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Two great feasts of Mary in Advent

Fr. Joe Corpora | Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Season of Advent gives us two great feasts to honor our Blessed Mother.  The first is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, which is celebrated each year on December 8.  Under this title, Mary is the patroness of the United States. The Immaculate Conception celebrates that, by a special grace from God, Mary was kept sinless from the moment of her conception. Unlike the rest of us, Mary was born without original sin.  But note that the emphasis is on God, not on Mary. What we celebrate is not what Mary did, but what God did for Mary.  In his tender mercy and goodness, God kept Mary sinless from the moment of her conception.    

            Though all of us are born with original sin and none of us is sinless, one day, by the tender mercy and goodness of God and our desire, God will also make us sinless. Whether that’s near or far in the future doesn’t matter. It’s been promised to us by God and so it will happen.

            The second great Feast of Mary is the Solemnity of Our Lady of Guadalupe, celebrated on December 12. Under this title, Mary is known as Queen of Mexico and the Empress of the Americas.  Blessed John Paul II’s many visits to Mexico have brought this feast from a celebration in Mexico to a much wider celebration. As the United States becomes more and more Latino, and as the Church in the United States becomes increasingly Latino, the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe becomes more known and celebrated. It is a major feast day in thousands of parishes in the United States. 

            Like so many of Mary’s apparitions to people, Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego (now St. Juan Diego) and gave hope to the poor and the powerless. Our Lady’s apparitions to Juan Diego renewed the hopes of the native peoples of modern day Mexico.  They would not be extinguished from the face of the earth.  It is a celebration of Mary’s special love for the poor.    

In her book, “The Magnificat – The Prayer of Mary,” Sidney Callahan writes that Mary speaks for all those who have been lowly, on the outside, at the bottom, colonized, suppressed and totally outside of the halls of the princes and power wielders. If she has been favored and blessed, if she is a sign of the ultimate and greatest power, then the lowly who follow her can believe themselves favored and backed up by the universe. If the hidden is real, if it is true that spiritual power is greater than the power of guns and bombs, then the lowly and the oppressed have hope. If Mary, the young unmarried pregnant girl, can believe in the incredible happenings that she is a part of, then the most ordinary people can believe in their parts in the drama. Her exaltation is their exaltation. She carries the banner for all those powerless ones. Mary is the champion for all the obscure, peaceful ones who live in the corners of the world, who work, who help each other, who bear children and hope to see them live and prosper. The poor may have seen a defender of their cause in the woman and mother.    

On Saturday, December 8, at 10:30 a.m., in the Basilica, we will celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Because the Solemnity of Our Lady of Guadalupe falls in the middle of final exams week, the Mass on Saturday will have a bit of a Latino flavor, including readings and music in Spanish. Come and honor our Blessed Mother through prayer and song and dance. 


Fr. Joe Corpora, C.S.C.

Fr. Joe works in the Alliance for Catholic Education as the Director of University-School Partnerships.  He also serves as Coordinator of Latino Student Ministry in Campus Ministry.  He lives in Dillon Hall. HH