Dear Brothers and Sisters,
HAPPY FEAST OF IMMACULATE CONCEPTION!!!! THE FEAST OF OUR PARISH!!!!
I’m very sorry that this year we will not be able to celebrate our parish feast all together. Due to the limita- tions of Covid, we will need to have separate masses in order to accommodate more people at Church. That does not prevent us from being united in prayer! I invite each of you to do something special to mark the feast day of the patroness of our parish, whether a rosary among your family praying for the parish, spend 20 minutes or so in front of the blessed sacrament, order/cook a special meal. For each of those masses we celebrate, we will be praying for the intentions of the parish.
Although during advent we don’t sing/recite the Glory during Sunday Masses, to help us yearn and desire to glorify God on the Christmas celebration, we will glorify God on Tuesday, for the gift of the blessed Mother that was given to us. The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary is the celebration of the Concep- tion of Mary without original sin. The title of Immaculate Conception could mislead a person thinking that we celebrate the conception of Jesus, but that one is celebrated March 25th on the feast of the Annunciation (“The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary, and she Conceived [Jesus] by the Holy Spirit”). This weekend, I would like to reflect about the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
Most of the details about the event of the conception of Mary and some other stories that we know (like the name of the Wise Men) are not found in the Bible, but in books that have collected the oral tradition of the Church. Those books are called “protevangelium.” The information concerning the birth of Mary can be found in the Protevangelium of James and Evangelium de Nativitate Mariae. According to these sources, Mary’s parents, Joachim and Ann, were old and were not able to have children. Inspired by the stories of the Scripture of Abraham and Hannah, they never gave up trusting in God that if it was his will, he would have mercy on them and grant them the privilege of having a child, even in their old age. As they were waiting for that day to arrive, they focused on growing in holiness as a couple. Different accounts explain the reason for which Joachim left the temple, but they all agree that he went to the wilderness to pray. There an Angel ap- peared to him to announce that he would have a child. Ann also had an apparition of an Angel. After that, the two of them ran towards each other full of joy that God had not forgotten them. As they met, they em- braced each other with love beyond all telling. Some traditions say that Mary was conceived at that moment, out of pure love, therefore not inheriting Original Sin. We don’t know exactly what happened at that moment, but as many icons portray, that embrace of Joachim and Ann represents the pure embrace of the spouses, that God makes holy by the graces at work in marriage. To the naked eye, maybe that action seemed to be something ordinary, like our daily actions in marriage, but behind it carries graces from God capable of changing the world.
There is much more that can be said about how Mary was conceived without Original Sin, but what is im- portant to us is that God had planned that before the creation of the World. He had chosen Joachim and Ann to be the parents of Mary, whose womb would carry our Savior Jesus Christ. This, brothers and sisters, also speaks to us. God has chosen us. God has chosen you and I to reveal himself to us! Everything is part of his divine plan of salvation. Surely it may seem at times that “it does not make sense”, or there are things “wrong”, such as Joachim and Ann not being able to have children. But have faith!!! There are many stories in the bible that proves that God provides! He allows certain things to happen to us in order to reveal his glo- ry. Imagine if Joachim and Ann already had 10 children and Mary was one of them. That would be nice, but God always reveals his glory in a majestic way. He does so in order to dispel any shred of doubt that it may be in our hearts. Therefore, I encourage you, when you face some difficulties or trials, to pray to the Lord. Ask him to help you see your life as he sees, to understand his paths, so that we can say to all those around us, GOD IS GOOD, ALL THE TIME, and ALL THE TIME, GOD IS GOOD!
Let us, this week, ask our Blessed Mother, immaculate in body and spirit look kindly on us as we implore her powerful intercession. May our Most Holy Mother receive our prayers as we present them to God. May Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, intercede for us with her Son. May the Holy Virgin, conceived with- out sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Amen
God bless, Fr. Steven
Father Steven Clemence