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These Last Days News - December 8, 2013

Three Common Misconceptions About the Immaculate Conception...

"Remember, My children, come to My Mother; for in Her memory of Her human days upon earth, She above all humans created—sinless, without the stigma of sin, a perfect life upon earth without sin, and assumed into Heaven, body and spirit—She above all can direct you because She is your Mother; She is the Queen of Heaven, and the Mother of every human being upon earth." - Jesus, August 14, 1979

Catholic Lane reported on December 8, 2014:

Today, December 8th, the Church would observe the feast of the Immaculate Conception. This year the feast is transferred to Monday the 9th, giving precedence to the Second Sunday of Advent. In my experience, the Immaculate Conception is one of the most misunderstood teachings of the Church. Today, I’d like to address three common misconceptions on the Immaculate Conception.

The Immaculate Conception was Jesus’ conception in the womb of Mary

This is, in my opinion, the greatest misconception regarding the Immaculate Conception. I think back to my December 8th World History class in high school, when the teacher, a Catholic with a master’s degree in theology from a Catholic college, announced to our class the Church was celebrating the feast of the Immaculate Conception explaining that it was the celebration of Jesus’ conception in the womb of Mary. He went on to say that he never understood this feast day because in less than 20 days, Jesus would be born on Christmas Day. He concluded this is what the Church meant by the virgin birth.

I hope the reader of this article does not espouse these beliefs. I can, however, understand why some people would think the feast celebrates the conception of Jesus for two reasons:

a)  The Church celebrates the feast of the Immaculate Conception during the season of Advent, a season of waiting and expectation for the birth of the Christ child.

b) The gospel for the feast of the Immaculate Conception is Luke 1:26-38–the Annunciation of Jesus’ birth.

Proper Catechesis:  The feast of the Annunciation, celebrated on March 25, is the commemoration of Jesus’ conception. If one counts the months from March 25 to December 25, one will discover the normal amount of time for gestation—nine months. Rest assured the miraculous nature of Jesus birth does not involve only 17 days in the womb!   The Immaculate Conception refers to the conception of Mary in the womb of St. Anne and her preservation from the taint of original sin. The dogma declares that Mary was free of original sin because she received pre-redemption from the merits of the cross on which her son would die upon.

The Church Made Up the Immaculate Conception

While the Immaculate Conception only was proclaimed a dogma in 1854, the Church did not wake up one morning and think it was a good idea to tell people the Spirit moved them to declare Mary was immaculately conceived. The Apostolic Constitution which proclaimed the dogma, Ineffabilis Deus, provides an extensive overview of the tradition. Belief in the Immaculate Conception dates back to the early Church and was the subject of reflection on the part of some of the Patristics. It saw a heightened development from the twelfth century onward.

St. Anselm laid the groundwork for the dogma and influenced the English Eadmer, who wrote in defense of the Immaculate Conception and proposed the notion of passive conception. It was Duns Scotus who refined the arguments for the Immaculate Conception, earning him the title Defender of the Immaculate Conception.  Many of the Roman Pontiffs (e.g. Alexander VII) and the Council of Trent proposed the immaculate conception of Mary.

Given the longstanding tradition and belief of the Church, Pius IX declared the Immaculate Conception as a dogma of the Church, thus binding in Heaven what was bound on earth. And as many know, it was only four years later that Our Lady confirmed this title herself in her manifestations to St. Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes, France.

 Some Doctors of the Church denied the Immaculate Conception

St. Bernard of Clairvaux is one of my favorite saints. He wrote extensively on the Blessed Virgin Mary, so much so that the antiphon for vespers on his feast day salutes him as an eminent preacher of the Virgin’s glory. One aspect of his Mariology that some may be aware of is his “denial” of the Immaculate Conception in a letter to the canons in Lyons who introduced the feast of Mary’s conception.

Augustine, who viewed sex as sinful, highly influenced Bernard. This raised the question whether or not the Holy Spirit could be associated with a sinful act. Bernard did hold that Mary was sanctified in the womb and that she never committed a sin during her life.

Another prominent doctor, cited as a denier of the Immaculate Conception, is Thomas Aquinas. You can read Aquinas’ Summa question here. Similar to Bernard, Aquinas held that Mary was conceived with original sin, but she was sanctified in the womb of St. Anne before her birth. One hold-up in accepting the Immaculate Conception was if this was the case Mary would not have needed a redeemer.

Since I describe myself more as a resourcement theologian rather than a Thomist, I refer the reader to other articles discussing Thomas Aquinas’ belief: New Theological Movement; Patheos.

For Bernard and Aquinas, Mary was sanctified in the womb which is different from denying the overall sinlessness of Mary. It is important to keep in mind these Fathers of the Church, along with the other “deniers” of the Immaculate Conception, were not subject to the Church’s 1854 teaching as it was only a theological opinion. With Pius IX’s dogmatic declaration, all Catholics are now obliged to hold this belief:

Hence, if anyone shall dare — which God forbid! — to think otherwise than as has been defined by us, let him know and understand that he is condemned by his own judgment; that he has suffered shipwreck in the faith; that he has separated from the unity of the Church; and that, furthermore, by his own action he incurs the penalties established by law if he should are to express in words or writing or by any other outward means the errors he think in his heart.

 Conclusion

The Immaculate Conception has been held as a pious belief for centuries before the dogmatic declaration. Religious congregations like the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception founded in the 1600’s. This day as we contemplate the conception of the Virgin Mary may her sinlessness inspire us on our sojourn to the heavenly Jerusalem. Through her prayers, now and at the hour of our death, may we become worthy of the promises of Christ.

 Sources:

Hilda Graef, Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion
Juniper Carol. Fundamentals of Mariology. New York: Benzinger Brothers, 1956.

"My children, it is only because many years ago you consecrated your country to Me* that you have not received the destruction that is gradually coming closer to you from the outside world. But if you turn from Me now I no longer will be able to shield you." - Our Lady, July 1, 1971

*In 1846, eight years before Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the Sixth Council of Baltimore formally chose the Blessed Virgin Mary conceived without sin as the Patroness of the United States.

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These prophecies came from Jesus, Mary, and the saints to Veronica Lueken at Bayside, NY, from 1968 to 1995.

MOTHER OF GRACE
"My child and My children, I have come to you under many names in the past, but I want you to acknowledge Me as the Mother of Grace. Because that is why I come to you now, My children: to give you the graces necessary to remain upon earth in a state of purity and perseverance, and knowledgeable to the truth that will lead you and keep you on the narrow road to Heaven." -
Our Lady, September 14, 1985

CO-REDEMPTRIX
"You will not stop the words of My Mother. She is your Co-Redemptrix, and as such, it is She Who has been given the mission to bring you back onto the road to the Kingdom. Without Her you will be lost." -
Jesus, August 5, 1974

PROTECTRESS
"I come to you as a Protectress of peace." -
Our Lady, October2, 1990

SHIELD
"I ask you for a constant vigil of prayer so that satan will not enter upon you. You must now say when you arise: I will protect myself with the shield of the Immaculate Conception. You will say before you enter your bed (which will not be a bed of security and comfort now): I protect myself with the shield of the Immaculate Conception. For, My children, when you sleep he does not sleep." -
Our Lady, July 1, 1971

MANTLE OF LOVE
"My children, as a Mother, My heart is torn for you. O mothers who come to Me, hearts bleeding in sorrow, I will comfort you, for I, too, know the suffering of loss. Come to Me, all you who sorrow and weep for your children, for I will place My mantle of love and comfort upon you. Come to Me, and I will lighten your burden." -
Our Lady, October 6, 1979

SINLESS
"Remember, My children, come to My Mother; for in Her memory of Her human days upon earth, She above all humans created—sinless, without the stigma of sin, a perfect life upon earth without sin, and assumed into Heaven, body and spirit—She above all can direct you because She is your Mother; She is the Queen of Heaven, and the Mother of every human being upon earth." - Jesus, August 14, 1979

NATIONS
"As a great Mother of great sorrows, She has opened Her heart to all mankind, choosing of Her own free will to act as your Mother, the Mother of all nations, the Mother of all children of earth—to guide you back to the road to Heaven." -
Jesus, October 6, 1979

BELOVED DAUGHTER
"You have witnessed, my child, the arrival of my beloved daughter, my first and only child, one whom I cherished—a true miracle from the Father." -
Saint Anne, September 7, 1973

BEAUTY
Veronica - Now within the light I can see Our Lady. Oh, She is so beautiful. She is just so beautiful! Words cannot describe Her beauty. All I can say is, this is something that is not earthly; it's the most heavenly sight that anyone could see. Our Lady has on Her white gown, with the gold trim all about the edge. And She has the mantle over Her head. I very seldom have even seen a wisp of Our Lady's hair. It is so beautiful. -
October 6, 1988

TRUTH
Veronica - She wants to give to all a simple truth from the Father. Our Lady says that much has been questioned by man of Her immaculate conception of Jesus. And also Her birth.
    Now Our Lady said that the Father knew before Her birth and the birth of all on earth what would transpire in time to come.
    Therefore, Her birth was not by accident, because before time came, it was all deemed to be. Therefore, the questioning also of the birth of Her Son would be most easy to understand, Our Lady said, if you know the power of the Father. For nothing is impossible with God.
    The world needed to be saved. The gates of Heaven needed to be opened to a sinful man. Therefore, the Father deemed to send His Son to earth and planned before "My birth," Our Lady says—Her birth, that She should be there to bring forth this heavenly Being Who would be known as the Son of Man and the Son of God.
    It was the plan of the Father to try to teach man and lead him back to the road to the Kingdom which had been shut to him. And because of his evil ways and his turning to satan, he had lost that road and the keys had been taken from him temporarily.
    Therefore, when, Our Lady said, She saw Her Son sacrificed upon the wood, She suffered greatly. But Her suffering and Her joy was intermingled, for She was given the knowledge before the birth of the Son that He would come to save all mankind. Therefore, when He returned to the Father, Her heart was lightened, knowing that She would remain but a short time and join Him in the Kingdom. So the loss was but a temporary heartache to Her.
    Our Lady knows that many question this. It is only because satan wishes to place doubt and destroy the truth. So Our Lady asks that you keep in your heart the truth and be not swayed by scientific minds that have been given great knowledge, but never the truth. -
December 30, 1972

ONLY CHILD
"I come to you as your God, and I also want to make this clear: I did not have any brothers or sisters in My family. My Mother was Mary Ever Virgin. This was a supernatural manifestation from Heaven and only those who are in the light, they fully understand the existence of My Mother and the role She played in establishing the One, True Church upon earth." -
Jesus, October 2, 1987

GENTLEST
"I give you My heart, torn anew by My own. I give you My Mother, the gentlest of creatures, human and sublime. I give you My Mother Who will be with you through the battle until I return as I ascended into Heaven." -
Jesus, August 14, 1979

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A great obligation to go forward... "It is not by accident that you are called by My Mother, for it is by merit and the prayers that have risen to Heaven for your salvation.  For those who have received the grace to hear the Message from Heaven, you have a great obligation to go forward and bring this Message to your brothers and sisters.  Do not expect a rest upon your earth, for you will have eternal rest very soon." - Jesus, June 12, 1976

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