On Dec. 8 I posted on this blog about that day's special feast day in the Catholic Church: The Feast of the Immaculate Conception (see post below). A wonderful friend of mine posted some comments and based on what she said, I thought a new post was warranted to give this topic the attention it deserves.
Mary is an important figure in Christianity. Catholics especially give her a place of honor that is often misunderstood by other Christians. For example, one misunderstanding is that Catholics pray to Mary. This isn't true, but we do ask for her intersession. After all, if you are seeking help from someone (God) why not ask his mother? Remember the wedding feast at Cana? Jesus wasn't ready to start His public ministry, but at his mother's insistence, He did. This is just one of many things that we could discuss, but moving back to the topic at hand ...
The Bible verses referred to in the comments from the post below are actually addressed in a tract (or article) I found (well, okay, Chris found it) on the Catholic Answers website. So for a much better overview of the Immaculate Conception than I could ever give, I point you to this wonderful page. This article goes into some detail on why we believe what we do about the Immaculate Conception and it also talks about the Assumption, which is another topic.
One thing I really like about this article is the analogy of the two people falling into the pit and being saved. One falls in and is pulled out, thus he is saved from further mudding up himself; the second is, at the very last moment, pulled away from the pit and is saved from even falling in and thus avoids all the mud completely. This is to illustrate Mary's need for a Savior (Luke 1:47). Yes, she needed a Savior, we all do. She was just blessed with his saving grace at the moment of conception. What a wonderful thing to do for your mother!! Also in the article, note the discussion of Luke 1:28 when the angel Gabriel addresses Mary. Very cool!
There is a lot more on the entire Catholic Answers website that may be of interest to anyone wanting to know why Catholics believe certain things. One thing that was also implied, though not explicitly stated, in the comments on the previous post was about Scripture being the only source we have. The Catholic Church teaches Scripture in everything we do and it informs all of our practices and doctrines. But we also rely on tradition and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Jesus sent out his disciples to teach the world under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26 and 16:13). There are articles on this same website under the topic of Scripture and Tradition that may also be of interest to anyone wanting to know why Catholics not only use the Bible, but also have the Catechism and all these doctrines from the Popes, etc.
I'm sure this doesn't answer everything in regard to the topic of the Immaculate Conception, but I hope it's a good start. Another person to check our for more information on all sorts of topics is Scott Hahn. He was a minister of some kind and admits to once being anti-Catholic. He and his entire family converted to Catholicism years ago and now both he and his wife (who also trained in the Protestant seminary with her husband) write and speak about matters of Catholic faith and he teaches theology classes at a Catholic college in Ohio. In his conversion story he talks about how Mary was the last huge stumbling block before he could really accept the Catholic faith. Scott Hahn does such a great job explaining Catholic teachings! I suggest checking out his books for more information on Mary or any other Catholic teaching that seems strange to other Christians.
With that I will conclude this post. This reminds me that I need to start trying to do more of those "Catholic Topics of the Week" that I tried to start some time ago. I'll meditate on that a bit for the New Year. I hope everyone has a wonderful and joyful Christmas! Merry Christmas to all!!