Can I spend a moment gushing about how much I LOVE living in Washington D.C.? For today's holy day of obligation, I'm taking my family to Mass on the patronal day of the patronal church of the United States, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Celebrating the conception of our Blessed Mother in a beautiful shrine, gaining an indulgence, finishing my religious shopping at the church store, AND eating a yumming lunch. This puts "one stop Christmas shopping" in a whole new light.
(Of course, Mass might be horribly crowded and my newborn is in full colic mode today. More things to "offer up" to Christ just as our Holy Father advises in his latest encyclical.)
Also, here is some interesting facts on why the US Catholic Bishops chose to put our country under the protection of the Immaculate Conception.
"Catholic life in the United States stands under the protection of the Immaculate Conception. To guide the development of the Church in this country, our bishops long ao chose Mary Immaculate as national patron. Our Beginnings are unique. The United States represents the only fully industrialized nation without a pre-Englightenment culture. This nation was born at the end of the eighteenth century, a time when men prized the ability of human reason alone to shape the political order. The Founding Fathers may not have been overly hostile to religion, but they chose to separate religious institutions and practices from the running of the nation. The Founding Fathers however did not envisage that unaided human reason can lead people astry, especially in ethical quesitons. Pope Benedict XVI warns agains the isolation and dependencies that crop up inexplicably when social and political liberties are promoted for their own sake. The Pope foresees anarchy. The Immaculate Conception shines forth in a world that no longer can procure its basic happiness." (Magnificat, pg. 23).