By The Culture of Life Studies Team
On December 8, Catholics all over the world celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, recognizing that God created Mary free from the stain of original sin from the very first moment of her existence to be the mother of our Savior.
As you work to incorporate the culture of life into your studies this school year, don’t forget the many Catholic feasts and special days which can, with a little creativity, offer many opportunities to spread the pro-life message to your students and children. In addition to attending Mass, here are a few ideas (with a culture of life twist!) to celebrate the Immaculate Conception of our Blessed Mother:
Have a special celebration
As a Church, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception because without our Blessed Mother and her willingness to serve God, salvation history would have taken a very different turn. Plan a special tea party with a special cake. Younger children can color pictures of the Blessed Mother depicting her during one of her apparitions or during a significant moment in her life—such as the Annunciation when she was called to become the mother of God. Find free coloring pages of Our Lady here. The best gift that you can give the Blessed Mother on this feast is your devotion to Jesus and your willingness to serve God. Make a spiritual bouquet card, offering up prayers and sacrifices in honor of the Blessed Mother’s intentions. Visit this site for more ideas for food and decorations for celebrating Marian feasts.
Celebrate with the rosary
There are many instances in our lives during which we can say yes to God on a daily basis, just as Mary did. Another way to honor Mary and ask for her help in always saying yes to God is to say the rosary—her favorite prayer. You can choose to say one decade or one mystery of the rosary, but remember that all 20 decades and four mysteries tell the story of salvation.
As a people of life, we should constantly remind ourselves that Jesus came into this world as a tiny child—small, helpless, and innocent. Remind younger children that we must protect and speak for those children. Encourage them to offer up their prayers for all preborn babies and their mothers—that they may be safe and healthy. With older children who are familiar with abortion, explain that we must work together to end abortion and protect all life. Pray for Mary’s intercession in ending abortion and other threats to life. Without heavenly assistance, we cannot hope to win the fight for life in our country.
Make a cupcake rosary
While the Blessed Mother probably didn’t eat cupcakes, cake is a traditional celebratory food all around the world. Decorate cupcakes with blue and white, the colors usually associated with the Blessed Mother. You may also use roses or other flower decorations. As you bake, decorate, and eat your cupcakes, say a prayer for all moms who are carrying babies. Remind older students that, because of the sin of abortion, not every child is able to have a birthday. Every human person is precious and deserves respect and dignity, no matter how small he is. If there are a lot of people participating in your celebration, you can make a cupcake rosary with one decade, five decades, or all 20 decades, using one cupcake for each bead. Have each of your guests bring a certain number of cupcakes to help you complete the rosary. Pray the rosary, then end your celebration with dessert!
Learn a Marian hymn
Consider learning a special hymn to Our Lady. Some of the most beautiful hymns of the Catholic Church are devoted to honoring Jesus through His mother. Songs like “Hail Mary, Gentle Woman,” “Ave Maria,” and “Sing of Mary” are beautiful tributes to our special mother.
In addition, praying and singing in Latin to praise God is a special tradition in the Catholic Church. Expose children to the beauty of Latin prayers and hymns from a young age so that they learn to appreciate the Church’s history and musical tradition. Gregorian Chants are especially beautiful. If you are unfamiliar with Gregorian Chants, find a recording to play. Younger children can learn to chant the “Ave Maria,” while older students can learn a hymn in Latin such as the “Salve Regina.”
Pray a litany
Over the centuries, Mary has been called upon for her help and intercession in times of trouble. One of the oldest traditions in asking for Mary’s help or to thank her for favors received is to pray a litany. The Litany of Loreto was written in the Middle Ages and has been given a prominent place in the devotional prayers of the Church. Find the litany at this site.
Think about the various titles of Our Lady. Why do we honor her as Spiritual Vessel or Singular Vessel of Devotion? When God created Mary, He made her without the stain of original sin—meaning that she was preserved from the sin of Adam and Eve in order to fulfill her special purpose of becoming the mother of God. Mary housed and carried Baby Jesus in her womb for nine months and cared for Him as He grew into a toddler, child, teenager, and adult. In the Litany of Loreto, Mary is also called Ark of the Covenant because God actually dwelt within her as a preborn child, just as He dwelt among the Israelites in the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament. Isn’t that amazing?
The Blessed Virgin Mary has a special role as the mother of God and it is fitting that we honor her for her obedience to God’s will and for her steadfast faith in God. By honoring Mary and trying to imitate her, we become closer to Our Lord Jesus. Mary, who never wants any attention for herself, always shows us the way to her Son and intercedes on our behalf for our needs and wants. Celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception with joy and thanksgiving to God for giving us a friend and model of virtue.
For more great ideas on how to incorporate the culture of life into your family or classroom, visit the Culture of Life Studies Program website at cultureoflifestudies.com.