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Advent calendar 2023 - 8 December

Two women at home in Afghanistan.

The man replied, ‘It was the woman you put with me; she gave me fruit and I ate it.’

Genesis 3:12

Today’s feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary opens with the Genesis story of humanity’s fall into sin. Following the eating of the forbidden fruit, the first humans fall at once into evasion and blame.  

As we read how Adam places the blame on Eve, we may perhaps think of women throughout the world who are abused or marginalised. Globally, women are less likely than men to be involved in decision making, to own land or property, or to have access to education, technology and employment. 

In Afghanistan, since the Taliban returned to power in 2021, one of the great harms is to the status and life chances of women and young girls.80% of Afghan school-aged girls are out of school and only a handful of women are still able to work. 

Mary, whose immaculate conception we celebrate today, stands before us as a reminder of the dignity of all women. This young Jewish woman of humble status, whose openness to the spirit led to her saying ‘yes’ to God’s saving plan, is an example of the response each of us is invited to make to God. 

As we mark today’s feast, let us hold in our prayers all our sisters throughout the world who are oppressed or marginalised. Together with our mother Mary, let us declare our own ‘yes’ to taking part in God’s mission of hope, healing and liberation. 

Advent prayer

Loving God,  
inspire us, through the example of Mary, 
to have the courage to say ‘yes’ to your call. 
May we work tirelessly for a world  
where the rights and the dignity of all women  
are respected and supported. 

Mary, mother of God and our mother, pray for us.


As you celebrate Mary’s faith and courage, use our rosary resources to pray for a world where all people can flourish. You may like to register to join our community rosary every Thursday morning on Zoom.

Pray the rosary

Pray the rosary

Pray the rosary with your family, group or at home and use our resources to guide your reflections.