The Immaculate Conception
Holy Days and Holidays
The holy day called the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God starts the year by celebrating the Virgin Mary. Catholics are reminded of the role that she played in the salvation story. All Christians celebrate the birth of Christ at Christmas, but a week later, Catholics also celebrate the role Mary played in the story by bringing Christ into the world. The holy day is celebrated on the first of January and in most countries, it is a holy day of obligation meaning that Catholics must attend Mass and recognize the importance of the day. The feast began in the East and was later picked up by the West. It has always been meant to celebrate Mary's motherhood. She is often referred to as 'Mother of God', which, when translated from Greek, also means God-bearer. The term is a way to assert the divinity of Christ to ensure that Mary, who was the mother of Jesus, is also considered to be the mother of God.
Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God
The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary celebrates Mary's conception of Jesus without sin. The Blessed Virgin Mary was kept free of original sin from her moment of conception and was filled with the sanctifying grace normally conferred during baptism. This unique Catholic feast is a very old feast within the Church. It was celebrated across the church as early as the sixth century. Not only does it celebrate Jesus' conception within a virgin, but it also commemorates the death of Mary and her bodily assumption into Heaven. Mary was taken into heaven before her body could even begin to decay. This fact foreshadows the rest of the world's eventual bodily resurrection, which will take place at the end of time. This feast generally falls on either December 8th or 9th, depending on the station within the world.
The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
The Solemnity of Corpus Christi is often called the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ today. This celebration dates back to the 13th century, but it actually celebrates something much older: the institution of the Sacrament of Holy Communion at the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. Some Lutheran and Anglican churches commemorate this particular holy day as well. The celebration itself does not highlight a particular event the life of Christ, but rather it celebrates the actually Body of Christ as it is consecrated during Mass. Corpus Christi is held on the Thursday after the Trinity Sunday, though some churches choose to move it to the following Sunday. Celebrating the holy day on Thursday associates it closer to the Last Supper. This feast first appeared on Christian calendars because of petitions that ran through the churches in the 13th century. Today is it one of the well-known Catholic holy days.
Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, celebrates the life of the foster father of Jesus Christ. St. Joseph was the husband of the Virgin Mary and therefore, the foster father to Christ. Joseph was likely born in Bethlehem and he probably died in Nazareth. He had an important role in God's overall salvation plan because he legally placed Jesus in the line of David, the line in which the prophets had predicted the Messiah would be born. Joseph acted as father and guardian to Jesus and though none of his words are recorded in the gospels, he was later venerated by some of the great Christians of the Middle Ages. At that time, Joseph became a patron saint who protected the universal family.