Does the "Immaculate Conception" refer to Mary's or Jesus's birth? : LUSENET : Catholic Pages Forum : One Thread

As a Catholic I am sure that this question seems quite elementary but this point has caused me some confusion. My (very strict Catholic) teacher taught my European History class that the Immaculate Conception referred to Mary's birth. He went on to say that this conception was the reason God chose Mary to carry the Christ child. Any other Catholic I have asked have immediately answered that this term refers to Jesus's birth. However, I am not so quick to discount my very knowledgable professor. Please clarify for me. Thank you.

-- Anonymous, July 06, 1998



This is one of the most common misconceptions that Catholics have about their Faith.

The "Immaculate Conception" is the infallible teaching that when Mary was conceived in the womb of St Anne, she was Immaculate, free from Original Sin.

There is no official name for the conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit other than the Incarnation (Christ taking flesh). That is often the cause of the confusion. It was a miraculous conception, and Jesus was immaculate, but His conception was not the "Immaculate Conception". That is why the feast of the Annunciation is in March (nine months before Christmas) and the feast of the Immaculate Conception is in December (nine months before the feast of Our Lady's birthday in September).

Funny story: Ever since I went on a game show a few years back (now forget I ever mentioned that...) I have organized an annual trivia night at work as part of our regularly monthly drinks. I always include Religion as a category (to try and use it as a teachable moment!). A lot of my co-workers are "Catholics". So, what do you think one of the questions was for my first Trivia Night? "Who was conceived in the Immaculate Conception?" Every single team, bar one, answered "Jesus". (The other team answered "Madonna") I knew they would, and in my pedantic, ego-crushing style, I relished saying "No, the Blessed Virgin Mary". There was nearly a riot. It has entered into the folklore and legend of the workplace. Everyone who starts work here is eventually told about the Virgin Mary question at the first Trivia Night! People refused to believe that it was not Jesus and accused me of misunderstanding my own question! They were yelling at me saying the person conceived in a conception is the baby, not the mother. (Lawyers are a competitive lot and get passionate when they think they're right!) I said, "I know. And the baby was the Virgin Mary in the womb of _her_ mother, St Anne!". Eventually, I circulated the Infallible Definition of the Immaculate Conception by Pope Pius IX on the firmwide email on the Monday morning! There was nearly blood on the carpet! Every year now, they beg me not to include a religion category because of the controversy I cause! So many people came up to me and said, I've been a Catholic all my life (uh, actually, no you haven't, but anyway) and I went to Catholic schools, I go to Mass every Sunday, and I never knew that!

There are so many Catholics out there who don't know anything about Catholicism! If they understood the beauty and truth of what they have, we wouldn't have figures like 85% of Catholics using birth control, 60% not believing in the Real Presence, 80% attending Mass less than once a month...

God bless, Paul McLachlan

-- Anonymous, July 06, 1998

The term "Immaculate Conception" refers to the doctrine which states that Mary was preserved from original sin from the first moment of her existence in the womb of her mother. The Miraculous Medal Novena ends with the prayer "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee." Mary was the only human being to receive this grace from God, because she was destined to be the mother of Jesus.

-- Anonymous, July 06, 1998

Hi Amy,

Some Catholics are most confused. Be careful who you ask these things some times the answers will only confuse you. Get a copy of the Apostolic Constitution by Pope Pius IX "Ineffabilis Deus" Defining The Dogma Of The Immaculate Conception. ( St. Paul books 75 cents.)

-- Anonymous, July 07, 1998

HOLY SMOKES!!! Well, learn something new every day! Thanks for clearing that up.

Hey, how 'bout a little Catholic Trivia section on the Catholic Pages? Put up a weekly or monthly multiple-choice quiz and get a computer program to tally up the scores! This could be interesting!!!

-- Anonymous, July 07, 1998

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