We celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a Holy Day of Obligation, on December 8th. Many misunderstand this to mean the moment when our Blessed Mother conceived our Lord, Jesus Christ, but it does not. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception refers to the moment Mary herself was conceived. We celebrate the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
What exactly does this mean? Through God’s favor and grace, Mary was conceived without original sin. Think about it – Mary was the vessel in which our Lord, Jesus Christ entered our human world. Doesn’t it make sense that she enter the world free of stain and without original sin? God cannot look upon sin, therefore it makes sense that he provide his only Son, who is both human and divine, a pure vessel to enter into humanity.
This feast was established by Pope Pius IX and became Church dogma in 1854, after Pope Pius IX consulted with the world’s bishops. From the infallible words of Pope Pius IX:
"The most holy Virgin Mary was, in the first moment of her conception, by a unique gift of grace and privilege of Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ the Redeemer of mankind, preserved free from all stain of original sin."
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God." Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her. - Luke 1:26-38
Peace in Christ,
© Melissa Knoblett-Aman