December is the month dedicated to the Immaculate Conception and an ideal time to strengthen our connection to Our Lady. The Church taught of the Immaculate Conception for ages, but in 1854, Pius IX infallibly proclaimed it as doctrine, stating that the Blessed Virgin Mary “in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin.”
This teaching refers to the conception of Mary in the womb of St. Anne, her mother.
Redemption was applied to Our Blessed Mother from conception, by the merits of Jesus Christ, her son; a truly awe-inspiring reality. Preserved from stain, Mary has been called “our tainted nature’s solitary boast,” in the words of the poet William Wordsworth. Our Mother Mary remained free of sin for her entire life. Honoring her purity is a strong antidote to the evil we all too-often encounter in this sinful world. Here are 8 ways you can honor the Immaculate Conception this December. Dimitris Vetsikas | Pixabay CC0 2 Clean and decorate cheerfully in honor of Mary
In honor of Immaculate Mary, why not clean as a way to practice humility, give our hands meaningful work, and be reminded of Mary’s purity as we do so? Christmas is coming at the end of the month.
Our small and modest acts of love through scrubbing, polishing, and organizing without complaint, if done prayerfully, can be dedicated to Our Lady. Although December is the month of Christmas decorations, don’t forget it’s the month dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, and so we can also decorate with the Immaculate Conception in mind. Set a table in your home with a white cloth for Mary’s purity and consider placing a bouquet of white roses near your picture or statue of Mary. 3 Clean up your soul, mind, and heart
This month, inspired by our beautiful Immaculate Mother,
let’s work to “clean up” our souls by going to Confession; giving to the poor; performing Works of Mercy. Let’s consciously surround ourselves with authentic beauty and intellectual food.
In an effort to make our minds and hearts cleaner in honor of Our Lady and so they might be more pleasing to God as we endeavor to become true Temples of the Holy Spirit, let’s carefully consider what television shows we watch, what we read and look at. Let’s examine our consciences and surrender our vices, strengthening our virtues. Let us try to live according to the advice of Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Some seasonal ideas for thinking about such things: get cozy with a warm cup of tea, hot chocolate or cider and a blanket and read a spiritual classic such as
The Imitation of Christ or The Lives of the Saints; gather as a family to light the Advent Wreath together and then read from the Bible and pray the Family Rosary; share a wholesome meal, then watch and discuss Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. 4 Seek great art and music to study the symbols of the Immaculate Conception
Throughout art history, certain symbols continue to appear in images representing the Immaculate Conception.
These depictions are similar to the representations of Our Lady of Lourdes, the Marian apparition at which Our Lady said, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” If you have an Our Lady of Lourdes image or statue, this is a great month to feature it more prominently in your home. Many of the great paintings in history show Mary looking skyward in gratitude and awesome wonder. Beneath her foot is the moon, and on her head a crown of twelve stars, referencing Rev 12:1-2. You will frequently notice the presence of putti (childlike angels), roses, lilies, and clouds swathed in golden light. Here are some of those images in art.
Enjoy listening to “
Immaculate Mary,” the Lourdes Hymn, and if you know the words, sing along! h
Also, the hymn honoring Mary for the feast of the Immaculate Conception for Vespers is
“ Ave Maris Stella. “
So why not end your evening with that stunning chant all month long? Besides, our Blessed Mother told St. Bridget, “Sing as a group the Ave Maris Stella and I’ll guard you from every danger.”
5 Conceive of a lovely idea in honor of and dedicated to Our Lady
In honor of the Immaculate Conception, conceive of a special way to honor Mary. That is, come up with a way to give her special honor. Maybe you are an artist and can dedicate a painting, ode, or song to her. Maybe you’re a business owner and can give to a charity in her honor. Maybe you can think of a great work of love in her name. Here’s a way I chose to give Mary honor and praise; it’s
a book with exercises to help you devote yourself more deeply to Mary. It makes a beautiful Christmas gift, too. Shutterstock-WAYHOME studio 6 Consecrate yourself to Mary!
For a book to help you do so, here are two great recommendations:
by Fr. Michael Gaitley and 33 Days to Morning Glory by St. Louis de Montford. True Devotion to Mary
Entrust yourself to Mary with
this famous prayer written by St. Maximillian Kolbe. 7 Honor, promote, and wear the Miraculous Medal
The Miraculous Medal bears these words,
“O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” Mary told St.Catherine Laboure, “All who wear it will receive great graces; they should wear it around the neck. Graces will abound for persons who wear it with confidence.” Let’s wear our Miraculous Medals proudly, purchase some if we haven’t done so, give some to family, friends and those in need of blessings, and don’t forget to ask a priest to officially enroll you in the Confraternity of the Miraculous Medal. Here are the details. Shutterstock | Sidney de Almeida
You can write the words of the Miraculous Medal on a card and place it on your altar as a daily aspiration, or place an extra medal or even a computer-printed image of the Miraculous Medal in a prominent place.
Read the life story of St. Maximilian Kolbe, the founder of the Militia Immaculatae, Knights of the Immaculata, as he was greatly devoted to the Miraculous Medal. Invoke St. Maximilian in prayer and ask him to help increase our devotion to the Immaculata. 8 Get patriotic in prayer!
Our Lady is the Patroness of the United States of America under her title the Immaculate Conception. If you’re an American, this would be a good month to place a little American flag near your statue or picture of Our Lady, as a reminder to pray to Mary asking her to bless the United States. During Pope St. John Paul II’s first Pastoral Visit to the U.S., he made an Act of Entrustment to the Blessed Virgin, recited at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. on October 7, 1979. Let us endeavor to pray this Act of Entrustment to Our Lady all month long:
“ The bishops of the Church in the United States have chosen you in the mystery of your Immaculate Conception as the Patroness of the People of God in this country. May the hope enclosed in this mystery prevail over sin and may it be shared among all the sons and daughters of America and throughout the human family. In a period during which the struggle between good and evil, between the prince of darkness and the Father of light and of evangelical love is becoming greater, may the light of your Immaculate Conception show to all the way of grace and salvation. Amen.”
Delight in the many beautiful ways Our Lady can be celebrated in your daily life this December and all year round!
Read more: What I learned as a convert about the Immaculate Conception