Isaac of Stella
Mary and the Church


MS-Word doc
From a sermon by Blessed Isaac of Stella, Abbot,  Sermo 51 In Assumptione Beatae Mariae PL 194 1862-1863, 1865 Mary and the Church





Sermon 51 - on the Assumption of Blessed Mary

In Assumptione Beatae Mariae





The Office of Readings, Saturday,

Advent, Week 2

THE Son of God is the firstborn of many brothers. Although by nature he is the only-begotten, by grace he has joined many to himself and made them one with him. For to those who receive him he has given the power to become the sons of God (Jn 1).

[Col.1862C] Ipse quippe primogenitus est in multis fratribus, qui cum esset natura unicus, gratia conciliavit sibi plures, qui cum eo sint unus. Dedit enim potestatem filios Dei fieri, his qui recipiunt eum (Joan. I).

He became the son of man and made many men sons of God, uniting them to himself by his love and power, so that they became as one. In themselves they are many by reason of their human descent, but in him they are one by divine rebirth.

factus denique hominis filius, multos fecit Dei filios. Multos igitur conciliavit sibi, ut dictum est, sua charitate, et potestate unicus: qui cum carnali generatione in seipsis sint plures, divina [Col.1863A] tamen regeneratione cum ipso sunt unus.

The whole Christ and the unique Christ - the body and the head - are one: one because born of the same God in heaven, and of the same mother on earth. They are many sons, yet one son. Head and members are one son, yet many sons; in the same way, Mary and the Church are one mother, yet more than one mother; one virgin, yet more than one virgin.

Unus enim totus ac solus Christi caput et corpus: unus autem is unius Dei in coelis, et unius matris in terris; et multi filii, et unus filius. Sicut namque caput ac membra, unus filius, et plures filii, sic Maria et Ecclesia una mater, et plures; una virgo, et plures.

Both are mothers, both are virgins. Each conceives of the same Spirit, without concupiscence. Each gives birth to a child of God the Father, without sin. Without any sin, Mary gave birth to Christ the head for the sake of his body. By the forgiveness of every sin, the Church gave birth to the body, for the sake of its head. Each is Christ's mother, but neither gives birth to the whole Christ without the cooperation of the other.

Utraque mater, utraque virgo; utraque de eodem Spiritu sine libidine concipit; utraque Deo Patri sine peccato prolem fundit. Illa absque omni peccato corpori caput peperit; ista in omnium peccatorum remissione capiti corpus edidit. Utraque Christi mater, sed neutra sine altera totum parit.

In the inspired Scriptures, what is said in a universal sense of the virgin mother, the Church is understood in an individual sense of the Virgin Mary, and what is said in a particular of the virgin mother Mary is rightly understood in a general sense of the virgin mother, the Church.

Unde in Scripturis divinitus inspiratis, quod de virgine matre Ecclesia universaliter, hoc de virgine Maria singulariter; et quod de virgine matre Maria [Col.1863B] specialiter, id de Virgine matre Ecclesia generaliter jure intelligitur,

When either is spoken of, the meaning can be understood of both, almost without qualification.

et cum de alterutra sermo texitur, fere permistim et indifferenter de utraque sententia intelligitur.

[Thus the faithful soul may be equally understood as bride of the divine Word and Mother of Christ; as both daughter and sister; as both virgin and fruitful.] Unaquaeque etiam fidelis anima, Verbi Dei sponsa, Christi mater, filia, et soror, virgo et fecunda suapte ratione intelligitur.

These words are used in a universal sense of the Church, in a special sense of Mary, in a particular sense of the individual Christian. They are used by God's Wisdom in person, the Word of the Father.

Dicitur ergo universaliter pro Ecclesia, et specialiter pro Maria, singulariter quoque pro fideli anima, ab ipsa Dei sapientia, quod Patris est Verbum.

This is why Scripture says: I will dwell in the inheritance of the Lord. (Sir. 24:11)

Unde et sequitur: Et in haereditate Domini morabor.

The Lord's inheritance is, in a general sense, the Church; in a special sense, Mary; in an individual sense, the Christian. Christ dwelt for nine months in the tabernacle of Mary's womb.

Haereditas enim Domini, universaliter Ecclesia, specialiter Maria, singulariter quaeque fidelis anima. In tabernaculo uteri Mariae moratus est Christus novem mensibus;

He dwells until the end of the ages in the tabernacle of the Church's faith. He will dwell for ever in the knowledge and love of each faithful soul. 

in tabernaculo fidei Ecclesiae usque ad consummationem saeculi, in cognitione et dilectione fidelis animae in saecula saeculorum morabitur.

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