You'd be amazed at the people who argue with me. You would think my get up would make them think twice about whether or not I know what I'm talking about.
On the other hand...I am wrong once in a while. But at least I'm not making it up as I go along.
There are the simple everyday type of arguments, like the other day when I asked Sister St. Aloysius where she stored the Christmas lights when she put them away last year. She maintains that I put them away. I didn't. She took them down and that's the last I saw of them. Ever. This from the woman who couldn't tell the difference between the worm farm and the bee hive nee compost bin. I have to stop and think about these types of things because there is no doubt that Sister St. Aloysius is smarter than I. She has the Mensa certificate proving that fact.
Then there are the arguments I get sucked into, like the Ladies of the Parish who insist that I cast the deciding vote on whatever they are deciding, though I've just strolled by the door and got yanked into the meeting. I've told them until I'm blue in the face that they should not serve ham sandwiches at the Friday card clatches, even though we can eat meat on Friday now, it would be a good example for them to serve finger food or macaroni and cheese. They suspect, I think, that I am trying to get them to make macaroni and cheese so I can have some.
They are correct. I love macaroni and cheese to the point where I should eat meat on Fridays because I so prefer the macaroni and cheese. It would also set a good example.
This question from a reader jarred my memory of one of the most frustrating arguments I've ever had....
If Christmas is December 25th, how could Mary have conceived (immaculately or otherwise) in early December? Shouldn't this day be in March?
....over and over and over again. The last time was with a lady who teaches RCIA classes, and she walked away shaking her head as though poor old sister had finally lost it.
We don't celebrate the conception of Jesus at all. We do have the feast of the Annunciation, when the Archangel Gabriel came to tell Mary that she was going to conceive Jesus. That IS in March, by the by.
The Immaculate Conception refers to the fact that Mary had two parents just like the rest of us with no divine intervention in her conception save this: she did not have the stain of Original Sin on her soul when she was conceived like the rest of us.
It might help if you think of it as a time line leading to what we call the Virgin Birth, also known as Christmas Day.
Joachim and Anne are married.____________________They have a baby the same way everyone else does except the baby has not Original Sin on her soul (Immaculate Conception).__________The baby plays with her dolls___________lives at the Temple________________gets out of the Temple______________gets married to Joseph______________Gabriel comes_________________trip to Bethlehem_____________________Virgin Birth.
Note there are quite a few years between these events.
While we're on the subject, it's unlikely that Jesus was born in December. The shepherds were in the fields with their flocks. That's a springtime thing. Also, it would be silly to hold a census in the dead of winter.
The church picked December for two reasons. Be careful to remember this because if you get into an argument with somebody about Christmas originally being a pagan feast day type of thing and the Church grabbing it for themselves and you are arguing that the Church never did that you are going to be on the paying side of dinner for two.
The first reason really was to grab the pagan holiday for themselves. That way, when they changed it over to Christmas nobody would be mad. No body likes to lose a holiday. That's why we have all these holidays now days on Mondays, to grab the whole weekend. What was I talking about? Oh yes...the Church grabbed up the Winter Solstice and all it's trimmings and then switched it all into Christmas.
A brilliant move. The second reason: We celebrate the birth of Christ, the Light of the World, right when the days are the very shortest and then start growing long again. The Church just does not miss a trick to be symbolic. The Church Fathers are as smart as Sister St. Aloysius.
How do we know this, by the way, about the Immaculate Conception? Who told us? Mary herself did. That's how she introduced herself to Bernadette at Lourdes. When Bernadette asked the lady her name, Mary's response was "I am the Immaculate Conception." That's pretty straight forward.
That's not to say that's how we found out that Mary is the Immaculate Conception. We knew all along, since Gabriel mentioned that she was 'full of grace'. She couldn't be full of grace and have Original Sin. St. John the Baptist wasn't around to baptize anyone just yet. The Church, smarter than Sister St. Aloysius, has always maintained that Mary was free from sin.
So it's all pretty easy to understand except for one thing: God had to make Mary free from Original sin ahead of time. But Mary had free will. She could have said 'no thank you' to the whole thing and just danced away, free from Original sin to boot. But God knew she would say yes. But she could have said no. God could have bet a dinner on it. But she could have said no.
Don't worry about it. It's a "Sacred Mystery". That's Catholic for "let it go."