Download the Immaculate Conception picture here. (It's in landscape format, by the way, so make sure your printing option is set for it!)
Some folks erroneously believe that Catholics think that the Immaculate Conception is the feast day of Jesus's conception. As if we don't know that a baby is in the womb for 40 weeks. Hee! No, no, my dears, the feast day is in celebration of Mary's Immaculate Conception.
The idea is that "The Immaculate Conception means that Mary, whose conception was brought about the normal way, was conceived without original sin or its stain—that’s what 'immaculate' means: without stain" (Catholic Answers tract).
The tract explains it better, but let me make a few quick points that I've shared in RCIA talks:
- The fact that Mary was conceived without sin does not mean that Mary did not need a savior. She most definitely did! Fulton Sheen writes about Mary's being saved in this way: Imagine that there's a road beside a ditch. Everyone who walks along the path ends up in in the grimy ditch, and Jesus needs to pull them out of it. Now, along comes Mary, who is about to tumble into the ditch. Jesus saves her from falling into the ditch, so she remains clean and pure. However, she still needed to be saved by Him, or else she would've been dirtied, too.
- "But how? If Jesus wasn't born yet!" Jesus did exist, however. Jesus always existed. Don't forget that he existed before the Incarnation. Also, God sees all of time; He is not limited by it.
- People have asked, "Why would God bother?" It makes sense, though, doesn't it? If you were going to be born into the world, would you not start by clearing up a place in it? God began by guiding the Jewish people out of the polytheism around them and towards monotheism, then giving them prophets to let them know of the Messiah. Slowly, throughout time, God prepared a place. And He chose to have Mary as His mother and prepared her by making her immaculate and pure for the Christ Child.