Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Today is the celebration of the Immaculate Conception of Mary (and a Holy Day of Obligation to attend Mass for Roman Catholics). Although the concept of the Immaculate Conception of Mary is a very old tradition (St Augustine spoke of it), it was not until the 19th century that the Pope Pius IX declared it a dogma of the church.

What is the Immaculate Conception? For Catholics, it means that Mary was conceived without original sin. I have heard many people say "How can that be?" or "How did it happen?".

I prefer to take the approach of our Eastern Catholic tradition where having to understand the details of this mystery is a futile exercise. I like the sound of mystery; something that cannot be completely understood, but feels right in your heart.

1 comment:

  1. You are certainly correct in stating that a mystery of the Faith cannot be “completely understood.” It can, nonetheless, be partly understood; and a mystery can be sufficiently understood to defend it against charges of being impossible or contrary to Scripture or Tradition. This is certainly the case with the dogma of the immaculate conception of Mary. We should have an adequate grasp of the basic meaning of this dogma to explain how it is possible and why it does not deny the Christ’s redemption of all mankind to sincere inquirers. Of course, the person inquiring about this matter will have to have some understanding of human biology and of the nature of the human soul and of eternity to understand the explanation.

    Note that the development of the dogma of the immaculate conception is one of the most interesting cases of the development of Church doctrine.