Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, today celebrated Mass for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
In his homily, Cardinal Wuerl explained that because Mary was to be the Virgin Mother of the Son of God, she was preserved free from any stain of original sin (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n.490). “It seems so appropriate that the celebration of the Immaculate Conception of Mary would take place in Advent as we prepare for the celebration of the coming of the Word of God into our world – the Nativity of Jesus in Bethlehem,” he said.
“In a sense, the Immaculate Conception of Mary and her motherhood of the Lord Jesus together are the fount from which all of her other titles and privileges flow.” The many depictions of Mary that could be seen throughout the basilica and its chapels are examples of the Church’s devotion to the Blessed Mother, the Cardinal explained, and cited a few: Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Guadalupe. And he continued, “A most recent title echoed in recent Synods on the New Evangelization and on the Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization highlighted by both Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis is ‘Star of the New Evangelization.’”
“Given the challenges and concerns of our day, we should not be surprised that popes from Blessed Paul VI through Saint John Paul II through Pope Benedict XVI to Pope Francis all recognize that the New Evangelization is a response to real and urgent need in the Church today. The context of our faith proclamation is the highly secular view of life in our culture that bleaches out recognition and appreciation of God and religious faith,” said the Cardinal.
“Secularization with its focus solely on the here and now has fashioned two generations of Catholics who do not know even the basics of our faith,” continued the Cardinal. “It is against this backdrop that you and I are invited to be active participants in the proclamation of the Good News that God loves us, God has sent his Son among us to offer us new life. Mary, the humble and Immaculate Virgin of Nazareth, is lifted up by the Church today in all of her grace and glory as the Star of the New Evangelization. If Christian life is defined by an encounter with Jesus, then surely we can look to Mary to shed light on our effort to hear all over again the message of her Son, the words of the Word made flesh in her.”
Cardinal Wuerl concluded his homily by calling on the faithful to look to Mary as the source of renewed commitment in faith, “Star of the New Evangelization, help us to bear radiant witness to communion, service, ardent and generous faith, justice and love of the poor, that the joy of the Gospel may reach to ends of the earth illuminating even the fringes of our world.”