The Marians Celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
By Melanie Williams (Dec 8, 2016)
Today is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the patronal feast day of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. It is a day of great rejoicing and celebrating the patronage of our Immaculate Mother over this congregation.
The Rev. Fr. Kaz Chwalek, MIC, the provincial superior of the Marian Fathers in the United States and Argentina celebrated a Mass at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, for the renewal of the Marians' vows and the consecration of Eden Hill to the Immaculate Mother of God.
"The Church rejoices because [Mary] received an extraordinary grace that began the new creation, and we are partakers in this grace," he said.
Preaching about the mystery of the Immaculate Conception, Fr. Kaz said, "The Lord invites us to reflect on the significance of this event. The Lord is asking us to look at God's plan of salvation. We look at the state of our world today — we see fear, war, perhaps something worse to come. Sometimes I hear, 'well this is how the world is, you can't expect people to be different.' But this is not how the world was created; this is not how God intended the world to be. There was a voice that spoke to the ears of our first parents. The evil one who came and they chose to follow that voice and distrust God. Those whispers keep coming to us today. How many people pull us away from God, from the commandments today?"
Father Kaz continued, "Today's celebration is a celebration reminding us of what took place, but also what should be. God promised right away a woman and her offspring who will destroy the head of the serpent (Gen 3:15), even though he will continue to wound us, the victory is already won for us. Saint Paul said in our second reading, 'He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before Him.' He began this with a person, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her son made her holy and immaculate, preserving her from original sin. Humanity is invited to participate in that, as Mary was. We have to say yes — like Mary's fiat. Today is the invitation to be like her, the one who gave such a beautiful witness."
Father Kaz explained that it is through the Sacraments that we are made holy and immaculate like Mary—through Baptism and Confession we are cleansed of our sin. The Eucharist transforms us into that new humanity.
"For us," Fr. Kaz concluded, "the drama continues. Our mission is to make sure all people hear the Good News. How will someone hear unless someone is sent? We are to become missionaries, apostles, servants, friends of Christ and our Lady. Us Marians, in our community, our fiat is our vows, which we renew today. To you that are married, your fiat is to your spouse and the Church, a commitment to a life of prayer and to the Sacraments."
Brother Ken Galisa, MIC, shared that renewing his vows on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is a reminder to him and all of his brothers. He said, "It's a reminder that the vows, whether first or perpetual, are a way of guiding our life. Each time we renew our vows, it gives us a chance to look back over the year and see how well we have fulfilled the vows in the community. It is an ongoing, not a static reality in our life."
Father Thaddaeus Lancton, MIC, shared, "Renewing my vows is, for me, a plea to the Father to open my heart anew to that same Holy Spirit who sanctified Mary at her conception. The vows are, for me, a pledge from God, a gift from Him, that I, too, can live a life like Mary and Jesus, an immaculate life, pleasing to Him, filled with the Holy Spirit. The vows are promises from God that tell me He will be with me, to help me live that mystery of the Immaculate Conception in my life – not by my efforts, but by the gift of the Holy Spirit. I merely renew them – I simply say 'yes' like Mary: "Let it be done to me according to your word."
Father Kaz shared that the Blessed Virgin Mary is a powerful intercessor for us all, and all of the Marian Fathers and Brothers present at the Holy Mass at the Shrine entrusted the Shrine, the Marian Helpers Center, and all of Eden Hill here in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, to the Immaculate Conception, their patroness.
Father Dan Cambra, MIC, also celebrated a Mass earlier this morning at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. You can watch his moving and inspirational homily here:
May the Virgin Mary's Immaculate Conception be our health and our protection.