In Jerusalem, as in other parts of the world, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady was celebrated on 9th December. On this occasion, one of the three new priests, the secretary of the Custody of the Holy Land, Fr. Marco Carrara, presided the solemn Holy Mass.
The reason for the postponement by one day is to be found in the liturgical precedence of the Sunday of Advent over the solemnity. The solemnity has a deep bond with the spirituality of the Friars Minor, who was the main force behind spreading the worship and the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, with the feast-day having been approved by Pope Sixtus IV in 1447.
On this day of celebration, it was the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton, the concelebrant, who commented on the readings and the Gospel of the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. He placed the accent on three points: the mystery of Mary’s vocation, her doubts and questions and lastly, her “Here I am.”
The Custos emphasized how the greeting by the Archangel Gabriel “Be joyful, you who are favored, the Lord is with you” is the heart and the summary of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, who has been filled and will be filled forever with the Grace of God. "In Luke’s account,” the Custos continued, “Mary is a girl who is perturbed by what she is told and she sets forth her doubts and asks questions. There is always turmoil in the accounts of vocation, a sign that we are aware of the greatness of what God is asking us".
From this turmoil, the only thing that she answers is “Here I am!” Fr. Patton summarizes this by identifying it with the desire to become a gift for the brothers saying to God “I am at your disposal with dreams, desires, doubts, and turmoil, limits and questions, which I put into your hands," to return to God the great gifts received.
The solemn celebration ended with some words by Fr. Marco Carrara, who wished that everyone can “continue celebrating this feast-day every day, in this family-like atmosphere of affection and brotherly closeness."