(I posted this last year on my old blog, “Musings of a Catholic Mom.” It was one of my last posts there before coming here to WordPress.
Oh, and the statue in the photo above adorns the lovely Immaculate Conception Church in Fairbanks, Alaska. For more photos of this beautiful little church, click here.)
I remember when Joe and I were dating and I was still a Baptist, we had many in-depth conversations about Mary. I had always known that Catholics gave Mary special honor, even naming churches after her and reciting prayers to her. I never really understood why this was. Joe explained to me that Catholics believe that Mary was preserved from sin–and never sinned– so that Christ would have a pure vessel to enter this world through; in fact, he was surprised to learn that other Christian faiths did not teach this. I dismissed this concept at first, saying that I did not believe that at all; Mary was no different from you and me, and was a sinner just like everyone else. I figured God must have chosen her because she was particularly faithful and holy–after all, some sinners are more faithful than holy than others.
One night during a get-together with some of Joe’s high school friends, many of whom were Catholic, someone brought up the subject of the Immaculate Conception. I had heard this term before, and never thought much of it; I assumed it referred to Christ’s conception by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb. That was one thing all Christian faiths taught, and I could wrap my head around it. Someone asked the group if they knew what the Immaculate Conception referred to. Several people said, “why, it’s Jesus’ conception in the womb of Mary, of course.” The person then explained that even though many Catholics have this notion, it actually means that Mary was preserved from original sin at the moment of her conception. (I’m pretty sure Joe knew the right answer, by the way.) This REALLY confused me, because now I’m like, “WHAT?? The Church teaches that Mary was conceived in her mother’s womb in the same way that Jesus was? Like without sex??” Well, no, I was assured; Mary was conceived in the usual manner, but God protected her from the sin of Adam and Eve. (I later learned that many Protestants hold the mistaken view that Catholic Church teach a virginal conception of Mary.) I found that this was something I could wrap my head around, and it made perfect sense. Why, after all, would God not want a pure vessel for His Son? Why wouldn’t he make a sinless mother to bear Him?
I found this wonderful video by Scott Hahn, who explains beautifully why Catholics celebrate Mary’s Immaculate Conception.
It’s me again, back to 2013! I hope you have a wonderful day, and you’re able to make it to Mass to celebrate this feast day. Normally it’s a Holy Day of Obligation, but this year since we’re celebrating on the 9th instead of the 8th we’re not obligated to go to Mass. I know, it’s a little confusing, right? Today we have the day off from school and if the weather isn’t too bad I’m hoping to venture out to run a few errands and go to church as well. Maybe I can talk the boys into going with me…if they’re not still in bed.
Have a wonderful day!