8 Things You Need to Know About the Immaculate Conception

by Jimmy Akin

in +Religion, Apologetics, Liturgical Year, Liturgy, Mary, Theology

Dec. 8th is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. What is the Immaculate Conception and how do we celebrate it?

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.

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 idea that it 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.

This conception was not virginal. (That is, she had a human father as well as a human mother.) But it was special and unique in another way. . . .


2. What is the Immaculate Conception?


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Jay D December 7, 2012 at 6:17 am

The part I have the most difficulty figuring out is the logic behind the idea that Mary did not not need Jesus to die on the cross for her.
If she wasn’t sick, what does she need a physician for?

doowrag December 7, 2012 at 6:38 pm

@Jay D Not sure if this is quite the way to put it, but it might be explained like this: Were it not for Christ’s death and resurrection, Mary would not have been redeemed and immaculate from conception. So, while Christ obviously died and rose after Mary’s conception, the chronology is not important; Christ’s death and resurrection is still the source of her grace. If you want to, you can kind of think of it as being applied retroactively, although I don’t personally find that accurate or helpful. Christ’s death and resurrection were necessary for Mary’s immaculate conception, not for her entrance into heaven, as evidenced, I believe, by her assumption.
Advent blessings!

Cathmom5 December 8, 2012 at 11:37 am

@doowrag  @Jay
 You did a good job explaining doowrag.  I would just add one thing.  God and His plan are not bound by the limits of our earthly “time”.  He sees things all at the same “time”.  He IS everywhere at all “time”s.  Mary was born at a point in time but her gift of grace was given to her outside that point in “time.”  She was redeemed by her Savior, Jesus, her Son before “time”, in “time”, and outside of “time.”  Her grace was a gift given to her at her conception.

jbaruzzini December 8, 2012 at 11:34 am

Christ’s sacrifice is outside of time, God’s grace and salvation are not constrained by our understanding of time. Mary was redeemed by Christ’s death, without it she would not have been redeemed.

Cathmom5 December 8, 2012 at 11:39 am

By the way, I enjoyed your article very much.  Keep up the good work.

Jay D December 8, 2012 at 2:11 pm

The answer to number seven surprised me. I would have thought the answer would be yes.
The “redeemed” language still confuses me. Redeemed… from what? Maybe there would be a better word for it.
Doowrag’s answer makes sense, if it is indeed technically correct. “Christ’s death and resurrection were necessary for Mary’s immaculate conception, not for her entrance into heaven…”

Blueknight202 December 12, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Jimmy I offer 2 prooftexts on why Mary had to be immaculately conceived. Keep in mind the purest thing/person that ever was, was Jesus and He was also the wisest, now for those scriptures:
Job 14:4 &. Wisdom 1:4. (RSVCE on both)

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