Listers, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Concept on the 8th of December. The following is a basic catechetical introduction to the topic as articulated by the official Catechism of the Catholic Church.
SPL Introduction – What is the Immaculate Conception? Often times the Immaculate Conception is confused with when the Holy Spirit overshadowed the Virgin Mary, which resulted in the Incarnation of Christ. The Immaculate Conception refers to Mary herself, and the beginning of her life in the womb of Christ’s grandmother. The basic teaching is that Mary was born immaculate, or rather she was free from sin in order to be a perfect vessel for the Incarnation of Christ.
A few introductory points: 1. Mary was protected from sin, while Christ simply is sinless. 2. All of Mary’s graces and unique roles in salvation are Christocentric. 3. Every Marian doctrine points toward a greater understanding of her son, Jesus Christ.
Holy Grandparents – St. Joachim, St. Anne, and the child Mary
Full of Grace
To become the mother of the Savior, Mary “was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role.” The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as “full of grace”. In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God’s grace.
Dogma of the Catholic Church
Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854:
The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.
St. Anne (Hanna, Anna, Ann) and the Child Mary
Mary’s Grace is Christocentric
The “splendor of an entirely unique holiness” by which Mary is “enriched from the first instant of her conception” comes wholly from Christ: she is “redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son”. The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” and chose her “in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love”.
The Eastern Catholic Tradition
The Fathers of the Eastern tradition call the Mother of God “the All-Holy” (Panagia), and celebrate her as “free from any stain of sin, as though fashioned by the Holy Spirit and formed as a new creature”. By the grace of God Mary remained free of every personal sin her whole life long.
Read More: The Catechism of the Catholic Church on the Immaculate Conception and the Incarnation St. Joachim and St. Anne The Holy Day of Obligation: The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Encyclopedia: An in depth treatment of the Immaculate Conception