In 1854, Pope Pius IX declared definitively the long held belief that when Mary was conceived by her parents, Sts. Anne and Joachim, that she was without original sin. This is why Mary is called the Immaculate Conception. She was given this singular grace so that she could be the perfect vessel to bring the Savoir into the world.
Interestingly, it was prior to this declaration that the bishops of the United States of America voted to select The Blessed Virgin Mary, Conceived without Sin as the patron for this young country. The selection was approved by Pope Pius IX in February of 1847. And henceforth, the United States of America now has Mary, the Immaculate Conception as the patron of our country.
To honor Mary, the Immaculate Conception as our patron, we even constructed a national shrine in Washington D.C. in her honor. Construction was begun in 1920 with the dedication in 1959. It is located on the campus of Catholic University of America. (If you are traveling to Washington D.C., it is worth a visit.)
This solemnity is of such importance, that all Catholics throughout the world are required to participate in mass on this day, but it has an elevated importance for the people of our nation. Just as St. Patrick is the patron of Ireland, Mary, the Immaculate Conception is our patron and we are under her protection and guidance to bring us to the savior, Jesus Christ.
It is for these reasons that we are required to attend a mass in recognition of Mary, the Immaculate Conception, even when it falls on a Saturday, as is the event this year. To assist in clarification of our obligations, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis sent out this statement:
“In 2018, the Patronal Feast of the United States of America – the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary – and the Second Sunday of Advent occur on back-to-back days, and both days remain obligatory this year. The faithful must attend Mass at 4 p.m. or after on Friday, December 7 or at any time on Saturday, December 8 to fulfill their obligation for the Immaculate Conception. The faithful must attend another Mass at 4 p.m. or after on Saturday, December 8 or at any time on Sunday, December 9 for the Second Sunday of Advent. Attending only one Mass Saturday evening, December 8 does not satisfy both obligations.”
To help us fulfill our obligation, mass times are available as follows:
Immaculate Conception mass:
Friday, December 7th - 6pm (Nativity of Mary)
Friday, December 7th - 7pm (St. Bonaventure)
Saturday, December 8th - 8:45am (St. Bonaventure)
Saturday, December 8th - 9am (Nativity of Mary)
2nd Sunday of Advent mass:
Saturday, December 8th - 4pm (Nativity of Mary)
Sunday, December 9th - 8:30am (Nativity of Mary)
Sunday, December 9th - 10:30am (Nativity of Mary)