Immaculate Heart of Mary, Cause of Our Joy

The following is an excerpt from the Marian Press book 52 Weeks with St. Faustina by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle:

“O Mary, my Mother and my Lady, I offer You my soul, my body, my life and my death, and all that will follow it.”
Diary, 79

Saint Faustina loved the Blessed Mother very much and trusted that she would take care of her. Faustina came to know Mary as a young child. Her father’s great devotion to Mary was foundational to St. Faustina’s spiritual life. In this week’s spiritual exercise, let’s look at Mary in this mystic’s life and in our lives. Let’s jump in!

WEEK 44
The Blessed Mother told St. Faustina, “My daughter, at God’s command I am to be, in a special and exclusive way your Mother; but I desire that you, too, in a special way, be My child” (Diary, 1414). Can we imagine this? What an amazing blessing! Yet we should be assured that Mother Mary wants to be our mother, too. She desires that we be her children!

One time, Sr. Faustina prayed, “Mary, Immaculate Virgin, take me under Your special protection and guard the purity of my soul, heart and body. You are the model and star of my life” (Diary, 874). Sister Faustina had loved Mary ever since she was a little girl. She had dreams about her and was immersed in the many Catholic Marian traditions through the example of her family. Later on, when Sr. Faustina went to Warsaw to begin her religious life, who does she cry out to? Our Lady. “Mary, lead me, guide me,” she prayed (Diary, 11). Indeed, Mary guided Sr. Faustina all throughout her life. We discussed Our Lady in depth in Week 8, but I’d like to give some background here specifically on the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary began to blossom in the Middle Ages. It became more prominent in the time of St. John Eudes, born in 1601 in Normandy, France. A tireless preacher, he promoted devotion to Mary’s Immaculate Heart alongside Jesus’ Sacred Heart. Later on, in 1830, the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Catherine Labouré occurred in Paris, in which the devotion of the Miraculous Medal was established by the Blessed Mother. The front of the medal shows Mary crushing the head of the serpent and rays of grace streaming from her fingers. The reverse of the Miraculous Medal confirms Mary’s union with her crucified Son. There is an image of the Cross of Christ surmounted by the letter “M,” and underneath it are the symbols of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, side by side.

Shortly after, a confraternity to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was established at Our Lady of Victories church in Paris in 1836 after a saintly parish priest, Monsignor Charles Desgenettes, was inspired to consecrate his abandoned parish to the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of Mary. After consecrating his church, himself, and the people, he promised that he would establish a confraternity in her honor. He then announced at his next Mass that he would hold a meeting to form the confraternity. To his surprise, that evening the church was filled to capacity. The parish was saved, a complete transformation took place, and the confraternity of Our Lady, Refuge of Sinners, was firmly established. In 1838, Pope Gregory XVI raised it to the status of an archconfraternity, and the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary became more widely known.

The Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (or Most Pure Heart of Mary) was approved as a local feast by the Vatican in 1855, but at the time, was not added to the liturgical calendar for the Universal Church.

Later, the devotion spread further when Our Lady of Fatima revealed her Immaculate Heart to the three shepherd children. When she appeared to them, they saw that Mary’s Immaculate Heart was encircled with thorns, representing the many sins committed against her. Our Lady asked for communions of reparation for blasphemies and outrages against her Immaculate Heart to be made on the First Saturday of the month, as well as the consecration of Russia to Her Immaculate Heart so that future calamities would be prevented in the Church and throughout the world. This consecration was accomplished by St. John Paul II.

Both of the younger Fatima visionaries, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, were canonized by the Catholic Church in 2017, during the 100th anniversary of the apparitions. In 1982, 65 years after the first apparition of Our Lady of Fatima, St. John Paul II gave a homily at the shrine in Fatima, Portugal, and stated that he presented himself before the Mother of the Son of God “reading again with trepidation the motherly call to penance, to conversion, the ardent appeal of the heart of Mary that resounded at Fatima.” He explained that he was reading again the message of Fatima with “trepidation in his heart” because he was greatly concerned over “how many people and societies — how many Christians — have gone the opposite direction to the one indicated in the message of Fatima.” He continued, “Sin has thus made itself firmly at home in the world, and denial of God has become widespread in the ideologies, ideas, and plans of human beings.”

Saint John Paul II lamented the fact that though the Queen of Heaven had come down from her throne in Heaven to give a warning and to request prayer to end one war, prevent another war, and stave off other future catastrophes, people looked the other way. They were given a recipe for peace, and decided to turn from it to seek the pleasures of the world. Yes, the world is steeped in sin. There is a great need for purification. Mother Mary calls us to penance and conversion, and she draws us to her Immaculate Heart.

The Two Hearts are Connected
In that same homily, the pontiff also explained the connection between the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus in a profound way. He said:

The Immaculate Heart of Mary, opened with the words “Woman, behold, your son!” is spiritually united with the heart of her Son opened by the soldier’s spear. Mary’s Heart was opened by the same love for man and for the world with which Christ loved man and the world, offering himself for them on the Cross, until the soldier’s spear struck that blow. ... Consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of the Mother means returning beneath the Cross of the Son. It means consecrating this world to the pierced Heart of the Saviour, bringing it back “to the very source of its Redemption.”

On another occasion, when speaking of the Heart of Mary, St. John Paul II said, “Immaculate Heart! Help us to conquer the menace of evil, which so easily takes root in the hearts of the people of today, and whose immeasurable effects already weigh down upon our modern world and seem to block the paths towards the future!”

Then-Cardinal Ratzinger beautifully described Mary’s Immaculate Heart and her promise. He said:

“[M]y Immaculate Heart will triumph.” What does this mean? The Heart open to God, purified by contemplation of God, is stronger than guns and weapons of every kind. The fiat of Mary, the word of her heart, has changed the history of the world, because it brought the Saviour into the world — because, thanks to her Yes, God could become man in our world and remains so for all time. The evil one has power in this world, as we see and experience continually; he has power because our freedom continually lets itself be led away from God. But since God himself took a human heart and has thus steered human freedom towards what is good, the freedom to choose evil no longer has the last word. From that time forth, the word that prevails is this: “In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart; I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). The message of Fatima invites us to trust in this promise.

We should certainly take time to ponder these words and take them to heart.

The Heart of Mary calls us to Jesus. Her Heart is Immaculate, which means it is pure and sinless. Mary’s Immaculate Heart is Mary’s presence with us on earth. We recall that when Jesus was being crucified for our sins, hanging from the Cross, He gifted us with His holy Mother. “Here is your Mother,” He said (Jn 19:27). Jesus desires that we get to know His Mother and learn from Her. Mary is our intermediary in our consecration to Jesus’ Sacred Heart.

Mary and Divine Mercy
In discussing St. Faustina’s Diary and God’s mercy, Robert Stackpole, STD, director of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy, an apostolate of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, wrote, “The prayer of faith, Jesus said in the gospels, can move mountains. Maybe, as part of God’s great plan, it is the prayers of faith on Divine Mercy Sunday, above all other times and seasons, that will open the floodgates of God’s love and finally bring about the great triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Merciful Heart of her Son.” Surely, something for us to ponder.

I love how Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, described the role of Mary in St. Faustina’s life. In an interview, he said:

Saint Faustina, having grown up in Poland, knew of the Our Lady of Czestochowa image. She would know that that image was carried into battles by armies, and she even refers to Mary as her shield. She knows she’s in a spiritual battle, and she knows, just from living the life of the Church, that Mary is the one who has the victory over the darkness. She’s the one who crushes the head of Satan. She’s the promised one in Genesis. If you want to be on Jesus’ side, completely and totally, and if you want to completely trust Him, you have to kind of nestle up close to Mary. She’s going to be the teacher. Our Lady actually teaches St. Faustina about the interior life. You see that in how Faustina has to really keep her mouth shut a lot of the times and practice abnegation and self-sacrifice when people are saying stuff about her or doubt her. I think she finds her strength in being able to do that with Our Lady there able to comfort her as a mother does. At one point, her spiritual advisor, Fr. Andrasz, tells her, “Place yourself in the hands of the Most Holy Mother” (Diary, 1243.). Jesus actually tells Faustina at one point, just before she was to go on a retreat, to ask His Mother for the graces she will need. The point is, we all need a mother, even if we’re seeing Jesus in visions. It’s human to want to have that maternal dimension. By nature, we need a mother.

Sister Faustina recalled in her Diary that Jesus asked her to make a novena consisting of a daily Holy Hour for nine days, uniting herself to the Blessed Mother. He told her to “[p]ray with all your heart in union with Mary, and try also during this time to make the Way of the Cross” (Diary, 32). Sister Faustina explained, “I was to make this novena for the intention of my Motherland.” She recalled a wonderful sight: “On the seventh day of the novena I saw, between heaven and earth, the Mother of God, clothed in a bright robe. She was praying with her hands folded on Her bosom.” Mary’s eyes were “fixed on heaven.” The young mystic observed, “From Her heart issued forth fiery rays, some of which were turned toward Heaven while the others were covering our country” (Diary, 33). Let us have recourse to Mother Mary at all times.

One of the many beautiful prayers that St. Faustina wrote about the Blessed Virgin Mary is this:

O Mary, Immaculate Virgin,
Pure crystal for my heart,
You are my strength, O secure anchor,
You are a shield and protection for a weak heart.

O Mary, you are pure and unparalleled,
Virgin and Mother at one and the same time; You’re beautiful as the sun, by nothing defiled. Nothing is worthy of comparison to the image of
Your soul.

Your beauty enthralled the Thrice-Holy One’s eye, 
That He came down from heaven, forsaking
th’eternal See’s throne,
And assumed from Your Heart Body and Blood, 
Hiding for nine months in the Virgin’s Heart.

O Mother, Virgin, this will no one comprehend, 
That the in nite God is becoming a man;
It’s only love’s and His inscrutable mercy’s purpose. 
Through You, Mother — it’s given us to live with
Him for ever.

O Mary, Virgin Mother, and Heaven’s Gate, 
Through You salvation came to us;
Every grace to us streams forth through Your hands, 
And faithful imitation of You only will sanctify me.

O Mother, Virgin — most beautiful Lily.
Your Heart was for Jesus the first tabernacle on earth, 
And that, because Your humility was the deepest, 
Wherefore You were raised above Angel choirs and
Saints.

O Mary, my sweet Mother,
To You I turn over my soul, my body, and my poor
heart.
Be the safeguard of my life,
Especially at death’s hour, in the final fight (Diary, 161).
 

Something to Ponder
Saint Faustina prayed for Mary to take her under her special protection to guard the purity of her soul, heart, and body. She also offered herself to the Queen of Heaven, saying, “Mary, my Mother and my Lady, I offer You my soul, my body, my life and my death, and all that will follow it.” We know that Mary always leads us to her Son, Jesus. Can you entrust your entire life to the Blessed Mother? If you haven’t already, can you ask her to be your mother? Take some time this week to ponder the life of the Blessed Mother. For “extra credit,” read some of Redemptoris Mater by St. John Paul II, writings by St. Louis de Montfort, or some other approved writings on Mary.

A Merciful Action
Call upon Mother Mary and ask for her guidance in carrying out your works of mercy this week. She will help you. Strive to carry out your works of mercy while praying to Mother Mary. Ask her to accompany you as you move forward with God’s love and mercy through your works of mercy this week.

A PRAYER OF MERCY FOR THIS WEEK
(To be prayed each day this week.)
Dear Merciful Jesus, bring me closer to Your mother, Mary.
Thank You for the gift of Your mother. Mother Mary, please pray for me. Saint Faustina, please pray for me. Jesus, I trust in You!
Amen.

You can order 52 Weeks with St. Faustina by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle here:

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