For those of you who are kind enough to listen to our radio program “Connecting the Diocese” on Relevant Radio, you have probably heard me spend some time chatting with Jack Socha of our Communications Department concerning the season of Advent and its many facets, but most especially, its chief component, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Two major celebrations of Our Blessed Lady occur during the Advent season and both are relevant to our consideration of her as a centerpiece of our Advent joy and reality.

Saturday is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. This feast is all about Mary’s immaculate conception in the womb of her mother, Saint Ann. It’s about how Mary was chosen by God, before all ages, to be His Mother. Mary, of course, like all of us, had to listen to Sacred Scripture, learn to have a relationship with God in prayer, and learn to understand that God is faithful to His promises. In short, Mary had to become a faithful believer in God. This she did.

Saint Augustine reminds us that Mary was God’s faithful daughter before she became His mother. Her faith empowered her to say “Yes” to the announcement of the Archangel Gabriel, in spite of its astonishing sound and equally amazing consequences.

This, of course, all took place in time. Time exists for us. God is eternal. So God allowed Mary, through a unique and divine prerogative, to share in the joy and the rewards of the salvation that would come from Jesus. From the very moment of her existence in the womb of her mother Saint Ann, God allowed Mary to experience the joy of the freedom and the liberation from sin that comes from the Savior Himself – she was immaculately conceived. Thus, she is and remains the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God. Under the title of Immaculate Conception, the Blessed Mother is revered as the Patroness of the United States.

The other great feast marks Mary’s own maternity of Jesus: The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Mary herself appeared to Saint Juan Diego in Mexico in 1531 as a pregnant woman. Of all of her apparitions on earth, this is the only time Our Lady appeared this way. The beautiful and mysterious, highly venerated, and intensely studied, image of her countenance was miraculously imprinted on the tilma, or cloak, of Saint Juan Diego. In this title, Our Lady is revered as the Patroness of America (both North and South).

I’m hoping that you are taking some Advent time to wait with Our Lady and prepare for Christmas with her.

With her, I’ll see you at Advent Mass!

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