December 8 : Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary
Feast of the Franciscan Order
Feast of the FMM Institute
On December 8th the Church celebrates the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
“The Immaculate Conception, which is the Principal Feast of the Seraphic Order, will also be that of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary”, wrote Mary of the Passion in her Constitutions in 1882. “[ …] All the sisters will consider her as Queen and true Superior of the Institute.” [English ed. 1964]
It gives us pleasure today to remember that the Madonna told little Bernadette Soubirou appearing to her at Lourdes: “I am the Immaculate Conception”. The Immaculate Virgin is also the mother of mercy, the health of the sick, the refuge of sinners and the comfort of the afflicted.
The young lady of Nazareth clearly appears at the center of the mystery of the Incarnation, and therefore at the center of our celebration of Christmas. On this day all Christians are invited to reflect on the gift given to the world by God the Father to this very special and beloved creature. Mary is truly the point of encounter between heaven and earth: she carries all of us in herself, in her body, in her will, and in her sentiments, and opens the heart of each one of us to welcome the coming of the Son of God, who wanted to assume our nature in order to renew it – just like Mary who became a new creature.
After the example of Mary, let us allow ourselves to be surprised by God and, like her, let us open wide the door of our heart and of all our life to allow God to come in; God who “does not get tired of opening wide the door of His heart, constantly repeating to us that He loves us and wants to share his life with us”.
Mary proclaimed her song of praise entering the house of her cousin Elizabeth, a hymn dedicated to the mercy of God which extends from one generation to another. We too, were present in these prophetic words of the Virgin Mary. Today, with her we pray, we adore, we contemplate:
- Immaculate, all transparency which reflects the purity of God.
- Immaculate, a new woman who manifests the original plan of God.
- Immaculate, a human creature who brings to the world the freshness and the smile of God.
Today, may Mary Immaculate, patron of the Seraphic Order, patron of our Institute and its true Superior General, help us to rediscover the beauty of being women, the beauty of belonging only to God, the beauty of a life totally offered in simplicity and humility.
And in the Directory for the feast, Mary of the Passion exhorts us: “Let us all ask to resemble her whom the Holy Spirit called ‘His Dove, His only one.’ ” [CT/1, 128]
Mary, the woman of the Gospel par excellence, was given to us by Mary of the Passion as “the way within the Way”; Mary, our special way to continue the mission of her Son.