“A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and … gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne.” -Revelation 12:1-2, 5
Yesterday, December 9, the universal Church celebrated the feast day of the Immaculate Conception. Since Mary is the patron saint of the United States of America, yesterday was also the feast day of our country!
Protestants, my brothers and sisters in Christ, are allergic to Mary, insisting on their mistaken notion that Catholics “worship” Mary when in fact we don’t. But Catholics do honor, revere and love Mary for she is the Mother of Jesus the Christ, as she rightly should be. Imagine how we hurt Him when we dismiss and disregard His mother. He respects her so much that, even though it wasn’t yet time for Him to begin His public ministry, He performed His first miracle changing water into the finest wine because His mother asked Him to.
As the mother of God, Mary must have been a very special and remarkable woman. Scripture tells us she was a virgin (see also “The Christmas Miracle: Scientific Evidence of the Virgin Birth”) and that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Still, it took the Church more than 1,800 years to definitively determine another of her special and wholly remarkable attributes.
On December 8, 1854, in the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December, 1854, Pope Pius IX pronounced and defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary “in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin.”
In other words, Mary was conceived without sin — thus, the Immaculate Conception.
But you don’t have to take Pius IX’s word on this. We can deduce this ourselves, with the help of science.
Are you ready to put your thinking caps on and take a trip in logic, reason, and science with me?
Here we go . . . .
1. Scripture tells us that, as a result of our first parents’ disobedience of God’s explicit command because they wanted to be “as gods,” Adam and Eve’s offspring — all human beings — are born with the Original Sin. We are each born with concupiscence — an inclination toward evil, which renders us “tinder for sin” (fomes peccati).
2. Translated into the language of modern science, “born with the Original Sin” can only mean this concupiscence is biologically INHERITED. That in turn means it is transmitted from parents to child through all the generations via some genetic code or DNA.
3. Jesus, being God Himself (Son of the Father and the Second Person of the Trinity), by definition is without sin and without the Original Sin, for He is all good.
4. But the Second Person of the Trinity so loves us that He chose to become incarnate as a human being, to be born of a human mother, and to suffer and die for our redemption and salvation.
5. Since a baby is formed in the mother’s womb out of her very blood and tissue, the human mother of the incarnate God must be free of the primeval stain of Original Sin that is the genetic inheritance of every human. That means Mary could not have transmitted the concupiscence DNA to Jesus, which implies she herself did not have the Original Sin genetic marker, which is another way of saying she was conceived without sin.
Now we come to the Science part of our exercise in reasoning….
6. In 1979, researchers at Stanford University made a shocking discovery: They found a pregnant mother’s blood containing cells with Y sex chromosomes. Since women only have X chromosomes, they concluded that the cells must have entered into her body from the male baby she carried within her. That discovery began a new field in science — the study of fetal cell microchimerism.
As recounted by science writer Jena Pinctott in her October 2011 book, Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies?: The Surprising Science of Pregnancy, “During pregnancy, cells sneak across the placenta in both directions. The fetus’s cells enter his mother, and the mother’s cells enter the fetus.” How amazing is that?
More amazing still is that one kind of fetal cells that enter into the mother’s body is the baby’s stem cells, which can “morph” into other types of cells through a process called differentiation. The baby’s fetal stem cells can actually become the mother’s own cells that make up her liver, heart, or brain. More than that, there is evidence that fetal cells may offer the mother increased resistance to certain diseases. (Read more about this in my post of Jan. 15, 2012, “Baby in womb protects mom from disease.”)
There you have it: During her pregnancy, across the placenta Mary’s cells entered into baby Jesus and baby Jesus’ cells entered into Mary, and baby Jesus’ stem cells became the cells of Mary’s liver, heart, and brain.
God and woman became one.
That is why I honor, revere, and love very much our Blessed Mother Mary with all my heart.
“Then the dragon became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus.” -Revelation 12:17