Don’t be surprised by smudges on foreheads today. It’s Ash Wednesday, kicking off the first of 40 days of Lent. The statue of Mary above is found in the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, a surprising place for two reasons: this refuge is right in the heart of New York City’s Times Square and it’s an Episcopal church. Mary…not just for Catholics!
Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. What does that mean? According to Pope Pius IX, Mary was given grace to be sinless at the instant of her conception:
“The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.” (Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, 1854)