Archbishop Lori’s Homily: Immaculate Heart of Mary

Immaculate Heart of Mary
Knights of Columbus States Deputies Meeting
June 12, 2021

Memory Capacity 

Technical experts speak about the memory capacity of our electronic devices. As we use them day in and day out, we check to see how much memory is left on our computers, laptops, cellphones, and other smart devices. Truth to tell, I’ve never fully exhausted the memory capacity of any of my devices, but at the dawn of the digital age, when capacity was a lot less than it is today, I came pretty close to depleting the capacity of one of my very first laptops.

Please do not think I know much of anything about the digital world. Father Bianco will tell you that I am a Luddite, much more at home with fountain pens and cassette tape Dictaphones. I mention computer capacity, though, because of a line at the end of today’s Gospel. After telling us how Mary and Joseph found Jesus in the temple teaching the teachers, the Evangelist Luke adds that ‘Mary stored these events, these mysteries, in her heart.’ Mary’s heart, because it was sinless had endless capacity in which to store the things of God.

By contrast, our sinfulness limits our capacity to take in, to cherish, and remember efficaciously what God in his mercy has done for our salvation. For sin and grace, goodness and evil, flesh and spirit have no truck with one another. Inevitably, the good will crowd out the bad or the bad with crowd out the good.

Mary’s Sinless Heart 

That is why the Church reserves this particular Saturday in her liturgical year to focus on the Immaculate Heart of Mary, on Mary’s sinless heart. As we know and believe, God in his Providence preserved Mary from all stain of sin. Mary was conceived without original sin – she is the Immaculate Conception – and she was preserved from committing any actual sins, whether mortal or venial. Without any admixture of sin or its effects in her heart, in her inmost depths, free from sin and its effects and from earthly attachments, Mary’s mind and heart were filled with the knowledge of God’s mercy, his mercy that perdures from age to age, from generation to generation. Her sinless heart was like a repository in which she kept alive the memory of the great and mighty deeds that God had done for his people throughout history, coupled with God’s promise that he would come to set his people free. And even as Mary’s mind and heart became a living repository for God’s word, so too did she conceive the Word by the power of the Holy Spirit and thus her body became a living tabernacle containing the Incarnate Son of God.

Full of grace, her heart could rejoice without alloy in God her Savior. Echoing Isaiah’s outburst of exaltation in our first reading – “I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul” – and the canticle from 1st Samuel that was our responsorial psalm – Mary uttered her timeless hymn of praise: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”

Mary the Pattern of the Church at Prayer 

So we find in Mary’s Immaculate Heart the pattern of the Church’s prayer. First, the Church offers us the Sacrament of Reconciliation to purify our hearts, to rid them of sin and thus to increase their capacity to remember and cherish God’s love, to move God’s love from the periphery of our lives to the center so that we can remember it and keep it before us in the midst of our daily activities. Next, at every Mass, the Church proclaims the Scriptures, the revealed Word of God, not only to inform us and inspire us but to stir up in us the living memory of all that God has done for us in calling us to be his adopted sons and daughters, in calling us to share his life and love, in calling us to a vocation, to some specific work, and finally calling us to the joy of eternal life, in the great liturgy of heaven.

So intense, so alive, so efficacious is the Church’s memory of Christ’s saving love, that it cannot be contained in books or merely expressed in words, however joyful. Rather, at the word of command from the Lord, “Do this in memory of me,” the Church brings the greatest treasure from her storehouse memories, namely, the Incarnate Son of God who took flesh in Mary’s immaculate womb, becomes present in our midst, present in his sacrifice of love reenacted, present in his Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Thus, the Church, like Mary is both repository the Word and the tabernacle of Christ’s Body and Blood … and thus does she continue to exalt the greatness of her Lord from age to age.

Repository and Tabernacle 

The upshot of this beautiful feast day for us, I hope, is clear. These past days we have spoken about the centrality of the Eucharist in our lives. Without the Eucharist, we cannot live the principles of the Order, for the Eucharist is the sacrament of unity and charity. Staying close to the heart of the Church, we must allow the Holy Spirit to shape and form our lives after the pattern of Mary’s life and after the pattern set forth for us in the Eucharist. Every day, we must be cleansed of sin and ponder God’s holy Word. Every day, we must deepen the presence of Christ within us. Every day, we must bring Christ into our homes and into our world, especially to the poor, the sick, the widow and the orphan. Every day, we must remember, and remembering we must exalt in the God who has done great for us – holy is his name.

As we do this from day to day, our capacity for God’s truth and love expands, even as we grow in our capacity to remember what our Bl. Founder taught and did, even as we grow in our capacity to live the principles of the Order, generously and lovingly, with the praise of God always on the tip of tongues. Through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, may God bless us and keep us in his love. Vivat Jesus!

Archbishop William E. Lori

Archbishop William E. Lori was installed as the 16th Archbishop of Baltimore May 16, 2012.

Prior to his appointment to Baltimore, Archbishop Lori served as Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., from 2001 to 2012 and as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington from 1995 to 2001.

A native of Louisville, Ky., Archbishop Lori holds a bachelor's degree from the Seminary of St. Pius X in Erlanger, Ky., a master's degree from Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg and a doctorate in sacred theology from The Catholic University of America. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Washington in 1977.

In addition to his responsibilities in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Archbishop Lori serves as Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus and is the former chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty.