Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a holy day of obligation. You will need to attend Mass if you are Catholic. And if you’re not Catholic, you may be wondering what the Immaculate Conception is? No it does not refer to the conception of Jesus, but to the conception of His blessed mother, the Virgin Mary.
This is one of the harder Catholic doctrines to understand, and I admit at one time, despite being a cradle Catholic, I had problems with it too. I always just accepted it. Yes, I can understand Mary being without sin—she is “full of Grace.” But why immaculately conceived? The explanation that put me over the top was given by Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God, O.S.B. Mother Miriam was born Jewish, converted to Evangelical Protestant, and then over to Catholicism, where she took religious orders. Here’s her explanation.
That put me over the top, and now I embrace the Immaculate Conception.
So let me clarify that. There is the typology (something in the Old Testament prefigures something in the New) of the Tabernacle (the holy place where God resides on earth) now being the Virgin’s womb where Jesus will reside for nine months. How could God reside in any place not holy? Mother Miriam draws the comparison in language of the Old Testament where God comes into the Tabernacle (Exodus 40: 34-38) and where God comes into Mary’s womb (Luke 1:35). Compare, first from Exodus:
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,