The feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is commemorated on December 8. Catholics and Fundamentalists differ in their understanding of the Immaculate Conception. For most Catholics, it means that Mary was conceived without original sin. We believe that when Mary was conceived she did not have the stain of the original sin – that she was “immaculate” – meaning without stain. The basic nature of the original sin signifies absence of sanctifying grace. With God’s grace, Mary was protected from stain and corruption. From her conception, she was in the state of sanctifying grace and was free from the unclean nature of the original sin.
Skeptics question the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. Their primary reason for objecting to the Immaculate Conception and Mary’s sinless being is that we are told that “all have sinned” (Roman 3:23). They also profess that Mary proclaimed her “spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:47), and that only a sinner calls upon the Savior.
On this first argument: Romans 3:23, “all have sinned” – this may not be really true. How about a child below the age of reason? A child can’t sin unless he or she understands what is right or wrong. St. Paul expressed in his letter to the Romans “when Jacob and Esau were unborn babies as a time when they had done nothing either good or bad” (Rom. 9:11).
On the second argument: Mary said her “spirit rejoices in God my Savior (Luke 1:47). Mary too needed a Savior. Like all other sons and daughters of Adam, Mary was subjected to contract original sin, but with God’s special grace at the instant she was conceived, she was shielded from the stain of original sin and its unfortunate effects. Therefore, she was redeemed by the grace of God in anticipation of a very important role of becoming the Blessed Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ.
One other instance to show that the Blessed Virgin Mary was indeed conceived without the original sin was evidenced in Genesis 3:15. When Adam and Eve committed the first sin, God destined two sinless and pure persons, namely, Jesus and His Mother Mary to fight against Satan and all evils on earth for as long as the human race exists. Hence, Blessed Mary is named our Mother of Perpetual Help because from the beginning of time to the present, she is the sinless “helper of God” and the only other person aside from Jesus to have been conceived and born with the sanctifying grace of God.
It takes tremendous faith and devotion to accept fully the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Let’s pray for continued understanding and acceptance of this doctrine.