The Roman Catholic world celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception today, Wednesday, December 8, 2021.

Immaculate Conception is a Church’s dogma, asserting that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was preserved free from the effects of the sin of Adam (usually referred to as “original sin”) from the first instant of her conception (Britannica).

Pope Pius IX proclaimed 167 years ago (December 8, 1854) his bull “Ineffabilis Deus,” which states that “The Most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, preserved exempt from all stain of original sin.”

Mary’s sinless conception is the reason why Catholics refer to Mary as “full of grace” (BBC).

This is the second year that the feast is observed amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

In 2020, Rev. Msgr. Walter R. Rossi, rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC, explained the importance of celebrating the Immaculate Conception in a Q & A on the Basilica’s website.

“We can say that the Immaculate Conception was the beginning of our salvation and is now one of the central doctrines of our faith. Because of this, we celebrate the feast day to highlight the significant place Our Lady has in salvation history. This feast is so essential that the Church has raised it to the rank of a Holy Day of Obligation,” he said.

Rossi further said the doctrine of Immaculate Conception is still meaningful in the lives of Catholics, saying it “encourages us to do our best to remain free from sin.”

“Although we are all born with original sin and through the grace of Baptism are freed from sin, in the course of our life, because of human weakness, we fail and commit sin. The Immaculate Conception reminds us that if we cooperate with God ‘s grace, as did the Blessed Virgin Mary, we can lead a life as free from sin as is humanly possible,” he said.

At the Angelus on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on Dec. 8, 2020, Pope Francis said Mary’s Immaculate Conception encourages Christians towards the path of conversion (Vatican News).

The pontiff said conversion is a difficult journey and this struggle is the faithful’s path for becoming “holy” and “immaculate.”

The words of the Pope are reassuring.

Conversion starts within oneself.

This internal journey is always a struggle. It does not always travel in a straight line. It zigs and it zags; it goes up and it goes down.

What matters is keeping one’s faith intact.