“Wait, what?” has been a recurrent phrase that I have said both aloud and silently upon learning more about our faith. One would think that a “Cradle Catholic” would know quite a lot about our rich history. Unfortunately, for me at least, that is not the case.
I’ve teased my husband that while I’ve been Catholic since birth (minus the time I was not practicing), in comparison, he has only been Catholic “for like five minutes.” This teasing rarely comes up, (mostly because I don’t want to keep confessing it…) unless, of course, he is telling me that I’m saying the Apostles Creed wrong. (For the record, I just do not like saying that Jesus “descended into hell” and I say, “descended to the dead” instead.)
My husband and I were both fully initiated into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil, at the same time, several years ago. My husband received both the Sacrament of Baptism and Confirmation and I received my Confirmation. I suppose, technically, we’re pretty much neck and neck as far as who has been a practicing Catholic the longest. Just don’t tell him I said that 😉
One of the added benefits about coming back home to the Catholic Church as an adult is that I am now able to better appreciate our rich history. Learning about our Catholic faith has been eye-opening and I find that the more I learn about our faith, the more peace I feel within myself.
A “wait, what?” moment happened several years ago and was a few months before we were fully initiated into the Church on that Easter Vigil. Our beloved Priest, who married us and we have since kept in touch with since he left our Church, sparked this “wait, what?” moment. It was during Advent and at one of our RCIA group meetings that Father was discussing the Immaculate Conception.
Growing up, I assumed that the Immaculate Conception was when Jesus Christ was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the Blessed Virgin Mary’s womb. Wrong.
Then in that RCIA group meeting, I thought that Mary, like Jesus, was conceived in her mother, St. Anne’s, womb also by the power of the Holy Spirit. Wrong.
Okay, the Immaculate Conception actually means that “Mary, whose conception was brought about the normal way, was conceived without original sin or its stain—that’s what "immaculate" means: without stain.”
In other words, Mary’s parents: Saint Joachim and Saint Anne conceived Mary the “normal way”, which is the same way that all other people are conceived. I am not going further into this because thinking of Saints Joachim and Anne is like thinking of my grandparents and that is just enough of that.
Saint Jocahim + Saint Anne = Mary
Holy Spirit (God) + Mary = Jesus
Mary’s conception was “Immaculate” because Mary was born, like her son, Jesus, free from original sin.
What is original sin?
Original sin is “the sin that Adam committed” and “a consequence of this first sin, the hereditary stain with which we are born on account of our origin or descent from Adam.”
You, me, my son, my parents and everyone else in the world, except Jesus, the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist were born of “original sin.”
Why is it so important that the Blessed Mother was born without original sin?
“The essence of original sin consists in the deprivation of sanctifying grace, and its stain is a corrupt nature. Mary was preserved from these defects by God’s grace; from the first instant of her existence she was in the state of sanctifying grace and was free from the corrupt nature original sin brings.
“God the Father had prepared her from the first moment of her life to be a worthy mother of his Son.”
The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is a Holy Day of Obligation
Yet another “Wait, what?” moment came when I found out that missing weekly Mass and/or Holy Days of Obligation is a mortal sin. Gulp.
For more on that, please click here.
Since you and I and the rest of the world were born with original sin, we are not exempt from going to weekly Mass or on Holy Days of Obligation. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is a Holy Day of Obligation, so unless you have a "grave cause", you want to plan to attend Mass.
Have you had any “Wait, what?” moments pertaining to the Catholic faith? Please share with us on Facebook!
As always, thank you for reading. God bless you and may the Blessed Virgin Mary be with you always!
Landry, Fr. Roger. “Following Mary's Advent Footsteps.” Catholic Education Resource Center, www.catholiceducation.org/en/culture/catholic-contributions/following-mary-s-advent-footsteps.html.
Harent, Stéphane. "Original Sin." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 7 Dec. 2017 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11312a.htm>.
Donovan, Colin. "Sunday Mass and Holy Day Obligation", EWTN www.ewtn.com/expert/answers/sunday_mass.htm.
Echert, Father. "St John the Baptist and Original Sin", EWTN www.ewtn.com/v/experts/showmessage.asp?number=423372.
“Original Sin.” Catholic Encyclopedia, www.newadvent.org/cathen/11312a.htm.
Image: Bartolomé Esteban Murillo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons