Feast of the Immaculate Conception?


December 8th is observed by Roman Catholics as the ‘Feast of the Immaculate Conception.’  Here is some of what The Catholic Encyclopedia says about it:

The feast of the Immaculate Conception

The older feast of the Conception of Mary (Conception of St. Anne), which originated in the monasteries of Palestine at least as early as the seventh century, and the modern feast of the Immaculate Conception are not identical in their object.

Originally the Church celebrated only the Feast of the Conception of Mary, as she kept the Feast of St. John’s conception, not discussing the sinlessness. This feast in the course of centuries became the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, as dogmatical argumentation brought about precise and correct ideas, and as the thesis of the theological schools regarding the preservation of Mary from all stain of original sin gained strength. Even after the dogma had been universally accepted in the Latin Church, and had gained authoritative support through diocesan decrees and papal decisions, the old term remained, and before 1854 the term “Immaculata Conceptio” is nowhere found in the liturgical books, except in the invitatorium of the Votive Office of the Conception…

Today the Conception of St. Anne is in the Greek Church one of the minor feasts of the year.  The lesson in Matins contains allusions to the apocryphal “Proto-evangelium” of St. James, which dates from the second half of the second century (see SAINT ANNE). To the Greek Orthodox of our days, however, the feast means very little; they continue to call it “Conception of St. Anne”, indicating unintentionally, perhaps, the active conception which was certainly not immaculate. In the Menaea of 9 December this feast holds only the second place, the first canon being sung in commemoration of the dedication of the Church of the Resurrection at Constantinople. The Russian hagiographer Muraview and several other Orthodox authors even loudly declaimed against the dogma after its promulgation, although their own preachers formerly taught the Immaculate Conception in their writings long before the definition of 1854…

In the Western Church the feast appeared (8 December), when in the Orient its development had come to a standstill. The timid beginnings of the new feast in some Anglo-Saxon monasteries in the eleventh century, partly smothered by the Norman conquest, were followed by its reception in some chapters and dioceses by the Anglo-Norman clergy…

The “Martyrology of Tallaght” compiled about 790 and the “Feilire” of St. Aengus (800) register the Conception of Mary on 3 May.  (Holweck, F. (1910). Immaculate Conception. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved December 8, 2012 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07674d.htm)

From the above we see that:

  • The ‘Feast of the Immaculate Conception’ NOT an original Christian observance.
  • The first version of it developed around the seventh century in the Greek/Orient (Eastern Orthodox) church.
  • Greek/Orient (Eastern Orthodox) church does not consider it to be of much importance.
  • A falsely named and false book (the so-called Proto-evangelium of James) was claimed centuries later to support this (having read the so-called Proto-evangelium of James, let me state that any ‘support’ even from it is weaker than weak).
  • The Russian Orthodox denounced the idea of the ‘immaculate conception of Mary.’
  • The Western Church of Rome did not start to observe a version of it until the 11th century.
  • Until 1854 the term Immaculate Conception was not used.
  • The date itself seems to have been changed.

Thus, the ‘Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary’ was not an original Christian observance.

Basically, Catholic dogma, defined in 1854 teaches that Mary was conceived without ‘original sin’ and that she allegedly lived a completely sinless life.  Since Catholic scholars realize that this was not the original position of their early theologians (which they normally call “early Church fathers,” but are called “older Fathers” below), The Catholic Encyclopedia declares:

Proof from Tradition

In regard to the sinlessness of Mary the older Fathers are very cautious: some of them even seem to have been in error on this matter… these stray private opinions merely serve to show that theology is a progressive science.  (Holweck, F. (1910). Immaculate Conception. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved December 8, 2012 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07674d.htm)

So, the so-called “Proof from Tradition” disproves the belief in Mary’s claimed sinlessness.  And instead of this being a biblical or early tradition, it developed over time.

Here is some of what I wrote about this subject in the past (note: DRB is an abbreviation for Douay-Rheims Bible, which is a Catholic-approved version):

In  the  19th    century,  there  was  a  female  apparition in France, known as the Lady of Lourdes.  One of the statements she reportedly stated in 1858 was, “I am the Immaculate Conception!”

Now this is an unusual and biblically contradictory idea as the Bible teaches that all have sinned (Roman 3:23) except Jesus (Hebrews 4:15), as He is the only one who had a biblically immaculate conception, but not the Marian kind.

For non-Catholics, let me explain that what became an extra-biblical Catholic doctrine was that Mary was conceived unlike all other humans and free of what many refer to as “original sin.”   Specifically this “dogma” has been explained in Dr. Ludwig Ott’s 20th  century book Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma as:

“Mary’s freedom of original sin was an unmerited gift of God, and an exception from the law that was vouchsafed to her only.”

His book also teaches:

 The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary is not explicitly revealed in scripture… Neither the Greek nor the Latin Fathers explicitly (explicite) teach the Immaculate Conception of Mary.

So where did it come from?

Let’s have a look at some comparative religion. Before the  birth  of  Christ,  the  Iranian  goddess  Aredvi  Sura Anāhitā, known as the Persian Diana, was called “the virgin, ““the immaculate. “   Kore-Persephoneia was also the “immaculate Maiden“ and “Virgin of the World“ who gave birth to a son for Zeus, and she is believed to be same goddess Diana.     Hence, it appears that at least some of the idea was part of paganism associated with “Diana“ goddess worship.

Jumping forward to the 12th   century, a British monk Eadmer  began  to  promote  the  idea  of  an  Immaculate Conception of Mary.    When he did so, “St. Bernard of Clairvaux… (about 1140), warned the faithful that this was an unfounded innovation…”    So was the Catholic saint Bernard  wrong  in  condemning  Monk  Eadmer’s  heresy here?   Of course not!   Others, at least as late as the 17th century supported Bernard’s position on this.

Yet, after claiming to see an apparition in Rue du Bac, Paris in 1830, the Catholic saint Catherine Labouré claimed Mary “was conceived without sin.”   The extra-biblical teaching of the so-called “Immaculate Conception” did not become a type of Catholic dogma until December 8, 1854. It, thus, was not part of early apostolic tradition…

In a letter to her confessor dated June 12, 1930, Lúcia {of Fatima fame} claimed that she was told the following on the night of May 29th-30th, 1930:

There are five kinds of offenses and blasphemies against the Immaculate Heart of Mary: (1) blasphemies against her Immaculate Conception; (2) against her perpetual virginity; (3) against her divine maternity, refusing to accept her at the same time as the Mother of humankind; (4) by those who try to publicly implant in the hearts of children an indifference, contempt, or even hate for this Immaculate Mother; and (5) for those who insult her sacred images.

Priest Andrew Apostoli, in his Fatima for Today book, wrote:

Those who commit such blasphemies against our Lady are in grave danger of losing their souls, for these sins seriously offend God himself.

I was shocked to read the above.

Now if all five of those statements are blasphemies, then many early Catholic and Eastern Orthodox saints are guilty of blasphemy by that definition. History    records    that    recognized   Catholic    and/or  Eastern  Orthodox  saints  such  as  Melito,  Irenaeus, Theophilus of Antioch, Origen, Basil, Cyprian of Carthage, John  Chrysostom,  Ambrose,  Hilary,  Gregory  of  Tours, Bernard of Clairvoux, Bonaventure, “Albert the Great,” and Thomas Aquinas all took one or more positions that the “messenger” apparently considered to be blasphemous.

Since Priest Apostoli says that salvation may be lost for taking positions against those messages, does not this mean that he is challenging the validity of the sainthood of all Catholic-approved saints who took such supposedly “blasphemous” positions?

He surely does not intend to, but that is what some of the “blasphemy messages” really mean…

Teaching Against the Immaculate Conception

It needs to be understood that the idea of an Immaculate Conception for Mary was not an early tradition of the church nor is it taught in scripture.

The  Catholic  Encyclopedia  article  of  the  Immaculate Conception clearly recognizes this:

No direct or categorical and stringent proof of the dogma can be brought forward from Scripture.

So, the doctrine is simply not provable from the Holy Bible.

One aspects of the belief in Mary’s “Immaculate Conception” is that “she was immune from all sin, personal, or inherited.”   Yet, scripture states:

23 For all have sinned, and do need the glory of God. 24 Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption, that is in Christ Jesus, (Romans 3:23-24, DRB)

All, including Mary, sinned, and need redemption through Christ Jesus (and not Mary) according to the Bible.

Notice  that  the  Catholic  Encyclopedia  article  of  the Immaculate Conception also teaches:

* Origen…thought that…for her sins also Christ died (Origen, “In Luc. Hom. Xvii”).
*…St. Basil writes in the fourth century: he sees in the sword, of which Simeon speaks, the doubt which pierced Mary’s soul (Epistle 259).
* St. Chrysostom accuses her of ambition, and of putting herself forward unduly when she sought to speak to Jesus at Capharnaum (Matthew 12:46; Chrysostom, Homily 44 on Matthew).

The book Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma also admits that “individual Greek Fathers (Origen, St. Basil, St. John Chrysostom, St. Cyril of Alexandria) taught that Mary suffered from venial personal faults, such as ambition and vanity, doubt about the message of the Angel, and lack of faith under the Cross…”

Either those Catholic saints (or Orthodox saints in the case of Origen) were not committing blasphemy, they were not really saints, and/or the messages that Lúcia was told did not come from God.

Additionally, as late as the early 5th  century, even the Catholic saint Augustine would not teach as dogma that Mary was without sin.

About 1140, the Catholic saint Bernard of Clairvaux warned the faithful not to believe the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary as it was an unfounded innovation.

The Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma also teaches that “the leading theologians of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries (Petrus Lombardus, St. Alexander of Hales, St. Bonaventure, St. Albert the Great, St. Thomas Aquinas…) rejected the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.”

Thus, to teach that it is blasphemy or a serious sin against God to not accept the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary (as being different than how other humans were conceived) does not seem to be a biblical or early historical truth—even Catholic saints opposed the view.

Notice also what Jesus taught:

32 And the multitude sat about him; and they say to him: Behold thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee.
33 And answering them, he said: Who is my mother and my brethren?
34 And looking round about on them who sat about him, he saith: Behold my mother and my brethren.
35 For whosoever shall do the will of God, he is my brother, and my sister, and mother. (Mark 3:32-35, DRB)

Jesus is showing that all who do God’s will are His mother, brother, or sisters. If Mary was sinless or conceived differently, He would have not included His mother in those statements.

The Eastern Orthodox in their Patriarchal Encyclical of 1895 declared:

XIII. The one holy, catholic and apostolic Church of the seven Ecumenical Councils teaches that the supernatural incarnation of the only-begotten Son and Word of God, of the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary, is alone pure and immaculate; but the Papal Church scarcely forty years ago again made an innovation by laying down a novel dogma concerning the immaculate conception of the Mother of God and ever-Virgin Mary, which was unknown to the ancient Church (and strongly opposed at different times even by the more distinguished among the Papal theologians).

Thus,  the  Eastern  Orthodox  have  long  taught  that the idea of an “Immaculate Conception” of Mary was “unknown by the ancient Church.”386    And they correctly teach  that  Jesus  alone  is  pure  and  immaculate,  and refer to the Immaculate Conception teaching as a novel “innovation.”   An innovation adopted since the 1800s is not an original teaching—true traditionalists cannot accept such late traditions as essential.

Since Pope Benedict XVI considers that those of the Eastern Orthodox are churches in “the proper sense,”387 obviously the Pope does not believe that they are committing sin or blasphemy in denying the modern teaching of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.

Nor should anyone else based upon what the Bible teaches.

The pro-Vatican news source Zenit.com reported this related to today:

ROME, DEC. 7, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Padre Pio said that “The Madonna is the shortcut to get to God.”

There is no doubt that in order to see the face of Jesus, we must turn to His Mother, and it is to Her who we look to heal our diseases, to turn our tears into prayer.  http://www.zenit.org/article-36131?l=english

This also is in conflict with scripture.  It is by Jesus’ stripes we are to be healed (Isaiah 53:5), not Mary.  Jesus, not His mother Mary, is the one mediator.  Here is something I previously wrote related to this mediator matter:

Mark Miravalle, a professor of theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville, wrote:

Let us pray daily for the solemn definition of Our Lady’s spiritual motherhood as co-redemptrix, mediatrix of all graces, and advocate, which truly reveal the saving actions of motherly intercession which come forth from her Immaculate Heart, and thus to bring the Church and the world a giant step closer to the Fatima-prophesied “Era of Peace.”

Yet, there is nothing in scripture about Mary bringing in an era of peace or being our intercessor—the only intercessor listed in the Bible is Christ (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25)—the Bible says He is the “one mediator” (1 Timothy 2:5, DRB).  The Bible shows that we are only to call upon the name of the Lord/God/Jesus (2 Timothy 2:22; Romans 10:12-13; Acts 26:20)—never Mary.

Although it is proper for Christians to state that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was blessed (Luke 1:48), it is blasphemous to insist that she was sinless (cf. Romans 3:23) and that one must turn to Mary in order to see Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5).

There is nothing in the Bible, or even in early church writings, that supports the view that December 8th is to be a festival for some type of ‘immaculate conception’ of Mary.  Those who are willing to believe what the Bible teaches, as well as truly connect-the-dots related to early church history, will realize that.  Sadly, however, multiple millions are not willing to do so.

For more information, please check out the following:

Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Apparitions Do you know much about Mary? Are the apparitions real? What might they mean for the rise of the ecumenical religion of Antichrist? Are Protestants moving towards Mary? How do the Orthodox view Mary? How might Mary view her adorers?
Origin of the Marian Dogmas: Where Do Catholic Scholars Say The Four Dogmas of Mary Came From?
Assumption of Mary Did Mary die? Was she taken to heaven on August 15th? What is known? What does the Bible show?
Women and the New Testament Church Were women important in the New Testament Church? Which women and how were they involved?
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Genuine Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions. Português: Qual é fiel: A igreja católica romana ou a verdadeira igreja do deus? Tambien Español: ¿Que es fiel: La Iglesia Católica Romana o la Iglesia verdadera de Dios? Auch: Deutsch: Welches ist treu: Die römisch-katholische Kirche oder die Kirche Gottes Original?

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