Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies


For this week's meditation on the Collects of the Roman Missal, we consider the principal Collect for the Octave Day of the Nativity, which is identical in both forms of the Mass, even as each form has a differing designation for today's feast (MR 1962- the Octave of the Nativity/Feast of the Circumcision, and MR 1970- the Feast of Mary, Mother of God). Below is the official ICEL translation of this Collect in the third typical edition of the Roman Missal (2010):  

"O God, who through the fruitful virginity of Blessed Mary bestowed on the human race the grace of eternal salvation, grant, we pray, that we may experience the intercession of her, through whom we were found worthy to receive the author of life, our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."  

Broken down into its five-part structure, the Collect looks like this:  

1. O God (address),
2. who bestowed on the human race the grace of eternal salvation through the fruitful virginity of Blessed Mary (acclamation of God's work),
3. grant, we pray, that we may experience the intercession of this same Blessed Mary (petition),
4. she, through whom we were found worthy to receive the author of life, Jesus Christ, your Son (motive for the petition),
5. who lives and reigns, etc. (concluding doxological formula) 

Re-fashioned into a syllogism, we may interpret the Collect like this:

A) If God saved man by Mary's virginity and maternity ("fruitful virginity" implies maternity),
B) And if Mary was made worthy to become the Mother of God on our behalf (in other words, "we were found worthy" to receive Jesus only because she, in fact, was worthy to bear Him due to her Immaculate Conception),  
C) Then we can hope to experience Mary's efficacious intercession in all of its fruitfulness, maternal love, and meritorious power.

The argument here is fairly straightforward. The Collect praises God for the miracle of Mary's divine maternity, which ultimately points us back to the grace of her Immaculate Conception. God made her worthy from the moment of her conception to become the Mother of His Son, and so, by extension, humanity was thereby made worthy through her to receive Christ. If this is true (and indeed it is!), then the merits of Our Lady are the surety for every other grace we can hope to receive from her powerful and loving intercession. What a marvelous gift! 

The Collect explicitly notes God's action in bringing "the grace of eternal salvation" to us through Mary. In the petition, it indicates that her role is not limited by the Nativity. Indeed, as the entirety of the Church's Tradition shows, Mary continues to be our chief intercessor in heaven. This teaching is especially clear and robust in the Second Vatican Council's Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium nos. 61-62: "[Mary] cooperated in a very special way in the work of the savior...towards the restoration of the supernatural life of souls. For this reason she has become our mother on the order of grace. This motherhood of Mary in the economy of grace goes on without interruption....she has not put aside this saving role, rather she continues by her many prayers of intercession to obtain for us gifts of eternal salvation.

Thus, it is not accidental that we have a statue of Our Lady of Grace above the baptismal font here at Mary Immaculate of Lourdes parish. As St. John Paul II explains, "she continually brings to birth children for the mystical Body of her Son" (cf. Rosarium Virginis Mariae, no. 15; cf. Lumen Gentium no. 53). Through Mary, mankind receives Christ the "Author of life" both in history at the Nativity and sacramentally in Baptism.

St. John Paul II also teaches us that "the role she assumed at Cana in some way accompanies Christ throughout his ministry," namely, her tender solicitude and intercession (RVM no. 21). We may apply this truth to our lives, as well: Mary indeed accompanies us throughout life, interceding for and helping us (cf. RVM nos. 15-16, 21). May the beauty of today's feast spur us to approach her with greater trust in her merits and prayers. 

(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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