The Feast of the Immaculate Conception

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, celebrates our Catholic belief that God preserved Mary from all sin from the first moment of her conception in the womb of her mother, St. Anne. This was so that she might be holy and pure to carry Jesus, the divine Son of God. God bestowed upon Mary the merits of Jesus’ death and resurrection before they happened so that she would be born without original sin and would remain sinless throughout her life.

In our church, the Immaculate Conception is also depicted in the window to the right of the St. Anne altar so we are looking at this image again. At the top is of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple, discussed in the previous post.

In the lower scene, Mary is shown being taught by her mother, St. Anne. It is believed that Anne’s teaching of the scriptures, along with God’s grace was instrumental in Mary opening her heart to God’s will in her life. The bird, joyfully singing, represents the fulfillment Anne’s longing for a child, for Mary was born to Anne and Joachim later in their lives.

Rising from the base of the window around these two scenes is a golden vine. During Advent we hear the prophecy of Isaiah: “…a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse and from his root a bud shall blossom.” (Is 11:1) This prophecy indicates that the Savior will come from the descendants of Jesse, the father of David. Jesse had many descendants, and in the fullness of God’s time, Mary was born of this lineage. The golden vine symbolizes her Immaculate Conception, her freedom from sin. The golden grapes higher up on the vine symbolize the holy Son of God who will be her child.

As we reflect on the extraordinary way that God graced Mary’s life so that she might say, “Yes” to God, let us ask Mary to intercede for us, so that we, too, might say “yes”, and cooperate with God’s action in our lives.

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