Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which, in my experience, is one of the most misunderstood of Catholic doctrines.  (Indeed, a couple weeks ago, I somehow found myself mixing it up with a German Lutheran who, although quite rude and condescending, also appeared to be completely ignorant of what he was talking about.)

Some time back (in fact, it might have been on this feast day last year), I mentioned here that Marianism is probably the hardest part of the Faith for a newbee to wrap his brain around.   Apart from her mention in the Creed, Mary is virtually absent from the average Episcopalian’s religious thought, whereas her supreme importance is positively ingrained among Catholics from Day One.  As I put it to Mrs. R this morning, it’s the equivalent of the difference between speaking a language as a native and learning it in school:  I’m becoming increasingly facile at it, but it’s still the product of deliberate, conscious thought and is not natural or instinctive.