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Immaculate Conception, patroness of our country, pray for us

Two days after the presidential election, my friend Donna and I stood on a quiet street in Old Town Florissant, a suburb of St. Louis where French farmers broke ground in the late 1700s. Our mood was dark as the rainy day. It seemed anger and hate surrounded us, taking our belief that people are basically good and that things work out.

The Church of the Immaculate Conception at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods is dedicated to Mary under the title of Immaculate Conception.

The Church of the Immaculate Conception at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods is dedicated to Mary under the title of Immaculate Conception.

Then over Donna’s shoulder, in the window of a 100-plus-year-old, brownish-red brick home worthy of a Christmas card, I saw a statue outlined by a golden-rod yellow frame. Plaster robes of blue and white caught the scant light. It was the image of Mary, the Immaculate Conception. Her arms stretched out to comfort.

I said, “We can pray.”

Donna believed we should turn our prayers into loving actions.

Pray for us

Below is my prayer. Won’t you please help provide the action?

Pray that Mary, the Immaculate Conception, patroness of this country, remembers us with her prayers. Ask others to entreat her prayers for us. Pray with friends. Walk outside, feel Mary’s presence, ask for her help. Share this message with others, even on social media.

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated on Dec. 8. It commemorates the doctrine of the Catholic Church that Jesus’ mother Mary was conceived without original sin.

Mary wasn’t spared pain in her lifetime. She understands sorrow. She can support us with her prayers.

Almost 200 years ago, Mary appeared to St. Catherine Laboure. She asked St. Catherine to have a medal struck with Mary’s image as the Immaculate Conception. It says,”O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”

The Lourdes Grotto at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods reminds us of the apparition of Jesus' mother Mary at Lourdes, France.

The Lourdes Grotto at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods reminds us of the apparition of Jesus’ mother Mary at Lourdes, France.

When Mary appeared in Lourdes, France, giving the world a site of healing for body and spirit, she told Bernadette, “Tell them, I am the Immaculate Conception.”

Devotion to Mary under the title of Immaculate Conception runs deep at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. In 1854, Mother Theodore Guerin and the sisters joined in a world-wide effort of prayer to stem the tide of war in Europe and to ask wisdom concerning the promulgation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Pope Pius IX made the Immaculate Conception an article of faith that year on Dec. 8. This was cause for great rejoicing at the Woods.

When Saint Mother Theodore got the news on Jan. 14, 1855, she wrote in her diary, “O Mary conceived without sin pray for those who have recourse to thee. Oh, Mary conceived without spot, protect thy house in the Woods!”

The tradition of honoring Mary under the title of Immaculate Conception continued in the 1900s with the dedication of the church at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods as the Church of the Immaculate Conception.

Age-old pattern

Today we also need the prayers and support of Mary, the Immaculate Conception, for our world, so often plagued by violence and war.

Some social scientists see an age-old pattern here and abroad.

Poverty, threatened and real, sparks fear.

Fear of the other, some say embedded in our DNA, fuels hatred and blame.

We shout when we need to listen.

Feelings of invisibility and hopelessness explode into violence and killing.

Violence and killing fan hatred and fear, sparking more violence and killing.

Most believe it was Mahatma Gandhi who said, “An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”

Since I’ve started praying to the Immaculate Conception, I notice things that give me hope.

The Catholic catechism says, “Prayer is the life of the new heart.”

Maybe with prayer, we can listen to each other and together find a way to life, liberty from want, and the pursuit of happiness for all.

 

In the words of poet Mary Oliver, my prayer has opened “the doorway into thanks, and a silence in which another voice may speak.”

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Theresa Tighe

Theresa M. Tighe attended her freshman year of college at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in 1967-68 and never forgot the kindness and peace she found there. She found her calling at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. She spent nearly 30 years as a reporter and feature writer at the St. Louis Post Dispatch. She is retired and lives in St. Louis surrounded by family and the friends of a lifetime. She is now a Providence Associate.

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