Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Immaculate Conception

"You are all fair, o my love, and there is not a spot on you." from Song of Songs

Today, Dec. 8th, is the feast of the Immaculate Conception. We celebrate the fact that God created Mary to be Theotokos (God-bearer). She is, as the Angel pronounced, "Full of Grace." Because she was to be the mother of Jesus and carry him in her womb, she was born free from the effects of original sin. God gave her sanctifying grace before sin could take effect on her soul.

This feast day was made a holy day of obligation (meaning you gotta get to Mass) by Pope Pius IX in 1854, though it had been a feast day since the fifteenth century. This is not to say that the idea of her Immaculate Conception was introduced in the fifteenth century. Often, the Church will highlight and/or formally define long held truths when there is a danger of heresies spreading.

Today may be a good day to begin a routine of saying a daily Rosary if you don't already do so. Here's a nice site to check out.

Or maybe you could listen to Mark Shea's talk on Catholic Answers Live "Mary: First Guardian of the Faith."

Or listen to "Catholic Teachings on Mary" with Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz.

Or for a quick answers to objections to Mary's Immaculate Conception, see this article by Jason Evert. 

However else you spend the day, be sure to get to Mass and have a blessed day. :)

(edited to add an answer to a commenter's great question)

By the Grace of God, Mary was born without sin.

As Ambrose of Milan wrote:
"Come, then, and search out your sheep, not through your servants or hired men, but do it yourself. Lift me up bodily and in the flesh, which is fallen in Adam. Lift me up not from Sarah but from Mary, a virgin not only undefiled, but a virgin whom grace had made inviolate, free of every stain of sin" (Commentary on Psalm 118:22–30 [A.D. 387]).

For the glory of Jesus Christ, it was done. God wanted a perfect vessel for His Son.
Her parents were not w/o sin. They had her in the usual way.

Adam and Eve, before the fall were free from sin, so she's not the first person to be created free from sin, though she was the first to be conceived immaculately (free from sin).

Just like all of us, she needed Jesus to save her by his cross and so it was done. But time is nothing to God (which is why the effects still work 2000 yrs after), so He was able to do that for her at her creation. There is an ancient analogy which goes something like this. You can either be saved from the well after you fall in, or be prevented from falling in. She was prevented from falling in.

Here is a passage from "This Rock" which may shed some more light. Look first at two passages in Luke 1. In verse 28, the angel Gabriel greets Mary as "kecharitomene" ("full of grace" or "highly favored"). This is a recognition of her sinless state. In verse 42 Elizabeth greets Mary as "blessed among women." The original import of this phrase is lost in English translation. Since neither the Hebrew nor Aramaic languages have superlatives (best, highest, tallest, holiest), a speaker of those languages would have say, "You are tall among men" or "You are wealthy among men" to mean "You are the tallest" or "You are the wealthiest." Elizabeth’s words mean Mary was the holiest of all women.


  1. explain to me how Mary was born without sin? were her parents w/out sin? I think she was given grace to bear Jesus but born w/out sin?

    I thought only Jesus was born w/out sin? correct?


  2. Great questions, Sandra. My answer rambled on too long, so I added it to the bottom of the blog post.

  3. Great post, but I have a really hard time reading all of this in the Word of God. Blessings, Lloyd

  4. @Toyin. Thanks so much! :)

    @Lloyd, I'm so glad you dropped by. You're very sweet and charitable even though we may differ a bit.

    I'm guessing you object to the teachings about the Immaculate Conception because the term is not used in the Bible. I'll just point out that the Apostles were quite happy to pass along knowledge by word of mouth: "So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter" (2 Thess. 2:15)

    I also hold to the teachings about The Trinity, which is another word not found nor defined in the Bible. It too is a belief passed on from the first Christians.