Day One – November 29th, 2023 – Immaculate Conception Novena

Mary’s Spiritual Poverty

First, I would like to begin by explaining how we are going to make this novena. Each day will consist of three parts:

  1. Mary’s Example of living the Beatitude
  2. Personal Contemplation
  3. Daily Closing Prayer

I will provide you with the first and last part. The second part is entirely yours. I suggest you dedicate 15-20 minutes a day to pray this novena, giving the majority of time to your own personal contemplation. You will draw out more nourishment for your spiritual life by contemplating these Beatitudes with Mary than by reading what this amateur spiritual writer has to say. At the conclusion of today’s post, I will also include a “Contemplation Guide” to give you more help.

The First Beatitude: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Mt 5:3)

To find this first Beatitude in Mary’s life we must journey to the Temple in Jerusalem. It is the fortieth day since Jesus’ birth. According to the Mosaic Law, it is time for Mary to restore her ritual purity after childbirth and for her firstborn son to be ransomed.[1]

To take place, a sacrifice must be made for both intentions. According to the Mosaic Law (cf. Lev 12:6-8), the typical sacrificial offering was a year-old male lamb to pay the child’s “ransom” and a turtledove to atone for the mother’s impurity.[2] As we read in Luke 2:23-24, however, the offering made at Jesus’ Presentation was only “two turtledoves”. Thus, Mary’s offering was not the typical offering. In fact, it was less than typical.

Why? Although the customary sacrifice on this occasion was a year-old male lamb and a turtledove, the Mosaic Law made an exception for poor families. Poor couples who could not afford a lamb were allowed to offer two turtledoves in its place.

Thus, as Luke’s Gospel tells us, Mary was a poor mother. Along with her poor husband, Joseph, she presented a poor offering: only “two turtledoves”. But in her poverty, Mary was rich!

Since he did not have enough money to purchase a lamb, Joseph carried into the Temple two turtledoves in a cage. Nevertheless, Mary carried the true Lamb in her arms. In her poverty she was rich!

Being poor in spirit is not about being penniless but about needing less. It is about wanting to need only what is necessary for true happiness. God is the one thing necessary. Throughout her earthly life—and even more perfectly now in her glorious life—Mary knew the true joy of needing God alone.

In your own prayer time today, contemplate this mystery. Contemplate Mary in the Temple with the Lamb of God in her arms. Other mothers might have also been present that day. While Mary was free to concern herself only with Christ, they would have probably not had such freedom. They would have had to worry about several things: the son or daughter in their arms, the lamb at their side, and worthiness of their offering before God. Mary only had one thing to worry about: Christ. She had the one thing necessary.

Are you convinced that Christ alone through Mary is all you need? Or is the world, or the flesh, or the pride of life[3] trying to convince you that you need something else? Is there something else that is vying for your heart’s attention? Something other than the love of God? Someone other than God? What is God calling you to start detaching yourself from through today’s meditation? How are you going to start? How are you going to effectively act on this inspiration so that you are poor spirit but rich in God alone?

Seize the day and make it all Hers!

Fr. Christopher Etheridge, IVE


[1] Cf. Leviticus 12

[2] This does not mean that Mary was in fact ritual impure. It was a given of Jewish law that due to blood-loss during childbirth a mother automatically became ritually impure. Mary is the Immaculate Conception. She is recognized as being three-times pure: before, during, and after childbirth. Her obedience to the Mosaic Law manifests all the more her virtue. She presents herself, along with her Son, to the Temple more out of virtuous obedience than out of ritual necessity.

[3] “Our Lord not only preached poverty of spirit; he also lived it, and he lived it in such a way as to conquer the three kinds of pride: the pride of what one has, which is economic pride; the pride of what one is, which is social pride; and the pride of what one knows, which is intellectual pride.” Fulton J. Sheen, The Cross and the Beatitudes, ch. 4.