Monday, 8 December 2008

The Solemnity of The Immaculate Conception

This is such an important feast that it seems to me we should celebrate it as a Holyday of Obligation in England and Wales. For most people Advent is nothing more than the weeks before Christmas Day - "shopping days". Especially in the West, Christians have been swept up in the pre-Christmas preparations which often means celebrating it before it arrives. How many Catholics really make any attempt to do anything remotely penitential at this time? It seems to me that I have to preach my socks off to get them to go to confession!
We need this Solemnity as a spiritual preparation for Christmas. It helps us to focus on God's original grace as opposed to original sin. It helps us to recognise the need for a Saviour. If it was a Holyday of Obligation it would mean making an effort to go to Mass. In the midst of Advent it would be a reminder of the primacy of the spiritual over the material - or help us to understand the material in the correct way. I have never understood (over 33 years of priesthood) why the Bishops of England and Wales do not arrange for this to be a Holyday. The need for it seems obvious.

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