Ask 9 out of 10 Catholics what the Immaculate Conception is and you will probably get an incorrect answer. Ask a teenager and, well, let’s just say it is hard to find one that understands what we are celebrating on December 8th.
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is not the celebration of when Christ was conceived by Mary, it is the feast of when Mary, the Mother of God, was conceived by her mother, St. Anne. (The Church celebrates her birth nine months later on September 8th.) This may lead us to wonder why Mary’s conception was Immaculate.
When explaining this mystery to our youths, I find it easier to use a very modern day reference….. Indiana Jones. I know, this sounds like I have gone a little bananas, but I really do have a point.
Almost all teens have seen the Indiana Jones movies. Consider starting the discussion by asking them what happened when the movie characters discovered the Ark of the Covenant. (In case you are one of the two people on the planet who never saw these movies, everyone who looks at the open ark dies horrible deaths.) The idea is that the ark itself is so important that to even look upon it is unthinkable. What does this have to do with Mary?
Mary, as the mother of Jesus Christ, was conceived pure and without sin (immaculate). She is the ark of the new covenant. She is precious. Her role is important. If the ark of the old covenant was so protected, ornate, and beautiful, how much more so would the mother of God Himself be?
The next thing I usually hear is, “What old and new covenants?” This presents a wonderful opportunity to talk about God’s covenant with the Jews and His new covenant, the one that we are a part of, Jesus’ promise of salvation by His birth, death and resurrection.
When we think about Mary as the Immaculate Conception are reminded of how much we should honor her. As Father John Corapi is fond of saying, “If you want something from me, honor my mother. If you want to tick me off, disregard my mother.” His point is, that as Catholics, we recognize how special Mary is. How necessary she is for our own salvation, not only as the mother or our Lord, but as example of obedience and holiness.
During this month of December, we prepare ourselves for the celebration of the birth of Christ. In doing so, we should take a little time to reflect on the Immaculate Conception of Mary on December 8th.