|"I am the Immaculate Conception."|
Today being the Feast of the Immaculate Conception I wanted to discuss the meaning of the Immaculate Conception because it is one term which is misunderstood by many people. The term refers to Mary being conceived without any stain of original sin.
Ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eve, that sin has been passed down to all of mankind, except Our Lord, and Our Lady. Our Lord is sinless because He is God. Our Lady was preserved from 'original sin' because it was God's desire that Our Lord be conceived within a spotless vessel. Would it be fitting for God to dwell in anything unclean? The answer is 'No' and this has been the understanding that has been widely held since the early church. It was written in many Church documents prior to its infallible proclamation by Pope Pius IX in 1854. (See the documented early writings at this link, http://www.ewtn.com/faith/teachings/maryc3a.htm)
Pope Pius IX proclaimed the doctrine as such, "the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, and in view of the foreseen merits of Jesus Christ, the savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin."
One of the reasons that Catholics have become confused is because todays Gospel reading is that of the annunciation, where the angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she will conceive and bear a Son and He will be called Jesus. This reading is quite appropriate because the fact that Mary will bear the Savior is the reason she was Immaculately conceived. But unfortunately because the reading is also about Our Lords conception, it causes people to think that it is His conception that this feast refers to. There is no specific bible passage that discusses the Immaculate Conception of Mary, because this doctrine is not found specifically in Scripture but is based on what the Church has always believed to be true. This is the teaching tradition of the Church; and of course, the Catholic Faith is based on Scripture and Tradition.
The Church has chosen Dec 8 as the day to celebrate this event, because it is 9 months prior to Mary's birthday which is Sept 8.