The reflection below was written by Sr. Anne-Louise Nadeau, SNDdeN for our Advent-Christmas 2016 reflection booklet, Journey Towards Justice: Reflections for Advent & Christmas 2016. Sr. Anne-Louise is the former program director of Pax Christi USA and the co-chair of the SND/USA Anti-Racism Team.


by Sr. Anne-Louise Nadeau, SNDdeN

Genesis 3:9-15, 20 | Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12 | Luke 1:26-38

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of God.
May it be done to me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38)

Mary, what are we to believe about you? How do we strip away the myths, the folklore, the falsehoods, and the mysteries surrounding your personhood? How do we look under the cultural and theological accoutrements that you have been veiled in for centuries and find the real you? How do we today relate to you as woman and sister; not by the titles that have accumulated over the years that attempt to define you?

You are a woman who said, “Yes” to God in your life. You are a woman who loved and trusted Joseph enough to raise a child with him. You are a Middle Eastern woman, brown-skinned, veiled, and sandaled. The only aura you had around you was from the dust storms that came upon Nazareth during the dry season.

We surmise that you were a widow, since we know that Joseph would have been with you when Jesus died. You grew to love the men and women that traveled with Jesus before and after his death, becoming a companion and wisdom figure to them. You lived, you loved, and you cared.

Were you conceived without sin as today’s feast celebrates? Does it matter? Does it take anything away from you or add anything to you? You are a woman who knew how to believe, to love your God, and to find the goodness of God in the people and the world in which you lived. Can we do any less?

Has your relationship with Mary grown and evolved over the years? If so, how?


Find more reflections and resources for the season on our Advent 2020 webpage.

4 thoughts on “Reflection for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, December 8

  1. Anne-Louise, thank you for this so realistic and open-ended musing to Mary. You make her “real.” And thanks for helping us RSCJ with our racism problems, so much appreciated.
    Deanna Rose

  2. Thank you for this most relevant, beautiful prayer. Please change the artwork to reflect Sr, Anne-Louise’s words (“brown-skinned”) as Mary WAS Middle Eastern…..

    1. Hi Joan, check out the artwork associated with the story on the homepage. That artwork was also used in the email that went out. The two different pieces together were meant to express the contrast. Thanks!

  3. i always liked the notion that the only two “infallible” doctrines in the Church are the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of Mary into heaven. I see these as beliefs about the innate goodness of humanity and that heaven is our intended “home”…in this regard, Mary represents all of humanity, not just as our Mother but as us…

Leave a Reply