Friday, December 7, 2012
The feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8 is one of the great holy days of the Catholic Church in every country. And yet it is very special in our United States of America because Mary, under the title of the Immaculate Conception is the Patroness of our country.
The magnificent National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. displays the unity of our Church in America to all who visit there. The beautiful chapels to Our Lady show her as honored by the many different ethnic groups that make up our land. But we all come together to speak our devoted love to one and the same Mother - Mother of God and our Mother. As each wave of immigrants came to America they brought with them the devotion to Mary as it was expressed in their homeland. Each enriched the honor of Our Lady by adding a different ‘tone’, and thus we have the grand and glorious hymn in architecture, painting, sculpture, music, prayers, customs, and traditions which make up that Basilica and also devotion to Our Lady in all the churches and homes of the land.
We honor Mary under the title of the Immaculate Conception because, as the poet Wordsworth says, she is “our tainted nature’s solitary boast”. She alone, of all the human race, was conceived and born with absolutely no trace of selfishness, pride, greed, lust, anger, or any of the other dark powers that weigh us down and often block our path on our earthly pilgrimage. She is our model, our protector, our inspiration in the struggles we meet in daily life. But besides guiding each of us as individuals, she watches over our country as a whole. This is not a political guardianship, but a spiritual one. If we are open to her teaching she will guide us to making the right decisions which will be for the common good and therefore for the individual good too. A holy nation is a happy nation and Mary is willing and able to lead us to that goal if only we ask her help and carry out her instructions.