Let us imitate the love of our heavenly Mother and, like her, let us cheerfully render to all our brothers and sisters all the services we can, both for the body and for the soul.
Ven. Adele de Batz de Trenquelleon
Foundress of the Marianist Sisters (Daughters of Mary Immaculate)
Happy Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception!
Today is a special day for the Marianist Sisters. For this is the feast from which we get our name (Daughters of Mary Immaculate) and from which we gain our inspiration for mission. Mary - chosen from the moment of her conception, especially graced by God, completely open to the Holy Spirit - so that she might bring the presence of Jesus into our troubled world, nurture the life of Jesus and teach him what it meant to be a faithful Jewish child, and point others to Jesus in order to say, "Do whatever he tells you." For us as Marianist Sisters we take Mary as our model of discipleship, our inspiration for how to be in our world, and our partner in continuing her mission.
Each morning all Marianist Religious (male and female) make an act of dedication to Mary. There are several different ones for use on different days. They all inspire me in some way, but one stands out as my favorite - the one for Sundays of Ordinary Time. It reads:
Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church,
today we join you in praising our God,
and rejoice with you in Christ our Risen Savior.
We, your Marianist Family,
seek to imitate your faith in God's promise,
your openness of heart,
and your listening to the Holy Spirit.
We joyfully dedicate ourselves to you
and to your mission in the Church.
Taught by Christ's example,
may we receive grace and courage
to minister to all people.
For me, this captures it all. We collaborate with Mary, we imitate Mary, and we dedicate ourselves to carry on her mission in the Church and in our world ministering to (and with) all people.
Last night we celebrated this feast liturgically with a vigil Mass at the University of Dayton. It was the closing of the University's "Christmas on Campus" - a day on which university students adopt children who live in poverty, bring them to campus and share with them in the traditions of the Christmas. The Mass last night was beautiful. The chapel, named for the Immaculate Conception, was packed. The choir was large and amazing. What was particularly moving for me was the music that was chosen. The choir led us in singing 3 different versions of Mary's Magnificat (2 during the prelude and one during communion). And the Mass began with what is quickly becoming my favorite non-Magnificat Mary song. It is appropriately titled "Song of Mary" by Dan Schutte. Some of the lines that always get me are: "Let us sing the praises of Mary, chosen as blessed from the least.... woman of strong and steadfast love.... friend of the poor in every age.... Blessed be the name of Mary, she who trusted the love of God."
Indeed. On this day in which we celebrate Mary, let us each learn from her to be strong and steadfast, compassionate, concerned for the poor, and always leading people to her Son.
Many blessings to you this day!