Gleanings from the Collects: The Feast of St. Mary the Virgin

O God, you have taken to yourself the blessed Virgin Mary, mother of your incarnate Son: Grant that we, who have been redeemed by his blood, may share with her the glory of your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

August 15 as the Feast of St. Mary is new to the American Book of Common Prayer, but the Eastern Church has celebrated this feast since the 4thcentury and a collect for this day is found in the Sarum Rite[1]of the Western Church.

The collect is judicially worded. The Eastern Church speaks of the dormition or falling asleep of the Blessed Virgin while the Roman Church speaks of her assumption into heaven. The words of this collect “taken to yourself” makes no definitive claim about Mary but allows the Anglican Church to be in unity with other parts of Christ’s Body on the importance of this feast. Whatever one’s belief about Blessed Mary’s death or assumption, there can be no doubt that she is with her Son and that she is the ultimate example of a servant of the Lord. From accepting the message of an angel to standing at the foot of the Cross her steadfastness is a model to us all throughout the ages. 

The collect also contradicts the modern attempts to name Mary as Co-Redeemer. This prayer makes it clear that we “have been redeemed” by the blood of her incarnate Son. There is not a hint in the collect of Mary being a mediator or advocate. She is a fellow heir with us as we “share with her the glory of your eternal kingdom.” As one who always pointed others to her Son, we can safely imagine that she would have it no other way. 

[1]11thcentury liturgy of Salisbury Cathedral

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