Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies

THE COLLECTS OF THE ROMAN MISSAL - Advent II: Sunday, December 4, 2016

For this week's meditation on Collects of the Roman Missal, we consider the principal Collect for The feast of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady, which is identical in both forms of the Mass (MR 1962 and MR 1970). The English translation supplied here (and for all subsequent translations of Collects of the MR 1970 in this year-long bulletin series) is the official ICEL translation of the third typical edition of the Roman Missal (2010). "O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin prepared a worthy dwelling for Your Son, grant, we pray, that, as You preserved her from every stain by virtue of the Death of your Son, which You foresaw, so, through her intercession, we, too, may be cleansed and admitted to Your presence. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen."

Analyzed according to its five-part structure, the Collect looks like this: 1) O God (address), 2) Who prepared a worthy dwelling for Your Son via Mary's Immaculate Conception (ascription of God), 3) grant, we pray, that we may be cleansed and admitted to your presence (central petition), 4a) as You preserved Mary from sin by Jesus' death which You foresaw (first motive for the petition) 4b) through Mary's intercession (second motive for the petition), 5) through our Lord, etc. (concluding doxological formula).

Simplified into a syllogism, the Collect looks like this: A) If God prepared a worthy dwelling for Christ via Mary's Immaculate Conception, which itself depends upon Christ's Death, B) And if Mary intercedes for us, C) Then God will cleanse us and admit us into His presence.

The granting of the central petition rests both upon God's action and Mary's intercession. The Collect highlights God's initiative in bringing mankind into His presence. By sending His Son to be incarnate and die for us, He has made it possible for us to go to heaven. God's initiative in preparing Mary to carry His Son in her womb was the first step towards realizing the Incarnation.

The mystery of faith we know as the Immaculate Conception is summarized as follows. God, who exists outside of time, applied the merits of Christ's Passion to Mary from the first moment of her conception, so that being Immaculate, she might be worthy to become the Mother of God (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church nos. 490-493). Thus, the granting of the petition of the Collect rests on a solid and hopeful foundation, namely, that God Himself actively and miraculously draws near to man with His grace in and through Mary. Furthermore, while Mary's experience of salvation is entirely unique, both her salvation and ours depend upon the same font of grace: Christ's death on the cross, which alone bridges the separation between God and man caused by Original Sin.

The second factor influencing the granting of the petition is Mary's intercession. Her motherly care for the baptized is integral in their sharing in the victory of heaven (cf. CCC no. 2676). Her very constitution in the fullness of God's grace from the first moment of her existence is united to the priestly sacrifice of her Son's Passion. Consequently, her desire for our salvation is strongly bound up with Jesus' own steadfast love for sinners, such that her intercession partakes more powerfully in the mediation of Christ's priesthood than that of any other saint (cf. Bl. Paul VI, Marialis Cultus, no. 20). We see this borne out poetically in the Sequence hymn Stabat Mater, which meditates on Our Lady's co -passion with Christ (her compassion) at the foot of His Cross. May we each experience the power and consolation of her loving and saving intercession during this Advent season.

(David Allen)

(David Allen)

Mr. David Allen, M.T.S., is the lay Pastoral Associate for our parish of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes.


About Our Parish

Mary Immaculate of Lourdes is Newton and Needham Massachusetts's oldest Roman Catholic Parish. Founded as Saint Mary's Parish in 1870 it was renamed "Mary Immaculate of Lourdes" when the new Church was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1910. In addition to being a regular territorial parish of the Archdiocese of Boston it is also a "Mission Parish" since 2007 with a special apostolate for the Traditional Latin Mass (1962 Missal).

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