Immaculate Conception of Mary: This Roman Catholic Church teaching is often confused with Mary’s virginal conception of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit, but it is actually about the conception of Mary herself, that she was granted the unique privilege of being conceived free of original sin through the anticipated merits of Jesus Christ.
Assumption of Mary into Heaven: The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the Virgin Mary was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory. Whether Mary physically died before she was assumed has never been dogmatically defined. At Medjugorje, she told one of the seers she did not die. Jesus died and rose again into a glorified body, giving us the model for what will happen to the dead in Christ when they rise forever. I believe Mary went straight from a living earthly body to a glorified eternal body as the model for what will happen to those who are alive in Christ on the day of the Rapture.
Yesterday, I saw this interesting meditation.
When studying Anatomy and Physiology in college, the lesson that briefly discussed fetomaternal microchimerism, became instructive to me on a different level. Learning that every child leaves within his mother a microscopic bit of himself — and that it remains within her forever — the dogma of the Immaculate Conception instantly became both crystal clear and brilliant to me.
Mary, then, was indeed a tabernacle within which the Divinity did reside — not for a limited time, but for all of her life. Understanding this (and considering how the churches seemed to get it ‘way before microscopes told us anything) the Immaculate Conception made and makes perfect sense: God, who is All-Good is also completely Pure; the vessel in which He resides, then, must be pure, too, or it would not be able to sustain all of that “light in which we see light itself.”
Microchimerism also relates to the dogma of the Assumption of Mary, as well. In the psalms we read “you will not suffer your beloved to undergo corruption.” Christ’s divine body did not undergo corruption. It follows that his mother’s body, which contained a cellular component of the Divinity — and a particle of God is God, entire — would not be allowed to become corrupt, either.
Wikipedia’s article on fetomaternal microchimerism suggests the author may have overstated the frequency and persistence of the phenomenon. “Fetal cells have been documented to persist and multiply in the mother for several decades. … About 50-75% of women carry fetal immune cell lines.”
This doesn’t really change the point of the meditation, especially if one considers that Jesus’ fetal cells were divine. Plus … bonus … the Wikipedia article says that maternal immune cells may also cross into the child’s body and persist, which is very cool to think about as well.