Saint John Eudes: Mary’s Heart, the Sea

Updated: May 30, 2020

The Admirable Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary is not only a fountain, as we have seen, it is also a sea, of which the ocean created by God on the Third Day is a beautiful figure….

St. John Chrysostom says that the heart of St. Paul is a sea: Cor Pauli Mare Est, (1) but the Holy Spirit Himself gives this name to the most holy Mother of God, and therefore to her Heart, to which the title is even more applicable than to her person, for we shall show that her Heart is the principle of all the holy qualities that adorn her.

The Holy Spirit declares that Mary, His most worthy Bride, is a sea. A humble and learned writer who, while revealing his brilliant gifts in his excellent commentary on the psalms, has chosen that his name and person remain unknown, (2) teaches us that the name of sea is given in Sacred Scripture to the glorious Virgin because she is indeed a sea of purity, vast in extent and in usefulness. We shall consider shortly that Mary is an ocean in purity and in extent. As for usefulness, this holy Doctor tells us that just as the sea does not permit the adjoining land to remain sterile, so the souls who approach the Mother of God with true devotion bring forth abundant fruits of benediction, thanks to the graces she lavishly bestows on them. Let us say of her Heart that it is a sea full of great and wondrous riches.

In the order of nature, the sea is one of the greatest marvels of God’s omnipotence. “Wonderful are the surges of the sea” (Ps. 92:4). God, Who is great everywhere, is especially admirable in the sea. “Wonderful is the Lord in the depths” (Ps. 92:4). The holy Heart of Mary is an ocean of wonders and an abyss of miracles. It is the extraordinary masterpiece of essential and uncreated Love, in which the effects of infinite power, wisdom and goodness shine more brilliantly than in all the hearts of angels and men.

What is the sea? It is the gathering of the waters, says Sacred Scripture, or if you prefer, it is the place where all the waters are gathered. “Let the waters that are under the heaven, be gathered together into one place” (Gen. 1:9). And the sacred text adds: “The gathering together of the waters, he called Seas” (Gen. 1:9). Now what is the august Heart of Mary? It is the place where are gathered and united the living waters of all graces springing from the Heart of God, as from their first source. St. Jerome says: “Grace is divided among other saints, but Mary possesses the plenitude of sanctity.” (3) For the same reason St. Peter Chrysologus calls Mary collegium sanctitatis, (4) that is the place where all grace and holiness are assembled and gathered together; and St. Bernard, mare admirabile gratiarum, (5) a prodigious sea of graces.

“All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea doth not overflow,” says the Holy Spirit (Eccles. 1:7). Thus also all the streams, all the torrents and all the rivers of heavenly grace run into the Heart of the Mother of Grace, and are readily contained there. All the graces of heaven and earth merge their waters in the great sea of the Holy Heart of the Mother of the Saint of Saints. “In me is all grace of the way and the truth” (Eccles. 24:25). In Mary’s Heart are all the graces of the angels and of men, all the graces of the Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominations, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels and Angels, all the graces of the holy Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Evangelists, disciples of Jesus, martyrs, priests and levites, confessors, hermits, virgins and widows, of the Holy Innocents and of all the blessed in heaven. There is no overflow of grace in Mary; she is not overwhelmed, for her Heart is worthy of all the gifts and all the liberalities of God’s infinite goodness, and is capable of receiving and using them all for the glory of His Divine Majesty.

St. Bernardine of Siena tells us that all the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit descended into the soul and heart of this heavenly Virgin in such fullness, especially when she conceived the Son of God within her chaste womb, that her Heart forms an abyss of grace which no human or angelic intellect can comprehend. The mind of God, that of her Son, Jesus Christ, and her own, are alone capable of understanding the abundance and perfection of this ocean of grace. (6)

The sea does not hoard its waters, but freely dispenses them to the earth through the rivers, which flow into the ocean only to come out of it again, that they may water the whole earth and make it bear all kinds of fruit. “Unto the place from whence the rivers come, they return, to flow again.” The Heart of our munificent Queen does not withhold any of the graces she receive