Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (Dec 8)
December 08, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PPS.




O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin
prepared a worthy dwelling for your Son,
grant, we pray, that as you preserved her from every stain
by virtue of the Death of your Son, which you foresaw,
so, through her intercession,
we, too, may be cleansed and admitted to your presence.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

FIRST READING  Genesis 3:9-15, 20

After the man, Adam, had eaten of the tree,
the LORD God called to the man and asked him, "Where are you?"
He answered, "I heard you in the garden;
but I was afraid, because I was naked,
so I hid myself."
Then he asked, "Who told you that you were naked?
You have eaten, then,
from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!"
The man replied, "The woman whom you put here with me--
she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it."
The LORD God then asked the woman,
"Why did you do such a thing?"
The woman answered, "The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it."

Then the LORD God said to the serpent:
"Because you have done this, you shall be banned
from all the animals
and from all the wild creatures;
on your belly shall you crawl,
and dirt shall you eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will strike at your head,
while you strike at his heel."

The man called his wife Eve,
because she became the mother of all the living.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM  Ps 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4


R. (1) Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.

Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.

The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.

All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
SECOND READING  Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12

Brothers and sisters:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,
as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world,
to be holy and without blemish before him.
In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ,
in accord with the favor of his will,
for the praise of the glory of his grace
that he granted us in the beloved.

In him we were also chosen,
destined in accord with the purpose of the One
who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will,
so that we might exist for the praise of his glory,
we who first hoped in Christ.

ALLELUIA          Luke 1:28

Ave Maria gratia plena, Dominus tecum; benedicta tu in mulieribus.

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you;  blessed are you among women.

GOSPEL  Luke 1:29-29 (cf. 1962 Roman Missal)

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin's name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
"Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you."
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.


Come, then and search out Your sheep, not through Your servants or hired men but do it Yourself.  Lift me up bodily and in the flesh, which is fallen in Adam. Lift me up not from Sarah but from Mary, a Virgin not only undefiled but a Virgin whom grace had made inviolate, free of every stain of sin. (St. Ambrose of Milan) 

Today humanity, in all the radiance of her Immaculate nobility, receives its ancient beauty. The shame of sin had darkened the splendour and attraction of human nature but when the Mother of the Fair One par excellence, is born, this nature again, regains in her person, its ancient privileges and is fashioned according to a perfect model, truly worthy of God…. The reform of our nature begins today and the aged world, subjected to a wholly divine transformation, receives the first fruits of the second creation. (St. Andrew of Crete)

Son of God, grant me Your own admirable Gift, that I may celebrate the wondrous beauty of Your beloved Mother! The Virgin gave birth to a Son while preserving her virginity, she suckled Him who gives nourishment to the peoples, in her Immaculate breast she bore Him who carries the whole world in His Hands. She is Virgin and Mother, what will she not be hereafter? Holy in body, all beautiful in soul, pure of mind, upright in intelligence, perfect in feeling, chaste and faithful, pure of heart and filled with virtue. May the hearts of virgins rejoice in Mary, since of her was born the One Who set humankind free from dreadful slavery. May the old Adam, wounded by the serpent, rejoice in Mary; it is Mary who gives Adam a posterity that allows him to crush the accursed serpent and who cures him of his mortal wound (Gen 3:15). Let Priests rejoice in the blessed Virgin; she has brought the High Priest into the world, Who gave Himself as a victim, putting an end to the sacrifices of the Old Covenant. … Let the Prophets rejoice in Mary, since in her, were fulfilled their visions, in her were realised their prophecies, in her were confirmed their oracles. Let all the Patriarchs rejoice in Mary since she received the blessing promised to them, she, who, in her Son, has brought them to completion. … Mary is the new Tree of Life, who, instead of the bitter fruit picked by Eve, gives to mankind that Sweet Fruit on which the whole world is fed. (St. Ephrem of Syria)

May the holy divinity of Your glory, my God, O my gentleness, with which You deigned to fill and to inhabit for nine months the chaste viscera of the Virgin Mary, bless You.   May the highest virtue of Your divinity, which bent to the humbleness of the virginal valley, bless You.   May the utmost art of Your almightiness, God most high, with which You imparted onto the Virgin Rose, such virtue, radiance and comeliness as You, Yourself could yearn for, bless You.   May Your wondrous wisdom, whose copious grace made all of Mary’s life and body, as well as her soul, comparable with Your worthiness, bless You.   May You, strong, wise and most dulcet love which made You, the flower and spouse of virginity, become the Son of a virgin, bless You. (…) May the worthiest heart and soul of the most glorious Virgin Mother Mary (whom, because of my need for salvation, You chose for Yourself as mother and that her motherly clemency might always be open to me) be jubilant to You, on my behalf.   May that most faithful concern which is Yours for me (by which You have provided me with an advocate and patron saint of such capability that through her I may easily be able to find Your grace and in whom, I trustfully believe, Your eternal mercy is preserved for me) be jubilant to You.   May that wonderful tabernacle of Your glory, which alone has ministered to You worthily, as a holy dwelling place and through which, You can best make amends for me, to Yourself, for the due measure of praise and glory that I owe You, be jubilant to You. (Saint Gertrude of Helfta the Great)

O Immaculate, Queen of heaven and earth,
Refuge of sinners and our most loving Mother,
God has willed to entrust the entire order of mercy to You,
I, an unworthy sinner, cast myself at Your feet,
humbly imploring You
to take me with all that I am and have,
wholly to Yourself as Your possession and property.
Please make of me,
of all my powers of soul and body,
of my whole life, death and eternity,
whatever pleases You.
If it pleases You,
use all that I am and have without reserve,
wholly to accomplish what has been said of You:
“She will crush your head”,
and “You alone have destroyed all heresies in the whole world.”
Let me be a fit instrument in Your immaculate
and most merciful hands for introducing and increasing Your glory
to the maximum in all the many strayed and indifferent souls
and thus help extend as far as possible,
the blessed Kingdom of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
For, wherever You enter,
You obtain the grace of conversion and sanctification,
since it is through Your hands,
that all graces come to us.
from the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. (St. Maximilian Kolbe)

The word ‘immaculate’ sums up the mystery of our spiritual life. We are members of the Church, and in us, the Church’s mystery must be accomplished. It begins with Mary the Immaculate. We, in our turn, by the power of the Holy Spirit must become immaculate, as we were intended to be in the beginning of our race. In each of us, the victory over the serpent must be achieved. Each of us must once more find entry to the paradise lost from which Mary was never excluded! We must find entry into the eternal company of God and be presented spotless before the presence of God’s glory, and with exceeding joy! …. Thus it is that the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God is in the deepest sense the consummation and the reality, the pledge and the beginning, of our own personal salvation. What began in Mary, in the flesh, is in the Spirit fulfilled in the Church. Here perhaps is another reason why the Church celebrates so near the beginning of her liturgical year the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, for the Church thus celebrates her own mystery, the mystery of our personal sanctification, and being made spotless before our God. As we surrender our very selves into the hands of God the Spirit causes us to leave behind all that spotted us and left us exiles on the edge of Paradise. We are called to something much greater than Paradise. (Fr. Hugo Rahner)
Are you so different from Mary who was conceived immaculately? God didn’t will the difference that exists because he loved us less. God did what he did so that through the difference between us and Mary the full richness of grace might be expressed. In Mary and her Immaculate Conception it is shown that eternal mercy envelopes all from the beginning. We are children of Adam and Eve, sinners, and God doesn’t leave us unaided. We seemed to come into existence graceless but now must proclaim the truth that we are beloved children of God not by anything we do or have or by our nature but only by the sheer grace of God. All this, all that God is and has, is given us without any merits of our own but simply because God loves us and always has. We will only understand this fully when we are with God. That is what Advent calls us to prepare for. (Fr. Karl Rahner)


     It’s no wonder she wondered!  Beginning with Mary herself, the meaning of the angel’s greeting has been wondered about ever since Gabriel first spoke it: Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you (G).  These words fall easily from our lips whenever we pray the Hail Mary But they greatly troubled (G) the Virgin herself.  And they troubled the Church for centuries.  Many a battle has been fought over them.  They’ve divided Catholics from one another, the Franciscans for example holding to one meaning and the Dominicans another.  And those words, full of grace, still divide Catholics from other Christians: So great has been the wonder over what sort of greeting this might be (G).
     At the very least, these words set Mary apart from all other men and women.  And yet, the grace shown to Mary uniquely is the same favor shown toward all of us: namely, God’s will that we be holy and without blemish before him: A will frustrated by the long history of human sin.  Still, the favor of God’s will cannot be foiled forever by human rebellion (II).
     For in God’s plan, sin can never win out.  Indeed, no sooner had sin entered the world than God informed the serpent of future defeat: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel (I): More mysterious words to wonder about; and no less so than Gabriel’s words to Mary.  In fact, these words are profoundly connected.  The words to the serpent foretell the crushing of sin’s power by a future redee­mer.  They also imply a woman’s part in the victory: a victory that would transform forbidden fruit into the blessed fruit of her womb, Jesus.  For in Jesus and Mary God’s favor has fallen afresh on the human race: in the child called holy, the Son of God (G) and in Mary, the mother of all the living (I): the second Adam and the new Eve. 
     So down through the ages, strange-sounding words have made us wonder, marvel really, at words addressed to a highly-favored woman whose response, May it be done to me according to your word (G), allowed God to accomplish these things according to the intention of his will (II). And the church’s wonder­ment at the words of Gabriel to Mary reached a high point in 1854 when Pope Pius IX taught as part of the Catholic faith that “the most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by the singular grace and privilege of almighty God and in view of the merits of Christ Jesus the Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin” (Ineffabilis Deus).
     But this mystery of Mary’s immaculate conception reaches all the way back to Eden, to the tree in the garden, the tree from which we have all eaten -- except for Mary.  She is full of grace.  Undeceived, she heard the message of an angel, not the tempter.  Believing God, and not the liar, she trusted God’s will.  Thus has she been blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens (II).
     But so have we.  Paul says so: God chose us too in Christ, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish (cf. II).  For Mary’s immaculate conception is a grace we can all share in.   How?  Let me tell you a story.  I have permission to tell it. I was working one time with a woman who struggled for many years with certain difficulties stemming from a father who always put her down.  He was also an alcoholic.  Some of you might be aware of the problems adult children of alcoholics often face.  Well after a long period of working through issues of low self-esteem and lack of confidence, finding her voice and her own authority, some real progress was made -- including an ability to forgive her father who had been dead for some years.  And she told me of a dream where her father let her know she was indeed a “highly favored” daughter.   This happened shortly before his birthday which – believe it or not – was December 8.
     So I told this woman how she experienced a sort of  “immaculate conception” of her own.  Or better yet, an immaculate “re-conception.”  For she was set free from the “original sin” which stained her early life, the situation into which she was born, through no fault of her own, but which still affected her nevertheless. Indeed, she was given the grace to live from now on with the burden she inherited lifted, though its effects would no doubt still be felt here and there.
     Now we can hope for such things too: hope that our own struggles with sin, whether our own or others’, can result in victory; hope that we can find new favor with God and others too; hope that the grace of our baptism will reach full maturity in Christ.  For Mary is the mother of hope: a sign to the church of God’s power to save us.  And her Advent feast speaks to us of a God who does not abandon us to our own devices, but provides us with all means necessary to live in accord with his gracious design. As Mary did from the moment of her conception -- and we still might.  For nothing will be impossible for God (G).  Who lives and reigns, with the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

INTERCESSIONS  (Peter Scagnelli)

That peoples divided by enmity may find the path to peace through the intercession of the mother of the Redeemer.
That those whose sins have made them fearful or ashamed may find the hope of a new beginning in the Messiah born of Mary.
That expectant parents may find this Advent season of joyful anticipation, a time to join Mary in praising the God who does marvelous deeds.
That we who were adopted in Christ the Beloved by God’s gracious choice may live holy and blameless lives as we look to his coming.
That those who have gone before us in faith may obtain the inheritance for which they were destined in Christ.

God most high,
from the first moment of her conception
you favoured the Virgin Mary with your grace,
that she might become the mother of the world’s Redeemer.
As you blessed the daughter of Israel,
so grant us the grace
to be fully engaged in your service,
eager to do your will.
Hasten that day of gladness
when you will bring to completion your saving work,
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. Amen. (ICEL; 1998)


HYMN (Libera)


O Sanctissima O Piissima
Dulcis Virgo Maria
Mater amta intemerata
Ora ora pro nobis

Ora ora
Ora pro nobis

Virgo respice, Mater adspice
Audi nos, O Maria!
Sicut lilium inter spinas
Sic Maria inter filias

Jubilate, Cherubim,
Exsultate, Seraphim!
Consonante perpetim,
Salve, salve Regina!

O Sanctissima, O Piisima
Dulcis Virgo Maria

Ora, ora, ora Pro Nobis

Sancta Maria, sancta Maria Mater Dei
Sancta Maria, sancta Maria Mater Dei

Jubilate, Cherubim,
Exsultate, Seraphim!
Consonante perpetim,
Salve, salve Regina!

O most holy one, O most loving one, Sweet virgin Mary.

Beloved mother and chaste, Pray for us Pray for us, pray for us.

Look upon us, look after us, Hear us, O Mary

Like a lily among thorns, So is Mary among women

Rejoice ye Cherubim, Exult ye Seraphim Sing aloud forever

Hail, hail O Queen Holy Mary, Mother of God





Of one that is so fair and bright,
Velut maris stella
Brighter than the day is light;
Parens et puella.
I cry to thee to turn to me,
Lady, pray thy Son for me
Tam pia
That I may come to Thee

In sorrow, counsel thou art best,
Felix fecundata.
For all the weary thou art rest,
Mater honorata
Beseech him in thy mildest mood,
Who for us did shed His blood
In Cruce
That we may come to Him
In luce.

Lady, flow'r of ev'rything,
Rosa sine spina,
Thou bore Jesus Heaven's King,
Gratia Divina,
Of all I say thou bore the prize
Lady, Queen of Paradise
Maiden mild, Mother
Es effecta.