Today is the Feast day of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. There is a common misunderstanding about this day. Most people (including cradle Catholics) believe that this is in reference to the conception of Jesus in Mary's womb. Not so. This feast day commemorates the conception of Mary... the moment she was conceived by her parents Anne and Joaquim. It is celebrated because it was unique among all conceptions in that it was immaculate or without sin. When the rest of us were conceived, we carried original sin (from the transgression of Adam and Eve) but Mary was different. She was born without sin in preparation for her role as the Mother of God. Mary was preserved from the stain of sin so that she could be the perfect vessel as Theotokos or "Christ Bearer." I think the confusion comes in because the feast day is so close to Christmas on the calendar. -- Ok... that's your Catechism lesson for the day. Now... on to the blessing. Besides the regular Sundays in a year, the Catholic Church has set aside important celebrations where we are called to attend mass to celebrate as a community. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is one of those days. They are commonly referred to as Holy Days of Obligation, but going through the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) we learned to think of them as Holy Days of Opportunity. It's always more fun to participate in something you're invited to as opposed to forced attendance.
I went to the St. Stanislaus Parish School mass at St. Stan's this morning to celebrate. It's important to give honor and respect to Mary. After all, Jesus loves her. I doubt there isn't a thing he wouldn't do for her. We (Catholics) often get accused of worshiping Mary, and while I have to admit, some do, it is NOT what the church teaches. Mary was a simple Jewish girl who said yes when God called on her. Simple and direct. God knew she would say yes, that is why he prepared her, but she still had a choice.