Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a holy day of obligation for Catholics worldwide. It is a day that we honor the Blessed Virgin Mary, who--when She appeared to St. Bernadette in 1858--actually called Herself this, saying to the little peasant girl, "I am the Immaculate Conception."
Many people mistake this term, thinking it refers to the fact that Mary, despite being a virgin, conceived and gave birth to the Baby Jesus. The term actually speaks to the fact that Mary, the Mother of the Savior of the human race, was born without original sin through a singular privilege granted by God. This title reminds us that She, and She alone, is the one human being who was born sinless and possessed grace from the beginning.
I am planning to attend a morning Mass at my local church. It's a nice enough church, but rather plain and unadorned inside. I keep thinking of the glorious Catholic churches I was lucky enough to see when I was in Nice with my husband just a few days ago. (The interior of one is pictured below, but the photo really doesn't do it justice). As I already mentioned, I was reduced to tears the first time we walked inside one of these exquisite French churches. I wouldn't mind being able to attend all Sunday Masses and holy days of obligation in such heavenly surroundings!