QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Does the Immaculate Conception refer to when Mary became pregnant with baby Jesus?
No! The Immaculate Conception refers to Mary's conception, when she was formed in her mother's womb.
It means that Mary did not inherit the original sin of Adam and Eve, which we all inherit. Hence, her son, who did not have a human father could not inherit original sin from her. In this way, Mary was a proper "vessel" to carry Jesus in her womb. Mary was conceived in the normal human way through sexual intercourse, but all that was missing was the inheritance of the weakness we have to commit sin and turn from God (known as Original Sin).
Pope Pius IX officially pronounced this teaching in 1854 AD, but it has been professed by many of the early Church Fathers from St. Ambrose and St. Augustine to St. John Damascene, and was celebrated in the Eastern Church from as far back as the 7th Century AD.
Don't feel too bad, if you confuse the Immaculate Conception with Jesus's birth, even Ben Stein of "Win Ben Stein's Money" Game show, got it wrong!
- Deacon George Kozak (6/01)