Alright Falcons, there is something that seems to confuse many people including Catholics. As you know, we attend mass, as a school, once a week on Tuesdays. Yet this past Tuesday we did not go to mass. Instead we went today. I heard from a few students that they were a little confused as to why. Fr. Dennis did an excellent job of explaining it to us during his Homily but I’m afraid some of our falcons weren’t listening. I had to laugh a little when a student turned to me and asked, “why did we go to mass today and not Tuesday?” Mind you this was said seconds after Fr. Dave finished speaking. That’s OK, it happens to the best of us! But of course this got me thinking. If you follow this blog you know I have a passion for research. I will take every chance I get to become The Falcon, supper speedy research librarian extraordinaire! Hey, it is fun!
I did not know today was a holy day of obligation. I am not sure why this year my brain decided to acknowledge mass as a school or that it is a day of obligation. Also, I was once a Catholic who thought the feast of the Immaculate Conception meant it was the day Mary immaculately conceived Jesus. Perhaps in all my years of Catholic schooling it was never explained to me properly OR more likely, I didn’t listen properly. Now I know better and am aware that it has to do with Mary herself being immaculate.
All right, that’s what I know! Ready? Get your research caps on! Here we go…
GOOGLE: Yes, yes I did Google.
Immaculate Conception brought up websites for some schools.
The Immaculate Conception got me Wikipedia! Um no thank you. While, I think of Wikipedia as a great jumping off point I reserve it only for subjects I don’t know much about. I use it as a way to get those synapses going. So I skipped over Wikipedia.
What is the feast day of the immaculate conception returned some interesting results and I scanned the various websites for information. All seemed correct and unbiased either written for Catholics or for people wanting to learn about Catholicism. Good.
But, I didn’t want to just trust websites, especially ones I didn’t know much about. So I pulled out a book donated by Mrs. Ramirez (the school principal for you non SP readers).
The Catholic Source Book: A Comprehensive Collection of Information about the Catholic Church. Our copy is from 2000 so it could be considered outdated. I am not 100% sure if some of this information has changed or not. Here are some tidbits of what I found.
“There are ten holy days of obligation listed by Rome. In the Untied States six, besides Sundays, are celebrated. The number varies from country to country because conferences of bishops are free to set their country’s holy days – with the Vatican’s approval. Current practice is to retain at least two: Christmas and one feast honoring Mary.” Here is the list, the italicized ones are not obligations in the USA. Christmas, Epiphany, Ascension, The Body and Blood of Christ, Mary, Mother of God, Immaculate Conception, Assumption, St. Joseph, Saints Peter and Paul, All Saints.
Well that explains why we had mass today instead of Tuesday. Today, the Immaculate Conception is a holy day of obligation. It is also special in that it is a mass that honors Mary, the Mother of God.
Beyond that there were only some references to symbolism, mainly Mary and the Moon. (more on that in another post)
Back to the internet.
I found many many websites explaining Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary or the feast day of the Immaculate Conception. While they all said it a little differently this is the one thing that stood out.
Mary, full of grace from God was redeemed from the moment of her conception. As said by Pope Pius IX in December 8, 1854, “The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.” It was on that December day that Pope Pius IX made it church dogma, that Mary is free from original sin through the grace of God. While the concept was not new, in fact centuries of Catholics believed in immaculate Mary, the church now acknowledges officially Mary’s freedom from original sin. Immaculate meaning without sin and conception referring to Mary’s conception, not Jesus’.
And that is all for now. I am very interested in this topic, especially the symbolism and artwork. I also have a lovely book written by DEMI. She is known for her award-winning picture book biographies of spiritual leaders. Her book on Mary has some interesting text that I want to do further research on before posting. So stay tuned!