real, full of confusion and doubt. If I’m being honest, these are feelings I can have toward God as well. 

In these moments, Mary’s example teaches us to bring all of our thoughts to God. Presenting my best self in prayer means presenting my real self. Only after expressing her emotions and asking her questions did Mary come to a place of total trust and peace. This process is what ultimately leads her to a deeper level of clarity of God’s love for her.

My prayer this Advent is to recognize that although there are many graces that come with trust, there are also many graces that come with uncertainty. My prayer is to be honest in expressing my feelings with God, just as Mary did. God has the power to transform our questioning into trust, and to transform our emotions of uncertainty into confident acceptance of whatever is asked of us. For nothing will be impossible with God. 

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Prayer

Father LeRoy E. Clementich, CSC

Once again, during these Advent days, Lord God, we are blessed to hear a divine announcement to Mary. Her Son, to be born shortly, will be called holy—indeed, Son of God most high. Mary’s bewilderment is ours, too: how can it be that we deserve to have the divine Son of God come among us and teach us the lessons of holiness? We live in the midst of a great mystery, and we ask for faith that can help us truly understand. We pray in Jesus name. Amen.

Saint

Mary, the Immaculate Conception, patroness of the United States, pray for us!

Because today's feast of the Immaculate Conception falls in Advent when we are preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus, many think it refers to the virgin conception of Jesus in Mary’s womb. Actually, the Immaculate Conception refers to Mary, herself—from the moment of her own conception in the womb of her mother, Anne, Mary was preserved from sin in preparation for her to bear Jesus to the world. Read more about this feast by clicking on the "View Saint" link below.