Sunday, December 7, 2008

Mary :- Immaculate Conception

Tomorrow, December 8th, is the annual Feast of the Immaculate Conception.  Instituted by Pope Sixtus IV in 1476, this Feast (Celebration) is in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary being conceived without the stain of Original Sin.  The belief that Mary was conceived without Original Sin did not become official dogma of the Catholic Church until 1854, when Pope Pius IX declared it as such in the document Ineffabilis Deus.  In other words, like the Marian Apparitions today, before 1854, Catholics did not have to believe that Mary was conceived without sin, because it was not official Catholic Church teaching.  Until the Catholic Church makes something an official teaching (dogma), Catholics are free to believe or not.

Before we discuss the Immaculate Conception, it would first be prudent to explore the concept of Original Sin.  When you are born, you are born in a state of sin that separates you from God, due to the Adam and Eve's sin in the Garden of Eden (Romans 5:12-21).  Since we are born into a state of sin, we must be reborn into a state of grace.  This happens through baptism (John 3:1-7).  Naturally born into a state of sin (separated from God) and reborn into a state of grace (through the waters of baptism), dying in the waters to be reborn into life (Romans 6:1-14).

Catholics believe that God spared Mary from original sin.  In other words, Mary started her natural life in the state of grace, and not the state of sin.  She was never separated from God.

Mary was not the first to be created in a state of grace.  Adam and Eve were also created in the state of grace.  Adam and Eve did not fall out of grace until they disobeyed God.  This is actually interesting because they had faith in God...actually, they didn't have faith, they knew God - however based on their actions, they were cast out of the Garden.  This sounds like the obedience of faith (Romans 1:5)

If God was able to do it for the first human beings, He is definitely able to do it for Mary - especially since she was going to be the Mother of God.  Let's put it this way, if you were able to prevent your mother from falling into sin, wouldn't you?  I know I would, and I think of myself as a pretty good son.  How much more perfect of a Son would  Jesus be for His Mother?

Throughout Scripture, we are taught that God cannot be in the presence of sin.  If this is true, wouldn't He have made the Woman that He was to be born unto without sin?  These are logical conclusions that one could just come to if time was spent dwelling on the mysteries of salvation and our faith.  Thank goodness for our sake that people have already gone through this effort over the past 2000 years, and we can just reap the benefits of all of their hard work.

If you are still interested in researching this topic further, please refer to the following articles:

Immaculate Conception and Assumption
Mary, Full of Grace
Immaculate Conception of Mary

God Bless you all.

P.S.  Since tomorrow is a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics, help us out by reminding any Catholics that you know to go to Mass to celebrate.

1 comment:

Willison said...

Two more thoughts: Belief in the Immaculate Conception has always existed. In fact, the first Catholics consecrated the new worl to the immaculate conception (before 1854). The Pope's declaration was in response to people starting to DOUBT the teaching, not people starting to believe it.
It's also important to understand that Mary was created without sin but always had the option to do it. Jesus gave her the shot. Unlike Adam and Eve, she succeeded. We do not believe (ala Calvin) that she was created incapable of sin. She was capable, but didn't do it. That is another example of the fact that "sin" is not an essential element of being "human". It is also why she is so great of a model to try to be like. Eve had a choice and by her failure gave us all sin. Mary had a choice and by her success, gave us the incarnation (which gave us all salvation).