Friday, December 21, 2007

The Immaculate Conception: More Information

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!!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Immaculate Conception of Mary

Today in the church calendar we celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. This is the time when we remember Mary as one who was conceived without sin and who would become the Mother of God. Mary has a very important role in our faith and this is one of the many ways in which we remember her.

Chris and I attended the vigil Mass for this feast day. So we met at Church Friday night after work and then went out to eat after Mass. We also managed to do a little Christmas shopping last night too.

Today I had rehearsal for a concert I'm playing in tomorrow. Actually, this is the reason we went to a vigil mass rather than the 8am mass Saturday morning.

This evening after dinner we read part of a book we picked up at Church at the beginning of Advent. The book has readings and commentaries for each day from the First Sunday of Advent through Epiphany. So each night after dinner we read that days page. Today's, of course, talked about the Immaculate Conception. It made us both think a bit and it sparked a little bit of discussion. I suppose that is probably the intent of the book! :)

So the book asked if we thought Mary knew she was sinless. I said no, how could she know that. But Chris said that she probably knew something even if maybe she didn't know exactly what it was. And we were specifically thinking of Mary as a young girl, before the angel came to visit her. So we discussed this more and I think I do have to agree that she probably knew that she was different somehow. Chris pointed out that although she was conceived without sin she still had free will as we all do. Thus she always had to make the decision to not sin whenever she was faced with any kind of decision like that. But he also agrees that she probably wouldn't have been able to vocalize that she was sinless because she also had humility. Humility kind of goes hand in hand with the sinlessness. So, she might never have admitted she was sinless, she had free will, and she had to make decisions to always do right.

It was a really great discussion and I'm glad it made us think. I also feel that my respect for the person of Mary is so much greater now just thinking about what we talked about tonight. She is definitely a role model to always have in front of you.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Some thoughts on Advent

First, as I mentioned in my previous post, I added an Advent wreath to the blog in honor of the season. I failed, however, to mention where I got the wreath. Through another Catholic blog I was pointed to The Curt Jester who provided the Advent wreath for any blog. So thanks to the Curt Jester for the wonderful Advent wreath!!

Second, I have noticed a lot of talk this year about the importance of Advent. Along with this there is a lot of talk about how tired people are of the commercialization of Christmas and everyone's amazement of how early it starts. I saw Christmas stuff out along with the Halloween stuff during "Back to School" shopping. It is crazy!! I am hearing on the radio and reading on blogs about how people want to take back Christmas, away from the retailers, and bring it back to what it is really about--the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior and our King.

Our Christmas stuff went up this past weekend. It still seems too early to me and I am considering some different things for next year. But convincing my husband will be interesting. This was a topic on many blogs who participated in this week's Catholic Carnival. Check it out here: Catholic Carnival 148: For Life.

Two of my favorite postings in this week's Carnival have to do exactly with the idea of recognizing the season of Advent, things to do during Advent, and placing Christmas properly where it belongs. These posts are great!! Go read them. The first is at the blog Catholic Fire called: Ten Tips to a Better Advent Season. The second is from A Catholic Mom Climbing the Pillars and she presents a beautiful view of the holidays from the end of Thanksgiving all the way to Epiphany in January. Check out her post What Would Celebrating Christmas correctly look like?. Her view is exactly what I have been looking for. So I'm getting ideas for next year and I love it!

Those are just two of my favorites from the Carnival. If you like those, go check out the others as well. I highly recommend them!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Happy 1st Sunday of Advent

Advent has begun. I have added an advent wreath to my blog. Isn't it cool!!

We also took out all the Christmas decorations this weekend and Chris finished putting all that stuff up. There isn't room for my tree, but we did get al my ornaments on his tree. His tree no longer looks so "designed"! I counted 9 wreathes around the house, inside and out! Quite amazing, I think.

Enjoy the countdown to Christmas!! Happy Advent season!