Saturday, August 28th, 2021

‘In Corde Mariæ’: a Sermon for the Octave of the Assumption

We stand on the octave day of the Assumption of the Virgin; fittingly we commemorate the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and it is on that collect I would say a few words. 

At the center[1] of today’s collect is the word præparasti. And it is probably not incorrect to say that all sound Catholic Mariology rests upon this one word. Or at least there are many other words that are important for her mystery—but you cannot go without this one. 

Note well that the verb is in the second person singular: You have prepared. We have to say something obvious but important: God is the author of the mysteries of Mary. Neither Pius IX nor XII, nor for that matter Celestine I (at Ephesus), nor St Louis de Montfort, nor St Anselm, nor St Bonaventure, nor St Bernard, nor St John Eudes—nor any other eminent Marian doctor of the Church is the author of the mysteries about which they wrote and taught so eloquently. The Blessed Virgin Mary is the work of God. 

We admire the work God does in Our Lady, and we are moved in the same instant to praise and thank Him. Which is exactly what the prayer says today: contemplating her Heart, O Lord, give us to flourish in your Heart. The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are two different entities, it is true—but they are so united in grace and purpose, that to see one is to see the other. Mary is not a god; but she is the true God’s highest work. Bl Ildephonse Schuster says it—

Mary is the Creator’s finest work. When, in Holy Scripture, we read the praises of the Spouse in the Canticles, of sacred wisdom, of the Church, these praises must be applied to Mary first and foremost, because she embodies in the highest degree the holiness and perfection which is attributed to the mystical Spouse of Christ—the Church. [2]      

So we do that today. We have a loving duty to be enthralled with the Marian mysteries, because our admiration will lead us to love. In St Mark’s Gospel we hear how the crowds admired Christ for his healing and teaching. Bene omnia fecit, they said.[3] And in the Heart of Our Lady, he most certainly has. 


[1] It is nearly at the numerical centre: thirteen words before it and fifteen after.

[2] The Sacramentary, vol V, p 67.

[3] Mark 7, 37.

{Art Credit: Saint Mary of Perpetual Help Church (Defiance, Ohio); stained glass.}

Homilies & Sermons, Our Lady