Well I saw it again last night on television. Over the years I have seen the phrase, ‘Immaculate Conception’, misused countless times so I feel the need to clear the air on this one. I am by no means a Catholic scholar or historian of any sort. I am, however, Catholic and I too often hear straight out misinterpretations of Catholic theology. First of all, the Immaculate Conception, which non- Catholics always seem to think means,’ conception without sexual intercourse’, really refers to the conception of the future mother of Jesus, Mary. She was conceived in the usual way but without original sin so as to be the perfect choice to carry God’s son. Therefore it was an Immaculate Conception. When Jesus was conceived it was, indeed ,without sex so it was a miraculous conception.
Another misunderstanding that has always bothered me is that non Catholics think Catholics are a bit loony for thinking that the Holy Eucharist is actually the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ and how crazy is that? Well we do believe that bread is just bread until it is consecrated by a priest, at which time it is then ‘ the Body of Christ’. It is exactly the same thing as the difference between Monopoly money and ‘real’ money. We all think of Monopoly bills as play money and paper that has been minted as real money but a real twenty dollar bill is still actually a piece of paper that, having been minted, now represents money. How crazy is that, huh? It is the same thing! I have , on many occasions, had people tell me that this is one of the reasons the Catholic faith seems so strange. So, to be clear, we think of the Holy
Eucharist as the real flesh of Christ as opposed to plain, unleavened bread, just as we think of minted bills as real money as opposed to counterfeit bills.
The church has also been criticized for not offering non Catholics the Holy Eucharist. We, however, take our sacraments seriously and even Catholics have to prepare themselves through extensive schooling, to be ready to receive this blessed sacrament for the first time. That is why we have such celebrations for the occasion of First Holy Communion. It would then hardly make sense to make light of it to everyone else. We also have much preparation for all the other sacraments, such as reconciliation, marriage and convocation! Even for baptism the parents have to prepare so I don’t understand the outrage that Communion would entail preparation as well!
I am under-educated in my own religion, as are most of us, and I really am not an expert on other religions so I can only think we should all enjoy our own beliefs and not be critical of the religions of others.