Novena for Feast of the Immaculate Conception
Mary identified herself as the Immaculate Conception during one of her appearances to Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes in 1858. The theme of Mary’s message to Bernadette and to the world was to repent and do penance. Mary also asked people to pray the rosary daily and to consecrate themselves to her immaculate heart. Her message and calls to action are as relevant for our troubled world today as they were then.
Mary, I ask your Son to bring peace to our world, which is filled with so much hatred, prejudice and brutality. I am only one small person but I ask Jesus to make me His instrument of peace. I offer my thoughts, words, and actions this day and every day for the cause of peace in our world and I consecrate myself to your immaculate heart. May every person know God’s love and forgiveness, and may we reach out to one another with love and compassion. Amen.
Mary is the only human being who was conceived without original sin. Yet Mary never considered herself to be special or different from others. Even with the Son of God in her womb, she continued to live a life of service, hurrying to help her cousin Elizabeth with her pregnancy. Her concern for the plight of the bridal couple at Cana gives us another glimpse of her compassion for others. When Jesus was on the road preaching, she was there, too, in the crowd, walking with the disciples and ministering to the needs of others.
Mary, I long to follow in your footsteps of service to others. It is not always easy for me to do. Please show me the way. Help me to see God in everyone I meet. Teach me to treat others with compassion and understanding. Walk with me as I struggle to be a servant of God in my little corner of the world. Amen.
Mention Mary, and the first thought that usually pops into our minds is that she is the mother of Jesus. Yet Mary was also a woman and, as such, she identifies with all women. We can be certain that Mary’s immaculate heart cares for women in so many parts of the world who are persecuted simply because they are women and for those women, including many in civilized societies, who suffer physical and mental abuse and mistreatment at the hands of others.
Mary, today I join with you in asking your Son to come to the aid of all women who are suffering persecution and abuse. Come, Jesus, and warm them with Your love. Let them know that You are with them and that they can cling to You and be comforted and strengthened in their pain and suffering. Then break the chains that bind them and give them hope for a peaceful life filled with love. Amen.
Imagine yourself standing with Mary in the Temple area as the scribes and Pharisees approach Jesus speaking with a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery.
(John 8:2-11) Jesus tells them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Mary is without sin but she stands quietly, her eyes on her Son. She knows that the task of judging belongs solely to God because only God can see into our hearts. We know this, also, yet how quick we are to judge the actions of others.
It is so easy, Jesus, for me to judge others. I do not want to be this way. Yet I am. I might judge the neighbor who mows his lawn when I want to sleep. Or my daughter-in-law, whose parenting method doesn’t measure up to my mark. Or my aging parent, who refuses to give up driving. You get the idea. My list is endless. Jesus, help me to overcome the temptation to judge others. Fill me with Your compassion and let it flow from me to those I would judge. Help me to follow the example of Mary, Your mother.
Since her Assumption into heaven, Mary has taken on the role of God’s special messenger to us. Through her appearances at such places as Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe, and Knock, Mary reminds us of Jesus’ call to prayer and repentance and urges us to keep our eyes focused on following her Son. We, too, are called to be God’s messengers to one another. Our message is simple. “God loves you.” We strive to deliver it through our words and actions every moment of our lives.
Jesus, thank You for sending Your mother Mary to us as Your messenger. Help me to take her words to heart, and strengthen me to be Your messenger of love to the people I hold dear and to all those I will encounter today. Let me deliver a smile to someone who needs it or a laugh to someone whose spirits need lifting. Let me interact with someone who is lonely and give a hug to a person who is feeling a bit down. Help me to hear Your voice and do Your work on earth. I am Yours, Jesus. Amen.
Most of us can recall some words to live by that we received from a parent, a teacher, or perhaps a priest. Short and succinct, these words were easy to remember and, for many of us, became an integral part of the way we live our lives. Mary’s last recorded words in Scripture are words to live by. “Do whatever He (Jesus) tells you,” she said. It’s good advice from the one who is so close to God.
Jesus, I have heard Your mother Mary’s advice. I keep it in my heart and try to heed it. But there are times when I am too tired or too self-absorbed to follow Your command. Sometimes, I feel I may be out of tune with You and do not hear Your voice. Or Your words are drowned by the din in my life. At other times, I am confused and don’t understand what it is You want me to do in a given situation. In all these times, Jesus, come to me and help me to heed Mary’s advice and follow Your commands. Amen.
Our world is enamored of titles. Having a title, big or small, makes us feel important and validates us. Mary has more titles than anyone on earth. Mother of God. Mother of the Church. Queen of Heaven and Earth. Our Lady of Guadalupe. Our Lady of Lourdes. Our Lady of Fatima. Our Lady of Sorrows. Our Lady of the Rosary. Our Lady of the Snows. And there are many more. Yet we know from her simple, humble life on earth that the title “Mary” is enough for her. She demonstrates that our words and actions are the true measure of who we are.
There are times, Mary, when I get caught up in my world and allow myself to be impressed by titles that either I or others hold. Help me, Mary, to follow your example of serving God and others. Jesus calls me to love God and to love my neighbor as myself. Help me, Mary, to be faithful to your Son’s call. Amen.
Like her Son, Mary has a great love for children. Surely it is painful for her to see so many children suffering in the world today. There are children who are dying of AIDS and other diseases, who live in refugee camps, who are victims of war, who are driven into slavery and prostitution, who are starving, and, even in our country, who are abused by family members. It is our responsibility to reach out to all children in need and to work to build a peaceful world for their future.
Jesus, it saddens me to see the suffering that so many children bear today. Let Your presence be known to them and shower them with Your compassionate love. And lead me, Jesus, to be Your servant to them. I want to help but I feel so helpless. Guide me, Jesus, in bringing Your love to the children who so desperately need it. Enable me to make decisions in my life that will contribute to building a better world for tomorrow. Help me to give children everywhere a world of peace and love. Amen.
In 1954, the United States was dedicated to Mary, the Immaculate Conception, and the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception was built in Washington, DC. Today, as our country wages a war against terrorism at home and abroad and as our national economy slides into a recession, we can turn to Mary, the patroness of our country.
Jesus, through Your mother Mary, I ask You to help the United States and its people in this time of need. Guide our government and business leaders in making decisions that will help bring peace and justice to all people throughout the world. Help us Americans to overcome any prejudice in our hearts and to act with love and compassion towards everyone. Lead us to defeat selfishness and greed and to recognize all people throughout the world as our brothers and sisters. Bring hope to the victims of economic recession, war, and terrorism. Bring peace to our nation and our world. Amen.