Bishop Deeley Celebrates Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception Mass in Portland
“Advent is the season when we let our souls be strengthened by these truths:
our need for a Savior and our Savior's need for us to trust and obey his will.”
PORTLAND---Hundreds gathered on Thursday afternoon, December 8, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland as Bishop Robert Deeley celebrated Mass on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (pictures below). This important feast commemorates Mary being conceived without the stain of original sin and created full of grace, making her a fitting mother for Jesus, the coming Savior.
During his homily, the bishop told the assembly that Mary’s greatness did not come from her natural qualities but instead came from being filled by God with an extraordinary share of grace.
“That's why the angel Gabriel greeted her with those words we so often repeat: ‘Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you, [and therefore:] ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God,’” said the bishop. “But reminding us of the fact that grace comes to us from God and that is why we needed a Savior is only a part of what we celebrate in this feast.”
The Immaculate Conception also reminds us that Jesus, our Savior, will not force us to be saved.
“We cannot achieve true happiness without God's grace, which is why God took the initiative to send us a Savior. But God leaves us free to welcome or reject that Savior. He leaves it up to us to accept and cooperate with his saving grace, or to go our own way - to make our own choices and to ignore God’s will for us,” said the bishop. “God gave Mary everything she needed to fulfill her mission in life, but it was still up to her to respond freely and generously to the angel's invitation.”
Instead of rejecting God’s action in her life and opting for her own plans, Mary trusted God.
“Mary understood that God's will always flows from God's love, and so, she pronounced the most beautiful prayer of all time: ‘May it be done to me according to your word,’” said the bishop.
The grace of God in Jesus enables fulfillment and true happiness.
“That's the Advent message, and that's also the message of the Immaculate Conception,” said the bishop. “Advent is the season when we let our souls be strengthened by these truths: our need for a Savior and our Savior's need for us to trust and obey his will. When we receive God’s abundant and generous grace in Holy Communion today, as Mary received that grace and favor at her Immaculate Conception, let us allow her prayer to sound in our hearts: ‘May it be done to me according to your word.’”
The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is the patronal feast of the United States and of the Diocese of Portland. Although it was long believed by many Christians that Mary, who was to be the Mother of God, was conceived without sin, it was not until 1854 that Pope Pius IX declared it to be dogma of the Catholic Church. In Ineffabilis Deus, he wrote that "the Blessed Virgin Mary, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God, and in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, was preserved free from every stain of original sin is a doctrine revealed by God and, for this reason, must be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful."
A special Advent section on the Diocese of Portland website features many resources including a list of over 70 Advent events at Maine churches; a variety of prayers, blessings, and reflections; Echoing God’s Word and Lectio Divina; “The Light is On for You” listings; and much more. The section can be found here.