Two weeks back, I started sharing why we, Catholics, honor Mary. Now I want to share why we believe in the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Immaculate Conception is our faith that the Virgin Mary was free of original sin from the moment of her conception. She received such a singular grace and privilege of the Almighty God in view of the merits of Jesus, the Son of God. Even though this faith was generally accepted from the 4th century by the Christians, it was clearly articulated only in the 13th century by the Franciscan theologian Fr. John Duns Scotus O.F.M. He defended this doctrine stating that it was not due to any merits on her part, but thanks to the merits of Christ’s redemptive grace, that Mary was preserved from any sin. In this way, she too experienced the consequence of the redemption brought by the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus.
The Protestant Churches reject this doctrine as unscriptural; however, some Anglicans accept it as a pious devotion.
After all the controversies raised by the Protestant Churches, Pope Pius IX declared it on December 8, 1854, as a doctrine of faith for all the Catholics through the document “Ineffabilis Deus” (It means Ineffable or indescribable God). He defined the Immaculate Conception as a doctrine of faith:
“From the very beginning, and before time began, the eternal Father chose and prepared for his only-begotten Son a Mother in whom the Son of God would become incarnate … Above all creatures did God so love her that truly in her was the Father well pleased with singular delight. Therefore, far above all the angels and all the saints so wondrously did God endow her with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured from the treasury of his divinity that this mother, ever absolutely free of all stain of sin, all fair and perfect, would possess that fullness of holy innocence and sanctity …”
Since then, we have celebrated the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary on December 8. In the USA this feast is a holy day of obligation. May we all receive abundant blessings from God through the intercession of our Blessed Mother.
God bless you
Fr. Arul Joseph V.