feast of the immaculate conception and two year blogging anniversary!

The Virgin of the Immaculate Conception - El Greco, 1610
The Virgin of the Immaculate Conception – El Greco, 1610

WordPress just sent a small note acknowledging the two year anniversary of catholic dialogue. I began this blog on December 8, 2010, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Last year, I wrote a blog post reflecting on this feast.

And, here is a link to my very first blog post. Oh, how I remember the nervousness of that first post. I remember it so well because the nervousness is still there. I still worry if anyone will read what I write. I worry about who will read what I write! In those early months, I remained anonymous. I finally revealed who I was on June 30, 2011.

This blog opened doors to a regular column in the Prairie Messenger, and an invitation to join the NCR Today team of bloggers. Writing for two of my favorite Catholic publications gave me more reason for nervousness. Becoming part of a writing community of so many women and men whom I admire so much, is both an awesome honor and a terrifying task. What can I add? What can I say, that hasn’t already been said…and said so well?

The respectful and thoughtful dialogue on this blog, the community of kindred spirits, and the kind words of affirmation provide the needed energy and incentive. To all who have stopped by, whether your visits are one-time or regular, THANK YOU!

May she, whom we celebrate this day, be our model and guide. Like Mary, may we ponder deeply, reach out generously, act justly, and be ever ready to respond with a faith-filled YES to our God.

immaculate conception

immaculate conception

December 8th is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is also the one year anniversary of this blog.

I didn`t devote that first post to this major feast in the Church calendar. This surprises me, now. Perhaps my mind was too wrapped around the idea of beginning a blog. I was worried about taking those first, tentative steps into the writing world. I wanted to share my own thoughts and experiences within the Catholic Church; a faith tradition and community that will always be part of my being. I wanted to ponder our blessings and our challenges. I wanted to nudge a dialogue in a time of ever-increasing debate.  And, I wanted the dialogue to be catholic, with a small c, welcoming all into the conversation.

The Immaculate Conception can be a dense, difficult concept to understand. It is often mistaken as the immaculate conception of Jesus. But, it refers to the belief that Mary, herself, was conceived without the stain of original sin. The Mary Page at the University of Dayton is a rich resource on this and other aspects of Mariology.

The beauty of Mary in our Catholic tradition is that she is multi-faceted and multi-faced. Her purity is but one aspect. And, it is not an aspect that speaks to many women of today. Perhaps it is because Mary was held up as an impossible model of womanhood. Perhaps it is because of the misogynistic view held by the church and society for so many centuries; a view that saw all women as daughters of Eve – the sinner and temptress. Perhaps it is because virginity was idealized and spiritualized while sexual love and union was relegated to the sinful physicality of the world.

Today, many look to the Mary of scriptures for their model and guide. Here they will find…

  • A pondering and praying woman.
  • A woman so grounded in her faith that she was able to give her whole-hearted YES to the seemingly impossible.
  • A woman who knew the importance of visitations.
  • A woman who railed against injustice in her powerful Magnificat.
  • A woman who knew the reality of homelessness and the uncertainty of being a refugee on the run.
  • A woman who knew the love of a good man.
  • A woman who knew the stresses of motherhood, not always understanding or knowing God’s specific plan for her child.
  • A woman who knew that wine was needed not only for a celebration, but to prevent the humiliation of a newly married couple.
  • A woman who stood by her son through his brutal execution.
  • A woman who prayed and remained present in that upper room in those dark hours before the coming of the Spirit.

The childhood image of Mary, meek and mild, no longer speaks to me. But this strong woman of Scripture does. She is a model and guide, a promise and a hope.