By Susan Ciancio

Today is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception! This is the day we celebrate the fact that Mary was conceived without original sin.

God knew He could not send His Son to be conceived and carried within a woman who had the stain of original sin, so He made Mary perfect from the very first moment she was created. That is why we call her the Immaculate Conception.

In addition to going to Mass today, here are eight things you can do alone or with your family to make this feast day extra special.

1) Say the Rosary (or even just a decade).

Reflect on the Hail Mary prayers. Think about the role Mary played in the life of her Son, in our salvation story, and in our individual lives.

2) Say the Memorare.

This is such a beautiful prayer—and it’s one every Catholic should know. Teach your kids to say it, as well.

3) Learn about Mary’s fiat with CLSP’s lesson Honoring the Blessed Mother.

In this downloadable lesson, students learn the story of the Annunciation and Mary’s “yes” to God to become the mother of our Savior. Through Mary’s example, we learn how to love, affirm, and respect every human being as a gift during every stage of life.

4) Learn about American Life League’s Marian Blue Wave.

The Marian Blue Wave is a Rosary initiative begun by ALL to encourage people to pray for an end to abortion and all Planned Parenthood facilities. Older kids and teens can take responsibility for saying a Rosary on their own. Explain to them how they’re making a difference with their prayers.

5) Talk to your kids and teach them about Mary as our spiritual mother.

Explain the importance of our spiritual mother in heaven and how, just like a real mother, we can go to her with our problems, concerns, and troubles and ask her to take them to her Son.

6) Watch this educational video featuring Fr. Mike Schmitz.

Fr. Mike explains this feast day and how Mary is the new Eve.

7) Explain that Catholics venerate Mary as the mother of God.

Some people don’t understand this, so it’s important that you teach your children that, when we pray and talk to Mary, we are asking for her intercession. We are asking for her to carry our prayers to her Son.

8) Prepare for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Use this elementary-age lesson from CLSP to learn about another Marian feast day coming up in just a few days. Our Lady of Guadalupe: Honoring the Patroness of Preborn Children gives students an overview of the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe as she appeared to St. Juan Diego, engages students in a discussion of prayer for preborn babies, and concludes with a fun activity.

This very special day is one we should take extra time to reflect on Mary, her yes, and on the vital role she plays as our spiritual mother.

Hail Mary, pray for us!