Thursday, December 07, 2006

Immaculate Mis-Conception

One of the nicest holy days of the Church year, the Immaculate Conception, is coming up tomorrow! So remember to go to Mass either tonight at the vigil, or tomorrow, and honor Our Lady. And while you're at it, do your part to correct the misapprehensions out there about what this phenomenon is--and what it is not. Just for the record: The Immaculate Conception refers to Mary being conceived without Original Sin. It does not refer to Mary's conceiving Jesus by the Holy Spirit. I wish I had a dollar for every non-Catholic (or, for that matter, ill-informed Catholic) who makes jokes about "immaculate conception" in terms of someone not having sex with an earthly father. The sad part is, I'd be pretty well off right now. The sadder part is, this error occurs as a running joke repeatedly in everything from stage plays to books by Christian authors, who ought to know better (or their editors ought to). Yes, I know many of these people aren't Catholic. All the more reason not to assume you know what that phrase refers to, just because that's the joke that's been made all your life. None of us is a Civil War nurse, but if you're writing a historical novel set in the Civil War and your character's a nurse, you can just jolly well bet that you're doing all kinds of research to find out what that life was like. Well, you need to do the same thing, even with contemporary things you think you "know." More than one thing I thought I "knew," over the years...I actually didn't know. I was actually getting it wrong. Thank heaven I checked--or some very embarrassing errors would go out in books I'm responsible for. And if there's anything I hate, it's errors going out with my name under them, in any capacity. Seems to me when the error comes to something about religion, whether it's our religion or not, we all need to hate errors just as much. So do your part. Don't spread the Mis-Conception about the Immaculate Conception...or anything else you might think you "know." Checking, and double-checking, is never time wasted. While you're at it, even if you're not Catholic...why not stop in to Mass, if for nothing else, just to hear some beautiful Scriptures about Our Lady? That's never time wasted, either. A great book for holiday giving, along those same lines: the Marian Bible Study by Laura Marie Wells...a book I edited, and a beautiful way to honor Our Lady all year. Have a happy and prosperous holy day vigil! Janny


Donna Alice said...

I made it to Mass, although late but it was a lovely ending to the work week.
This brings to mind a funny story from my now departed aunt. She once got into an arguement with another parishoner about the Immaculate Conception. In the end, she managed to have the other woman in tears and totally in agreement with her very wrong definition of the Immaculate Conception. When Mom told her she'd gotten it wrong, she had to go back and fix the mistake. I'm not sure the other woman ever spoke to her again.

The Koala Bear Writer said...

Coming at the church from a Protestant point of view, I've seen a lot of the misconceptions that non-Catholics have towards Catholics. It's really sad. But like you said, it's even sadder when Catholics themselves have those misconceptions. One of the first things that impressed me about my fiance was that he knew what he believed. I have met many other Catholics like him, but also many who grew up in the Church without knowing much about it. However, that can be said about any denomination... As Christians, we need to know what we believe and why, and to share that with the world.