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An Important Message on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception
December 8th, 2016

In honor of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, we wanted to take a moment to share Fr. Michael Silloway's homily from Mass this morning.

Homily for All School Mass
December 8, 2016
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, enkindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your spirit and they shall be created and you shall renew the face of the earth.

Mary mother of Jesus be a mother to me now.

In the month of May, the month of Mary, in 1920, a little boy was born to a Polish mom and dad in the small town of Wadowice, Poland. As a kid he loved playing outside, hiking, skiing, swimming, every sport under the sun. His mother would teach him how to read and encourage him in his elementary studies. He was very close to his mother. When he was only 9 years old, she died of kidney and heart failure, leaving him with an older brother in med school and a military dad.

Dad did an exceptional job raising the boys alone, but 3 years later the brother would die after catching the scarlet fever from a patient he was treating.

Sadly, 6 years later, the young Polish boy, now just 20 years old, lost his dad to a massive heart attack. As a young adult, still learning to make his way in the world, he was alone.

This guy had faith, to be sure. His love for Christ is what held him together during so much loss so early in his life. But he longed for a mom...someone to care for him as only a mom can, to always be there for him in only ways that a mom can, someone to support him with a motherly heart. He turned to Mary.

Mary, Mother of Jesus, be a mother to me now.

A strong and powerful and loving devotion to Mary grows in his heart. His love for her makes his love for Christ catch fire. He hears a call from the Lord to become a priest.

Nazis march through his town, close his university, execute or jail his professors. Kill some of his more politically involved friends. Horror and terror reign in the streets of his beloved Poland.

The bishop takes the seminary school underground to protect the guys becoming priests from the Nazis, and a year after WWII ends, he was ordained a priest. He attributed his survival and the grace of ordination to his love of Christ through His mother, Mary.

Mary, mother of Jesus, be a mother to me now.

Not long after, he becomes a bishop and leads his flock with the heart of a shepherd, relying constantly on the intercession and protection of the Blessed Mother. Later he would be made a cardinal and put in charge of Poland’s largest diocese...Krakow. As the responsibilities of his ministry grew and grew, he drew closer and closer to his Mother, begging her to help him love his people as Christ would.

Then pope dies. All the cardinals gather in Rome to elect the next one. For over 500 years, it had always been an Italian cardinal who was elected Pope. But this time, the Holy Spirit led them to choose a dark-horse candidate...a young Polish cardinal who had suffered much, persevered much, and loved much. The young boy from Wadowice became Pope John Paul II. And he chose as his motto: Totus Tuus Marie...Totally Yours Mary.

As he took leadership of the universal Church, he prayed:

Mary Mother of Jesus, be a mother to me now!

In May, the month of Mary, on the 13th day, the Feast Day of Our Lady of Fatima, in 1981, as he cruised in the popemobile to greet pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square, a communist-hired thug drew a gun and shot the pope in the abdomen. He slumped over, bleeding profusely and in great pain. Losing consciousness, he looked up at all the statues of the saints that stand above the colonnade of St. Peter’s Square and was saddened that there was no depiction of the spiritual Mother he loved so much. As he passed out, he prayed:

Mary Mother of Jesus, be a mother to me now.

He survived the attack...the bullet missed all his organs and major arteries. He attributed the saving of his life to Mary guiding the bullet through his body. The doctors gave him the bullet as a souvenir, and he in turn brought it on his pilgrimage to Fatima in Portugal, where Mary had appeared, and put it as the gem in the top of Mary’s crown.

Many years later, during a study abroad in college, I went to Rome and my classmates and I tried to visit Pope John Paul II in the hospital...his health had been rapidly declining and he was having tons of surgeries toward the end. By some miracle, the Vatican guards let us in the hospital and said we could pray for the pope in the hospital chapel. We offered a rosary for him and sang a song-prayer to Mary called “As I Kneel” that you’ll hear at communion today.

Our time in the hospital ran out and we returned to our hotel for dinner. A telegraph came to us from the Vatican. No joke...a legit telegraph, and the director of our program read it to all of us as we ate our pasta: “The Holy Father was watching your visit on closed circuit television and was moved by your presence at the hospital today and is grateful for your prayers, especially your asking the intercession of the Blessed Mother through the rosary and the hymn to Mary you sang. He cordially imparts upon you and your families his apostolic blessing.”

He would pass from this life unto eternity with the Lord and the Blessed Mother and all the Saints just two months later.

Mary, Mother of Jesus, be a mother to me now.

Friends, the Immaculate Conception celebrates the fact that God prepared Mary to be the mother of His Son, Jesus...that she was conceived without the stain of original sin that all of humanity is born with and needs Baptism to wash away. She was made perfect by Christ to become the dwelling place of Christ, and just as she is the perfect mother to Him, so she is the perfect mother to us.

We all need a mother. They give life. They nourish, they care, they caress, they soothe, they go mama-bear when threats rise against us, they lead us to what is best for us, they embrace us and hold us, they encourage us.

Mary, the Immaculate Conception, is absolutely the perfect mom. Her role now is to be spiritual mother to all of Christ’s brothers and sisters, all the children of God the Father.

Struggling with a particular sin? Turn to your Immaculate Mother with a Rosary, and watch her crush the head of Satan. Having a hard time understanding Jesus? Pray a memorare because no one knows Jesus better than His Immaculate Mom. In a moment of crisis? Say a Hail Mary, because what could be more soothing and reassuring than KNOWING you have a mom in Heaven who loves you as much as she loves her only-born Son on your side? At any moment of any day, pray:

Mary, Mother of Jesus, be a mother to me now.

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