That key Marian Feast, the Immaculate Conception of Mary, a day late this year. Coming in a week of national mourning here in South Africa for Nelson Mandela, a subdued Feast.
The living reality is there though, overlooked or neglected but enduring in the hearts and lives of the faithful.
From the Apostolic Constitution issued by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854 on the Immaculate Conception:
Accordingly, the Fathers have never ceased to call the Mother of God the lily among thorns, the land entirely intact, the Virgin undefiled, immaculate, ever blessed, and free from all contagion of sin, she from whom was formed the new Adam, the flawless, brightest, and most beautiful paradise of innocence, immortality and delights planted by God himself and protected against all the snares of the poisonous serpent, the incorruptible wood that the worm of sin had never corrupted, the fountain ever clear and sealed with the power of the Holy Spirit, the most holy temple, the treasure of immortality, the one and only daughter of life — not of death — the plant not of anger but of grace, through the singular providence of God growing ever green contrary to the common law, coming as it does from a corrupted and tainted root.
Testimony of St Bernadette Soubirous concerning the Apparition at Lourdes, 25 March, 1858:
“I went every day for a fortnight, and each day I asked her who she was–and this petition always made her smile. After the fortnight I asked her three times consecutively. She always smiled. At last I tried for the fourth time. She stopped smiling. With her arms down, she raised her eyes to heaven and then, folding her hands over her breast she said, ‘I am the Immaculate Conception.’ Then I went back to M. le Curé to tell him that she had said she was the Immaculate Conception, and he asked was I absolutely certain. I said yes, and so as not to forget the words, I had repeated them all the way home.”