Who is Mary to us?

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The WORD in other words (2022) by Fr Filmar Castrodes Fiel SVD — DYRF-Radio, University of San Carlos, Cebu City

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary — September 8

Photo: Grotto of Our Lady of the Poor, Divine Word Seminary Tagaytay, Philippines

In the Church calendar, December 8 is a holy day of obligation for the Catholic faithful. Since 1708, Pope Clement XI declared that all Catholics must attend mass and refrain from unnecessary work to honor Mary’s Immaculate Conception.

On December 28, 2017, by virtue of R.A 10966, President Duterte signed the law declaring December 8 as a special non-working holiday. For most students, this means no classes. For employed workers, however, this means that they will be paid an additional 30 percent of their daily rate and cost of living allowance.

The veneration of Mary as the Immaculate Conception is deeply embedded in our country’s history. First, one of the ships that reached the country in Magellan’s expedition in 1521 was “Concepcion.” Second, the Manila Cathedral was erected under the title of the Immaculate Conception as decreed by Pope Gregory XIII in 1578. Third, the Cathedrals of Nueva Segovia and Caceres were also erected under the same title as decreed by Clement VIII on August 13, 1595. This list goes on and on.

Undeniably, Marian piety is very much present in the Filipino psyche. The angel Gabriel in the Gospel today greeted Mary “The Lord is with you.” Here, the evangelist invited her to rejoice because she is favored with God’s presence who saved her from the beginning. By becoming the Mother of Jesus, Mary received in her person the messianic hope of her people. What was promised in the past became a living reality in Mary.

The celebration of the Immaculate Conception reminds us that we have a Mother who cares not only for Jesus but also for us, the rest of her children. We, therefore, can always come to her aid, for never was it known that anyone who fled to her protection, or implored her help, or sought her intercession was left unaided.

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