Prayers for December

The Month of the Immaculate Conception

During Advent, as we prepare for the birth of Christ at Christmas, we also celebrate one of the great feasts of the Catholic Church. The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (December 8) is not only a celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary but a foretaste of our own redemption. It is such an important feast that the Church has declared the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception a Holy Day of Obligation, and the Immaculate Conception is the patronal feast of the United States.

The Blessed Virgin Mary: What Mankind Was Meant to Be

In keeping the Blessed Virgin free from the stain of sin from the moment of her conception, God presents us with a glorious example of what mankind was meant to be. Mary is truly the second Eve, because, like Eve, she entered the world without sin. Unlike Eve, she remained sinless throughout her life—a life that she dedicated fully to the will of God. The Eastern Fathers of the Church referred to her as "without stain" (a phrase that appears frequently in the Eastern liturgies and hymns to Mary); in Latin, that phrase is immaculatus: "immaculate."

The Immaculate Conception Is a Result of Christ's Redemption

The Immaculate Conception was not, as many people mistakenly believe, a precondition for Christ's act of redemption but the result of it. Standing outside of time, God knew that Mary would humbly submit herself to His will, and in His love for this perfect servant, He applied to her at the moment of her conception the redemption, won by Christ, that all Christians receive at their Baptism.

It is appropriate, then, that the Church has long declared the month in which the Blessed Virgin not only was conceived but gave birth to the Savior of the world as the Month of the Immaculate Conception.

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A Prayer to the Virgin Immaculate

The Immaculate Heart of Mary
The Immaculate Heart of Mary. Doug Nelson/E+/Getty Images

O Virgin Immaculate, Mother of God and my Mother, from thy sublime height turn upon me thine eyes of pity. Filled with confidence in thy goodness and knowing full well thy power, I beseech thee to extend to me thine assistance in the journey of life, which is so full of danger for my soul. And in order that I may never be the slave of the devil through sin, but may ever live with my heart humble and pure, I entrust myself wholly to thee. I consecrate my heart to thee for ever, my only desire being to love thy divine Son Jesus. Mary, none of thy devout servants has ever perished; may I too be saved. Amen.

An Explanation of the Prayer to the Virgin Immaculate

In this prayer to the Virgin Mary, the Immaculate Conception, we ask for the assistance we need in order to avoid sin. Just as we might ask our own mother for help, we turn to Mary, "Mother of God and my Mother," that she may intercede for us.

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An Invocation to Mary

Southwestern France, Lourdes, statue of Virgin Mary
Southwestern France, Lourdes, statue of Virgin Mary. CALLE MONTES/Getty Images

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

An Explanation of the Invocation to Mary

This brief prayer, known as an aspiration or ejaculation, is most famous for its presence on the Miraculous Medal, one of the most popular Catholic sacramentals. "Conceived without sin" is a reference to Mary's Immaculate Conception.

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A Prayer of Pope Pius XII

Immaculate Conception
Pascal Deloche/Getty Images

Enraptured by the splendor of your heavenly beauty, and impelled by the anxieties of the world, we cast ourselves into your arms, O Immaculate Mother of Jesus and our Mother, Mary, confident of finding in your most loving heart appeasement of our ardent desires, and a safe harbor from the tempests which beset us on every side.

Though degraded by our faults and overwhelmed by infinite misery, we admire and praise the peerless richness of sublime gifts with which God has filled you, above every other mere creature, from the first moment of your conception until the day on which, after your assumption into heaven, He crowned you Queen of the Universe.

O crystal fountain of faith, bathe our minds with the eternal truths! O fragrant Lily of all holiness, captivate our hearts with your heavenly perfume! O Conqueress of evil and death, inspire in us a deep horror of sin, which makes the soul detestable to God and a slave of hell!

O well-beloved of God, hear the ardent cry which rises up from every heart. Bend tenderly over our aching wounds. Convert the wicked, dry the tears of the afflicted and oppressed, comfort the poor and humble, quench hatreds, sweeten harshness, safeguard the flower of purity in youth, protect the holy Church, make all men feel the attraction of Christian goodness. In your name, resounding harmoniously in heaven, may they recognize that they are brothers, and that the nations are members of one family, upon which may there shine forth the sun of a universal and sincere peace.

Receive, O most sweet Mother, our humble supplications, and above all obtain for us that, one day, happy with you, we may repeat before your throne that hymn which today is sung on earth around your altars: You are all-beautiful, O Mary! You are the glory, you are the joy, you are the honor of our people! Amen.

An Explanation of the Prayer of Pope Pius XII

This theologically rich prayer was written by Pope Pius XII in 1954 in honor of the 100th anniversary of the promulgation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

Turkey, Istanbul, Mosaic of Virgin Mary and Jesus in Haghia Sophia Mosque
Turkey, Istanbul, Mosaic of Virgin Mary and Jesus in Haghia Sophia Mosque. Tetra Images/Getty Images

The beautiful prayer of praise to the Blessed Virgin Mary was written by Saint Ephrem the Syrian, a deacon and doctor of the Church who died in 373. Saint Ephrem is one of the Eastern fathers of the Church most often invoked in support of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. More »