A Marian Feast particular to the Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus, who are called to honour The Sacred Humanity of Christ.
The Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus, celebrates with the Church, those feasts which speak of the Mysteries of the life of Christ. In recognition of the Virgin Mary’s part in the life of Jesus, 8th December was chosen to be a special Marian Feast to be celebrated within the Congregation.
Without Mary’s “fiat” there would be no Jesus, Saviour, Divine Messiah. For years, the early Church had debated her Immaculate Conception but recognized the special place Mary had in God’s plan, as the church celebrated her conception. It was Pope Pius 1X who solemnly pronounced on December 8th 1854, that the most blessed Virgin Mary was preserved from original sin at the moment of her conception, by virtue of the merits of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Four years later, the approval of this declaration came in the form of the apparitions of Lourdes, when Mary identified herself to Bernadette Soubirous as “I am the Immaculate Conception”
In our Rule of Life, we have a quote from Mother Marie St. Charles, where on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, she prays that the Congregation will remain faithful to following God’s ways and continue to respond to his plans.
(Rule of Life p.44)
Traditionally this feast was celebrated by the erection of small Marian Altars in various places associated with the apostolate of the time, whether it be in the house or school etc. Prior to the feast a novena was kept by saying the prayer –
“You are all fair O Mary, without original sin.
You are the glory of Jerusalem,
You are the Joy of Israel
You are the highest honour of our Race”
The day before the feast was a fast day and on the day itself, Torch lit processions went from shrine to shrine ,singing hymns and saying prayers, to ask the protection of Mary on the Congregation and the mission of each one. In England there are memories of being “inside” the Convent , which for young pupils in the school was a special treat.
Even the Muslim Faith recognises Mary , known to them as Miriam, as a sublime model of purity and piety and in some circles , she is given a prominent status being the supreme model of sanctity and maternal virtue.
At the end of his letter, REJOICE, to Consecrated Men and Women in preparation for the year dedicated to Consecrated Life, Pope Francis states that:
“in Mary, the church is all who journey together; in the love of those who go out to the most fragile…..in Mary each one of us , driven by the Spirit, fulfils our own vocation to move out !”
It may not be by devotional torch lit processions but by carrying the joy of the Gospel to the ends of the earth and illuminate the fringes of the world, to quote Pope Francis, that we as Daughters of Jesus are challenged to follow in the footsteps of Mary, by joyfully manifesting the Good News of Salvation wherever we are.
Mary Clare Mason