Immaculate Conception Basics

Immaculate Conception: The Basics:

8 Things You Need to Know About the Immaculate Conception / Jimmy Akin, adt’l. edit & comment by City of God

This Saturday, December 8th, is the feast of the Immaculate Conception. It celebrates an important point of Catholic teaching, and it is a holy day of obligation. Although not officially promulgated until 1854, the Church has from the moment of Gabriel’s Annunciation held this Truth. {Original Jimmy Akin, printed in “The Rock Magazine 2012.}

Here are 8 things you need to know about the teaching and the way we celebrate it. 1. Who does the Immaculate Conception refer to?

There’s a popular Misconception that this doctrine refers to Jesus’ conception by the Virgin Mary. It doesn’t. Instead, it refers to the special way in which the Virgin Mary herself was conceived. Her “carnal”conception was not virginal. (That is, she had a priestly father of 66 yrs. Old, as well as a sterile human mother of twenty years, age 44. Her Immaculate Conception was 8 days later. This was special, unique, and hidden way the Trinity prepared her soul (immaculately), so that Mary could communicate her “free will” YES, and is the Day the Church celebrates.

2. What is the Immaculate Conception? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains:

#490 To become the mother of the Savior, Mary “was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role.” The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as “full of grace”(Lk1:28). In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God’s grace.

491 Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:

The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of Almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.

First objection:to the contrary; how would it be “fitting” that the Holy Trinity create a Woman, “Mary” without an impenetrable veil, “full of grace,” of protection, thus permitting Satan access and boast that the Word, Redeemer of Sin, and the Only Begotten, should then be subject to a woman that he (Satan)first possessed with Sin? Who, he had been prowling the world seeking the woman, whose seed should bring his kingdom to loss. Since –(Gn3:15).

A second objection:How is it fitting for the Redeemer of Sin should then be born of a woman’s DNA & RNA corrupted from generations of sin so that He must first need to redeem himself?

3. How does this make Mary a parallel of Eve?

Adam and Eve both created “immaculate” before sin, without original sin or its stain. (Wis2:22-24) Yet, both fell from grace, and through them mankind was bound to sin. For it was God who commanded that a female creature would crush Satan’s head (Gn3:15), and add Women’s sorrows in child bearing. (Gn3:16) Because it was a woman who caused the fall. Thus being necessary to correct human will in obedience, through his son’s love, accepting a corporal human body to atone for mankind in the original woman’s disobedience.

Christ and Mary are also conceived immaculate. They remained faithful, and through them mankind is redeemed from sin. As Paul proclaims, “For as by the disobedience of one man, many were made sinners; so also by the obedience of one, many shall be made just” (Rom5:12-21) Christ is thus the New Adam, and Mary the New Eve.

Catechism notes: 494 . . As St. Irenaeus says, “Being obedient she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race.” Hence not a few of the early Fathers gladly assert. . .: “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith.” Comparing her with Eve, they call Mary “the Mother of the living” and frequently claim: “Death through Eve, life through Mary.”

4. Does this mean Mary never sinned?

Yes. Because of the way redemption was applied to Mary at the moment of her conception, she not only was protected from contracting original sin but also personal sin. The Catechism explains:

493 The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God “the All-Holy” (Panagia), and celebrate her as “free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature”. By the grace of God, Mary ‘s love of her Son remained free of every personal sin her whole life long.“Let it be done to me according to your word. . .”

In continuance of second objection from Q#2 above applies similarly throughout her life: Should the Mother of God, Theotokos, live a sinful lustful life, satisfying your carnal appetites, become subdued by sin, so powerful are Satan’s evil doings, he could forever boast to his loyal army, “that the Father of the Daughter, Spouse of the Holy Spirit and Son of this mother, could not even prevent Her from falling from Grace, subdued by his worldly charms, so resourceful, powerful and magnificent, cunning are he and his army ?”

In a second objection: How does the Only Begotten Son fulfill his own holy 4th commandment by permitting his Mother’s dishonor? His Church seven holy heavenly virtues; prudence, justice, temperance and courage along with three theological virtues of faith, hope and charity, by dishonoring His Mother despite His“All power is granted unto me”(Mt28:18) And yet, you can claim, He cannot defend the honor of his mother? Just so, your desire that Paul’s exhortation, “that all men sin” BE ALL encompassing, as Universal and Timeless, as you & Satan argue? And not meaning, that all in attendance and without God’s Grace are subject to sin prior to the Holy Spirit!    

  5. Does this mean Mary didn’t need Jesus to die on the Cross for her?

No. What we’ve already quoted states that Mary was immaculately conceived as part of her being“full of grace” and thus “redeemed from the moment of her conception” by “a singular grace and privilege of Almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race.

“First Second and third objection to the question: The question is beyond reason. The Word of God , Old Simeon’s prophesy not enough for you? When he said (Lk2:34) “and a sword will pierce through your soul also!” Does not every mother suffer her son’s death more than all others? Yet you claim being sinless meant Jesus as the Savior for ALL Jews excluding her? You were crucified through the Blood of Jesus, but Mary’s eyewitness and agony were not? [ To be able to suffer is not only mercy, it is demanded of Justice ]. So Jesus, knowing how she would suffer provided his saving grace paying it “forward so to speak” (Mt11:30). Who could console this shattered creature after hearing her son cry out (“Eloi, Eloi, la ma sabach-thani”) (Mk15:34) and minutes later holding her Son’s cold, guiltless, lifeless, body at the foot of his cross?

The Catechism goes on to state:

508 From among the descendants of Eve, God chose the Virgin Mary to be the mother of his Son. “Full of grace”, Mary is “the most excellent fruit of redemption” (SC 103): from the first instant of her conception, she was totally preserved from the stain of original sin and she remained pure from all personal sin throughout her life.

492 The “splendor of an entirely unique holiness” by which Mary is “enriched from the first instant of her conception” comes wholly from Christ: she is “redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son”. The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” and chose her “in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love”.

6. How does this make Mary an icon of our own destiny?

Those who die in God’s friendship and thus go to heaven will be freed from all sin and stain of sin. There shall not enter into it any thing defiled, or that work abomination or make a lie, but they that are written in the book of life of the Lamb. (Rev21:27) We must all ultimately be rendered “immaculate” (Latin, immaculatus= “stainless”) if we remain faithful to God. Even in this life, God purifies us and trains us in holiness and, if we die in his friendship but imperfectly purified, he will purify us in purgatory and render us Immaculate. By giving Mary this grace from the first moment of her conception, God showed us an image of our own destiny. He shows us that this is possible for humans by his grace. For God “nothing is impossible” but Mary is a mere Creature, created by Him.

John Paul II noted: In contemplating this mystery in a Marian perspective, we can say that “Mary, at the side of her Son, is the most perfect image of freedom and of the liberation of humanity and of the universe. It is to her as Mother and Model that the Church must look in order to understand in its completeness the meaning of her own mission” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Libertatis conscientia, 22 March, 1986, n. 97; cf. Redemptoris Mater, n. 37).

Let us fix our gaze, then, on Mary, the icon of the pilgrim Church in the wilderness of history but on her way to the glorious destination of the heavenly Jerusalem, where she [the Church] will shine as the Bride of the Lamb, Christ the Lord [General Audience, March 14, 2001]. (Rev21: 2 & Rev22:17) 7. Was it necessary for God to make Mary immaculate at her conception so that she could be Jesus’ mother?

No. The Church only speaks of the Immaculate Conception as something that was “fitting,” something that made Mary a “fit habitation” (i.e., suitable dwelling) for the Son of God, not something that was necessary. Thus in preparing to define the dogma, Pope Pius IX stated:

And hence they [the Church Fathers] affirmed that the Blessed Virgin was, through grace, entirely free from every stain of sin, and from all corruption of body, soul and mind; that she was always united with God and joined to him by an eternal covenant; that she was never in darkness but always in light; and that, therefore, she was entirely a fit habitation for Christ, not because of the state of her body, but because of her original grace. . . .

For it was certainly not fitting that this vessel of election should be wounded by the common injuries, since she, differing so much from the others, had only nature in common with them, not sin. In fact, it was quite fitting that, as the Only-Begotten has a Father in heaven, whom the Seraphim extol as thrice holy, so he should have a Mother on earth who would never be without the splendor of holiness [Ineffabilis Deus] What other Soul, in the Heavens does the Word say “thou shalt be my Mother” & Who can say to Him “thou art my Son”? (Heb1:5)

8. How do we celebrate the Immaculate Conception today?

In the Latin rite of the Catholic Church, December 8th is the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. In the United States and in a number of other countries, it is a holy day of obligation. When December 8th falls on Saturday (as in 2018), the precept of attending Mass is still observed in the United States, even though it will mean going to Mass two days in a row (since every Sunday is also a holy day of obligation). Last update 12/19/2018

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