Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies


For today’s Meditation on the Collects of the Roman Missal, I would like us to consider in retrospect the Collect for the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (MR’70), which occurred this year on June 9th. In the MR’70, this feast always occurs the day after the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Below is the official ICEL English translation of the original Latin Collect:

“O God, who prepared a fit dwelling place for the Holy Spirit in the Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, graciously grant that through her intercession we may be a worthy temple of Your glory. Through our Lord, etc. Amen.”

This Collect presents quite simply the essential meaning of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception: preserved from the bonds of Original Sin from the very moment of her conception, the Holy Spirit infused her entirely with His divine life. The identification of her Immaculate Heart as His temple is the archetypal symbol of her being “full of grace.” Devotion to the Immaculate Heart, then, is essentially an attraction to the preeminently vivid image of Christ Himself in the person and love of His Blessed Mother Mary, His Mother and ours (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church nos. 487, 2675).  

In view of this, our Collect’s petition appears to be asking for a movement of grace in our hearts that is parallel to, albeit necessarily distinct from the singular grace of the Immaculate Conception. Such an analogous movement of grace has already begun for us in Baptism, wherein we are given a share in the divine life, and it continues especially through our participation in the other Sacraments (sacramental grace is the highest form of grace and it is indispensable for Christian life). We can therefore speak of an ongoing and purifying movement of grace in our hearts which is rooted in the sacraments, prayer, penance, and works of charity.

Much is to be done in maintaining the beauty and excellence of any temple, cathedral, or parish church. So, too, for the temple of our hearts made holy in Baptism. Total perfection in the service divine worship (the essential trajectory of Baptism’s sacramental character) is certainly not automatic, but requires loving and regular care. We must receive the sacraments regularly, be attentive to daily prayer, continually form our minds in divine truth, and exert ourselves in acts of charity and sacrifice on behalf of our neighbor.

We do well, then, to open our hearts as widely as we can to all of the means of grace found in the Ark of the Church, especially since these are all such wonderful things, the more we discover and experience them in our Catholic life. A good lifemotto that encapsulates this truth is a simple clause in the Collect of St. Benedict (MR’70): dilatato corde, or “with a heart opened wide.” This is the perfect description of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, fully open to and cooperating with God’s grace, and it is the goal toward which the whole of our Catholic life is directed.

Mary assists us powerfully with this opening of our hearts to divine grace. The Collect’s motive clause, “through her intercession,” reminds us that Mary’s constant intercession is a fundamental reality in our faith (cf. Catechism no. 969-70). Consider the following from Catechism no. 2677: “Because she gives us Jesus, her Son, Mary is Mother of God and our mother; we can entrust all our cares and petitions to her: she prays for us as she prayed for herself: ‘Let it be to me according to your word.’ By entrusting ourselves to her prayer, we abandon ourselves to the will of God together with her: ‘Thy will be done.’” Mary Immaculate, through the indispensable help of her prayers, will enable us to say “yes” to God from an open heart, and so, attain fuller union with Him.  

(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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